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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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