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Kerala

Photo © Sam Hunt

Travel Guide Asia India Kerala

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Introduction

Traditional House-Boat in the backwaters of Kerala

Traditional House-Boat in the backwaters of Kerala

© All Rights Reserved arif_kool

The state of Kerala, divided into 14 districts has emerged as one of the hottest tourist destination in India over the period of years. This lush green state lies in a narrow strip of land bounded by the Arabian Sea in the west and the Western Ghats on the east and bisected by numerous small streams. A long coastline lined with plenty of clean and beautiful beaches, vast stretches of Backwaters, hill stations full of exotic wild life, sprawling tea plantations, traditional art forms and dances, exotic cuisine and the famous “Ayurvedic” treatments have all made Kerala a dream destination for tourists, both domestic and international. Kerala is often referred to as “Gods Own Country” as the region has preserved much of its natural beauty.

Kerala has the highest literacy rate amongst all the states of India. The people of this state are simple, God-fearing and hospitable. The local language spoken here is Malayalam, but the majority of locals can speak communicable English.

Ayurvedic” treatments have become very popular among the foreign tourists. This is an ancient form of treatment which uses herbs and leaves having curative properties. These herbs are extracted from the forests which are scattered all over Kerala. Ayurveda believes in not only the treatment of the affected part, but the individual as a whole. It is natural way to rejuvenate yourself thereby eliminating all the toxic elements of the body. The monsoon season is considered the best for such therapy as the atmosphere is dust free and cool enabling the body to open up the pores of the skin so that they respond well to the herbal oils. Since this form of medicine has become extremely popular, many such centres have cropped up. Tourists are advised to take treatment in government approved Ayurveda centres.

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Geography

Kerala lies between the Lakshadweep sea and the Western Ghats, roughly between north latitudes 8°18' and 12°48' and east longitudes 74°52' and 77°22'. The state has a coastline of about 590 kilometres and geographically, the state can be divided into three climatically distinct regions: the eastern highlands (rugged and cool mountainous terrain), the central midlands (rolling hills), and the western lowlands (coastal plains). The eastern region of Kerala consists of high mountains, gorges and deep-cut valleys immediately west of the Western Ghats' rain shadow. The Western Ghats form a wall of mountains interrupted only near Palakkad, where the Palakkad Gap breaks through to provide access to the rest of India. The Western Ghats rises on average to 1,500 metres above sea level, while the highest peaks reach to more than 2,500 metres. Anamudi, the highest peak in South India, is at an elevation of 2,695 metres. Just west of the mountains lie the midland plains comprising central Kerala, dominated by rolling hills and valleys, ranging between elevations of 250-1,000 metres. Kerala’s western coastal belt is relatively flat, and is criss-crossed by a network of interconnected brackish canals, lakes, estuaries, and rivers known as the Kerala Backwaters. Lake Vembanad, Kerala’s largest body of water, dominates the Backwaters; it lies between Alappuzha and Kochi and is more than 200 km2 big. Around 8% of India's waterways (measured by length) are found in Kerala.

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

The entire state is so beautiful that you can spend weeks traveling and exploring Kerala. The main sights of tourist interest can be grouped under the following heads:

  • Beaches - Kerala has a long coastline and it has some of the best beaches of India. Some of the more important beaches are world the famous Kovalam, Varkala, Poovar, Alleppey, Kappad (Historic place where Vasco da Gama landed in 1498), Shanghumughan Beach, Cherai beach etc.
  • Hill Stations - The lush green mountains of Kerala have a number of hill resorts which are home to many exotic species of wildlife. Most of these hills are covered by tea, coffee and spice plantations which is a visual treat to watch. Some of the important hill resort towns are Munnar, Devikulam, Echo Point, Wayanad, Rajamala, Poonmudi, etc.
Backwaters of Kerala, India

Backwaters of Kerala, India

© All Rights Reserved arif_kool

  • Backwaters - Kerala is famous for its backwaters, which are a network of canal, rivers and deltas that drain into the Arabian Sea. The major portion of this backwater is navigable and it connects the villages lying along and it is also used for transportation of goods and people. The largest stretch of Backwater is the Vembanad Lake and the major towns around which backwater activities occur are Alleppey (often called the Venice of the East), Kumarakom and Kollam. An overnight cruise in the traditional ‘House-Boat’ floating the serene backwaters is the dream of any tourist. These house-boats have air conditioning and have comprehensive facilities and are often expensive targeting the premium travelers. Budget travellers have an affordable option in the regular ferry service between Kollam and Alleppy. This is a full day trip along the backwaters and normally has a group of around 20 people on the upper deck of the boat.
  • Wildlife - Kerala has abundance of species of wildlife due to easy availability of water and extensive vegetation. Some of the famous natural parks are Eravikulam National Park, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Silent Valley National Park, Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Wayanad Muthanga Wild Life Sanctuary and Chinnar Wild life Sanctuary.
  • Tree Houses - Tree Houses are ethnic houses built on trees high above the ground in the tropical rainforest of Wayanad Sanctuary, which can be reached by a two hours drive from Kozhikode (Calicut) railway station. Each tree house is a self contained unit having a double bed room with attached toilet, wash basin and even a veranda to sit-out. These tree houses are built and designed by local craftsmen using local materials. Food is prepared from the vegetables grown in organic farms and the renewable energy sources are being used. No doubt, this is unique experience of staying so close to nature which can be cherished for a lifetime.

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Events and Festivals

Kerala has a rich cultural heritage and numerous traditional dance forms are popular in this region. Some of the more famous traditional dance forms are Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Thullal and Oppana. The region is also known for the ancient Martial Arts technique. The tourism authorities hold regular shows of these dance forms to entertain the tourists. Besides these some of the other events worth watching are the Snake Boat Race and Elephant Race.

  • Nehru trophy Boat Race - Nehru Trophy Boat Race is an annual event which is organized at the Punnamada Lake in Alleppey, Kerala, India. It is held every year on the second Saturday of August and in 2012 Nehru Trophy Boat Race will be held on August 11, 2012. This is the most popular boat race in Kerala and this year the committee has decided to make the town more colourful in the evenings to the run-up to the race, to woo tourists as the famed event celebrates its diamond jubilee year this year. Address: Punnamada Lake, Alleppey, Kerala, India
  • Thrissur Pooram - Thrissur Pooram is one of the largest festivals held annually in state of Kerala. Address: Thrissur

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Weather

Kerala has a tropical climate and moderate weather conditions exist throughout the year though the summer months (March to May) can be quite hot. Since Kerala is located on the coast and lush green plantations are present all around the temperature are moderated to some extent. It rains heavily in Kerala during monsoon season (June to August) which keeps tourists away during this period. The best time to visit Kerala is during the winter season (November to February) when the temperature is moderate and there is hardly any rain. Temperatures during the day vary from around 28 °C in July and August to 33 °C in March. Nights are in the 23-26 °C range year round. The average annual precipitation is around 3,300mm! From December to March it's mostly dry, but from May to October it pours! Especially June and July with around 800-900mm each month are extremely wet.

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Getting There

By Plane

Kerala has three international airports to cater the requirements of foreign and domestic tourists:

By Train

Kerala is well connected by rail network to rest of India. Direct trains are available from important cities of India to all parts of Kerala. Indian Railways operates the rail network in India.

By Car

Taxis can be hired for traveling to the state of Kerala from the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka but it is advisable to travel by train or plane instead as the journey is comfortable, efficient and affordable too.

By Bus

Interstate buses are available from the neighbouring states but the journey can be tiring and time consuming.

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Getting Around

By Plane

Flights are available between the major cities (Trivandrum, Kochi, Kozhikode) of Kerala, but it is more convenient to cover the same distances by rail/road as the distances involved are not much and it saves the hassle which is associated with air travel.

By Train

Excellant train connection is available between most of the major cities of Kerala. With the completion of the Konkan Railway project, journey time has considerably reduced from western part of India to the major cities of Kerala.

By Car

Taxis can easily be hired for travelling to the major tourist locations of Kerala. The rates vary depending on the season in which you are visiting but it is better to enquire about the rates from more than one tour operator.

By Bus

The roads are by and large good in this area and even the interior town and villages are well connected by State Transport Corporation buses. Kerala receives heavy rainfall during the monsoon season which sometimes damages the roads in interior locations. These local buses display the destination station mostly in Malayalam (local language) hence it is advisable to double check the destination station before you board the bus. Fortunately majority of local population can speak some level of English.

By Boat

Many of the cities of Kerala are located along the famous Backwater Stretch extending from Kollam to Alappuzha and then from Alappuzha to Kochi. It is unique experience to undertake this inter-city travel on a boat passing through the beautiful backwaters. Regular ferry service is available from Kollam to Alappuzha at an affordable rate.

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Sleep

Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) has numerous guesthouses and hotels across Kerala, which are comfortable and well-maintained. Most of the KTDC properties are for the premium segment but numerous other budget hotels and guesthouses are available to suit the needs of travellers of all budget. The peak tourist season in Kerala is from November to February, when the rates shoot up for all activities. However if u enjoy the rains and don’t mind getting drenched you can try visiting Kerala during the monsoon (June to August) when the houseboats and hotels are all available at dirt-cheap rates.

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
K.T.C.Guest House & HouseboatsWest of K.S.R.T.C. Bus Station Alleppey-11Guesthouse-
Ezhara Beach HouseHouse No : V11/347 Kuttikkagam P.O,Apartment-
Cavalryan HomesVII/401, Neerchal, Ambalavalayal Post Sultan BatheryHostel-
Panchavadi Beach ResortBeachroad Papanasam VerkalaHotel-
Palmleaves Beach ResortPuthenthope PO Trivandrum KeralaGuesthouse-
Bell Mount ResortN.H. RoadHotel-
Reds Residency - Homestay11/372, Beach Road Near Dronacharya Main Gate FortcochinGuesthouse93
Rainbow Holiday HomeOld Market Road Kalpetta WayanadGuesthouse-
The Haiwa Beach ResidencyNorth cliff Varkala BeachHotel-
Kunnola Beach House KeralaEzhara Beach Kuttikakkam P.O.Guesthouse-

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 9.340672
  • Longitude: 76.805420

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Kerala Travel Helpers

  • vasimambadan

    i am a student & helping travellers is my hobby ,by which i can know there culture and gives them the taste of our culture..i travelled all over in kerala..i know every tourist places in kerala.....travellers those who intrstd to travel through bike can contact me..in my number.00919895946700....

    Ask vasimambadan a question about Kerala
  • Aminesh

    I am working in tourism industry for 4 years as a chauffeur and now working also as a tour escort in Kerala and I love Kerala.

    Ask Aminesh a question about Kerala
  • Neenu_Raj

    I have traveled to the popular tourist destinations, cities and towns in my state , Kerala . This have given me good information and idea about what people would like to know about a place when they plan a holiday.

    If you require ideas about where to stay, what to see and how to travel , please feel free to email at neenu.raaj@yahoo.co.in. I am happy to help you with the holiday planning ...

    Ask Neenu_Raj a question about Kerala
  • maya_tours

    I have visited almost all the major and minor tourist places here. I am a travel consultant who helps people to travel to this part of the world. More over I live here !

    Ask maya_tours a question about Kerala
  • sandhya

    I am from Kerala..

    Ask sandhya a question about Kerala

This is version 49. Last edited at 12:28 on Dec 23, 13 by Utrecht. 16 articles link to this page.

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