If you are visiting Trivandrum, or, live there and would like to get away from the noise and commotion of the city there are still places that you could visit. Munroe Island (Munrothuruthu) is definitely at the top of my list and the island is accessible by road and rail. If traveling by road, there are a few entry points to the island; from the east, you could drive north on MC road (highway 1) and at Kottarakara drive east towards East Kallada and then onto Munroe Island that is located at the confluence of the Kallada river and the Asthamudi lake. Depending on the time of the day, it could take between two-and-a-half to three hours to cover the approximately 90 Km distance. You could also take highway 66 that goes to Kollam and reach East Kallada via Kundara. It could be a day trip from Kollam or Trivandrum, but an overnight stay is highly recommended to relax and enjoy the spectacular sunrise and sunset. There are many homestays in the islands that one could book in advance online; don’t expect anything that is up-scale, but there are many choices for a clean and comfortable stay at a reasonable price. Part of the travel experience is the food; fresh pearl spot (Karimeen in Malayalam), sardine (Mathi in Malayalam), and shrimp (Konju in Malayalam) prepared in the local style were my favorites. I tried these at a number of local eat-outs and at the homestay; I relished the food at every place I ate. Tastes vary and so do dietary choices; Vegetarians and vegans may have limited selections. Also, if you don't like spicy food, mention that when you order your food; it is invariably spicy by default.
The Kallada river is to the north of the island. A walk by the river, cycling, and taking a boat or a canoe ride at dawn and dusk, when it is cooler, are activities to consider. This is probably a good area for bird watching too; without actively looking I spotted egrets, Kingfishers, Brahminy kites, blue-tailed bee-eaters, and cormorants. The locals are friendly and helpful. I highly recommend a canoe ride in the labyrinth of backwater canals that meander through villages, fish and shrimp farms, and mangroves and ends up at the Asthamudi lake. I rented a canoe (that came with a local oarsman) for the sunset view and it was spectacular. We started at the banks of the Kalada river at the north of the Island, traveled east, and then meandered south through the narrow canals with houses and farms on either side of the canal and ended up facing a mangrove patch (Kandal Kadu in Malayalam) to our east. The oarsman gently guided the canoe through an arch made by the Kandal trees (you can't miss it); the breadth of the arch could accommodate a single canoe. As if nature had intended this to be used for our entertainment, there was another arch right next to this one that we took on our way back, now facing the magnificent setting sun, the canoe pointing west. That January evening I took this trip was a perfect setting for photography; a clear orange-hued sky with just a few scattered clouds that stayed away from the bright circular Sun. We halted at the banks of the lake where I stretched my legs, having spent almost an hour in the canoe, and sipping piping hot lemon tea that I ordered at the restaurant there (there are two small restaurants that offer just a small selection of snacks and beverages at this time; Munore Drive Inn and Apples. Both restaurants, however, take special orders for breakfast, lunch, and dinner but you will have to tell them in advance. Munroe Drive Inn also offers accommodation). I suggest that you carry water as the entire canoe trip lasted about three hours and although it was a January evening, the temperature was still in the high 20- 30 degrees Celcius. Back to the canoe ride – from the lake with Kandal trees, we took a different canal route back to the starting point. The setting sun was to our left and the canals passed many fish and shrimp farms.
I returned to the same spot at about 6 am the next day by car to photograph the Sunrise from the banks of the lake. Facing East, to the right of the Kandal trees is a small island, directly above which the pinkish-orange haze appeared at that time. Almost simultaneously many boats and canoes with tourists and some fishermen could be seen as silhouettes. The sky was a dynamic canvas of many warm hues as the backdrop before the Sun finally showed its face as a perfect circle of fiery orange. A perfect sunrise for a photographer!
Walking or cycling along the Kalada river, or on the southern bank of the island offers many opportunities for photography too; birds, boats, canoes, and the river. I would avoid midday as it could get very hot.
That evening I drove to the jetty that connects the main island to Perumon. A small bridge, less than a kilometer before the jetty offered impressive views of the rail track bridge, coconut palm trees, and the setting sun in the background. I was lucky to have a train cross the bridge when I was there.
I took the Janghar from this jetty point early morning the next day to Perumon on my way back. I was treated to another beautiful sunrise!