The Only Indian State To Have Made it to the list of paradise places on Earth!
Blog By Saptadeepa
Kerala : A Tourist Paradise In India and the southernmost state of the Indian Subcontinent has been of special interest to foreign and Indian explorers alike. From centuries the prospect of spice trade has drawn voyagers to the western shore of Kerala and even today allures special interests from across the world.
But this tiny state named as ‘the land of coconuts’ is a tropical paradise and I am not exaggerating if I say every district here offers a different kind of beauty. Rightly then, National Geographic had listed Kerala among the ‘10 Paradises of the World’ in 1999.
Here’s a brief view of Kerala that I experienced –
The Backwaters of Kerala
The biggest attraction is Kerala’s longest stretches (~900kms) of backwaters. These are formed by its islands, canals, lagoons, lakes and river tributaries joining the sea on the Malabar coast. Sailing in the narrow canals lined by coconut groves while experiencing the local life along the backwaters is a unique experience.
Another attraction along the backwaters is the view of the enormous Vembanad lake (longest lake in India). The famous long boat race of Kerala takes place in a part of this lake.
A day or two houseboat cruise or half-day ferry rides are the available options to experience the life in the backwater regions of Kerala. Some of the popular backwater destinations to include in your Kerala tour plan are Alleppy, Kollam and Kumarakom.
Offbeat Alternatives -Backwaters at Poovar Island or Varkala. Homestays or resorts are an authentic way to experience life in the Kerala.
Hilly escapes from the tropical heat
Kerala, being a coastal tropical state has a hot and humid climate throughout the year. So the best time to visit Kerala is between December to March i.e. the winter months.
However, the hills of the Western Ghats are a rescue from the heat. Most of these hill stations are known for its tea estate. The cooler atmosphere, dense vegetation, national parks, wildlife, flocking of beautiful birds, lakes and waterfalls make them the best escapes in the otherwise tropical Kerala.
Hill stations like Munnar and Thekkady can be part of your Kerala tour itinerary. Munnar is largely famous for the tea plantations while Thekkady’s Periyar National Park are well known for its wildlife safaris.
Offbeat Alternatives – Some other lesser known destinations like Wayanad, Vagamon, Idukki, Lakkidi, Vythiri are very scenic and hidden from the average tourists.
Eco-tourism in Kerala
Though Kerala is a very popular tourist destination, there is so much of Kerala that remains unexplored by majority of the travelers and preserved in its dense forests, unnamed mountains, huge waterbodies and secret islands.
To list a few are the Athirapilly waterfalls in Thrissur also referred as the ‘Niagara Falls of India’ where the roaring water gushes down the Anamudi mountain in multiple cascades falling from a height of 80ft and width of 330ft.
The Idduki Dam and the surrounding wildlife sanctuary is another ecotourism destination where you can opt for forest accommodations, sailing in the dam, jeep tours, beautiful trekking trails in the forest. I had been to one such trekking trail where we trekked through the green meadows to reach a height where we got a distant view of the Idduki dam and grazing elephants Such treks are tranquility when you disconnect with modern life and experience life in the wild!
Wayanad too has many mountain treks, pristine lakes and dams to be explored. The Kuruva island in Wayanad is also very special. This place is accessible by sailing on bamboo rafts across the Kabini river. It is an uninhibited island, accessible only in the day light. It has a shaded walking trail followed by dense forest and a flowing stream. Many migratory birds can also be spotted here.
The Museum Town of Colonial India
Kerala has some noteworthy forts and archeological heritage across the state. One place that stands out is Fort Kochi. This place till date is culturally and archeological a symbol of India’s colonial past.
Kochi was the gateway to the Europeans sailing across the Indian ocean. There are still evidences of the Portuguese, Jews, Dutch and British who had lived in this town. A day navigating around this town, we visited the St. Francis Church which also has the gravestone of Vasco De Gama, Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica dating back to 15th Century, Paradesi Synagogue which is still functional in the Jew town, the Mattancherry Palace Museum which was the royal home of the King of Kochi. The sunset along the Chinese Fishing nets is also a beautiful sight at the Vasco De Gama Square.
The little town of Fort Kochi has preserved the heritage of the place in every corner of its lanes. The cafes, hotels, resorts are colorful European style buildings. Every other wall displays some art form.
The Indian Maritime Museum built in two bunkers preserves the history of Indian Navy and is open to the general public. This place will surely make you proud of India’s naval forces.
The Cultural Abundance
Kerala has one of the oldest heritage which is a mix of the Aryan and Dravidian culture. The people have maintained their traditions in their attire, food, art and festivals.
When in Kerala, do try to include an evening show of Kathakali (Indian Classical Dance form) and Kalaripayattu (a form of martial art) among the places to visit in Kerala. I thoroughly enjoyed the Kathakali show I witnessed in Kochi. The artists who perform here undergo a training of six years. They explained every detail about the unique face painting, postures and palm gestures. The facial expressions are the highlight of this dance. The artists paint their faces in front of the audience an hour before the actual performance thus giving a closer look into the process.
Kerala’s Traditional Cuisine
Being a coastal state, fish is a staple here. Banana and Coconut are also extensively used in many local recipes. Puttu and Kadala Curry, Idiyuppam, Appam, Malabar Fish Curry and Banana chips are some of the delicacies you can try here. A traditional festive meal is known as Sadhya and served on a banana leaf.
How to reach Kerala
Kerala is easily accessible by Air, Roads and Railways due to its strategic location. If you are travelling to Kerala from Delhi or other Indian Cities, reach Kochi or Thiruvananthapuram by flight as both these cities have international Airports. All the tourist destinations are well connected by roads from these Airports.
Kerala is also connected by Railways from major Indian cities.
People staying in Southern India can reach Kerala by overnight road journey as a weekend escape destination.
The state of Kerala : A Tourist Paradise In India is also referred as ‘God’s own Country’ is blessed with abundance of beauty in its natural resources. An amalgamation of many cultures and religions that migrated to the region in colonial India exhibits an example of religious harmony. Misty calm hill towns, pristine backwaters, long coastlines, forest mountain trails and heritage in local culture has attracted and mesmerized travelers from across the world.
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