Ideal duration: 7- 10 days Major Airports: Cochin International Airport, Trivandrum International Airport, and Calicut International Airport Best time: October to March (Read More)
One of the promotional advertisements for Kerala describes the State as ‘God’s Own Country’. Now, where catchy phrases go, you can’t get better than that. But in this case, the phrase is not out of place. If India were to be a house, Kerala is the beautiful garden that is out in the front for the world to see. Most provinces, or States as they are called, in India claim to have a patch of green. Kerala is only green, with numerous streams criss-crossing the State.
Geographically, Kerala is located in the southern tip of India that juts into the Indian Ocean. Its shape is like a prehistoric tool, tilting to the left. It is bound by the Arabian Sea on one side and the States of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on the other.
Its people have been shipbuilders and seafarers. Trading runs through their veins. The people they interacted with influenced their culture, food and society in general. Thus, you will find Chinese fishing nets, quaint churches and West Asian flavour in their food. And what they offered were extraordinary spices, Ayurveda and the art of a healthy message, and of course, Kalaripayattu — A martial art that originated in Kerala, variations of which are practised even now in several parts of the world. Yes, you should do some research serious before you embark on a Kerala tourism tour.
The good news is that people of Kerala are familiar with tourists. Tourism is one of the main drivers of their economy. Thus, your hosts will do everything possible to make your stay comfortable and visit memorable. If you strike up a friendship with a knowledgeable local, you can enjoy your visit even more.
Land of rich culture, Kerala has a deep-rooted touch of Malayali background, which has a significant impact in the philosophy, language, cuisine, religion and art forms of Kerala. A place that has a wonderful traditional history, of Malayalis shares a quatres of proportion with Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism and Jainism cultures as well. As a pilgrim destination, one can spot temples and monasteries too in Kerala.
A state with a 100% literacy rate, the significant dialects of Kerala are Malayalam and English. The history of Dravidian settlement has a substantial influence on the culture and language in Kerala, and similarly, European involvement in the state introduced the English language which gradually enfolds the significant population as well. By the 19th century, Malayalam literature has evolved in the state.
Once you get that little spring in your step and your mind becomes open to absorbing more of this wonderful land, you must sit down to watch a performance of Kathakali, a classical Indian dance that is believed to have originated in Kerala.
Kathakali is actually a combination of the words katha (story or a tale) and kali. Now, kali by itself may not mean much, but when seen as a derivative of the word kala (art form), the combination means an art form of narrating a tale. The tales are from ancient Indian literature and epics. You could pick up a few books to read on your flight to India to catch up with an epic or two. But there are so many stories that you will never know which one will be enacted on the day you are in the audience.
Even more fascinating is the elaborate makeup before the performance. This part alone takes a few hours. And, these people do this before every performance, which itself lasts a few hours. Just imagine their patience and stamina. If you like this katha, you could include a visit to one of the schools or teachers dedicated to this art form.
Best time to visit
June to October – Experience the Great Indian Monsoon
October to February – The weather is just right. But keep in mind, that Kerala is humid for most part of the dry season. You must be prepared to sweat buckets. Luckily, coconut water is the best way to rejuvenate your body. The other option is a nice oil massage
What you will like
Kerala is a blend of attractions for tourist, a place where one can fall in love with every little single place and thing they visit or do, undoubtedly Kerala has a plethora of options to entertain yourself, and some of them are listed below:
Tree House stay
What you might not like
Well, language is going to be the first barrier for any tourist who visits Kerala out of southern part of India. Also, it is advisable to visit Kerala in the months of monsoon or winter to enjoy the pleasant and serene weather.
Kerala invites every tourist with its arm open it is an ideal destination for every kind of traveller. Gradually the place is getting popular as a honeymoon destination; otherwise the place is apt for family trips as well. Backpackers, solo travellers, history buffs, nature lover, adventure enthusiasts Kerala can fulfil anyone’s desire!
How to Reach
One can conveniently reach Kerala by air, rail and road as well. Here is brief detail:
By Air-There are three major international airports in Kerala, firstly Thiruvananthapuram International Airport is located in the southern part of Kerala, Kochi International Airport is located in the central part of Kerala. Lastly, Calicut International Airport is also connected to both India as well as international cities via flights.
By Rail- Including small railway stations Kerala is interconnected with 200 railway station. It has connectivity with all the primary states of India, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore etc. One can easily traverse within the city by hiring a taxi or cab from the station.
By Road- With sharing National Highways 17, 47 and 49, one can quickly reach Kerala from any part of the country. Well, the city has direct connectivity with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Must do’s for tourist
Let’s move on to things you might want to do on your first visit to Kerala. First things first, book a stay on a houseboat. This would be one of the most extraordinary experiences, anywhere in the world. They have most, if not all, modern amenities. In some cases, you might think you are in a five- star hotel. During the day, these boats cruise through the waterways that cross-cross the entire State. They drop anchor at night. In most cases, they offer local cuisine, including some dishes with the catch of the day. Yes, fresh fish, which they pick up on the way, or at the point where they drop anchor for the night. Drop anchor is a heavy word here; most often, the boats are tied to a coconut tree.
Speaking of coconut trees, the State is full of them. Whenever you feel a bit thirsty, just ask for coconut water. Best mineral water in the world.
If you are lucky, you might actually get to see one of the men climb a tree to get a few nuts for you. If you are the adventurous type, get off your houseboat and get on one of the numerous smaller boats that people use for their daily commute. Say Hi to the locals, try to strike up a conversation. If you meet some equally adventurous local, they might even invite you home for lunch!
The second thing you must try is an ayurvedic massage. Kerala has several schools for youngsters to learn this art, in addition to the ancient system of medicine — ayurveda. You can expect to be taken care of by experts. They offer various options with the popular one being a full body oil massage where a masseur rubs oil on your body. This is just a starter. Once you are given the various options, you could choose one that would be most beneficial to your requirements.
As people become acquainted with the various options, some are known to visit Kerala exclusively for ayurvedic treatment or massages. They get back to their lives with an aura around them and a spring in their step. Yes…ayurveda can do that to you.
Kerala is an excellent tourist destination, for every kind of traveller, either you are here to explore pilgrim sites, or to spend your vacations, or as a honeymoon spot Kerala bestows a heavenly pleasure to each one, and if you are planning to collect and shop souvenir then Kerala have some utterly peculiar collections to put in your shopping bags. And to begin with, one must go for Coir Products that include rugs, carpets, floor mats, and some fantastic cool souvenirs made of coconut husk.
Then secondly do buy some Authentic Spices of Kerala, that adds some delectable flavours in its native food dishes, that excessive plantation results in providing top quality spices . Go for fresh black peppers, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, and turmeric some basic spices that have unmatchable richness and aroma. You will get these near Kochi, Wayanad, and Thekkady where they are planted widely.
Other things include Teaand Coffee, and again you will get the fresh world’s best quality of tea and coffee products if you are in Wayanad then do visit the tea museum there to explore high-quality tea leaves.
Then, there are some antiques and handicrafts you can have, like Nettur casket, an old jewellery box , made up of brass and rosewood carvings; similarly Uru Models and Chundan Vallam are best option to gift as house decorating items.
Nilavilakku is traditional Malayali oil lamp that holds importance in every home there, can be brought as a decorating item as well.
As to relive the scrumptious moment of flavours of Kerala, You can shop for Banana chips and Cashew nuts; you can have banana chips in different ways as of salted, sweet, crunchy, spicy and more one of the popular things, locally they are known as Upperi or Nenthra-kaaya oopperi,
Then you head out for some actual shopping, if you visit Kerala and haven’t brought pure silk Kerala sarees, then you are going to miss something extraordinary, or their traditional Kasava and Mundu attire made up of pure cotton.
There are the plethora of options still left, as Aromatic oils, Jewellery, Aranmula Mirror, Kathakali Mask, Wooden idols, well you can find these things in every local market easily but Munnar, Wayanad and Thekkady have some of the best markets of Kerala.
Kerala, land of extensive spices plantation, serves the most aromatic and palatable cuisine, and no wonder one can find the essence of rice and coconut in most of the dishes. And the interesting part hides inside in its form of serving the food, for tourist the main attraction of having the authentic food in a traditional green banana leaf is unique in its own way! If one really wants to enjoy some conventional styles then try eating the food with bare hands.
Coconut has engulfed the coastline of Kerala, and so do the rice. If you are visiting for the first time, then you can kick-start your journey with trying Puttu and kadala curry a rice-based dish served with kadala curry prepared with black chickpeas, shallots, coconut milk and spices. Another one is Appam with stew, again the strong ingredients are coconut milk and rice with a blend of aromatic and ginger and rice flour.
If you prefer to have non-vegetarian delicacies, then there are numerous options to discover Kerala’s cuisine and Karimeen pollichathu is on the top; similarly Malabar Parotta with Kerala beef curry, Kerala prawn curry, Fish moilee and Thalassery biriyani are some of the familiar yet fantastic dishes one must try at least once.
If you are looking for a dessert after having a subtle dose of Keralan Cuisine, then Payasam is their centuries-old traditional dessert dish, you cannot leave without trying this dish.! The laborious efforts are needed to make a simple recipe from milk and sugar, but indeed it’s a bliss.