Kerala - God's Own Country.
Translated from the Malayalam language, the name Kerala means “land of coconuts,” as being derived from the word kera “coconut tree” and alam “land.” Though Kerala is well-known to be a true king at coconut tree cultivation, it is not only defined by this. It is a marvelous place where distinctive culture, breathtaking lands, astonishing history, and intricate cuisine build an incredible concoction that seduces and makes anyone obsessed with it. Hence, it is not a surprise that it is also called “God’s Own Country.”
Let’s dig into the culture, history, and the daily life of this fascinating state, located in the south-east of India for the beginning, to widen the knowledge about it that may eventually set the start of your first Kerala trip. As it was influenced by other parts of India and abroad countries, the culture of Kerala is defined by Dravidian, Arab, Ayan, and even European culture. Thus, the most commonly practiced religion is Hinduism succeeded by Islam and Christianity.
From the ancient times, specifically since 3000 BCE, Kerala has been the leading exporter of spice. To this day, the region cultivates a wide range of spices, including black pepper (97% of India’s total output), vanilla, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, and others. Besides spices, the state’s harvest includes natural rubber (85% of the country’s output), rice, coffee, tea, nuts, and coconuts, obviously.
Spread across the coastline of India on 595 km (370 mi) long, Kerala’s fishery industry is prominent as much as the spice cultivation and export. Thus, around 220,000 citizens of the state have their primary job as fishermen, which annually results in a contribution to about 3% of the state’s income.
This is pretty much everything on the statistics of the Indian state, Kerala. Hopefully, we brought some interesting facts about the state’s economy and main activities, but now let’s move to the fun part, and discover the culture, traditions, and landmarks that will definitely captivate your attention.
Kerala tourism has been developing with fast paces since the ‘90s, thanks to its plenitude of remote locations with breathtaking landmarks, diverse culture, and engaging traditions. Throughout the past several years, Kerala has been named one of the most desirable and must-see destinations, considering the abundance of places awaiting to be visited. In consequence, we want to bring to your attention a list of things and places that you should definitely explore at least once in your lifetime.
Before you begin to delve into the list, we’ve prepared a guide to your Kerala trip, that might be helpful. Look over the information we gathered to be a pro at your Kerala trip, or at least to be a bit aware of the location you’d be traveling to.
ATMs: Federal, ICICI, HDFC, Axis, and SBI Bank ATMs can be found within the state.
Internet access: Search the markets for internet booths (Rs 10–20/30min). Otherwise, you can surf the web at your hotel as they usually offer free wi-fi.
Mobile connectivity: Operators like BSNL, Aircel, Vodafone, Airtel, and Idea are providing their services on most of the areas of the state. Take into consideration that on the hilly parts of the region, like in Thekkady, Wayanad, and Munnar, the signals can get considerably lower.
Tourist Info: Offices of Tourist Facilitation Center can be found in almost every major city, but the headquarters is established in Thiruvananthapuram. Phone number: 0471 2321132. Email: email@example.com.
Emergency phone numbers: Nearest Police station - 100; Fire Station - 101; Ambulance - 108; Crime Stopper - 1090; Women Helpline - 1091; Traffic Alert - 1099.
When to start the trip: The most suitable time for the Kerala trip is October-February. As the climate in the state is overall hot, during this period, the weather is the coolest. Due to the increase in the number of tourists, the prices of accommodations are at their highest. In late October, rains might occur as the monsoon is retreating. In hilly regions of the state, you might want to carry a light jacket as evenings are getting chilly.
The mid-season is marked with the beginning of March and the end of April. Coastlines get almost empty during the season. The high parts of the state, though, can still be crowded. On the other hand, between May and September, Kerala tourism falls to its lowest, as it corresponds to the peak of heat that in June is replaced by rains that mark the monsoon’s arrival.
What to bring on the trip: As the weather is hot, the majority of the time, pack caps, sunscreen, and UV protective glasses. Along with that, bring a pair of flip-flops and walking shoes. You can stroll the streets in shoes, to protect your feet from dust and stones, but wear flip-flops to be comfortable on the beach.
You must include in your baggage mosquito repellent and leech socks. Once the night falls on the region, mosquitoes go on the hunt, so be considerate to bring a repellent. In case you visit the plantations or step on the trekking routes, bring leech socks, as those are the perfect habitat of leeches.
In coastal areas, the evenings are chilly, so consider taking a light jacket on your trip. If you stay in the hilly parts of the state during October-February, you might get something heavier as the weather is colder there. Take a sturdy umbrella for the rainy season.
Now that you are ready for the Kerala trip, let’s discover tourist places in Kerala and activities you can get engaged in.
Stay In A Houseboat in Alleppey
When it comes to trips to Kerala, the first thing many tourists desire to experience is the Houseboat sailing through the serene Kerala backwaters. It is one of the best things to do as you can get relaxed and explore the surroundings at the same time. Watch the houseboat striding along the lush greenery while you are served authentic delicacies of the region. A houseboat can accommodate an entire family, so it is a great family opportunity. The cost of a ride varies between Rs 6500 and 11500, and it includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
Bathe Elephants in Kodanad
The Kodanad Elephant Sanctuary offers visitors the possibility not only to watch and touch elephants but also to give them a good bath. Along with this activity, you can go for an elephant safari, elephant feeding, or just stay watching baby elephants. Depending on the activity you perform, and the amount of time you spend with elephants, you will need to pay around Rs 350-1500/person.
Observe The Neelakurinji Bloom in Munnar
Visit the Eravikulam National Park during September-October to admire the most unique and stunning flower bloom, The Neelakurinji Bloom. The blooming of neelakurinji flowers is so unique, as it happens once in about 12 years. Though the last time when the blooming happened was in 2018, you should pay a visit to Eravikulam National Park to see Nigiri Thar, an endangered mountain goat, or to go trekking to the top of the hill. To enter the park, you will need to pay Rs 55/adult, which is a low cost for the number of astonishing things you might see there.
Watch The Snake Boat Race in Alappuzha
The annual Snake Boat Race takes place on the Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha. It is a well-known attraction among locals and tourists, that takes place between July and September, and particularly during Onam festival (which is one of the must-visit Kerala holidays in India). You can also watch this colorful race up close, by renting a boat for yourself.
Stop Over In A Treehouse in Wayanad
To stay in a treehouse means to be closer to nature and to fulfill a childhood dream. Besides Wayand, treehouses can be visited in Athirapally, Munnar, or Thekkady. Not to get bored, you can go rock climbing, walking around and nature observing, rappelling, or mountain biking. The rates for a treehouse stay start from Rs 10000.
Visit Spice Plantations in Thekkady
God’s Own Country is rich in spices. Then, why to lose this incredible opportunity to see how they grow, help the locals with their cultivation, and give it a taste? Exotic vanilla, cardamon, black pepper, cinnamon, and other aromatic spices can be sought, touched, and tasted on Abraham’s spice plantations in Thekkady. Traditionally, hotels include spice tours in their prices for accommodations, but you can go exploring them on your own (the cost of the entry is only Rs 200).
Watch Theyyam in Kochi
One of the most amazing things to do in Kochi is to watch Theyyam, a bright and outstanding ritual form of worship. To see the performance with various intricate costumes and invigorating dances, head to the Kerala Museum in Kochi. Look up the dates when the performance may occur, and follow the timing not to lose any single bit of it.
Swim In The Arabian Sea at Varkala Beach
If you can’t get enough of the sunny beaches and crystal clear waters to swim in, lay on the beach of Varkala that borders with the Arabian Sea. During the stay, you will not only be able to relax under the sun but also to bathe in the sea waters that have healing and therapeutic properties. It is to be noted that Varkala beach is the best to be visited between December and March.
Get Drenched under the Athirappilly Falls
Also called Niagara Falls of India, the Athirappilly waterfall is the place where the Chalakudy river descends from an 80-feet height incredibly graceful. Being located 50 km away from the Kochi International Airport, the falls can be easily accessed by bus or taxis. To see the falls in full power, visit them during the monsoon. That means you might pack your baggage and come and see them between July and September. Just don’t forget your umbrella.
Go Canoe Riding in Kollam
One of the greatest opportunities to see and explore the countryside is by taking a canoe ride in Kollam through the banks of Ashtamudi Lake. The serene waters of Kerala is an absolute wonder. Take a guided tour and discover places that have never been seen and stepped on.
Unearth The Edakkal Caves on Ambukuthi Hills
For history lovers, and every tourist in general, one of the must-be-seen places to visit in Kerala is the Edakkal Caves. The uniqueness of the caves is represented by the drawings and pictures which had been laid on the walls in the Stone Age. It is believed that some of them date more than 7,000 years back. The caves have a magical aura that might send you back to ancient times.
Go For A Peaceful Stroll on the Jew Street
Besides watching Theyyam, in Kochi, you can walk down the Jew Street. Though the number of Jews living in this part of the city is low, since they mostly went back to Israel after the colonial period has ended, they left a big indentation in the culture and traditions of the region. On the Few Street, you can drink a delicious and aromatic cup of coffee and get out of reality by reading a book.
Treat yourself with an Ayurveda Session in Chingoli
Don’t lose the chance to treat yourself with a therapeutic and relaxing session. The Ayurveda Session includes natural herbs and oils that relieve the tension in your body and puts your mind at ease. It is an outstanding way to let up on stress and heal your soul and body.
Admire The Local Art in Iringal Crafts Village
No vacation isn't complete without admiration of the local art. Art is the food for anyone's mind. Head to the Iringal Crafts Village, located near River Chaliyar, to explore and buy the perfect souvenir. It will remind you about your Kerala trip, every time you'll be looking at it. The craftsmen and artisans proudly display their creations to let you choose one to your liking. The pieces are unique as only natural materials such as coconut shells and banana fibers are used in their make.
Take A Jeep Ride through Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
The world-famous Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a wide range of flora and fauna. It tops the list of the must-be-visited destination in Kerala, thanks to the landscapes, animals, and culture of the inhabitants that can be found on its territory. Visit the vineyards, tea plantations, family farms, and gardens that are spread on a distance the eyes can’t see by engaging in a jeep ride. Take a forest ride to breath in the fresh air and get seduced by the countryside lifestyle. You can also have a night stay by arranging a tent in a safe place or rent a treehouse. The cost of a jeep ride like this is Rs 1,800/person per one day.
Last Updated on November 4, 2019.