Experience God’s Own Country and a more relaxed vibe in the green and tropical state of Kerala.
Kerala is a beautiful mix of verdant mountains, tropical beaches and peaceful waterways. The Western Ghats dominate to the east of the state and the Arabian sea flows out from the west. Covering the lush greenness throughout Kerala are the charming backwaters. The cuisine in this part of India is particularly delicious. Historically, Kerala has been on an important trade route for Arabian, Greek and Roman merchants dealing in pepper, cardamon and ginger. Pepper is grown throughout the state and this wealth of spices along with the fresh fish and coconut makes for some of the best dishes in the country.
The backwaters are without doubt one of the highlights of Kerala and for good reason. A beautiful network of rivers, canals, lakes and inlets, they wend their way through paddy fields and coconut groves. Around 900km of the water is accessible so exploring by boat is the best way to get around. Renting a houseboat is our favourite way to do this. Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere as you sail past charming villages, children smiling and waving at you as you float past. Dine on delicious food prepared for you and admire the spectacular sunset as you watch the sun sink into the rippling water.
The most delightful town in Kerala is Fort Cochin. Over the centuries it has been under British, Dutch and Portuguese rule and there remains a distinctly European feel to the to town. It has an important history as a trade port, particularly pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. In fact, it remains a great place to pick up these delicious spices and a delightful way to spend the morning is shopping in this bustling town for spices and other souvenirs. It is also a great spot to see some Kathakali dance, this traditional dance was born in Kerala and dates back to the 16th century.
One of the most charming sights in Fort Cochin are the Chinese fishing nets along the sea front. Operated by small teams of fishermen, their catches are regularly hauled up and then sold on the sea front to passers-by. Sit on the beach as the water laps your toes and while away the time watching the nets as you sip on a fresh coconut juice.
There is much to be discovered away from the backwaters. The hills of the Western Ghats hold the fields and plantations of the tea growing region; a beautiful sight, the landscape dotted with colonial-style houses and winding paths. Visitors can enjoy some great trekking, weaving through the verdant plantations and admiring the views and stopping at charming villages. Eravikulam National Park is a particularly excellent spot for hiking and home to southern India’s highest peak, Anamundi,1,700 metres above sea level. It is also possible to spot the endangered Nilgiri Tahr and several rare butterflies and birds.
For relaxing beach time, Kerala is the perfect choice. Head to some of the smaller beach towns for a laidback vibe and beaches that still feel off the beaten track. Relax in a hammock or laze on the beach, watch the fishermen who still work in the traditional way and enjoy a slower place of life in this heavenly part of India.
For even more relaxation, make sure to book an Ayurvedic massage or other treatment. Kerala is known for its Ayurvedic medicine and there is no nicer feeling than floating away from a dreamy massage, still smelling of coconut and essential oils.