Kerala is often referred as “God’s own country”. It is because the place is so beautiful that even God will not be able to leave. You are in for a treat in Kerala as you will be discovering many new surprises while travelling in this green state. Here are ten of our favourite places in Kerala.
How can we talk about Kerala and not mention the hills of Munnar. The winding roads lined with lush green tea plantations makes for one of the prettiest drives. Once the summer capital for the British, Munnar still got that old world colonial feel. Munnar will welcome you with lofty clouds, picturesque mountains, rolling hills, and a soothing ambience.
You can go for long walks, visit the famous tea plantations or make your way to one of the waterfalls in the region. The area is blessed with the natural beauty of misty hills, and forests full of exotic plants and wildlife. Adventure enthusiasts can trek to Anamudi, the highest peak in South India or go rock climbing and paragliding.
You can also trek to Thoovnam waterfall which lies within the woods of Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. Don’t be too surprised if you see some Tahr and deer on the trekking route, and keep your cameras ready! And once you are there, you can revel in the tranquility of the surroundings with a refreshing waterfall in the backdrop.
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A gorgeous cliff from where you can watch the sunset while the waves crash on the rocks below; welcome to Varkala. You will be mesmerized by this coastal town and wouldn’t want to leave. The town attracts a hippy crowd, and it is a great place to watch the days slowly turn into weeks. You can spend the day by the sparkling beach which is nestled at the bottom of the cliff. And when night comes, head to one of the Cliffside cafes and chill under the stars with some nice music!
Varkala is also one of the best places to surf in India. There is a surf school where you can learn few beginners’ lessons. Jump on that surf board and ride the waves.
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We won’t blame you if you feel a sense of déjà vu on seeing this waterfall. This is Mani Ratnam’s favourite waterfall and he has shot quite a few movies and song sequences here, from Dil Se, Raavan, Guru etc. Recently, the location was also used in the movie Bahubali.
Located on the Chalakudy river, the magnificent Athirappilly Falls is arguably India’s best waterfalls, and certainly one of our personal favourites too (Hey who are we to argue with Mani Ratnam!) It is about 80 feet high, and the thunderous roar of the falls can be heard from far away. The largest waterfall in Kerala, it is often called “The Niagra of India”.
The spray is so strong that one gets drenched even when you are standing forty fifty feet away from the falls. On a lucky day, you can spot a beautiful rainbow in the cliff surrounding the sheet of water. There is a river at the base of the falls, and you can step in the water, play in it, sit on some rocks in the middle of the water and lose yourself in the beauty of the place.
Kerala is known for the backwaters. And Kumarakom is the best place to rent a houseboat and spend a couple of days floating in the nature. This little hamlet is situated near Vembanad Lake dotted with palm trees lined up onthe banks on both sides.
Visit the small villages around the lake and experience their rich culture. Try the authentic Kerala cuisine and I guarantee that you will be in love. The tempting waterways, emarald lakes, fresh paddy fields, thick mangrove forests, and the fresh air enhance the beauty of Kumarakom.
The lovely town of Thekkady is home to Kerala’s famous Periyar Tiger Reserve. It is a beautiful national park, where you will find tribes of elephants, bisons and a large number of bird species. You can take a boat safari to spot these magnificient animals. The lake is particularly captivating at sunset. Periyar is the perfect getaway for wildlife enthusiasts and for people who want to rejuvenate in the misty mountains of the Nilgiris.
You should also go for the world renowned Kerala Martial Arts show – The Kalaripayattu. The performers are very skilled and put up a fantastic display for the audience. You will be at the edge of your seats and through a blaze and a whirlwind flurry they performed. So fiercely they attack each other, that the swords emit sparks time and again. An absolute must watch.
Stepping into Fort Kochi is like stepping into a different era altogether. This was where the Europeans first made home in the16th Century. When the first Portugese came here, the Raja allowed them to build a settlement near the harbor. The Portugese built Fort Emmanuel near the port, and though the Dutch destroyed it a hundred years later, the first part of the name stayed and the area came to be known as Fort Kochi.
You can roam around the streets and you will see a mix of Indian, Portugese and Dutch architecture here. You can visit Jew Street and the Spice Market, St Francis Church (where Vasco Da Gama was originally buried), the Dutch Palace and Santa Cruz Cathedral! Walk around this pretty area, check out the graffiti on some of the shops, check out their colourful walls, buy antiques and spices for your family!
There are a number of quaint cafes in Fort Kochi area where you can unwind after a day of exploration. Try the frozen Sharjah shake. Do a bottoms up and see if you get a brain freeze. And at sunset, go see the Chinese Fishing nets.
If you are someone who enjoys the peace and quiet, then Vagamon is the answer. This small hill town is Kerala’s well kept secret. You will be blown away by its fairy tale landscape with beautiful meadows, gardens and tea plantations.
The road to Vagamon is meandering and is cut in solid rock lined with pine forests. Take a leisurely walk into the dense woods amidst the tall pine trees and enjoy the sun rays which penetrate through them. Camp in the green meadows, sleep under the blanket of stars, and wake up to a surreal sight of clouds floating below you.
There are also adventure activities like paragliding, rock climbing and zip lining for all the adventurous souls.
Wayanad translates to the land of paddy fields in Malayalam. And it’s not just paddy fields here. The region is rich in both nature and culture. You will find many waterfalls that line the city haphazardly and add a charm to this green hill station. Visit Meenmutty Falls, a three tiered waterfall surrounded by tropical forests.
Then there is Kuruva Island which is the most popular destination here. You will spot rare birds, flora and herbs. This small island is a place of profound peacefulness and tranquility.
You should also visit the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary and Edakkal cave. Situated in the Ambukthy mountain, the cave is a stunning structure with the walls adorned with intriguing carvings.
Wayanad is a place filled with many natural wonders which makes it one of the best places in Kerala.
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One of the most scenic places in Kerala, Bekal is a perfect get away from your daily grind. Bekal is mostly known for Bekal Fort. The fort was built almost 300 years ago and is considered as one of the largest forts in Kerala. And it is located in a gorgeous setting. The splashing of the sea waves to the bottom of the fort along with the breathtaking surroundings is an incredible combination you must experience. The fort also has a special observation deck from where you can watch the sun going down.
Many movies including Rang De Basanti, are filmed in the fort premises.
Perched at the confluence of Ashtamudi Lake and River Kallada, Munroe Island is a piece of paradise in God’s own country. This island comprises of a collective group of 8 different islets interconnected with each other with a turquoise network of canals. You will see the scenic rural landscape of Kerala with thatched houses, coconut plantations, and mangrove forests. Go on a canal cruise in this island which seems straight out of a fairy tale.
Click here if you want to know about Adavi, an offbeat destination in Kerala!