Kerala- a serene journey

Kerala, one of the smallest states in India is one of the most famous tourist attractions in South India. There are many fascinating elements that make Kerala a good tourist spot. Of them, the thick forests with coconut trees allure many people all over the world. The hospitality shown by the keralites makes people to visit kerala often. The Literacy rate here is almost 100%, the only state to have all literates in India. Also Kerala has its own culture and traditions, the festivals that are celebrated here are note worthy. The festival of ships called Onam and the festival of elephants; all of them contribute to the True Beauty of India. It is a worth seeing tourist spot

Kochi is the perfect place to start your Kerala trip. A harbor known since ancient times and occupied by the Dutch and the Portuguese (before the Brits), and with the historical city peacefully isolated on a peninsula (accessible by ferry or bridge), Kochi has a colonial ambience and a sense of connection with the past and at the same time, a distance from the modern present that I have experienced in few other places. It is a living city that has museum-like qualities, and can be walked for days

From Kochi, where you should spend at least three full days, move on to a couple of days in the Kerala backwaters. The backwaters are a network of connected lakes and waterways, which empty out to the sea. Sometimes narrow channels and at other times tremendously large lakes, the backwaters act as an alternate water-based transportation network as well as essential irrigation for rural Kerala. They are breathtakingly beautiful, with dense linings of coconut palms and peaceful village life on full display. Perhaps the best (and certainly the most luxurious) way to experience the backwaters is by hiring a houseboat, in the form of a traditional rice barge, for a day or two, complete with staff and meals cooked on board. The accommodations are fairly simple but the experience hard to beat.

From Alleppey, head south to the ocean or east to the hills, or both. To the south is Varkala. Varkala is highly enjoyable even for non-beachgoers–please refer to my earlier post. To the east are the steeply rising Western Ghats, which provide a cool break from the hot coast and are filled with spice farms, orchards and coffee and tea plantations. At Munnar you can admire the tea plantations while at Thekkady you can visit Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary which if not exactly filled with elephants and tigers (though they’re there) is still beautiful. In either Munnar or Thekkady you will be able to visit spice gardens, orchards, tea plantations and the like. You can spend a couple or few days at either Varkala or the hills, the former reachable by train and the latter by bus. Of course, as always in India, hiring a car is a comfortable and affordable option.

From the hills or the beach, you can return to Kochi for a day or two of shopping, and then return home. Within a two week period, you will be able to feel some serious history, enjoy cultural activities, sample rural life and see breathtaking tropical and montane scenery. You will have an opportunity to see the exotic side of India without being overwhelmed with touts and tricksters (as in other parts of the country). Everything is beautiful.

Neha Agarwal

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