Category: Kerala

Things to Do in Kerala

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Sunsets are some of the most beautiful moments that nature offers to us on a platter and all for free. If the famous Kovalam Beach is already on your bucker list, ensure catching the sunset moment while you’re there. Visit the Lighthouse beach, the peaceful Samudra beach and the Hawah beach too.

From cruising the backwaters in a houseboat to trekking through the wilderness in Periyar to exploring sprawling tea gardens and spice plantations, Kerala is a treasure trove of experiences for any avid traveller. But if you’re looking to trim your travel budget without notching down the fun, check out our list of free experiences that are unique to God’s Own Country.

1. Immerse Yourself in Village Life

One of the best ways to enjoy and understand how a place ticks is to go into the villages and see how the locals live. You can lend a hand in the emerald paddy fields, canoe through mangrove forests, learn about crab farming and even try fishing in the Kumbalangi Integrated Tourism Village or some of the other villages across Kerala.

2. See a Theyyam Performance

Don’t leave Kerala without watching Theyyam, a beautiful and traditional dance form that is an important part of the culture of Kerala. Staged at several temples across North Kerala, especially in the districts of Kasargod and Kannur, Theyyam performances can go on for 12-24 hours. Do check the Theyyam calendar online before planning your trip.

3. Get charmed at Fort Kochi

If history and architecture entice you, the eclectic Fort Kochi with its blend of Arab, British, Dutch, Chinese and Portuguese influences is just the place for you to explore. You can opt for a walking tour or get onto a bicycle as you visit the Jewish synagogue, Santa Cruz Basilica, the Fort Kochi beach and the Chinese fishing nets.

4. Photograph the Snake Boat Races

If you happen to be in Alappuzha during the Onam festival, don’t miss the famous Snake Boat Races that take place between July and September. Take some amazing photographs of the race, or ever better, make a video of it to take back for friends and family.

5. Spot Rare Birds in Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

If you’re a nature aficionado, you must pencil in this place into your itinerary. Carry a pair of binoculars and your camera as you go on a bird-watching trip. A host of migratory birds visit the bird sanctuary, with November to February being the best months to spot exotic birds like the Siberian crane, Water fowl, Herons and Egrets.

6. Swim in the Mineral Water Springs at Varkala Beach

The mineral water springs at the Varkala Beach are known for their medicinal properties. If you’ve been looking for some healing or are curious about these springs, then head to the pristine beach. You can also swim in the Arabian Sea and enjoy your time at the beach, while you’re here. December through March is the best times to visit the Varkala Beach.

7. Take part in a temple festival

Temple festivals in Kerala are an elaborate and colourful affair, with processions of bejewelled elephants, musicians and drummers and beautifully-decorated floats carrying deities. Soak in the fervour and faith as hundreds of people from across the town and villages throng to these festivals.

8. Frolic at the Athirapally Waterfalls


(Photo courtest: Wikimedia Commons/heb)

If you’ve been inspired by the Liril Girl splashing about under a waterfall as summer sets in, how about emulating her at the 80-feet tall Athirapally Falls, which is just 50 kilometers from the Kochi International Airport! Also known as the Niagra Falls of India, it’s at its gushing best from June to September.

9. Explore Muziris, an Ancient Port City

Just an hour’s drive from Kochi, Muziris was once a very important trading port. Choc-a-bloc with old temples, mosques, synagogues and churches, Muziris is also known for the Cheraman Juma Masjid—the first mosque in India. You can walk through Muzaris on your own or sign up for an organized heritage tour.

10. Witness a Spectacular Sunset at Kovalam Beach

Sunsets are some of the most beautiful moments that nature offers to us on a platter and all for free. If the famous Kovalam Beach is already on your bucker list, ensure catching the sunset moment while you’re there. Visit the Lighthouse beach, the peaceful Samudra beach and the Hawah beach too.

With these 10 free experiences to choose from, you can stretch your budget while relishing different facets of this verdant state.

A Backwater Haven Not Ruined By Tourism – Padanna, Kerala

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History suggests that people came to Padne, and the areas surrounding it, from the north of Malabar, specifically, family heads, to sell their produce, which included sweet potatoes, yellow banana, tobacco, & dried fish. Cheena, or the local water transportation system, was their mode of transport. Traders joined the earlier settlers, and today this area is thickly populated, tucked away in the southern tip of Kasaragod district.

Destination – Padanna, Kerala, India

Location – Padanna is a village in the northern part of the state of Kerala, India, south of Kasaragod district. Padanna Panchayat is composed of North and South Padanna villages. It became part of Kerala when the state was formed on November 1, 1956

Coordinates – 12°9′0″N 75°9′0″E

Distance from Hyderabad – to Kasaragod, Kerala, via SH 25 814 kms & via NH 13, about 854 kms. Padanna is about 50 kms from Kasaragod

History suggests that people came to Padne, and the areas surrounding it, from the north of Malabar, specifically, family heads, to sell their produce, which included sweet potatoes, yellow banana, tobacco, & dried fish. Cheena, or the local water transportation system, was their mode of transport. Traders joined the earlier settlers, and today this area is thickly populated, tucked away in the southern tip of Kasaragod district.

This backwater haven is not ruined by tourist influx, which is the case in Southern Kerala, and the local folk offer a stay experience, which is outstanding. These folks have not been corrupted by the tourist ‘greens’, yet.

One such family head there, is G.S.Gul – a quintessential example in being a head of family, a micro-financer, and doing all he can for the poor coastal folk, by applying innovative ideas to build on tourism. The Indian government, have done their bit by awarding a national award to him for Oyster cultivation, but during my stay there, I happened to talk to him at length for hours. He, in his half sleeve shirts, and white lungi, gave me business and tourism ‘gyan’, unlimited.

There are side huts, there are houses in mid air (on/ within the tree), and there is the never to be forgotten house-boat. The food here is meant for lords of both worlds, and Gul and his amazing staff, give you options galore, and see to it, that word-of-mouth marketing and canvassing happens, through suckers like me. You could stay in a house boat for example, and then at night, they will tie a huge rope to the boat, and depending on the tide, will either let you go all the way in, or a little closer to shelter. But at night, someone from the staff comes in a small row boat, delivers food, and lets you stay in the middle of water, gaze the stars, and absorb the eternity. Alternatively, they take you in the small boat to the shore, feed you, and then drop you back.

The back water beaches at Padanna, are virgin, and for kilometres, you don’t see man, mankind, nothing – only water, sand, waves, and maybe your own shadow, if you face the sun in the right fashion, and it then casts your shadow.

My heart still aches when I think of the times there. It is melancholy personified when I think of my wanderings in the surrounding villages over there. I remember reading an article by Muhammad Yunus some time back and his remark on happiness index. I promise you, the people of the real world (cities), need not look further than this place – gorgeous. In addition, Gul also mentioned that he is working on a ‘hut-stay’ concept, since people want to stay like the villagers do. Hence, he is working on a concept, where tourists stay in huts, like the villagers do!

Simple man, with simple ideas, yet effective, like most cannot imagine. I drove down to Padanna, and as Kerala starts, you do realize, that there is a reason that clichés become clichés – it is surely God’s own country, and mortal tourists like me, cannot absorb and feel the entire beauty in 3 or 4 days. I for one, felt like the human in Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo, as I was leaving Padanna.

Discover Kerala

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Verdant coastlines, languid backwaters, lush tea gardens and the smell of fresh-grown spices wafting in the air—Kerala is a sliver of tropical paradise that has attracted tourists from all over the world. Whether you want to roam the crowded streets of Kochi, a melting-pot of Indian and colonial traditions, or savour a quiet cup of tea at Munnar, Kerala’s favourite hill station, or simply walk down the glorious palm-fringed beaches of Kovalam, sampling seafood, Kerala has something for everybody!

Verdant coastlines, languid backwaters, lush tea gardens and the smell of fresh-grown spices wafting in the air—Kerala is a sliver of tropical paradise that has attracted tourists from all over the world. Whether you want to roam the crowded streets of Kochi, a melting-pot of Indian and colonial traditions, or savour a quiet cup of tea at Munnar, Kerala’s favourite hill station, or simply walk down the glorious palm-fringed beaches of Kovalam, sampling seafood, Kerala has something for everybody!

See:

kovalam kerala quick and handy travel guide

Kochi: The thriving port town of Kochi, or Cochin, once the main centre of India’s spice trade, is a unique amalgamation of the old and the new. Take a walk down the rambling alleys of Kochi’s historic Jewish Colony, lined with brightly-painted houses, to see the Mattancherry Synagogue, one of the oldest existing synagogues in the Commonwealth. Or go see the Chinese Fishing Nets, in the Fort Cochin area. Unlike usual nets, these are fixed land installations and can only be found at Kochi, outside of China—a lasting testimony to the good relations between ancient Chinese emperors and the rulers of Kochi.

Munnar: The rolling hills of Munnar house some of the largest tea plantations in South India. Take some time off from Kerala’s more famous beaches and visit the tea museum, 1.5 kilometres out of town, or simply relax with a freshly-brewed cup on a serene tea estate. A perfect honeymoon destination in Kerala, Munnar boasts of an astonishing terrain and breathtaking landscapes.

Alappuzha: Home to the famous backwaters of Kerala, Alappuzha or Alleppey, as it’s more commonly called, was originally a small fishing village that has now become one of India’s most popular tourist destinations. Precariously balanced on an intricate network of inland canals and backwaters, life at Alleppey is languid, best experienced on a houseboat, or by taking a quiet stroll on Alleppey Beach.

Kovalam: The most famous of Kerala’s beach destinations, Kovalam might be a tad touristy—families in for the weekend from Kochi, tiny kids making a dash for the water with ice cream in hand, beach-umbrella wallahs accosting you at every turn—but it still hasn’t lost its charm. You could go up to the lighthouse on the headland or see the sunset at one of the beachfront restaurants.

Do:

Take a ride on a houseboat at Alleppey: No trip to Kerala is complete without a lazy ride on a kettuvallam meandering through the winding backwaters of Alleppey. Originally used for transporting rice and spices to and from the port, these boats are now luxury liners that are available for hire.

Cruise along the Periyar River: One of India’s most popular wildlife sanctuaries, the jungles of Periyar are home to langurs, bisons, sambars and tigers. Take a one-and-a-half-hour cruise, organized by the Forest Department and Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC), to spot some wildlife!

Watch a performance at the Kathakali Centre, Kochi: Kathakali is the ancient form of storytelling through dance that originated in Kerala in the 17th century. Get a taste of the past with an enthralling dance performance at the Kathakali Centre. If you’re feeling adventurous, the Centre also holds performances of Kalaripayattu, one of the oldest forms of martial arts.

Eat:

Appam with Stew: Appams are light, fluffy pancakes made of rice, crispy at the edges and moist at the centre, best enjoyed with a fragrant stew of meat and/or vegetables.

Kerala Beef Fry with Malabar Porotta: Chunky, fried pieces of beef cooked in a spicy masala mix served with light, flakey Malabar paratha—one of Kerala’s signature dishes.

Prawn Moilee: What’s Kerala without its seafood? While everything from the karimeen to the lobster here is delicious, don’t leave Kerala without trying the moilee, a curry made from coconut and kokum, a local fruit used to add a sour tang to curries.

When to Go:

October to February: Winters are the best time to visit Kerala, although tourists abound all year round. Temperatures are mild (17-30 degrees Celsius) and perfect for beach bums. pack your bags with your kids or spouse and head to those amazing beaches for a perfect holiday

March to June: Summers can get very humid in Kerala but that’s all the more reason to enjoy a dip in the sea! This is off-season, so you can get better deals on hotels during the summer. Everything out there, ranging from food to accommodation to travel is available at a dirt cheap price. Its the best time to bargain and get some amazing discounts on those resorts and flights you were willing to book.

July to September: The monsoons showcase Kerala in all of its lush splendour and can be a great time to visit Kerala. Nature is at its best during these two months. As its monsoon in Kerala in the month of June and September,be sure to carry waterproof clothing and umbrellas as the downpours here are very unpredictable.

Getting There:

By Air: The Kochi International airport is well connected to all major cities. You can take a taxi from the airport to roam about in the city.

By Train: Cochin is well connected to all major railway stations in India. Most trains stop at either the Ernakulam Town Station or the Ernakulam Junction Station.

By Bus: Kerala State Run Transport Corporation (KSRTC) runs Volvo buses to and from cities like Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Trivandrum.

Getting Around:

Bus: Cochin has a large network of buses that connect you to all major towns in Kerala. They are cheap and government-run.

Auto Rickshaw: Autos are available in most cities.They’re cheap, but they often tend to fleece tourists so make sure you ask for a rate card.

Ferry/Boat: Ferry is a great way to travel, especially in and around the Fort Cochin area.

What to Pack:

  • Light cotton clothes if you’re travelling in summer or the monsoons, since humidity tends to be very high
  • Beachwear, of course, and sunblock
  • Flip-flops for the beach and comfortable shoes for walking around in the city
  • Mosquito repellent, especially if you’re planning to visit Periyar