Kerala, ‘The God’s Own country, is an enchantingly beautiful, emerald green land with lots of vegetation and paddy fields. This beautiful state is flanked by the Western Ghats with dense forests on one side, the Arabian Sea on the other, and internally strewn with rivers, lagoons, backwaters and rich vegetation.
Kerala boasts a high level of literacy, way above the country’s standard (for men and women) and life expectancy is the highest in the whole Indian sub-continent. With its communist political regime, Kerala is one of India’s most stable states, where its citizens are the most involved.
Kerala is renowned all over the world for its backwaters, natural beauty, health resorts and beaches. Kerala is believed to be a gift of the Arabian Sea. The pride of Kerala are gorgeous and exotic sunny beaches, breathtaking serene hill stations, enchanting waterfalls, beautiful lagoons, meandering rivers and amazing landscapes with coconut grooves, tea and spice plantations.
These are just some of the main features which attract tourists from national and international destinations to offer wonderful experiences all throughout the year. Read on to learn more about the beautiful and fascinating ways to enjoy Kerala in the following paragraphs.
Kerala is famous for its spices since time immemorial, popularly known as the Spice Coast of India. Historical records cite that way back from 2600 to 2100 B.C., the earliest Babylonian, Assyrians, Egyptian and Arabian (during the second and third millennium B.C.) civilization had acquired the knowledge and taste of the spices from Kerala.
Ebers Pappirus written in B.C 1500, mentions that oriental spices crossed across the seas which were highly popular and extremely priceless commodities, Cinnamon and other spices from Kerala were used in embalming the dead bodies of the Egyptian Pharaohs and in manufacturing of perfumes and holy oils.
From the Arabian traders, the fame, fondness, flavor and taste of these valuable spices enchanted Greek (460 – 377 B.C.) and Roman traders, using these ingredients only for rare medicinal purposes. Later, Romans began using these spices in cooking, cosmetics, oils and balms and flavored wines.
Long after that period from AD 1400 till about 1600, major European nations like Spain, Portuguese, Italians, Austrians, French, Germans, Dutch and Turks sent their armada of spice trading ships which kept the shores and coasts of Kerala and other Indian states.
From the Arabian traders, the fame, fondness, flavor and taste of these valuable spices enchanted Greek (460 – 377 B.C.) and Roman traders, using these ingredients only for rare medicinal purposes. Later, Romans began using these spices in cooking, cosmetics, oils and balms and flavored wines. Long after that period from AD 1400 till about 1600, major European nations like Spain, Portuguese, Italians, Austrians, French, Germans, Dutch and Turks sent their armada of spice trading ships which kept the shores and coasts of Kerala and other Indian states.
Having learnt the popularity and richness of India and Indian spices, especially the much famed the Black Gold, the Pepper, the English East Indian Company landed in India (on 24 August.1600 at Surat, Gujarat) and started exports of Pepper from the Malabar Coasts (runs from south of Goa to Kanyakumari on India’s southern tip, Kerala covering the major part of this coast) in 1636. This spice trade has greatly influenced not only the coasts of Malabar but the entire Indian subcontinent.
The flavor of these spices brought and settled many cultures of Jews, Christians, Muslims merchants in this state; their influence can be seen vividly here. Thus, you can find a creamy texture and aroma of these spices in the original and influenced cuisines of Kerala.
A gamut variety of spices, like pepper, vanilla, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric and many others are used in cooking, medicine, cosmetics and other purposes. The flavor of spices lingers long on one’s tongue and even longer in one’s memory.
This spice-shaped Kerala is the largest producer and exporter of spices in India with the Idukki district of Kerala has created an assiduous spice industry. Harvesting cardamom is a meticulous process that is typically done by hand and can be witnessed through our odysseys to Kerala.
Lying in the tropical region that is mostly subjected to the type of humid tropical wet climate experienced by most of the rain forests, while its extreme eastern fringes experience a drier tropical wet and dry climate. Kerala receives an average annual rainfall of 3107 mm – some 7,030 crore cubic meter of water. All of these climatic factors support the burgeoning vegetation and spice plantation. Along with the beautiful spice plantations and vegetation, this Idukki region also supports a good healthy wildlife, a treat to any nature and wildlife lover.
The Periyar Tiger Reserve, which is in Thekkady, in the district of Idukki, is sprawled over an area of 925 square kilometers. Periyar, one of the 50 tiger reserves in India, zealously guards and efficiently manages the reserve with a repository of rare, endemic and endangered flora and fauna, that forms the major watershed of two important rivers of Kerala, the Periyar and Pamba.
The forests in Idukki is a home to a wide variety of the animal kingdom including, the Bison, Sambar, Deer, Wild Dogs, Jungle Cats, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Wild Boars, Elephants and Tigers. Reptilians such as Cobra, Viper, Krait, and other types always bewilder the visitor, while avian species Malabar Grey Hornbill, Purple Sunbird, Golden Oriole, and Black Bulbul enchant any bird lover.
The adjoining several hills of tea plantations, national parks, rivers and lakes have made Munnar an essential tourist destination in India. Munnar is one of the best hill stations in South India. This splendid place will give you some amazing memories which are to be remembered forever.
Ranked as one of the “50 destinations of a lifetime” by National Geographic Traveler in a special collectors’ issue released just before the turn of the millennium, with houseboat and backwater resort tourism in Alappuzha or Alleppey seen as the leading factors.
The Kerala backwaters are a network of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast of Kerala state in southern India, as well as interconnected canals, rivers, and inlets, a labyrinthine system formed by more than 900 kilometers of waterways, and sometimes compared to American Bayous.
Kerala backwaters are very famous among the tourists as they get to boat through the coconut groves, paddy fields, tiny villages and houses spotting people doing their daily chores of work and a variety of fishing birds. One can also spot the large Chinese fishing nets by the banks of these backwaters.
En-route on these backwater boat trips, tourists can enjoy the fresh fish catches on their lunch. With fish being one of the major staple diets in this region, along with rice and coconut supplements, Kerala cuisine is an absolute treat for any tourist.
Fish and Prawn curry is a signature dish from this Malabar region made with a blend of Fenugreek, Black mustard and Fennel seeds, Coconut milk and Green Chilli. Loaded with many spices, like Chillies, Curry leaves, Mustard seeds, Turmeric powder and Asafoetida, the food of Kerala offers a wide variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.
The popular Kerala Sadya is a banquet meal with over 20 types of culinary assortments served on a Banana leaf is prepared during functions and festivals — a must try for any visitor to this place. Coconut, as grown in abundance in Kerala, is used as coconut oil, coconut milk in thickening flavors and in almost all types of Kerala dishes. Kerala food also consists of many rice preparations, like, Idli, Dosa, Hoppers etc., are made from rice batter prepared.
Another activity that is quite popular amongst tourists, and even the locals, is Ayurveda — alternative medicine system with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent where therapies include medicines, special diets, meditation, yoga, massage, and medical oils, typically based on complex herbal compounds, minerals, and metal substances. A classic text on medicine, Ashtanga Hridaya is the foundation of Ayurveda.
Famous for Ayurvedic treatment, Kerala culture offers a 5 different extended massage practices, named as Panchakarma is something which tourists like to try. As a part of this treatment medicated oil, herbs, milk and specialty diet are used to cure different types of ailments.
The Kerala culture has evolved through the evolution of Sanskrit of Dravidian ethos, revivalism of religious movements and reform movements against caste discrimination. Kerala showcases a culture unique to itself developed through accommodation, acculturation and assimilation of various faculties of civilized lifestyle.
The Kerala culture can also be seen through its wonderful classical dance and art forms. Kathakali — a classical dance of Kerala — has been recognised by UNESCO on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. It is a sublime dance drama that depicts episodes from Indian epics. Mohiniattam is another classical dance form that evokes the highest form of femininity through its graceful movements.
Another interesting cultural art is a martial art and fighting style that originated in modern-day Kerala called Kalaripayattu (the word “Kalari” meaning “battlefield”). Kalaripayattu possesses intricate knowledge of pressure points on the human body and healing techniques that incorporate the knowledge of Ayurveda and Yoga. This martial art is taught to students as a way of life, with a sense of compassion, discipline, and respect toward the master, fellow-students, parents and the community.
In addition to the Kathakali, Mohiniattam and Kalaripayattu, Kerala has a lot of popular and hidden cultural features worth exploring. To experience and learn more about the culture of this colourful state, travel with us through our dedicated theme tours or with a blend of classical dance theme tourism with general tourism.
One of the best times to explore Kerala is during the Winter season between September to March. During this time, Kerala has a comfortable climate and pleasant weather with less humidity. Lots of tourists visit during this pleasant time of the year.
Even during the months of August and September, the locals and tourists begin to arrive in Kerala, for the festival of Onam, which is Malayali (often referred to natives of Kerala, especially those speaking the native language of Kerala, Malayalam) New Year day. The Onam festival marks the beginning of first month of the Malayalam calendar, Chingam, and the celebrations are for 10 days from August till September first week.
During these festivities, a small town of Vallam Kali becomes a highlight attracting a huge crowds of locals and tourists from all around the world that hosts the renowned traditional boat race in Kerala, one of the most popular one is the Nehru trophy Snake Boat Race.
The shape of these colourful canoe-style boats, which resemble a Snake, with lengths of about 100-120 ft long carrying over 100 rowers each rowing with intense spirit in the backwaters is an absolute sight for any tourists. Different villages proudly participate as a part of this ancient Kerala culture to win the victory title.
From August to October, there are many different Snake Boat Races, like the Champakkulam, Payippad, Aranmula, Thazhathangadi, Karuvatta and others, are organised throughout this region.
In case, one misses out the boat race, there are always places for any type of tourists to venture throughout the year, like Alleppey that is known for lovely backwater trips, Munnar prefect for a romantic honeymoon, Kumarakom known for its one of the most tranquil places, Wayanad the land of heavenly trails, Thekkady is loved by tourist for its wildlife variation, Kovalam for beach fun and the list goes on.
Cochin or Kochi is a lovely multi-cultural mesmerising place that will impress any visitor with its culture and colonial streets. There are amazing beaches, beautiful forts and churches to admire. It is popularly known as the Queen of Arabian Sea, the city also flaunts one of the finest natural harbors of the world and was the centre of the world spice trade for many centuries.
Old Kochi (presently called West Kochi), loosely refers to a group of islands which comprise Willingdon Island, Fort Kochi, Mattancherry etc. also offers a lot of lovely shops and antique stores for any tourists to find some fascinating memoir to carry back home.
The journey from Cochin to Munnar is quite pleasant and romantic; one can admire the breathtaking scenic views, the foggy clouds on your path, waterfalls, mountains and valleys wishing you would never wish to end this journey.
Malappuram, which literally translates to the land atop hills, is the one of the most picturesque towns of the state of Kerala. The place is famous for its teak plantations and many heritage temples, mosques, churches and historic monuments that every tourist wishes to visit.
To enjoy a delightful family holiday 8 days are enough to explore the mesmerising beauty of Kerala covering Cochin, Munnar, Thekkady, Alleppey, Kovalam, and Trivandrum. The best airports to fly into Kerala will be Kozhikode International Airport in Calicut, Cochin International Airport in Ernakulam district or Trivandrum International Airport in Thiruvananthapuram district.
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Photo Credits: Meriç Dağlı, Maitheli Maitra, Tianwen CHEN, Kunal Kalra, Rakesh Kumar Dogra, Sojan Anto, Aitken Spence Hotels, Arian Zwegers, Worldwide Adventures India1, beetle_0042000