Kerala, affectionately known as “God’s Own Country,” is an idyllic destination nestled on the southwestern coast of India. Renowned globally for its diverse landscapes, ranging from the azure Arabian Sea and mesmerising backwaters to verdant hills and expansive tea gardens, Kerala offers a kaleidoscopic array of experiences that enthral families and couples alike. Whether it’s an adventurous trek in Meesapulimala, wildlife spotting in Gavi, cruising on a houseboat in Alappuzha, or unwinding amidst the serene tea plantations in Munnar, Kerala’s natural beauty and rich cultural heritage create the perfect backdrop for memorable vacations. In essence, Kerala’s unique blend of picturesque locations, tranquil ambiance, and warm hospitality make it an unbeatable destination for all kinds of travellers.
Meesapulimala, nestled amidst the Western Ghats, is a paradise for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. Standing tall at an altitude of 2,640 metres, Meesapulimala is the second highest peak in the Western Ghats and offers an exhilarating trekking experience through eight hills, winding trails, gushing streams, and colourful floral carpets.
The trek to Meesapulimala, characterised by a gradual ascent interspersed with steep slopes, challenges even seasoned trekkers and rewards them with breathtaking panoramic views of the lush green valleys, mist-shrouded hills, and the endless expanse of the picturesque tea estates of Munnar.
One of the defining features of Meesapulimala is its unique ‘face-like’ structure, which gives it its name: Meesa, meaning moustache, and ‘Pulimala’ meaning rock. This unique topography, along with the diverse flora and fauna, makes Meesapulimala a hotspot for photography enthusiasts.
Easily accessible from Munnar, a mere 24 km away, Meesapulimala serves as an ideal getaway for those seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Regular buses and taxis ply between Munnar and the base point of the trek, making it convenient for tourists. For those flying in, the nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, around 140 km away.
In summary, Meesapulimala, with its adrenaline-pumping adventure opportunities, distinct geographical features, and accessible location, is indeed a must-visit destination in Kerala.
It is a quaint hill station tucked away in the Idukki district of Kerala, is a hidden gem pulsating with adventure and scenic beauty. This offbeat destination, characterised by its undulating terrain, emerald green tea estates, and mist-laden hills, offers an array of adventure opportunities, including trekking, off-road driving, and camping.
Adventure seekers can embark on thrilling treks through the winding trails of Kuttikanam, absorbing the mesmerising beauty of the lush greenery and the majestic hills. The verdant landscapes of Thrisangu Hills and the panoramic views from Parunthumpara, also known as the ‘eagle rock, are particularly captivating. Off-road enthusiasts can test their mettle on the rugged terrains of Kuttikanam, while nature lovers can pitch a tent under the star-lit skies and wake up to the soothing melodies of chirping birds.
The unique geographical features of Kuttikanam, such as its misty hills, lush green forests, cascading waterfalls, and expansive tea and cardamom plantations, make it a paradise for nature lovers and photography enthusiasts. The Valanjanganam Waterfalls, locally known as ‘Ninnumullippara,’ offer a spectacular sight, especially during the monsoon.
Kuttikanam is well connected by road, making it easily accessible for tourists. Regular buses ply between Kottayam and Kuttikanam, a journey that takes around two hours. For those travelling by air, the nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, approximately 130 kilometres away.
In a nutshell, Kuttikanam, with its blend of adventure, serenity, and natural beauty, stands as an enticing addition to the list of places to visit in Kerala.
The tourist land of Gavi, an eco-tourist spot tucked amidst the pristine wilderness of the Pathanamthitta district, stands as a testament to Kerala’s commitment to sustainable and responsible tourism. The place is a treasure trove of biodiversity, housing a wide array of flora and fauna, and is a part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Visitors frequently spot elephants, Nilgiri Tahr, lions, and a plethora of exotic bird species.
Gavi’s pristine beauty is not just limited to its vibrant wildlife. The verdant rolling hills, sparkling water bodies, and overall tranquilly the place offers are nothing short of enchanting. Tourists can indulge in activities like bird watching, wildlife spotting, and trekking, or simply soak in the serene beauty of nature. Gavi’s magic is such that it leaves every visitor spellbound and wanting for more.
Gavi’s commitment to preserving its ecological balance has been recognised and lauded internationally. The Green Globe, the worldwide sustainability system based on the principles of Agenda 21 and the Green Globe International Standard for Sustainable Tourism, has listed Gavi among the leading eco-tourist destinations in the world. This recognition further strengthens Gavi’s position as a must-visit place in Kerala.
In summary, Gavi offers an ideal blend of abundant natural beauty, rich biodiversity, and a tranquil atmosphere, ensuring an unforgettable experience for all visitors. Its recognition as a leading eco-tourist destination merely underscores its significance on the list of places to visit in Kerala.
Commonly known as the ‘Venice of the East’, is a district in Kerala renowned for its picturesque backwaters, traditional houseboat experiences, and pristine Alappuzha Beach.
The Alappuzha backwaters, a labyrinth of waterways meandering through small islands, lush paddy fields, and quaint villages, offer a unique and tranquil experience that is quintessentially Kerala. Travelling these serene waterways in a traditional ‘Kettuvallam, or houseboat, is an unparalleled experience.
The houseboats, equipped with all modern amenities and comforts, offer an excellent opportunity to soak in the natural beauty of Alappuzha. As you glide along the calm waters, the stunning landscapes, punctuated by the occasional ripple of water birds or the rhythmic thud of a local villager’s oar, create a mesmerising and tranquil tableau that is both captivating and soothing.
Alappuzha Beach, with its vast expanse of golden sand, azure waters, and a historic pier that extends into the sea, is a perfect spot to relax and unwind. It is also famous for its 150-year-old Alappuzha Lighthouse, which stands as a testament to the region’s maritime past.
In essence, Alappuzha, with its serene backwaters, unique houseboat experiences, and tranquil beaches, is a must-visit destination for those seeking to experience the best of what Kerala has to offer.
Wayanad, a scenic hill station nestled in the Western Ghats, offers a unique blend of natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and enticing local attractions. With its lush greenery, picturesque landscapes, and cool, pleasant climate, Wayanad provides an idyllic retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Wayanad’s charm is not just confined to its natural beauty; the local culture, steeped in tradition and history, adds to its allure. The region is home to various tribal communities whose unique art forms, rituals, and festivals form an integral part of Wayanad’s rich cultural tapestry.
As for local attractions, the Banasura Sagar Dam, the largest earth dam in India, is a must-see. The dam, set against the backdrop of Banasura Hills, offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. The reservoir also serves as a prime spot for boating, providing an exciting way to explore the beauty of the area.
Wayanad is also famous for its organic coffee plantations. A walk through these sprawling plantations, with the aroma of fresh coffee wafting in the air, offers a unique and enjoyable experience. You can also learn about the various stages of coffee production and even sample some freshly brewed coffee.
In conclusion, Wayanad, with its scenic beauty, vibrant local culture, and unique attractions, indeed, deserves a spot on the list of places to visit in Kerala. Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast, a nature lover, or a history buff, Wayanad has something to offer everyone.
Munnar: Situated in the idyllic Idukki district of Kerala, Munnar is a mesmerising hill station known for its expansive tea gardens, undulating terrain, and refreshing environment. The name Munnar translates to ‘Three Rivers’, indicative of its location at the confluence of three mountain streams: Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni, and Kundala.
The tea gardens in Munnar, sprawling as far as the eye can see, are the epitome of tranquilly and natural beauty. Acres of impeccably manicured tea bushes, forming a uniform, pleasing green carpet against the backdrop of towering Western Ghats, are a sight to behold. The picturesque vistas of the rolling hills blanketed in mist, with the land’s texture broken only by the silver oak trees and the small streams that cut across, are nothing short of a painter’s dream.
Take a leisurely walk through these tea estates, and you are certain to feel an instant connection with nature. The air is tinged with the subtle aroma of tea leaves, which, combined with the cool, crisp mountain air, revitalises your senses. The region’s hushed silence, only occasionally broken by the rustling of leaves or the distant chirping of birds, adds to the overall calming effect.
These tea gardens are not just about their visual appeal; they carry a rich history as well. The genesis of tea plantations in Munnar dates back to the late 19th century, when the British discovered the region’s favourable conditions for tea cultivation. Today, these plantations stand as a testament to Munnar’s colonial past and its transformation into a significant tea-producing region.
In summary, Munnar, with its green tea gardens stretching across the hilly terrain, rejuvenating environment, and colonial charm, is a must-visit destination in Kerala. A visit here is not merely about sightseeing; it’s about immersing oneself in a serene and enriching experience that leaves a lasting impression.
It is situated on the banks of Vembanad Lake, is another must-visit destination in Kerala. Known for its breathtakingly beautiful backwaters, Kumarakom offers an enchanting experience, wrapped in the serenity and charm of nature. The sprawling backwaters, fringed by lush greenery and dotted with vibrant aquatic life, present a spectacle of natural beauty unparalleled in its tranquilly.
One of the highlights of Kumarakom is the opportunity to cruise through its serene backwaters on a houseboat. These houseboats, locally known as ‘Kettuvallams,’ are well-equipped with modern comforts and provide a luxurious way to explore the awe-inspiring scenic beauty of the backwaters. As the houseboat floats gently along the water, you’ll find yourself immersed in a tranquil world of shimmering waters, rustling palms, and melodious bird songs, a truly unforgettable experience.
The surroundings of Kumarakom are equally mesmerising. The region is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, making it a paradise for nature lovers. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, with its diverse species of migratory birds, is a major draw for wildlife enthusiasts. Whether it’s the spectacular sunrise across the lake or the captivating sight of birds returning to their nests at sundown, Kumarakom offers countless moments of mesmerising beauty.
In conclusion, Kumarakom, with its tranquil backwaters, luxurious houseboat experiences, and rich biodiversity, is a destination that promises a unique and memorable experience, making it an essential part of the Kerala itinerary.
Activities: A comprehensive list of activities to indulge in in each of these locations.
Activities for Tourists in Kerala
- Explore the mystic beauty of the Edakkal Caves, famous for their pictorial writings that date back to 6,000 BC.
- Visit the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers.
- Enjoy boating in Pookode Lake, set amidst the lush greenery of Wayanad.
- Take a walk through the Spice plantations and get a closer look at the cultivation of spices like pepper, cardamom, vanilla, and coffee.
- Experience the thrill of a night journey in the dense Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary and spot various animals in their natural habitat.
- Visit the Tea Museum to understand the history and process of tea making.
- Experience an early morning walk in the Tea Gardens and the surrounding hill station to enjoy the serene beauty.
- Explore the Eravikulam National Park, the first national park in Kerala, known for its endangered inhabitant – the Nilgiri Tahr.
- Visit the Mattupetty Dam and enjoy the panoramic view of the surroundings along with activities like speed boating.
- Experience a ride on the traditional houseboats, or Kettuvallams, through the tranquil backwaters.
- Visit the renowned Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary and spot a variety of birds.
- Try hands-on fishing with traditional fishing equipment and techniques.
- Enjoy the mesmerising sunset cruise and watch the sun set over the horizon.
- Explore the small, beautiful island of Pathiramanal, located amid the Vembanad Lake.
- Take a trip to the Gavi Eco-tourism Centre and explore the extensive flora and fauna of the region.
- Trek through the picturesque Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, home to many species of birds and animals.
- Visit the Chimmony Dam, located amidst a lush green forest area, and witness its breathtaking beauty.
- Take a dip in the Meenmutty Waterfalls, located amidst the dense greenery of the wildlife sanctuary.
- Go on an exciting night safari and experience the thrill of spotting wild animals in their natural habitat.
- Explore the Pathanamthitta District Museum to get an insight into Kerala’s history and culture.
- Enjoy the beauty of nature on a backwater cruise and explore the various islands in Alappuzha.
- Visit the Kol wetland, declared a Ramsar site, to witness an extensive variety of flora and fauna.
- See traditional snake boat races in action at the Nehru Trophy Boat Race, held every year to commemorate Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit to Alappuzha.
- Enjoy viewing exotic species of migratory birds in Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, located close by.
- Visit the Krishnapuram Palace and admire its grand architecture and exquisite mural paintings.
- Explore St. Mary’s Forane Church, a prominent religious attraction in Alappuzha, and witness its impressive architecture.
- Take a stroll along Alappuzha Beach and admire its breathtaking beauty at sunset.
- Visit Pathiramanal Island to explore the pristine nature of this secluded spot or watch rare migratory birds in their natural habitat.
- Experience the traditional Kerala culture by attending the Annual Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race.
- Spend a day at Punnamada Lake and take part in various activities like fishing, kayaking, and swimming.
Kerala is an ideal destination for tourists of all ages with its varied array of attractions and activities. From exploring wildlife sanctuaries to cruising through tranquil backwaters, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful state. So, if you’re looking for an exciting and memorable holiday destination in India, look no further than the mesmerising Kerala!
No matter which location you choose to explore, a visit to the enchanting state of Kerala will be sure to provide you with memories that will last a lifetime.
Accommodations and logistics:
Kerala offers a wide array of accommodations to suit every traveller’s budget and preferences. From luxurious resorts and boutique hotels to comfortable homestays and budget hostels, you’ll find something to perfectly fit your needs. Some notable options include the Kumarakom Lake Resort in Kumarakom, The Windflower Resort & Spa in Wayanad, Munnar Tea Country Resort in Munnar, Rainforest Resort in Athirappilly, and Marari Beach Resort in Alappuzha. Homestays are also a popular choice in Kerala, offering a unique opportunity to experience local life and cuisine.
Travel within Kerala.
Travelling within Kerala is relatively easy and convenient. The state boasts an efficient public transportation system, including buses and trains that cover most of the state. Auto-rickshaws and taxis are also widely available for shorter distances. For a more authentic Kerala experience, consider taking a ride in a traditional ‘vallam’ (canoe) along the backwaters. If you prefer to drive, car rental services are available in most major towns and cities.
- The official language is Malayalam, but English is widely understood and spoken.
- The local cuisine is spicy and features a lot of rice, coconut, and sea food. Vegans and vegetarians will also find plenty of options.
- Kerala has a tropical climate. Light cotton clothing is recommended. Do carry an umbrella or raincoat, as it often rains, even outside the monsoon season.
- Indian Rupees (INR) are the official currency. Credit cards are accepted in most places, but carrying some cash is advisable, especially for smaller vendors and in rural areas.
- Avoid drinking tap water. Stick to bottled or boiled water.
- Make sure to respect local customs and religious sentiments, especially when visiting temples and other places of worship.
In conclusion, Kerala, with its scenic landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and diverse wildlife, truly stands out as a remarkable destination for vacation seekers, be they families or couples. The array of experiences offered, from tranquil backwater cruises to thrilling wildlife safaris, from immersing in the local culture to savouring the spicy and diverse Kerala cuisine, caters to the tastes of every traveller. Its warm hospitality, coupled with the wide range of accommodations and convenient travel facilities, only adds to the charm. Whether you find solace in the lap of nature, seek thrills and adventure, or wish to delve into the historical and cultural depths of a region, Kerala promises to leave you with unforgettable memories. So, pack your bags and get ready for an enchanting journey to God’s Own Country, a journey that will replete your travel album with pictures and your heart with joy.