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KERALA.

Map of Kerala


Kerala is a narrow fertile state in the south western region of India. It is known for its greenery and natural beauty. The western ghats are to the north and east of Kerala. The state of Tamil Nadu is on the eastern border and the state of Karnataka is to the north. The Arabian sea and the Lakshadweep and Maldive islands are to the west. The coastal region of Kerala is referred to as the Malabar coast. Thus Kerala is a land of excellent beaches and waterways commonly referred to as the Backwaters, coconut trees, spice hills, unique cuisine, wonderful arts( such as 'Kathakali' and 'Kalaripayattu') and very friendly people throughout. Kerala is marketed by the KTDC (Kerala Tourism Development Corporation) as 'Gods Own Country'. It is arguable that this is far fetched, but it is one of the most beautiful natural scenic spots in Asia (especially in the Kerala Backwaters and the Spice Hills). There are 2 important points in making a trip: when to go; what to see.

When should I go?
Our advice is to go at anytime that you get the opportunity. Temperatures in Kerala vary from 25 degrees - 37 degrees. Generally, they do not reach 40 degrees. Ideal time is September - May (although May is starting to get hot for some people). The months of June, July and early August undergo the Indian monsoon which sweeps through India in a 45 degrees angle from South East to North West. Still a good time to go but not as good as other months. There is also a rainy season in the end of Nov going from South West to South East. These are not torrential rains like in June, July and early August. Off peak season is usually April - September. Hotels have reduced tariff. Peak season is October - March with December being the most popular time owing to school holidays.

How do I decide where to go and what should I do ?
There is no perfect answer to this question. We have tried to identify a visit to Kerala into 9 main categories (which may aid you in a decision making process). They are listed below:-



Kerala Backwaters.

The Kuttanad region (the stretch in Kerala from Quilon (Kollam being the Keralan name) - Cochin (Kochi) is the Kerala backwaters region and is one of the most beautiful regions in the whole of India. Some of the major points which act as excellent bases for the Kerala Backwaters are: Allepey (Allapuzha); Kumarakom; Cochin (Kochi); Quilon (Kollam). There is no better way of seeing the beauty of this region other than travelling by boats. You can also stay in traditional Keralan houseboats made out of coir and wood. You can also stay in traditional Keralan upmarket hotels such as Coconut Lagoon and see the backwaters by motor boat.


This is an extensive topic.
For further details on the Kuttanad region, products associated withe the Kerala Backwaters and the concept of staying in a houseboat and products related to this region, please click here.

Cardomum Spice Hills.

Many people do not venture this far into the mainland of Kerala. Those who do are rarely disappointed. It encompasses two major points (i.e. Periyar wildlife reserve and the beautiful hill station of Munnar).



Periyar Wildlife Reserve: This is arguably the most important wildlife reserve in South India built around an artificial lake. The area is surrounded by the spice hills. Wildlife comprises of sambar, bison, wild boar, langur and most important of all the 'Indian Elephant'. Apart from the sitings of elephants on the banks of the lake especially from the Lake Palace, the major attraction is the setting of the park. You can wander in this area outside the park into the spice hills. In some areas, you can pluck cardomums from the trees. You can also visit a local spice plantation. You may also wish to stay at the Spice Village where they have a spice garden.

Munnar: This is a highly under-rated hill station in India at 1520 m. Surrounded by green rolling hills and with tea growing estates, it is an excellent retreat from the travels.
This region is an extremely peaceful and picturesque region amidst spice plantations and are excellent for walking and hill hikers. You do not have to travel to the to the snow clad mountains of the Himalayas to get beautiful walks.
For details of products associated with this region please click here.

Keralan Beaches


Kovalam Beach: Viewed from Samudra hotel

Kerala with such a long coastline is home to some of the best beaches in India. Some of the popular beaches are: Kovalam, Varkala and Mararikulam.
Kovalam: This is a long stretch of beach and is further sub-divided into other names. It is the most popular beach in Kerala with a wide variety of hotels for all budgets. The nearest major town is Trivandrum from which many rail and air connections exist. They are lighthouse beach and Hawah beach concluding at the Ashok Beach Resort. From there onwards, you reach Samudra beach which is in a cove (with the Ashok Beach Resort and the KTDC Samudra hotel). A little further you arrive at Pozhikkara beach.
Varkala: This is approx. 40 kms north of Kovalam beach. It is an excellent option to Kovalam especially for viewing the Arabian sea from the cliff-top.
Mararikulam: This is an exclusive beach resort which is surrounded by greenery and coconut trees. Reaching it involves driving through winding roads in a forest. The nearest major towns are Allepey and Cochin. There is an excellent hotel here called Marari Beach Resort run by the casino group of hotels. This is built as individual Keralan style cottages (referred to as Garden Villas) in a forested environment. This leads on to the beach which resembles a picture postcard beach with the sea, sand and coconut trees in the background.

For beach lovers, this is paradise. You may wish to stay there all the time. However, we have tried to integrate the beaches in addition to the Kerala backwaters and the Spice hills into our products so that you can get a little bit of all the Keralan worlds.
For details please click here.

Ayurveda

Ayurveda: the science of healing is becoming more popular day by day throughout the world. Panchakarma, a unique branch of Ayurveda has attracted the attention of the whole world. In the modern era, though humans are enjoying the fruits of modernisation without its knowledge. Hence, they are suffering from incurable diseases such as Diabetes, Hypertension, early ageing, loss of immunity which in turn produces more number of diseases like chronic fatigue, fatigue syndrome etc. Causative factors for all these are : foods containing preservatives, colouring substances, hybrid foods, refrigerated foods; irregular habits; stress, strain, tension; polution etc. These in turn are culminating into waste products in the body. In such conditions Panchakarma is providing required benefits because it is removing the waste materials and toxins from the body without hurting the body organs and thus helping in the cure of the disease. The therapy also helps to rejuvenate the body cells and organs and for maintenance of health. Kerala is one of the best exponents of this kind of therapy through a variety of herbal oil treatments.

Ayurvedic Herbal Oil Treatment is a feature, virtually everywhere in Kerala. This can be added to any product.


Note: Please do check up with your local GP before proceeding with any of the treatments. To take in the benefits of Ayurveda, it is essential to have an equivalent amount of relexation (i.e. If you have 3 days of Ayurvedic treatment you should take 3 days of rest.). Hence, it is better to stay at a beach resort for 7 nights and then within it have 3 days of Ayurveda. Beach Resorts such as Kovalam, Varkala & Mararikulam are ideal in Kerala. Other beach resorts in Gokarana in Karnataka are also good places to experience Ayurveda. Other good points for Ayurveda are: Periyar or specific clinics and hospitals that specialise in Ayurvedic treatments.

 


Keralan Arts

There is a multitude of Keralan arts that stun the naked eye of the visitiors. However, we wish to point you in the direction of 2 forms. There are many others.
Kathakali: This is a dance drama which attracts many visitors. You do not have to even be a lover of classical dance to appreciate this. This has a very involved authentic face decoration prior to the performance. The performance itself involves eye, cheek, chin, lip, hand and leg movements. Viewing a performance is very easy. Many hotels especially in Cochin have a night performance. Try and get front row seats. Most products associated with Kerala, involve Cochin (for details please click here).
 

Kalaripayattu: This is an ancient Keralan martial art. Here the art is that of visual athleticism rather than a means of self defence (like in China). For such performances please check up the KTDC offices in Trivandrum for information as to its whereabouts.



Keralan Cities

Cochin (Kochi): An inter-connection of islands (Bolghatty Island, Willingdon Island, Vypeen Island just to name a few).It comprises of low rise, picturesque buildings. It is rich in history and its sights are that of diverse tradition. Examples of the same are: the Jewish Synagogue, Mattancherry palace (built originally by the Portugese, then rebuilt by the Dutch occupants. It is built in traditional Keralan pattern called 'nalukettus'. To the south of the palace is a complex temple dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu.); St Francis Church (the place where Vascodagama died); Santa Cruz cathedral, Chinese fishing nets which line the harbour entrances.
Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram): It is a very pleasant capital city of Kerala. Sights include: Sri Padmanabaswamy temple, typical dravidian architechture (Note: Normally open to hindus only); Arts and crafts museum (wooden keralan style architechture housing collections from Chola, Vijaynagar and Nayaka periods. In addition, Kathakali costumes are also on display here); natural history museum (also houses a replica of Nalukettu): Keralan Nayar house and many other museums. An excellent excursion would be to the beautiful wood carved Padmanabhapuram Palace, which was once the seat of the Travancore rulers. This is constructed from teak and granite, with rosewood ceilings carved in floral patterns, floors finished with a special compound of crushed shells, coconuts, egg whites and juices of local plants.
Quilon (Kollam): Southern starting point of the Kuttanad region. Easy going town that is surrounded by coconut trees and cashew plantations on the edge of the Ashtamudi lake. Most famous as the starting point of the day long Kerala Backwaters ferry trip from Quilon to Allepey. There are many other trips that emanate from Quilon for those who wish to do shorter trips.
Allepey (Allapuzha): Noted for 3 major points of interest: one of the main bases for the Kerala Backwaters trips; headquarters of the coir making industry; important for cashew nut processing.

Many of the cities listed above are very popular with our past customers. Hence, are featured in many of the Keralan products. For details, please click to get some ideas.

The towns listed below generally tend not to be on most travellers itinerary, but are well worth a visit. If you like to go away from the beaten track and yet see some beautiful sights, they are good destinations. For a visit to these sights and some of the more popular cities, the best thing is to tailor-make an itinerary for yourself. Just send us an email of your requirements.

Trichur (Thrissur): Lies at the base of a hillock crowned by the famous Vadukkumnathan temple (dedicated to Lord Shiva). An excellent place to visit for the Pooram elephant festival held annually usually in April or May. An excellent excursion at approx. 32 kms from Trichur, especially for pilgrims is Guruvayur to visit a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, known as Guruvayurappa.
Calicut (Kozhikode): An ancient port. North of the city is Kappad beach, where a small stone monumnet commemorates the landing of Vascodagama at this, his first stop in 1498.
Cannanore (Kannur): Formerly a major port area, this is now an industrial city known for its handloom weavers who produce silk and cotton saris. Sights include: the picturesque Moplah town and Payyambalam beach kust 2 kms away.

Keralan Cuisine

Did you know that one of the most popular Indian restaurants in London (given acclaim by various Restaurant bodies) is the Rasa Samudra ? This restaurant cocentrates on hardcore Keralan cuisine and is patronised by British whites, Indians and tourists (thus the diversity of interest: Not a taste package for one tongue). Keralan cuisine is very unique in relation to general Indian cuisine. Many of the dishes are coconut based. For vegetarians: thoran (vegetables cooked in a coconut base); aviyal (similar to Thoran where vegetables are cooked in a sauce); boiled Keralan rice; rasam (a thin water brown coloured soup with various spices and herbs); sambar (fluid dish with veregtables made from tamarin, lentils and spices); curd. Non vegetarian dishes are plentiful but the speciality of Keralan cuisine is seafood (variety of fish dishes cooked in traditional manner using Keralan spices). This is hardly surprising considering the wonderful Keralan coastline being in such proximity. The general conclusion to this is a sweet dish called Paal Payasam (rice pudding). For food lovers this is a unique opportunity to sample very different dishes to those North Indian dishes which have been marketed so well in western countries. For examples: there are banana pakoras which are starter dishes (very rarely found in most restaurants or even most homes abroad).

Why not try and learn to cook some of these dishes in addition to seeing the natural beauty which is in Kerala? One of the best ways to do so is to learn cooking whilst stayign for 2 nights or more in a Keralan Houseboat. For details please click here.
The Casino group of hotels with some of the best cooks in the world have offered to give away their secrets and offer a cookery/Kerala sightseeing program during some of theoff-peak summer months at a very attractive price. For details please click here.

Keralan and South Indian Holidays.

Many products in our site which are associated with South India feature Kerala. Some of them like the Kerala Backwaters + Periyar + Madurai + Kanniyakumari mainly concentrate on Kerala and have add ons in the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu. Some also feature Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Goa. Whilst others feature Kerala as one of many destinations in addition to other destinations in India like the South India Sampler or Visit to Goa, Kerala and conclude on a Keralan houseboat. A list of products featuring Kerala in some form or other are listed below:-
Product: Skeleton Itinerary Details
Kerala Backwaters + Madurai + Periyar (6 nights).
Trivandrum - Kanniyakumari (1 night) - Madurai (1 night) - Periyar (2 nights) - Allepey or Kottayam (for Kerala Backwaters boat trip) - Cochin (2 nights) - Trivandrum.
Kerala Backwaters + Madurai + Periyar + week in Kovalam (13 nights).
Trivandrum - Kanniyakumari (1 night) - Madurai (1 night) - Periyar (2 nights) - Allepey or Kottayam (for Kerala Backwaters boat trip) - Cochin (2 nights) - Kovalam (7 nights).
Kerala Houseboat Holidays.
  • Stay on a Keralan Houseboat in Allepey to view the Kerala Backwaters region.
Stay at Keralan Beaches for one week inclusive of Ayurvedic herbal oil treatment for 3 nights in Kovalam.
  • Kovalam.
  • Poovar
  • Varkala.
  • Mararikulam.
Cochin, Periyar, Spice Hills + Munnar.
Keralan Cuisine: Curry and Rice. Starts and concludes in Cochin (7 nights).
Cochin (2 nights) - Periyar (2 nights) - Kumarakom (2 nights) - Mararikulam (1 nightt) - Cochin.
Kerala Sampler: Cochin, Periyar, Kumarakom and Mararikulam. Starts and concludes in Cochin (10 nights).
Cochin (2 nights) - Periyar (2 nights) - Kumarakom (2 nights) - Mararikulam (4 nights).
West Coast Sampler + Keralan Houseboat (9 nights).
South India Sampler. Starts and concludes in Bombay (14 nights):
Bombay - Goa (3 nights) - Cochin (3 nights) - Tiruchi (0 nights) - Madurai (1 night) - Ootacamund (1 night) - Mysore (2 nights) - Bangalore (0 nights) - Bombay.
Modified South India Sampler (16 nights): Start & conclude in Bombay.
Bombay - Hospet for Hampi (2 nights) - Mysore (2 nights) - Madurai (1 nt) - Tiruchi - Cochin (3 nights) - Goa (3 nights) - Bombay.
Modified South + Central India Sampler (17 nights): Start in Bombay and conclude in Madras.
Bombay - Aurangabad (2 nights) - Hyderabad - Mysore (2 nights) - Cochin (3 nights) - Kovalam (3 nights) - Madurai (1 nt) - Madras (1 nt).
West Coast Supreme (21 nights): Start in Bombay and conclude in Bombay covers beaches of Palolem and Gokrana and hill station of South India including Munnar, Ooty and Coorg region plus sights in Kerala including Backwaters, Cochin and Periyar and Mysore in Karnataka.
Bombay - Canacona (for Palolem) (3 nights) - Cochin (2 nights). Start Modified Cochin, Spice Hills and Munnar programme (Cochin (2 nights) - Allepey for backwaters boat trip - Periyar wildlife park (2 nights) - Munnar (2 nights)) - Ooty (1 night) - Mysore (2 nights) - Coorg Region (2 nights) - Mangalore. Mangalore - Gokarna (4 nights) - Bombay.
Kerala Backwaters, the hill stations of Munnar and Ootacamund, Mysore and the Golden Chariot plus Goa (19 nights):
Start Modified Cochin, Spice Hills and Munnar programme (Cochin (2 nights) - Allepey for for overnight stay on houseboat - Periyar wildlife park (2 nights) - Munnar (2 nights)) - Ooty (1 night) - Mysore (2 nights) - The Golden Chariot: Mysore - Goa covering Belur, Halebid + Sravan Belgola - Hampi - Badami/ Aihole and Pattadakal - Goa Then stay in Goa (5 nights).

Hotel Bookings in Kerala. Why not stay in a Keralan heritage hotel ?.

Keralan Heritage Hotels.

Keralan Heritage hotels tend to have a style similar to a 'Nalukettu' (traditional Keralan wood carved cottage home with a central courtyard). Two very good examples of this kind of unique architechtural style are: Coconut Lagoon in Kumarakom and the Bolghatty Palace in Cochin (especially in the corridors leading to the rooms). Details are given below:-
Coconut Lagoon
Bolghatty Palace

If possible try to stay in one of these type of properties which are styled as 'Nalukettus'. But there are plenty of other heritage properties. For example staying in a houseboat (made in traditional manner using coir and wood) or staying at the Brunton Boatyard in Cochin or Carmelia Haven or Spice Village in Periyar or the Marari Beach Resort in Mararikulam. For rates on hotel bookings in Kerala, please send us an email.

You can tailor-make a trip that suits your individual requirements.
For rates pertaining to the season specific to your trip, please email us.


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