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Overview of Kerala
 

Famous For

The Backwaters

Beaches

Plantations

Fort Cochin
 
 

When to go

December - March
 

Avoid

July - August
 

Regions within Kerala

 

A ribbon of lush, physical beauty, caught between the Arabian Sea and the mountains of the Western Ghats formed by the integration of 3 former states, Malabar, Cochin and Travancore.

“Discovered” by the sun seeking tourists in the latter part of the 20th century, Kerala has expanded its beach resorts, wildlife reservations and hotels to accommodate its new popularity.

Significant in many ways, Kerala is known for its high level of literacy (95%), enlightened education in health, policies and a more liberal attitude towards women’s right and freedom, than other regions of India.

The rich land provides much of Kerala’s wealth, tall coconut palms; plantations of tea, pepper, rubber and coffee have long attracted traders from East and West. The flatter regions along the waterways support many acres of paddy fields giving 2 or 3 harvests a year.

All of this is on show to the traveller, coupled with a welcoming attitude and a desire to please from communities demonstrating genuine religious and community harmony between their many customs and traditions.

With 350 miles of coastline, Kerala boasts many exquisite beaches, the most well known being those of the southern Malabar Coast where the warm seas roll onto the golden sand. Beyond the beach, rural life in the nearby fishing villages continues unchanged.

Sailing along the Backwaters introduces a pattern of life unattended through the ages. Shallow interconnecting canals are the main through fares for traders, fishermen, immaculately dressed school children being ferried across in canoes, water buses carrying locals to work and tourists in their ‘kettuvalam’ cruising boats made to a traditional technique of tied, jak wood planks. Here you can lie back on cushions watching kingfishers dart over their catch, ungainly herons flap by, village women washing clothes, young children swimming, and men and women hard at work in the vast paddy fields lining the banks.

Within this narrow, compact state nowhere is very far away – travel by taxi or take a white knuckle ride in a bus - efficient but scary - taking care to observe the ‘women only’ seats. Trains are recommended only for longer journeys in between larger towns.

When the heat and humidity (summer months) of the coast becomes oppressive, seek the cool air of the hills where the scent of the surrounding spice plantations pervade the refreshing breezes. The Wildlife Sanctuary that is set among the endless green slopes of the tea growing region in the Cardamom Hills protects elephants, sambars, macaques, and the elusive tigers and leopards. The Tourist Zones surround the lake and excursions by boat are a popular way of animal spotting. However a walking tour with a recommended local guide is likely to be much more successful.

As in all of India, temples abound – Hindu and Buddhist, Christian Churches, Syrian churches and occasionally synagogues, most of which are in use, not venerable ruins.

All roads lead to the major port of Cochin (now Kochi) whose ancient and modern foundations spread over promontories and islands, linked by bridges and ferries. Fort Cochin’s complex history takes in the early eastern spices traders, Chinese from the court of Kubla Khan whose fishing nets of unique design, Portuguese and Dutch settlers and traders and an early Jewish settlement, all reflected in an exotic architectural mix.

A cosmopolitan range of restaurants and boutique hotels can satisfy all tastes. Keralan meals resolve around rice, to which are added spicy meat and fish preparations. Though international cuisine is available, don’t miss sampling the local delicious dishes, including wonderful fresh fruit, drinks and ice creams.

Many restaurants stage authentic performances of the traditional Kathakali dances with their colourful, elegant storytelling.

To discuss a bespoke itinerary for Kerala, please email our consultants.

 

 

Gallery
Kerala Images