Kerala: Comprehensively Exploring the Riches of “God’s Own Country”
- From verdant mountains to pristine beaches to the calming backwaters, God’s Own Country has natural gems tucked away here and there to mesmerize you every step of the way. Bask in the goodness of Ayurveda, take a stroll around quaint little towns, meet friendly locals and enjoy a travel experience like never before.
Excluding a week of Kerala in the itinerary, your Indian travel experience is sure going to remain far from complete!
Beautiful Kerala, to the deep south of the Indian subcontinent is a province of many diverse natural charms. A sunny coastline stretching over 500km long on the Arabian Sea and its adjoining backwaters is home to some of the pleasantest beach destinations in the country while terraces of tea, coffee and spice plantations adorn the cooler Western Ghats hilly region of the province. From quiet, pine forested hill stations to bustling beach towns; nature is sweet and salubrious throughout Kerala, welcoming travelers in search of health, healing and happiness from the world over.
The province is especially known for the heritage of Ayurveda - an alternate healing discipline of the vedic yoke from India’s Vedic past. Naturopathic ingredients, herbal medicinal spas, diet and lifestyle checks, and an overreaching notion of balance within the mind, body and soul governs the principles of Ayurveda. To receive the enormous wealth of authentic time-tested Ayurvedic healing in the land of the ashta-vaidyas of Kerala is a treat in itself.
There are plenty of top reviewed facilities in the state offering yoga, surf and healing with Ayurveda, somewhere you can retreat for a week or more just to soak in the good vibes and experience a more introspective kind of holiday! And for the wayfaring soul in Kerala, here goes a comprehensive guide to take your cues in traveling right:
Activities or Things to do in Kerala
Explore the Ancient Spice Route and Sea Ports of Malabar
The Malabar region to the north of the province has an illustrious history of ancient maritime trade and commerce, legendary for spices cultivated in the hills of Wayanad, coir and coconuts of sea side Kozhikode and Kannur and the intriguingly chequered cultures of the region owing to the varied 16th century European colonial explorations by the Dutch, the British and the Portuguese.
It’s easiest to enter the Malabar region through Kozhikode either by flight or road. This is a historical seaport town where the Arab, Chinese and the East African traders had been coming in contact with ancient Indic subcultures for centuries. Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese navigator during the Age of Explorations landed on the shores of Kozhikode in 1498 and opened the gateways of India to the West. Historic locales, museums, heritage buildings and bazaars make this town something to remember in traveling through Kerala.
Visit the Kappad Beach at a distance of 18 km from Kozhikode city to match your footsteps with history. Also, a 100km drive from Kozhikode will take you to the Edakkal Caves. Fascinating cave drawings dating back 7000 years adorn the walls of these caves. Transport yourself back in time with a visit to these amazing caves.
Wayanad is blissful, situated at a height of 2100 m above sea level, a sleepy hill station and an attractive adventure destination. Lush greenery, spice and coffee plantations, cascading waterfalls, gentle treks and resplendent monsoons are the best attractions of Wayanad. When you are in Wayanad indulge yourself in different activities like a trek to Chembra Peak at 6,900ft through verdant forests, boating in Pookode Lake known for blue lotuses and migratory birds to get a real feel of this charming land.
Also visit the tea and coffee estates, raft to Kuruva Islands in the middle of the Kabini River and trek to the Nilimala view Point to make it a complete adventurous journey.
Witness the Cultural Hotspots in Central Kerala
Central Kerala is comprised of the districts, Thrissur and Ernakulum, both enormously significant culturally. The district of Thrissur is known as the cultural capital of Kerala, deriving its name from the iconic Vadakkunnathan Temple dedicated to the deity of Shiva. The colorful festivals of Pooram, Onam and Pulikkali are held at Thrissur with much pomp and glory, notably with grandly decorated elephant processions and also exhibiting the rich performing arts heritage of the Kerala state, especially the Kathakali dance form performed with exquisite masks. Ernakulum presents a different page from the history and heritage of the Kerala state. Colonial bungalows with red tiled roofs, Cantilevered Chinese fishing nets picturesquely lined by the sea shore, beautiful Portuguese-built synagogues and basilicas, the Mattancherry Palace and St. Francis Church are among the major pulls of this historical sea town.
Visit the Shakthan Thampuran Palace built by Raja Ravi Varma exhibiting Dutch-influenced architecture and the Vauxhall Velox Car Club in Thrissur having vintage cars from the 1950s on showcase.
For wildlife enthusiasts, Punnathur Kotta, the famous elephant sanctuary is only at a 3 hours drive from Thrissur. Also, do not forget to catch up on the Kathakali dance shows at Kerala Kalamandalam, Thrissur.
Soak in the old, rustic charm of the historic town of Bolgatty Island and Palace near Ernakulum and spend some Leisurely time at the Cherai Beach, Kochi.
Sail in the Tranquil Backwaters of Kerala
One of the prime attractions for tourists to the state is the serene backwaters along the coastal edge of the state. Memorable stays in luxury houseboats calmly sailing through the inlets, the coconut tree groves huddling over as the boats gently row by and the exquisite birdlife found in this ecosystem draw numerous naturists and peace loving tourists from over the globe to Kerala. One of the most renowned backwater locales of the state is Alleppey and the adjacent Alappuzha sea stretch. Come here to stay for a long and leisurely weekend to blow all your worries away in the sea breeze.
Visit Kuttanad to get a taste of Kerala’s authentic village life. Paddy fields, waterways, coconut lines, duck farming, fishing and spice cultivation compose the picture. Explore and interact with the natives and just laze away in the serene ambience of this idyll.
If you want some fun then, canoe and kayak in Alleppey backwaters besides spending nights in houseboats, the majorly known attractions. On top of that, take a walk in the Alleppey Beach where an old pier stands and go birding and photographing at Vembad or Pathiramanal Lake which will add to the surreal experience.
Relish the Sun, Sea and the Beaches in Kovalam and Varkala
The beaches of Kerala have an essence of their own. A far call from the bustling, all-year-round crowded seaside of Goa, the beach destinations of Kerala are calmer, some practically deserted and immensely picturesque. Whether you prefer to chill under the tranquil sun on a deck chair and get a golden tan, find some lively activities to take part in or alternate trips in the backwaters with a leisurely day in the sand, the popular Kerala beach towns of Kovalam and Varkala will have something on the cards for you.
Varkala, the seaside town being home to the Janardan Swami Temple of the Vaishnavite hinduism is also an important site of religious and spiritual significance. Don’t miss this town if yoga and spiritualism is your thing!
Apart from relaxing by the beach, you can make the most out of your time by visiting the picturesque Lighthouse Beach in Kovalam, exploring the boat rides and walking trails at Vellayani Lake, Kovalam and photographing the red and white striped Vizhinjam Lighthouse, Kovalam.
This would also be an ideal opportunity for you to enroll in a Yoga Teacher Training program or rejuvenate and rekindle yourself with a comprehensive Yoga-Ayurveda Retreat program in Varkala, Kerala (the birth land of Ayurveda).
Also, explore swashbuckling surf (at Soul and Surf) and paragliding adventure outlets at Varkala and take a dip in the sea at Papanasam Beach, Varkala (fables has it that one is washed clean of his/her sins or paap on doing so).
Pristine backwaters, endless beaches, picture perfect locales, stunning nature and the smiling faces of the Keralites make Kerala one of the must visit places in India. This small state has an abundance of natural splendors to offer to its visitors and the reason, why there is always so much rush to get here. With the influx of tourists (both national and international) numbering in hundreds and thousands, accommodation facilities have also gone up year after year. Now, tourists are spoilt for choice and are often found in dilemma whether to go for that sprawling resort or book a cottage in that quaint location. So, in order to help out travelers, here’s a list of some accommodation facilities around Kerala that can be beneficial for both budget and luxury travelers.
- Devaki’s Kitchen Village Guesthouse, Wayanad
- Vedanta Wake Up Hostel, Wayanad
- Spice Garden, Wayanad
- Silverwoods Resorts in Wayanad
- Calicut Backpackers Vintage Hostel, Kozhikode
- Paz Y Amor, Kozhikode
- Vasco Da Gama Beach Resort, Kozhikode
- Kadappuram Beach Resort, Thrissur
- KTDC Tamarind Hotel, Thrissur
- Maison Casero Homestay, Thrissur
- Zostel Alleppey, Alleppey
- ArtpackersLife, Alleppey
- Nova Holidays Houseboat, Alleppey
- Aqua Castle Houseboat, Alleppey
- Hotel Sunrise by Cave, Kovalam
- Searock Beach Resort, Kovalam
- Manaltheeram Ayurveda Beach Village, Kovalam
- Bla Bla Hostels, Varkala
- Casa Eva Luna, Varkala
- Deshadan Cliff and Beach Resort, Varkala
Places to Eat & Drink
There is no doubt in the fact that Kerala is a land of ethereal scenic beauty and stunning landscapes but, the idea of a complete vacation remain incomplete without a mention of this land’s delicious delights. From delectable Malabari cuisine to its traditional lip-smacking dosas to Kadala curry, you’ll be spoilt for choices when you are here in this blissful land. So, here we present to you some of the famous and ‘not to miss’ list of eating joints in the country.
- Indulge in Malabari food at Beach Hotel on Beach Road, Manancheri, Kozhikode
- Visit The Chembra Heritage at Kalpetta, Wayanad for multi cuisine and Malabar delicacies
- French Bakery & Restaurant, Kozhikode for lip-smacking non-vegetarian dishes
- 1980′s - A nostalgic restaurant , Bye-Pass Kalpetta for authentic south Indian dishes
- Kashi Art Cafe, at Fort Kochi, Kochi memorable for its artistic ambience and distinguished intellectual crowd
- Malabar Junction, Kochi for Malabari thalis
- Grilled Fish at Copper Spoon, Thrissur
- Traditional European and Keralan at Chakaran Restaurant, Alleppey
- Mushroom- an open air restaurant in Alleppey
- Dreamers Cafe and Restaurant, Alleppey
- Chinese, Seafood and Asian - Go Kerala, Alappuzha
- Lobster Pot, Kovalam for Asin, Indian, Continental, and Vegan options, special seafood delicacies
- Trattorias, North Beach, Varkala for Continental and Indian
- Coffee Temple, Varkala Cliff, for a nice Cafe feel and view of the sea
There are plenty of State Beer and Wine Shops all over Kerala from where you can beer and your choice of liquors. Apart from that, there are plenty of restaurants and hotels as well that have bars of their own.
Best Time to Visit
Though, you can travel to all year round but there are basically three seasons that dictate the flow of flow of tourists to this marvelous land. April and May fall in the list of ‘off-season’ as it gets extremely hot and humid during the summers. The monsoon season which starts from mid-June or end, and continues till August is again not a good time to visit Kerala since there will be days of incessant rains and chances of flooding of some areas also prevail. But then again, monsoon has its own beauty and greenery is evident everywhere as the rain once again replenishes the soil. The ‘peak season’ for travel begins from the month of September and continues till the end of March. The temperature remains around 81 degree Fahrenheit during the day and relatively cooler during the nights.
How to Reach
By Air- Kerala is well-connected by flights from all over the country as well as from various international destinations. You can enter the Malabar region through the Calicut International Airport at Kozhikode. Cochin International Airport is the nearest airport to Alleppey. If you wish to travel south then, Thiruvananthapuram International Airport will be your best bet.
By Train- The various cities of Kerala are connected to some of the major railway stations of India through a wide network of trains. Trains from and to Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai are available on a daily basis.
By Road- Apart from its direct road connectivity with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Kerala has bus services to different parts of the country.
Things to Keep in Mind
Now, that you are set for your maiden voyage to Kerala, here are some of the tips that may come handy for your trip:
- First and foremost, always carry sunscreen with you especially if you are travelling in the hot summers or even during peak travel season.
- Carry light clothes however a pullover may become necessary when you travel to the hill stations, so pack accordingly.
- If you entering any temple, it is always good to slip off your shoes outside the entrance since it is Hindu tradition to not enter temples with shoes on.
- Public transport is the cheapest option to travel around the state.
- Avoid venturing out during late hours though Kerala is quite safe for tourists.