If you have always dreamed of visiting India and your idea of the perfect holiday involves golden sandy beaches lined with coconut palms, lapped by the clear blue waters of a warm ocean, Kerala is the state for you. However, it has far more to offer than just a fantastic year-round climate and beautiful beaches. Below are what I consider to be 5 of the most interesting places in Kerala and I can highly recommend visiting any or all of them whilst you are in the area.
This coastal town in the south of the state is a great place to visit if you want to chill out on a beach and are not keen on the more crowded tourist destinations such as Kovalam. It is also where you can find the 2000-year-old Janardana Swami Temple. Although you will not be allowed into the inner sanctum unless you are a Hindu, you can explore the outer buildings and soak up the historic atmosphere. During the main tourist season, which runs from late November to March, many cliff-top restaurants are open for business and serve a variety of tasty fresh seafood dishes that are well worth trying.
Further north, roughly in the middle of Kerala and about 50 kms inland from North Paravoor, these 80ft waterfalls are one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state. The surrounding area is home to many endangered species, making it a great destination for wildlife enthusiasts and a great effort is being made to conserve the wild elephant population in this part of India. In short, if you have a good quality camera and are keen to take as many scenic shots of the Kerala countryside, featuring a diverse array of local flora and fauna, this is the place to come.
The oldest quarter of the city of Cochin, here you will find churches, art galleries, some wonderful examples of colonial architecture from the Dutch and Portuguese periods and pungent local spice markets. The huge Chinese fishing nets on the shore, which are stretched across teak and bamboo poles, are very popular with visitors from all over the world and in addition to watching them in operation, you can also sample the catch if you would like to try some of the freshest seafood you will find anywhere in the world. The large shipping terminal in the main city of Cochin is a popular stopping off point for cruise holidays in the region so if you fancy departing on a luxury liner after exploring the city, it is worth checking out the itineraries of the vessels that ply their trade in the Arabian Sea.
4.Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Around 130 kms from Cochin, this wildlife reserve is home to tigers, elephants and many other indigenous species. Situated in the picturesque Cardamom Hills, which are part of the mountain range known as the Western Ghats, conditions here are somewhat colder than in Cochin and other coastal destinations. To maximise your chances of seeing the more cautious species the best time to visit is in the dry season, from December to April, when they come to the lake to drink. The nearest hotels are located in the village of Kumily and this is where you can most easily arrange tours of Periyar and the surrounding countryside.
Situated in the Kerala backwaters, a network of canals and lagoons in a large expanse of paddy fields, Alappuzha is well-known for its snake boat races, the most famous of which is the Nehru Trophy Boat Race, held annually on the second Saturday in August. If you are not going to be visiting at this time of the year, there is no need to worry as you will find plenty of other attractions to keep you occupied. Historic buildings, traditional houseboats and a beautiful beach are just some of the many interesting sights that you can take in whilst staying in Alappuzha.
As you can see, Kerala has much to offer the adventurous tourist and is definitely worth fitting into your itinerary if you are planning to spend a few weeks in India.