Lush coastlines, relaxed backwaters, verdant tea gardens and the smell of fresh-grown spices drifting in the air—Kerala is a sliver of tropical paradise that has attracted tourists from all over the world. Either roam around on the jam-packed streets of Kochi, simply sip your favourite cup of tea at Munnar, Kerala’s favourite hill station, or simply walk down the magnificent palm-fringed beaches of Kovalam, an extravagant variety of seafood, Kerala has something for everybody!
Don’t leave Kerala before you
The booming port city of Kochi, or Cochin, known most importantly for India’s spice trade, is a unique combination of the old and the new. Take a walk down the sprawling alleys of Kochi’s historic Jewish Colony, lined with brightly-painted houses, to see the Mattancherry Synagogue, an ancient synagogue in the Commonwealth. Or go see the Chinese Fishing Nets, in the Fort Cochin area. Unlike usual nets, these are fixed land installations and can only be found at Kochi, outside of China—a lasting testimony to the good relations between ancient Chinese emperors and the rulers of Kochi.
The rolling hills of Munnar are decorated with some of the largest tea plantations in South India. Take some time off from Kerala’s more famous beaches and visit the tea museum, 1.5 kilometres out of town, or simply relax with a freshly-brewed cup on a tranquil tea estate. A perfect honeymoon destination in Kerala, Munnar brags an amazing terrain and overwhelming landscapes.
Its here that you find the famous backwaters of Kerala, Alappuzha or Alleppey, as it’s actually called, and was initially a small fishing village that has now become one of India’s most popular tourist destinations. Perilously balanced on a complicated network of inland canals and backwaters, life at Alleppey is relaxed, best experienced on a houseboat, or by taking a romantic stroll on Alleppey Beach.
The most famous of Kerala’s beach destinations, Kovalam might be a tad touristy—families in for the weekend from Kochi, where you find little kids enjoying their ice creams and vendors selling umbrellas at every turn. You could go up to the lighthouse on the headland or see the sunset at one of the beachfront restaurants.
Take a ride on a houseboat at Alleppey: A ride on a kettuvallam through the backwaters of Alleppey is something one cannot skip while in Kerala. Originally used for transporting rice and spices to and from the port, these boats are now included in the tourist luxury liners that are available for hire.
Cruise along the Periyar River: Home to langurs, bisons, sambars and tigers, the jungles of Periyar are one of India’s most popular wildlife sanctuaries. The Forest Department and Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) organizes regular cruises for one to spot some wildlife!
Performances at the Kathakali Centre, Kochi: Kathakali is the ancient form of storytelling through dance that originated in Kerala in the 17th century. Get a taste of the past with an enchanting dance performance at the Kathakali Centre. If you’re feeling audacious, the Centre also holds performances of Kalaripayattu, one of the oldest forms of martial arts.
Appam with Stew: Appams are light, fluffy pancakes made of rice, crispy at the edges and moist at the center, best enjoyed with a fragrant stew of meat and/or vegetables.
Kerala Beef Fry with Malabar Porotta: Chunky, fried pieces of beef cooked in a spicy masala mix served with light, flakey Malabar paratha—one of Kerala’s signature dishes.
Prawn Moilee: What’s Kerala without its seafood? Karimeen to the lobster, everything here is delectable, but you would be at loss if you did not try the moilee, a curry made from coconut and kokum, a local fruit used to add a sour tang to curries.
When to Go:
October to February: Winters are the best time to visit Kerala, although tourists thrive all year round. Temperatures are meek (17-30 degrees Celsius) and ideal for relaxing at the beaches. Pack your bags with your kids or spouse and head to those amazing beaches for a perfect holiday
March to June: Summers can get very sultry in Kerala but that’s all the more reason to enjoy a dip in the sea! This is off-season, so you can get better deals on hotels during the summer. Everything out there, from food to accommodation to travel is available at a very reasonable price. The time where you can book your favourite resorts and preferable flights as there are some great discounts at this time of the year.
July to September: Kerala in the monsoons are evergreen with a luxury of lush and thats the best time to visit Kerala. Nature is at its best during these two months. Umbrellas and raincoats should be a part of your packing as rains here at this time are very unpredicatable.
By Air: The Kochi International airport is well connected to all major cities. You can take a taxi from the airport to roam about in the city.
By Train: Cochin is well connected to all major railway stations in India. Most trains stop at either the Ernakulam Town Station or the Ernakulam Junction Station.
By Bus: Kerala State Run Transport Corporation (KSRTC) runs Volvo buses to and from cities like Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Trivandrum.
Bus: Cochin has a large network of buses that connect you to all major towns in Kerala. They are cheap and government-run.
Auto Rickshaw: Autos are available in most cities. They’re cheap, but they often tend to fleece tourists so make sure you ask for a rate card.
Ferry/Boat: Ferry is a great way to travel, especially in and around the Fort Cochin area.
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