While most tourists who visit India, prioritize visiting the North to see the Golden Triangle, Kerala, the southernmost state of India is an underrated gem, with beautiful beaches and an eye-opening culture and delicious food. Avoid the crowded beaches of Goa and come to Kerala for an authentic South-Indian experience. You will realize why the National Geographic Traveler magazine named Kerala as one of the “ten paradises of the world” and “50 places of a lifetime”. Here are 5 reasons why you want to visit Kerala on your next trip to India:
Why Kerala Should Be Your Next Destination to Visit?
Kerala is one of the most educated parts of India. It is a safe state, where locals respect tourists. Poverty levels here are extremely low compared to other parts of India. It is a Communist state, a matriarchal society, where Catholics, Muslims and Hindus live peacefully together. It is also the birthplace of Ayurveda. This form of alternative medicine therapy was established thousands of years ago in India and it helps patients to recover from all sorts of health issues, by diet and oil massages.
Arriving in Kerala
Getting a difficult visa to visit India is the thing of the past. These days, Europeans and Americans can just apply for an e-visa online and they have easy access to enter the country. This makes traveling to India much more appealing. Kerala has four international airports that welcome visitors. Passengers with e-visas should arrive to Kochi or to Thiruvananthapuram airports.
Upon arrival to Kerala, spend some time to discover one of the largest historical cities of Kerala, Kochi. The city is a major port city. It is the economic center of Kerala. It is also known as the Queen of Arabian Sea. Make sure to visit Fort Kochi as it is part of the city’s heritage quarter and it is one of the most visited sights of Kerala. Walk down Princess Street, the street of Fort Kochi. It’s a great place for an evening walk, where you can visit western styled cafes, souvenir shops, art galleries. Santacruz Basilica is also worth a visit. It was the first European Church built by the Portuguese in Asia in 1502. Jewish people can visit Jew Street and Paradesi Synagogue, the oldest synagogue of the Commonwealth.
Laze Around on Kovalam Beach
Kerala has a 650 km long coastline and one of the best and most famous beaches is Kovalam beach. Take a taxi from Kochi to Kovalam Beach and check into one of the beautiful beachfront hotels. Kovalam beach has many great hotels and shops along the beachfront. It offers a nice bathing area. The place was the center of the Hippy counter-culture in sixties and is today famous for hedonistic beach parties. The beach has some cool lounges, where you can hang out in the evenings and it has great restaurants that offer local dishes.
Try Some Tasty Local Food
Talking about restaurants….. food in Kerala is fresh and tasty. Rice and coconut are the staple dish, but they also eat lots of meat and fish. You have to try sadhya, it is served on a plantain leaf and it has up to 24 items. Imagine it like an Indian buffet, you pick a little bit of everything. They offer different kinds of curries to choose from. There are plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans as well. Another popular option are thalis. These are a smaller version of the sadhya. A thali normally offers 4-5 curries, 2 pickles, pappadams. These are served in large steel plates with slots for each curry. Kerala is also famous for the most elaborate breakfast food. It has the reputation of being the best breakfast in the World. My favorites were dosas, which are thin crispy fried crepes stuffed with various things.
Cruise the Backwaters on a Slow Boat
The backwaters of Kerala are a maze of lagoons. Many people rent a houseboat and spend a night or two sleeping on the boat and watch the coconut trees pass by. You can rent a houseboat in Astamudi Lake in Kollam. We hopped on a slow boat and rode it for about 6 hours and watched the birds and animals appearing in the lagoons. After so many hours, the wooden bench was a little tough to sit on. I recommend you bringing a pillow, if you are riding one of these boats. In Neyyar Dam, in Trivandrum, you can even see crocodiles. Another option is to take an evening cruise with the Kerala Shipping Corporation. It has two types of cruises, covering Kochi Harbour Backwaters and nearby High Seas. If you are lucky, you will even see some dolphins.
Kerala is World famous for Ayurveda. This ancient healing art has a 5000-year-old history and it can heal chronic illnesses naturally. Some diseases that are incurable by modern medicine can be cured by Ayurveda. There are plenty of Ayurvedic clinics for people, who want to heal their ailments. Many people go to Kerala to do yoga and meditation training. You can become a certified yoga instructor in 200 hours. If you don’t have any ailments, you can get an Ayurvedic oil massage in a spa that will help you forget about all your first World problems for a while. You can even choose to stay at an Ayurvedic resort and indulge yourself in a wide variety of Ayurvedic treatments.
Kerala is a wonderful destination, for those, who are looking for an authentic holiday on a beautiful beach, love nature, want to connect with friendly local people, and enjoy a nice Ayurvedic massage and delicious spicy food. It is the perfect place to relax and recharge and indulge in the beautiful scenery.
To get a flavour of what Kerala is like, watch this video:
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Disclosure: Sponsored by Kerala Tourism but the article details my impression and experience in Kerala.