God’s Own Country - Kerala
Kerala is known as God’s Own Country. According to the Hindu mythological tale Lord Parasurama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu threw his axe in the sea. The sea parted to reveal a new land that had emerged from the depth of the sea and thus Kerala came into existence. The state has 14 districts. Kerala is considered to be the most visited place due to its unique culture, traditions, scenic places and hospitality. There are a number of beautiful hill stations in Kerala to pay a visit such as Thekkady, Lakkidi, Peermedu, Thiruvambadi, Vithura, Vagamon, Munnar, Wayanad, Ponmudi, Silent Valley, Athirapally, Vythiri, Malayattur and a lot more other hill stations. These stations provide such a panoramic view that one is forced to capture it. The Winter season is considered the best time to visit Kerala because during these months the climate is soothing and pleasant and is apt for exploring the beautiful sights of Kerala. The summers are unpleasant and are not considered for touring. During winter months people find it pleasant to shop and explore the market places. Winters make the weather tolerably pleasant for taking part in adventure sports. Even summers provide opportunities to visit hill stations that are frequented by the tourists.
Sumptuous and delicious cuisines do make one’s visit-worthy and unforgettable. Some of the popular dishes of the state are- Chatti Pathiri, Malabar Parota, Erachi Varutharacha Curry, Kallumakkaya Ularthiyathu, Idiyappam with Curry, Idliambar, Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu, Kerala style Prawn Curry, Thalassery Biryani, Palada Payasam, Dosa Ghee Roast with Kerala Style Sambar and many other delicious delicacies. There are a number of Kerala festivals that are celebrated with great pomp and show in Kerala. Of these includes the Onam or Thiruvonam festival which is a harvest festival that occurs once a year during the months of August- September. Vishu is another auspicious festival celebrated in the Malayalam month of April-May. The other festivals such as Christmas, Easter, Ramadan, Bakrid, MahaShivratri, Diwali, Attukal Pongala, Adoor Gajamela, Thirunakkara Uthsavamare celebrated with great jest and zeal.
For Shopaholics there are a number of market places in the state where one can shop according to one’s interests. Chalai Market and Sarwar market located in Trivandrum, Kovalam fish market, Broadway Street market in Kochi, Mattupetty Dam market in Munnar, Mattancherry spice market situated in Kochi are some of the famous markets of the state.
Tourists bit by adventure bug can go for windsurfing, Parasailing, cycling, water sports like scuba diving. Also, Mountain and rock climbing just test the adventurous spirits of a person. There are many wow moments that will astound any visitor who decides to visit Kerala for any of the diverse reasons spanning from purchases of Kerala spices, witnessing the serene and bountiful nature to the sight-seeing tour of landscapes, beaches, harbors and forts.
Things to do in Kerala
Kerala is the most visited state of India and is liked for its natural endowments. Not only it is considered for sight-seeing but it is also famous for trekking, water sports, rafting and a lot more other thrilling activities. People intending to visit, usually pack their bags with thrill and excitement to explore Kerala as the tour is replete with so much adventure, natural scenic beauties and much much more. Those looking for thrills and excitement can go trekking. Trekkers have a number of places to choose from - Agastyarkoodam Peak, Kannan Devan Hills, Anamudi Peak, Ramakkalmedu and Vellarimala. These places are famous for trekking tours. Another exciting experience one can have is from wildlife safari. One can roam on elephant back or opt for Jeep Safaris to explore National Parks and other nature reserves-witnessing the bountiful nature and variety of animals. There are a lot of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries where there is the availability of Jeep safaris such as - Periyar National Park, Eravikulam National Park, Muthanga Wildlife Safari, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Parasailing is another recreational activity where a person is towed behind a boat while the person is attached to a parachute making one fly high. There are a lot of beaches that indulge in Parasailing like- Varkala Beach, Alappuzha Beach, Payyambalam beach and Papanasham beach. Houseboats are also available for tourists. The houseboat offers luxurious facilities including meals. One can enjoy and feel the calm sea and scenic views. The popular and best destinations are-Kasaragod, Alleppey, Kumarakom, Kollam and Kuttanad.
Water sports is yet another thrilling activity that lures people with an adventurous bent of mind. One can go scuba diving. It is such a unique and thrilling adventure activity that not only awes one but also throws one into excitement to see the rare marine life just in front of one’s own eyes. Some places do have outstanding black corals but Sharks are also found that make it advisable for the visitors to heed the warning of the authorities. Some of the best places for Scuba diving in Kerala are- Cherai beach, Varkala beach, Kovalam and Nazareth.
Other places are also there where it is found perfect for cycling and biking. These places are- Valparai to Athirappilly, Kuttanad region, Munnar to Annamalai and Angamoozhy to Vandiperiyar. What can be the best thing to do than cycling and witnessing nature, scenic roads and beautiful vegetation. If one wants to indulge in more thrilling activities then one can opt for windsurfing. It is one of the most adventurous sports activities. Some of the beaches that indulge in windsurfing are- Payyoli Beach, Somatheeram beach, Alappuzha beach and Varkala beach.
Coming to Kerala and not indulging in Bamboo rafting is in itself a big loss in the name of exploring Kerala. The rafts are made up of bamboo. While rafting, tourists can witness a lot of animals near water bodies such as one can see- Elephant, Sambar, Gaur. This kind of rafting is in itself a unique adventure. It really leaves an ever-lasting imprint on one’s memory. Periyaar wildlife sanctuary, Thekeddy and Ernakulam are some of the places that offer Bamboo rafting. Mountain climbing, rock climbing is yet another adventure activities that can be undertaken in Kerala. One can get a bird’s eye view of the mountain ranges and greenery while climbing. The best places for this are- Eruthavoor in Thiruvananthapuram, Vagamon, Munnar and Thenmala in Kollam.
Just take time off from adventurous and thrilling activities to pay a visit to Tea Museum and know the history of the tea plantation and witness the technique and procedure to get the tea as a finished product. The best Tea museum is- Kaman Devan Tea museum and the Lockhart Tea museum in Munnar.
Nothing is as best as living away from all hustles of the busy city life full of noise and running around. Living in treehouses will make one curious and excited as it provides restful, luxurious and tranquil accommodation so rare. The best and most visited tree house resorts in Kerala are- Tranquil Resort in Wayanad, Ranger Wood Nature Castle Machan Treehouse in Thekkady and Jungle Jive treehouse in Munnar.
Kerala has been, from ancient times, famous for its aromatic spices. It will be an added advantage to the tourists to take back the excellent spices for which Kerala is known for. The spices that are cultivated here are - pepper, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg. There are a number of spice plantations like- Goodly plantation and Group of companies in Kochi, Greenhouse spices and spice plantation in Thekkady and Cinnamon gardens spices plantation in Munnar. Kerala has now started to gain popularity as a holistic health destination. There are a number of resorts and spas that deal in Ayurvedic healing therapies to cure ailments and help release stress. The use of natural herbs in the therapy makes one’s mind, body and soul-refreshing and helps rejuvenate. Best places are- Alleppey, Kollam, Kumarakom, Kuttanad and Kasaragod.
For shopaholics, there are a variety of items to shop from such as - spices, essential oils, aroma oils, banana chips and KasavuMundu. One can stroll on the streets and explore the market places and shop according to one’s likes and preferences. There are some sight-seeing places that offer rare sights such as seeing a Chinese fishing net. They are the most popular fishing nets. They came into existence in the 14th century. The fishermen of Kerala purchased them from the court of the then Chinese monarch. These are made of Bamboo and teak poles having a unique design. Kochi, Kuzhuppilly, Kolla and Ernakulam are considered the best places to see the Chinese fishing nets.
Places to Visit in Kerala
1. Mattupetty Dam
The Mattupetty Dam is in the Idukki district. The water reservoir or Dam is considered best for bird-watching. One may find gazing at the Asiatic elephants that come to this site wandering for food and water. It is one of the major sources of hydroelectricity in the region. The splendid flora and fauna around this dam do awestruck one to the extent that one is simply forced to go for one’s camera and shoot pictures. It is one of the popular and most visited sites in the Idukki district.
2. Kundala Lake
The Lake Kundala is an artificial lake situated at a distance of about 20 kms from Munnar. Known for its beauty and scenic view. This lake is at an elevation of 1700ms. One visiting the place can enjoy boating and witness the spectacular beauty that it offers. The valley that is surrounding this lake is home to the Neelakurunji flower that blooms once in 12 years. One should definitely pay a visit to this serene lake that beckons one to the place.
3. Echo Point
The Echo Point is considered to be the most visited place in Munnar. It is situated at a distance of about 15 kms from Munnar. One is subjected to a grand experience of the natural phenomenon of echo formation. It is one of the picturesque spots also. The beauty that it holds will make one stunned for sure.
4. Eravikulam National Park
The National Park Eravikulam is declared as a UNESCO world heritage site and is situated in Munnar. The park is home to endangered NilgirTahrs. One may also spot Nilgiri Langur, Leopard, Golden Jackal, Tiger, Muntjac and other animals. A park is a perfect place for nature and wildlife lovers.
5. Hill Palace
The Hill Palace was constructed in 1865. Kochi’s royal families used to reside in this Palace. The Palace has 49 traditional buildings. It is now converted into a museum. One may find a number of manuscripts, murals, sculptures, artifacts and some antique pieces. It is considered one of the largest museums in Kerala state.
6. Anjuthengu Fort
The fort Anjuthengu was constructed by the East India Company in the 17th century. It is situated at about 36kms from Thiruvananthapuram. The other name of this fort is Anjengo fort. In the past, this fort was the major trading point. One can find evergreen coconut groves. The fort is best for photography and visitors will be found indulging in capturing photos.
7. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is a treat to the eyes of the wildlife and nature lovers. This Sanctuary is home to a number of animals like- Deer, Panthers, Indian Tigers, Indian Bison, Asiatic Elephants and other animals. One may also spot owls, cuckoo, Jungle Fowls, Babblers, peacocks and other bird species. The Sanctuary is spread over an area of 344 sq Km. It is divided into 4 ranges- SulthanBathery, MuthungaKurichit and Tholpetty. Numerous species of animals and avifauna species make it a must-visit the sanctuary.
8. Nagarhole National Park
The Nagarhole National Park is also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park. This national park is considered to be the best tiger reserve in the country. One coming to this park can witness- Indian Bison, Chital Sambar Deer, Indian Giant Flying Squirrel, Indian Elephant, Four-horned Antelope and a lot more other animals.
Pakshipathalam is in Wayanad, a perfect spot for trekkers and nature lovers. It is at a height of 1700m above sea level. Trekkers can trek through thick patches of evergreen forests. One may spot Gaurs and Malabar, giant Squirrels in Pakshipathalam. It is famed for the diverse population of Avifauna.
The Neendakara is a suburb located in Kollam, Kerala. It is one of the famous harbors in the state. The Neendakara harbor is the largest fishing harbor in Kerala. The twin harbor Shakthikulangara and Neendakara are situated in Kollam. The TheNeendakara harbor is most frequented by tourists.
11. Cherai Beach
Cherai Beach is situated in Kochi. It is listed under the best beaches of Kerala. To make one’s visit thrilling one can indulge in water scooter rides, speed boat rides, swimming. It is a perfect beach for spending time.
12. Ambalapuzha Srikrishna Temple
The Ambalapuzha Srikrishna Temple is situated in the Alleppey district of Kerala. It was constructed between 15th and 17th AD by Chembakasserry Pooradam Thirunal-DevanarayananThampuran. This temple is devoted to Lord Parthasarathi. This sacred Hindu temple is one of the most famed temples among the devotees. According to one of the mythological tale, Lord Krishna once defeated the then king of Ambalappuzha in chess. The king was then asked to pay the debt over time therefore the temple still serves free Paal-Payasam to the pilgrims.
13. Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple
The temple Mannarasala Nagaraja is located in Haripad. It is devoted to Nagaraja. This temple was constructed by Brahmins to worship Nagaraja. The story behind this temple is that the brahmins constructed this temple so that Nagaraja would convert the inhabitable land of Kerala to a habitable one by spreading poison into the soil. Later on, Rishis constructed a pilgrimage center to do penance to please Nagaraja and this is how this temple came into existence.
14. Periyar Lake
The Thekkady town holds a very scenic picturesque lake called Periyar. This is one of the artificial lakes and is the most popular tourist spots. Tourists can enjoy boat rides or cruise. One can enjoy the ride and feel the serenity of the place.
15. Periyar National Park
Periyar Lake is yet another treat for wildlife lovers. It is located in Thekkady town of Kerala. One may spot White Tigers, Gaurs, Sambars, Sloth Bears, Wild Pig, Indian Giant Squirrel, Fish, Wild Pig, Bengal Tigers and many other species in this national park.
Murikkady is almost 5 kms from Thekkady town. One visiting this place will be awestruck by the panoramic views that it offers, soothing climate, tranquillity and peaceful environment. One can witness the plantation of coffee, pepper and cardamom which in itself makes the visit most interesting and worthy.
17. Kerala Folklore Museum
The Kerala Folklore Museum is a treat for those tourists who wants to experience Kerala’s heritage in detail. The architecture of the museum is lavishly unique in the styles of Malabar, Travancore and Cochin. It is a three-storied museum.
18. Kalakkayam Waterfalls
The Kalakkayam Waterfalls is located in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. It originates from a stream that flows down the Agasthyavanam forest area. It holds a pool at its base that is considered to be a good option for swimming and bathing.
19. Chottanikkara Temple
The temple Chottanikkara is located at Chottanikkara, Ernakulam. This temple is devoted to Goddess Chottanikkara Bhagavathy. It is believed that the Goddess has curative powers that heal mental ailments and the impact of evil spirits. In the morning the goddess is worshipped as Saraswati, at noon Lakshmi and in the evening as Durga Goddess. The devotees are spellbound by the location of this temple.
20. Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple
The temple Ettumanoor Mahadeva is situated at Kottayam, Kerala. It is devoted to Lord Shiva. The temple is seen as having the pretty murals and frescoes of Shiva especially one in dance posture. It has also a wall painting. Pradosha Nruthyam is one of the best paintings in the country. It not only has Shiva’s Idol but holds the shrines for Lord Shastha and Lord Ganesha.
Kerala Famous Food
There are a number of cuisines that may open one’s taste buds to a new dimension and will certainly be an experience typical to the region so unique and different.
Errisery is one of the favorite dishes of Kerala. The dish is prepared with sweet pumpkin, dried lentils, grated coconut and some authentic spices. Sweet pumpkin is first boiled on low flame, while it is boiling and in the mean-time, the dried lentils, grated coconut and specific spices are added to it. The then prepared curry is layered on the top of rice and is served hot to the customers. The dish is prepared in the Onam festival and other religious festivals.
Puttu and Kadala Curry
The Puttu and Kadala curry is considered one of the traditional Kerala dishes. Puttu is a steamed rice cake that is in the shape of a cylinder. The steamed rice cake is cooked in a mold with grated coconut. Keralites pair it with ripe bananas, Kadala curry (which is Kala Chanagarnished with grated coconut). It is a healthy recipe that is mostly eaten during breakfast.
Dosa Ghee Roast with Kerala Style Sambar
The dish is listed in the world’s 50 most delicious foods. The ‘Dosa Ghee Roast’ and Kerala style Sambar makes the perfect combination. Dosa is made from fermented rice and lentils. It is then cooked in pure ghee and finally, it is roasted till it becomes crispy. The dish is served with Sambar. It is the most authentic food to have in Kerala.
Idli Sambar is the most preferred and healthy cuisine of Kerala. Idli Sambar is widely eaten in almost every state of India but the genuine and most delicious Idli Sambar one can get is in Kerala. Idli which is in the shape of a cake is then steamed. The rice cake or idli is then paired with Sambar which is made from lentils, veggies and authentic spices. It is one of the healthiest food items available to all.
Erachi Varutharacha Curry
The dish ErachiVarutharacha Curry is one of the traditional foods of Kerala. The method involves frying and grinding of spices and then mixing them in the mutton, tomatoes and onions base. It is one of the dishes that Keralites relish completely.
Where to Stay in Kerala
When visiting Kerala one has a number of options to make their stay comfortable. One can stay at Cochin, Trivandrum, Munnar, Kozhikode, Alleppey, Varkala, Nedumbassery, Guruvayur, Kasaragod, Kannur, Wayanad and other districts of Kerala. Kerala is the most preferred destination among the tourists. One can find a number of luxury and budget hotels that one can choose from.
How to Reach Kerala
Kerala has four international airports- Thiruvananthapuram International airport, Kochi International airport and Kozhikode International airport and Kannur International airport. The airports are well connected with major cities of India and international cities. One can reach the desired destination from the airport by hiring a taxi or any other preferred mode.
Kerala is accessible by road from any part of India through National highways 17,47 and 49. It is directly connected by road with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Kerala has a network of roads on which one can travel by bus, taxi, cabs etc to reach various destinations in Kerala as per one’s tour program.
Direct train to Kerala is available from Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore and other major cities. Some of the important railway stations of Kerala are-Ernakulam Junction South, Thiruvananthapuram Central Station, Ernakulam Town Station, Aluva Railway Station, Charvattur Railway Station and other station. On arriving at the station one can hire taxis or can avail bus services depending upon the time available for the tour.
Best time to visit Kerala
Winter season -September to March is considered the best time to visit beautiful Kerala because during these months the climate is soothing and pleasant for exploring the beautiful sights of Kerala. One can roam and enjoy nature comfortably. The summers being hot and humid making it very unpleasant to go about touring the place. During winter months people find it pleasant to visit marvelous lagoons, spice plantations, beaches, forts, harbors, natural reserves etc. Adventure sports can be easily undertaken in this weather. Even summers provide opportunities to visit hill stations that are frequented by the tourists. Paradise as it is, Kerala abounds in greenery and entices one in many ways.