My top picks for Kerala, the paradise of India

 

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Kerala is, hands down,  my favourite place in India! I have been talking so much about it lately, so I thought it was about time to explain here as well why I love this part of the world so much!

Tip: If you never visited India before, Kerala is the best place to start!

About Kerala

So let’s start with the beginning: Kerala is the most southern state of India and it is also called “God’s own country” and you would immediately understand why once you get there.

The language spoken in Kerala is called Malayalam and I must say it sounds veeeeery strange. A lot of rolling words! The language inspired also the name of what today represents the 4th movie industry in India, after Bollywood (Mumbai, Maharashtra), Kollywood (Chennai, Tamil Nadu) and Tollywood (Hyderabad, Andra Pradesh). I admit I have never watched a Malayalam movie so I cannot really give informed opinion here therefore I will refrain..

It has been said many times that Kerala is the only state in India with 100% literacy rate. Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t but what I can guarantee you is that Malayali (that’s how people from Kerala are called) are the nicest people I have met in India! And I have met a  lot of people! I know I am very subjective here but it is my blog and therefore I can express my personal opinion (and  be a bit cheeky apparently 😉 ), but I certainly prefer the South of India to the north! Not only I find the people from the south nicer but I also find it “safer” in the south. And safety is one of the most important factor to take into account, especially by solo woman travellers like me!

The religion in Kerala, as in most of India, is predominantly Hindu, but Kerala has the highest percentage of Christians: about 25% I believe.

Geographically, the state of Kerala is a narrow strip of land along the Arabian Sea and bordered by the Western Ghats to the East. Its fortunate geographical location made Kerala a green paradise of coconut groves, paddy  fields, a maze of backwaters, coffee and tea plantations, ayurveda and many other.

The capital city of Kerala is Trivandrum, where also one of the 2 airports is located. Luckily they shortened the name from the initial Thiruvananthapuram – which by the way I can pronounce easily and quickly now ;-). Trivandrum is situated in the southern part of the state. The second airport is in Kochi (or Chochin) in the  north.  Depending on what your plans are when visiting Kerala, you have to take into account that it is a long way between the 2 cities, and I don’t mean only in km which is only 200 in fact.

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I usually fly into Trivandrum as it is very close to my location: my ayurveda resort next to Kovalam beach.

What you can see and do in Kerala

Here are my top picks for things to see and do in God’s own country

1. Ayurveda

Head over to my previous post where you can read more about it and how a usual day goes at an ayurvedic resort.

2. Backwaters

You cannot go to Kerala without doing a tour of the backwaters! period!  You can choose from various types of tours  starting from a couple of hours to  a few days on a boat. There is also a choice on the types of boats, depending on the tour, of course. In my very first visit to Kerala I took a 2 hour bamboo (I think) boat tour. The boat (a canoe in fact) had no engine so for 2 hours I could enjoy  only the soothing sounds of nature and paddles making way through the maze of canals, rivers and lakes! Pure bliss!

3. Tea plantations

Unfortunately I did not manage to visit the tea plantations of Munnar myself but they are definitely on my list for when I go back.

4. Yoga/ashrams

Any place in India is in fact good for yoga but for me, Kerala is where I have tried it for the very first time and where I got hooked up to it irremediably! I have already mentioned about the yoga practice in an ayurvedic resort, but Kerala is also the location for a few yoga ashrams. If you are not very familiar with the term, an ashram is a kind of a reatreat where people go to learn and practice yoga and where you can also obtain a certified yoga instructor diploma. As I started with Sivananda form of hatha yoga, I could not miss the opportunity to also visit the Neyyar Dam ashram in Kerala.  The ashram is situated in  the middle of the forest, just accross from the Lion Park safari, which adds even more to the place especially when you hear the lions roar!

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Have you heard of Amma (the mother) or Amritapuri as she is also known? It’s ok. Most people haven’t. She is also called the hugging mother…’cause that’s what she does: she hugs people! She is one of the most venerated spiritual leaders of India and her ashram is located in Kerala as well. If you want to read more details about her you can do so directly on her website.

The images below are from Neyyar Dam Ashram , except for the last one which is taken during my class at Manaltheeram ayurvedic resort…and it was my first headstand ever 😉

5. Beaches

With such a vast coastline (650km!) there is certainly no shortage of beaches in Kerala. I have only been to Kovalam beach  and of course the private beach of  my ayurvedic resort, so I cannot really comment on the rest of them. However, what I can say is that if laying on the beach with cocktails in your hand all day long is your thing, then I would not choose Kerala . Kerala is and it offers much more than that!

6. Parks/sanctuaries

I already mentioned the Lion Safari park across Neyyar Dam ashram. But the most famous is actually the Periyar Tiger reserve situated inside of Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary where various wildlife can be admired, including elephants. The park is situated not too far from Munnar hill station.

7. Other/arts

Kerala has its own form of martial art called  Kalaripayattu (see photo below) and which is considered one of the oldest forms of fighting.

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Kathakali is a classical dance/drama performed exclusively by men. They are dressed in voluminous dresses and wear huge head ornaments and sometimes frightening masks. The actors never speak, but instead they are using mudras (symbolic hand gestures) and facial expressions to convey the message.

8. Fishermen

Kerala is very famous for its fishermen and their style of fishing. If you wake up early in the morning you can see them in all their colours on the beach pulling out the catch of the day. A photographer’s dream!

9. Food

Kerala is also famous for its spices. You know all those strong smelling spices? Kerala has got them all!

Almost all dishes are prepared with coconut here, giving it a milder, sweet, delicious taste.  In fact, Kerala has the best coconut chutney in the world! I loved  to eat it especially in the morning with a steaming idly! Oh and the appam! Soooo delicious!  Appam is a steamed rice pancake also typical from Kerala…And I’m not even going to mention here the Alleppey  fish curry! Well …I guess you get the gist about the food in God’s own country!

And imagine the smell of cardamom in the air, every day….announcing that dinner was being prepared…Ah I’m going to stop here. I hope I convinced you that if you have plans about visiting that part of the world, you should not give a pass to this wonderful land!

And now as usual you can enjoy the rest of the virtual tour 🙂

Easy pinning 🙂

Kerala

11 Comments:

  1. Great write up and beautiful images. Your content peaks my interest. Looks like had good time. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Nice article and great pics, especially those of beaches and fishermen.

  3. Wow, such a great article. I have wanted to visit Kerala and this information confirms that it is an amazing place to visit. Thank you for sharing your experiences, ideas, and lovely photos.

    • Thank you Christine! That’s very kind of you! It makes me really happy that you liked the article and especially the photos ;-). See you back again soon 🙂

  4. I was thinking of New Delhi for my first trip to India, but Kerala sounds like a better idea! I was dreaming about doing a tour of backwater for years, but haven`t discovered this one yet!

    • Hi Daniela. It really depends on how you travel and if you travel alone. Delhi can be a shock to the system if it is your first time in India. There are many great things to see there though. And actually that was my very first encounter with India a few years ago…and I survived ;-). But I wil always recommend Kerala to everybody 🙂

  5. I hear a lot about Kerala, with so many sponsored blogger events. Nice to see some great photos and insider experiences. Fun!

    • Hi Charles. Yes there was one recently so I guess it was just a timing coincidence that I posted this at the same time :-).

  6. Great pictures!! Kerala is wonderful! I spend two weeks there and saw the highlights stated above and yes….Munnar, teaplantations is a must!!

    • Thanks Jacomijn! Yes Munnar is my biggest miss so far but will certainly go back there again. It is “my source” somehow 🙂

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