Kerala is India’s most laid-back place and I have no doubts about it. Free from all the chaos found in other parts of the country, it is one of the most beautiful and progressive state in India.
The lush green backwaters, rice paddies stretching beyond the horizon, the refreshing coconut water and its cream, the spicy but delicious seafood cooked in coconut oil go extremely well with its huge crescent beaches, the fresh morning toddy, the azure sky followed by scenic sunsets and the quaint ex-colonial trading towns.
But wait, I haven’t even told you about its mountainous Ghats, home of the Malabari people known throughout the country for their Malabari cuisine. These parts of Kerala are carpeted with spice and tea plantation, beyond them are thick forests home to wild elephants, some exotic birds and a few tigers.
There are many temples here each an architectural marvel even today. The rich culture and tradition which gave birth to an unique art form called Kathakali – a blend of dance and play; Theyyam – a ritual which elevates your mind in a trance. One would get attached to every place they visit in Kerala and wish they could stay longer in this land called God’s Own Country.
Now here is a list of places one should visit in Kerala;
The capital of Kerala which for obvious reasons is still called by its colonial name Trivandrum even by the locals. Apart from a few temples and some colonial buildings one won’t find much to do here. But it is worth a visit just to experience a slice of modern Kerala.
Well they say that the Kovalam is known for its old and rich tourists, but you should visit it nonetheless. It has a massive beach with a beautiful lighthouse at the end. One can take some surfing lessons, enroll for a Yoga course or just walk-around in the town during the day. In the evening grab a beer at a beach-facing restaurant as you watch the sun sink in the ocean and make some new friends over dinner. There are about four separate beaches all of them easily accessible, my personal favourite is the Lighthouse Beach.
If you are young and you like beaches Varkala is the place to be. Everything here is naturally in the right place, and it is perfect for backpackers. It has a high cliff, followed by the beach and then the ocean. Affordable accommodation, great seafood and live music at some restaurants is a great deal in itself. You can for long walks by the cliff, shop for ethnic backpacker wear, hire a boogie board or just relax by the beach, the choice is all yours.
Inappropriately named the Venice of the East, Alleppey has the best backwaters in Kerala, go on a houseboat tour, ride a canoe through the backwaters and take some time out doing nothing at one of the backwater resorts. Also go swimming and fishing at one of the lakes, if that interests you.
I wrote in detail about Alleppey in a previous post so do check it out.
The most famous hill station of Kerala with 50 (or probably more) shades of green. Everywhere around Munnar there are hills carpeted with tea plantations transforming it all into a picturesque mountain scenery. Visit the Tata Tea Museum go for a valley tour in a rickshaw, eat at the Rapsy, take the bus to Eravikulam National Park, go trekking and get bitten by a leech.
Well it may not be the capital but it certainly is the only metropolitan city in Kerala. Fort Kochi has colonial history of over 500 years. Many have been here and then left us with the beautiful architecture. While there is a lot to do in the city, I like to stay in its quieter part called Fort Kochi, watch the fisherman work the Chinese fishing nets, read a book by the beach and sometimes just walk around the town trying to find some local restaurants where you can grab a simple fish and rice thali. Do visit the Kashi Art Cafe in Fort Kochi it is really unique and has great food.
It is built around the Krishna temple and there are a plethora of things going on here. Devotees line up for blessings, or you can enjoy a traditional Kathakali performance in the evening. It has numerous other churches and one can also visit the Guruvayoor temple where couples line up to get married by receiving blessing from the divine.
Do let me know if I missed out on something in the comments below.