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Kerala, a state on India’s tropical Malabar Coast, has nearly 600km of Arabian Sea shoreline. It’s known for its palm-lined beaches and backwaters, a network of canals. Inland are the Western Ghats, mountains whose slopes support tea, coffee and spice plantations as well as wildlife. National parks like Eravikulam and Periyar, plus Wayanad and other sanctuaries, are home to elephants, langur monkeys and tigers.
Wedged between the Western Ghats on the East and the Arabian Sea on the West, the narrow strip of land known as Kerala is a destination of a lifetime. The timeless beauty of the palm fringed beaches of Kovalam and Varkala, the majesty of the undulating hills of Munnar and Vagamon, the serenity of the pristine backwaters of Kumarakom & Kuttanad and the enchanting woods and forests of Thekkady and Silent Valley will have you bowled over. That such a small terrain can hold diverse geographical features and cultures is a wonder in itself.
One of the most tranquil and relaxing things you can do in Kerala is take a trip in a houseboat along the palm-fringed Kerala canals, known as the backwaters. Freshly cooked Indian food and chilled beer on board the boat make the experience even more enjoyable. You can even spend the night out on the middle of a lake. Bliss!
Fort Kochi Known
as the “Gateway to Kerala”, Kochi is an enchanting city that’s had an eclectic influence. Arabs, British, Dutch, Chinese, and Portuguese have all left their mark on the city. The architecture and historical sites in Fort Kochi attract most of the visitors to the area. There you’ll find the Saint Francis Church, said to be the oldest European built church in India. Fort Kochi is an excellent place to explore on foot. In the late afternoon head to the waterfront, where the Chinese fishing nets line the shore, and relax in one of the many casual restaurants as the sun sets. You can also catch a Kathakali dance performance at the Kerala Kathakali Center. Interested in an Ayurvedic treatment? Agastyatheeram Ayurvedic Center is the place.
Periyar National Park
Kerala’s Periyar National Park is one of the most popular national parks in southern India. One of the best things about the park is that it stays open all year round, even during the monsoon season. Periyar is known for its elephants, and 30 minute elephant rides through the jungle are offered. Safaris are carried out by boat, with the lake being particularly captivating at sunset. Visitors can also take part in an excellent variety of eco-tourism activities there.
The setting of this Varkala beach is striking enough to take your breath away, with a long winding stretch of cliff and views that extend over the Arabian Sea. A paved footpath runs along the length of the cliff, bordered by coconut palms, quaint shops, beach shacks, hotels, and guest houses. Nestled at the bottom of the cliff is a long stretch of sparkling beach, reached by steps leading down from the cliff top. It’s not surprising that Varkala is one of India’s best beaches. If you’re there during late March/early April, try and catch the temple festival.
If you like tea, a visit to Munnar is a must! The surrounding region is renowned for its sprawling tea plantations. The Kundale Tea Plantations, which surrounds a picturesque lake, offers the best opportunity to see the tea being picked and processed, and to try fresh tea straight from the gardens. The area is blessed with the natural beauty of winding lanes, misty hills, and forests full of exotic plants and wildlife. Adventure enthusiasts can trek to Anamudi, the highest peak in south India, explore Eravikulam National Park, or go rock climbing and para gliding. If you want to relax away from it all, try a homestay at one of the many plantation bungalows. Mahindra Homestays have a couple of excellent homestays in Munnar.
Wayanad is a bright green mountainous region that stretches along the Western Ghats. It has a great deal of scenic appeal. Abundant coconut palms, thick forests, paddy fields, and lofty peaks form the landscape. Due to the nature of its terrain, the area also has much to offer adventure enthusiasts. Popular attractions include trekking to Chembra Peak and Meenmutty Falls, exploring old Jain temples, climbing to Edakkal Caves, and wildlife spotting at Muthanga and Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuaries. Another highlight of Wayanad is the many delightful homestays in the area.