Kerela – God’s Own Country
To travel to Kerala, its best if you take the aerial route or the rail route to Cochin or board the train to Ernakulam. It is preferably the best possible ways to start your Kerala journey.
Cochin, also known as Kochi is a portion of Ernakulum. This port city lies on the West Coast of India. The ‘Queen of Arabian Sea’ is a must-see destination in Kerala. It has brought travellers from far and away. Colonialism is still omnipresent in Kochi in the form of various architectural structures. It is a perfect blend between everything local and the glimpses of the erstwhile European past. Cochin has outstanding beaches and backwaters, spice markets, architectural splendours and lots more. This vibrant city provides breathtaking sceneries. The Arabian Sea is edged on the west side while the Western Ghats is on the east side. The city experiences an average equatorial climate due to its closeness to the equator. Cochin is a small town but it packs a punch when it comes to tourism. The culture, food, history and its people make Cochin a very flamboyant and favourable place to visit. Ideally, the best time to visit Kochi is during its winter months i.e. from October to February.
Fun Fact: Not many are aware of this but you can go Snorkelling at Thiruvankulam in Kochi. It is a suburb of the port city which has numerous lagoons and canals close by. There is also an abandoned quarry which is 8 acres wide and 120 feet where you can do Snorkelling.
Munnar is Marvellous, Munnar is Majestic and Munnar is Magical. This verdant green hill station is Kerala’s pride. I am sure mostly every day you come back exhausted from work? Along with it, you also hope to go on a trip that will rejuvenate you. The best part of Munnar is that it will not make you feel weary, yet it will give you a chance to escape into the laps of nature. So set out to explore Munnar in Kerala and come back fully energized. Munnar has startling greenery amidst the reclusive nature. It has rolling hillocks which are marked with abundant tea plantations. The town is situated in the Idukki district at an altitude of 1600 meters above sea level. Munnar is very often known as the ‘Kashmir of South India’. This idyllic tourist location is a haven for peace lovers. Even the British rulers preferred this place for their summer retreats.
Alleppey is also called as Alappuzha. This is undoubtedly one of the neatest cities in India. The beauty of Alleppey lies in its scenic backwaters. The city is located on the Laccadive Sea in the gorgeous state of Kerala. The houseboat cruises along the backwaters are some unforgetful events in one’s life. Known as the ‘Venice of the East’, Alleppey has palm-edged canals and serene lagoons. There are many Ayurvedic Resorts in Alleppey in which one can revitalise oneself. In Alleppey, one can witness the green rice fields, the avifauna, and choir making activities. The Alleppey Beach is a gem of a beach along the Malabar Coast. The 137-year old pier is a must-see in here. If you are travelling in August and September, do not forget to watch the snake boat race. Alleppey is a picturesque post-card. Other attractions include Haripada Sri Subrahmanya Swamy Temple, Krishnapuram Palace, and St. Andrew’s Basilica
Kovalam is one more gem in Kerala. This scenic beach town is located by the Arabian Sea. There are a plethora of coconut trees in Kovalam and that is why Kovalam translates to a grove of coconut trees. This destination is the famous world over and has three half-moon shaped beaches. The calm water of this massive bay is just perfect for bathing. There are many leisure choices available in these beaches ranging from sun-bathing, herbal body toning massages, swimming to catamaran cruises and cultural programs. Accommodation options are plenty in Kovalam and equally at the beach. From five-star to budget hotels to Ayurvedic health resorts, you can choose accordingly. Thiruvananthapuram Central is the nearest railway station from Kovalam which lies at a distance of 16 km. You can also take the aerial route for which the closest airport is Trivandrum International Airport at a distance of 10 km. The best time to visit Kovalam is from September to March.
The town of Poovar is in Neyyattinkara, almost at the southern end of Thiruvananthapuram. The backwaters, the golden sand beaches, and the calm environ are some of the attributes of this place. Poovar also has a good amount of exotic wildlife. This beautiful place is placed at the junction where Neyyar River connects with the Arabian Sea. This laidback location is largely unexplored. This idyllic place beckons the weary souls to relax and rejuvenate. This tropical paradise is marked with swaying coconut trees, rich vegetation, and crimson sunsets. The breathtaking Poovar Beach with pristine waters is a sight to behold. Just be informed that due to heavy undercurrents, swimming is prohibited in June to August. The nearest railway station is Thiruvananthapuram railway station which is 23 km from Poovar. Trivandrum International Airport is the closest airport which is 25 km from Poovar. Accommodations are aplenty with floating cottages, land cottages, ayurvedic resorts, and hotels. Do not forget to do boating in the bewitching backwaters.
Kumarakom is a beautiful hamlet on the Vembanad Lake. This sleepy village is just 13 km from Kottayam. Boating, fishing, flora, avifauna, etc. make up this paradise. Lots of migratory birds are also seen here like the wild duck, Siberian stork, etc. The palm trees, the lavish houseboats are the special features of Kumarakom. This scenic place is also laced with canals. Kumarakom has achieved the feat of being called as one of the must-see locales in your lifetime. The popular Vembanad Lake is home to a wide variety of marine life. Nature has gifted this amazing place with verdant paddy fields, mangrove forests, and every shade of green. Monsoon makes Kerala look stunning and Kumarakom is no exception. Watching the rains from your cosy houseboat is a great experience. You can also visit this beauty from November to March. Kumarakom is 250 Km from Trivandrum International Airport and 85 Km from Cochin International Airport. The nearest railway station is 16 km away at Kottayam.
Thekkady is famous for its Periyar National Park. Placed on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, the famous sanctuary is covered with savanna grasslands and lush green deciduous forests. Lots of animals are found in the park. Some of them are Nilgiri langurs, elephants, lion-tailed macaques, sambar, gaur, and tigers. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is sprawled over 777 square kilometres. The dense green forest comprises 360 square kilometres of the entire 777 square kilometres. This is India’s biggest wildlife sanctuary. There is a 120 years old dam which is built across Periyar is a prime tourist spot. This scenic spot is full of endangered species. A prolific tribal culture also thrives here. Thekkady has a height of 300 meters over sea-level and it is very well-known for its abundant nature, wildlife and adventure sports. Take a ride on the ferry-boat along the course of the river and enjoy the surroundings. The coolness of Thekkady will refresh your body and mind.
Athirapally is situated in the Thrissur district of Kerala. It is 60 km from the city of Thrissur, 55 km from Cochin International Airport and 70 km from Kochi. This scenic place is filled with verdant green forests, cascading waterfalls and meandering rivers. Athirapally Waterfall is the biggest waterfall in Kerala. The Athirapally Waterfall amidst the green foliage and Sholayar ranges has a height of 80 feet and it is 330 feet wide. This is a bird-lovers paradise. Four rare species of Hornbill can be spotted here. The trekkers find this place exhilarating though the path is a little risky. Regular Jungle Safaris are also conducted by The Tourism Promotion Council which is a 90 km tour across the Sholayar Peaks. The major attractions are the Athirapally falls, Kauthuka Park, tea gardens, Thumboormuzhy Dam, Vazhachal falls and Butterfly garden. Famous movie songs like “Barso Re Megha” from Guru starring Aishwarya Rai Bacchan and “Jiya Jale” from the movie Dil Se starring Priety Zinta were shot here. Many other movies were shot here along with ‘Bahubali’.
Varkala is a palm-filled town with red laterite cliffs all around. There are gorgeous Varkala beach and many other places of attractions. Varkala is situated at the north-east part of Trivandrum at a distance of 40 km. The red cliffs that I mentioned earlier are adjacent to the Arabian Sea, the only state in Kerala where it is so. Varkala has a 2018-old temple known as the Janardana Swami Temple. Sivagiri is also a popular place in Varkala which sits atop a hill and was built by Sree Narayana Guru. It is believed that the waters splashing against Papanasam beach has healing powers. The natural setting of Varkala is a bag packers paradise. This scenic beach town has lots of accommodation for all types of pockets. Varkala also has lighthouses and forts. A number of water-sports activities are available on the Varkala beach. Udaya Marthanda Varma, a 16th century Travancore king made great contributions for the development of Udaya Marthandapuram as Varkala was known back then.
Wayanad is a rustic district in Kerala. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is a luxuriant forested area. It is placed on the Western Ghats. Wayanad takes pride in the sole Lava Kusha Temple and the only mirror temple called Vythiri in Kerala. Wayanad is tucked away in the surroundings of pristine mountains and is dipped in rich history and culture. This thick hill-station has many plantations, abundant wildlife, and forests. This glorious place has tall ridges, rough terrain, entangled jungles, and profound valleys. Wayanad is also replete with pouring waterfalls and historical caves. It is just so fulfilling to embark on a trek to historic caves. You can catch a glimpse of many wild animals. This paddy field area dates back to the 8,000-year-old Paleolithic civilization. The flora-fauna can very well thrive here due to the suitable climate. The biggest bee-eater bird in the world, the Blue-bearded Bee-eater is found here in Wayanad.
Whenever I think of Kollam, I think of Malabar Mutton. It’s a very tasty dish. The history behind the name Kollam has supposedly come from the Sanskrit word Kollam which means pepper. Coming back to Kollam, it is on the Malabar Coast. This is an age-old sea-port is a strong commercial hub. Once upon a time, Kollam did trading with Chinese, Arabs, Romans and many other Orientals. Kollam is popular for its coir making and cashew processing. It is the largest exporter of processed cashew. Kollam or Quilon as it was earlier known is about 70 km from Thiruvananthapuram. It is very densely populated. The city has a political, cultural and commercial history. Some illustrious places include the St. Thomas Fort, the Thangasseri lighthouse, Trevally Palace, etc. Kollam or Desinganadu is often called the dreamland of Kerala. Kollam’s beauty lies in expansive green forests, water bodies such as lakes, seas, streams, rivers; of course the backwaters and in the mountains and plains.
Ashtamudi Lake is a scenic backwater in Kollam receives most visits in Kerala. It has got eight channels or arms from which it has got its name. It is the entry to the world-famous backwaters of Kerala. Ashtamudi Lake is encircled by swinging palm trees and luxuriant greens all around. A cruise ride from Kollam to Allepey is considered as one of the best trips in the backwaters. Lots of aquafauna and flora flourish under the waters of Ashtamudi Lake. This happens to be the second largest lake in Kerala with a length of 16 km. Kollam is the nearest railway station which is 2 km from Ashtamudi and the closest Airport is the Trivandrum International Airport which lies around 70 km from Ashtamudi. Ashtamudi experiences heavy rain in monsoon so it’s better to visit this hidden gem from November till the end of March. This time the climate is very comfortable.
Trivandrum is the capital city of Kerala. Peppered with British architecture, Trivandrum or Thiruvananthapuram also houses the Kuthira Malika Palace. Mahatma Gandhi called Trivandrum the ‘Evergreen city of India’. Trivandrum is noteworthy for its research and academic centres. Trivandrum has an unmatchable vibe. The city which is built on seven hills is a plush metropolis which is charming and scenic. There are a lot of things to see in Trivandrum which includes museums, temples, palaces, and exotic beaches. The Anantha Padmanabhaswamy temple or simply the Padmanabhaswamy temple was built using two types of architecture: Keralan and Dravidian and thus it’s a very unique characteristic feature of this striking temple. Trivandrum is a place with enticing culture and history. Trivandrum’s trading practice goes back to 1000 BCE. The city was mainly involved in the trading of ivory, spices, and sandalwood. There are many local means of transport in Trivandrum. You can hire cars, mo-bikes, bicycles, and scooters to move around the city.