Kerala, so many times you reiterate the same thing, God’s own country , well sure still it does not get monotonous as this is one of the havens on earth that one must include in her/his list of 10 places to visit before they die. Rather on a informative note, the National Geographic travel Guide enlists Kerala as one of the 50 must visit countries in a lifetime !! To begin with , I would strictly suggest a Train journey straight to the capital city Trivandrum, atleast one would get the cover picture of most of the big and small villages or cities that constitute Kerala. From there it is easy to commute to any part of the state by train or car. Or the famous KTDC. The moment one enters the land of Kerala , the senses feel totally green! The Palm trees, the coconut trees , the Banana trees , all this through the windows of the train is something larger than life.
Well it is said that the age-old king Maavelli returns every year to see whether his people are living happily, in whose name the festival of Onam is celebrated all over Kerala cutting across different religions, and the sense of togetherness that one sees in this festival is the best part about Kerala. Hence one of the best times indeed to visit Kerala is during the month of Sep-Oct, during which this festival falls. The celebrations are essentially a treat to the eyes as well as to one’s taste buds, as there are delicacies prepared ranging from 20 different types of rice to curries, clothes and accessories, so much to look forward to. However, at all times it is advisable to carry umbrellas or rain coats as the rains are uncalled for. Another very famous festival is known by the name “Thrissurpooram”. Its an explicit Hindu cultural affair.
The most developed cities of the vibrant state are Ernakulam/Cochin , Trivandrum & Kottayam. They are typical commercial cities. From the many places to visit, I would mention a few really sought after ones, to start with from within the city of Trivandrum, we have the majestic ancient Padhmanabha Swami Temple located in the heart of the city, huge, beautifully carved out something like the Ajanta Ellora work of Art, moreover, there is a very interesting corner of this temple where one can slyly hear the shrilling sound of the waves of the Kanyakumari , astonishing it is!!! Then there is the famous Shangmugham Beach , an irressistable hang-out zone with the ever rising waves, fancy rides at cheap prices, and a famous eat-out, The Indian Coffee House, always jam-packed though. For the easy-going people there is also the street food alongside the beach which is typically yum delectable. Then there is the museum which is very famous and a decent look through it would require a minimum of 2 hours. And a There is a famous voluminous dam callad the Arvikkara dam which is very dense and terrific . Some 18 KM from Trivandrum is the world famous Kovalam beach, humungous, apart from just chilling one can enjoy surfing ,skiing and catamaran ride. Another very famous beach is the Varkala beach, known for its mineral springs. Apart from these there are the art galleries , the zoo, the other many temples including the Attukkal Devi Shetram.
Next place of mention is Munnar , a surreal hill station, famous for its waterfalls and tea estates, specifically the Tata Tea Estate, particularly its chilling cold there , it has attractions like the honeybee tree, Maddupetty Dam, the Blossom Park, Echo point, the Amrutanjan plant which is amusing and then the amazing boat rides. While from the capital city , almost every part of Kerala is accessible and not too heavy on time, to Munnar, generally car or jeep journeys are preferable because of some hair-pin turns and steep cuts.
Another famous yet again religious place of visit is the Guruvayoor temple, a 3-4 hour journey from Trivandrum, the temple reveals a story of its own with the kind of galore it carries and the market area that is abuzz around with a lot to offer to basically foreigners, though a little pricey , is too tempting to resist.
Thekkady , for the wildlife lovers, also famously known as the Periyar wildlife sanctuary, trekking in there is exquisite along with a boat ride in the Periyar river.
Now Ernakulam is one place of visit for being the industrial capital of the state. The crowd here is very different from the other cities , seems though it has more exposure to the changing trends and opinions. So basically it is a place of commercial value. There is also the famous waterpark “Vegaland” with a lot to offer, to hang out in one of the lazy days .
Once you are in Trivandrum you must not miss the opportunity of visiting Kanyakumari, as by road it hardly takes more than 2hours to reach. And while on the way there is this beautiful and very interesting Padmanabha Palace, with so much to look at, the architectural aura of it is truly stupendous. Once you are at Kanyakumari, there is nothing better to feel about especially when the boat takes you to the Vivekananda rock, just that ride is too captivating and you can not ever have enough of that place, especially if the visit is during the sunset period!! The inside of the temple might not be as good as the surrounding, one would rather make the best of her/his time at the rock sensing the most beautiful thoughts. And recently erected is the Adi Shankara statue , looks terrific with the height of it! Apart from that there is an adventurous water park “Baywatch” to chill at, it has some very interesting rides and fancy stuffs, though can be a little expensive. On way of return one can see plenty of windmills treading all along the roads stretching over many kilometres.
And finally one has the cliched backwaters which honestly are not that amazing, however are a must visit if one wishes to enjoy a stay in a houseboat with exquisite delightful food.
Hence, Kerala, the 100% literacy state, the paradise of the communists, the nature, people, food specially and the culture of cream coloured-slyly golden border sarees, the uninhibited mundu and jasmine scented streets, elaborate meal on a banana leaf , the coconut water calls for a splendid vacation over and over again.
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/babydinosaur/1918118009/]