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The year 2020 definitely calls for more travelling in India, and what better than visiting a paradise location in  India. Lying far apart from the rest of the polluted states is ‘God’s Own Country’ Kerala. The rich tea plantations, paddy fields, serene coastline, coconut meadows and serene beaches are bound to leave you spell-bounded. A well rounded tour of the state of Kerala is going to take you to explore the famous backwaters, therapeutic ayurvedic massages and some delicious spicy cuisine of Kerala.  

Kerala

KOCHI

Kochi or Cochin in the south-west region of India is the financial, commercial and industrial capital of Kerala. Also called the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’, Kochi was previously the centre of the Indian spice trades for Jews, Syrians, Arabs, and Chinese. It showcases great diversity and cultural aspects, defining why it is one of the best places to explore in Kerala as backed by the World Travel Tourism Council and the National Geographic Traveler’s ’50 greatest places of a lifetime’. Kochi has been surrounded by a unique blend of Jewish, Dutch, Portuguese and British Architecture that is a treat to witness. Spending a day at Kochi while exploring the entire state of Kerala is an apt amount of time to devote to it. But, what are the places you should visit in Kochi and the experiences you should carry along this trip?

The Mattancherry Palace or the Dutch palace is one of the most primitive historical landmarks of Kochi. The Palace was built around 1545 and hence, largely faces a Portuguese influence in it. The purpose behind constructing the Mattancherry Palace was that the Portuguese people wanted to offer it as a gift to the King Veera Kerala Verma of the Kochi dynasty. It received the name ‘Dutch palace’ only when the dutchmen repaired it with their own hands. Currently, it is the home of the royal family, Pazhayannur Bhagavathy (the Deity of Pazhayannur). the interiors of the Mattancherry palace have been decorated with paintings of Ramayana, Mahabharata, Lord Krishna, works of Kalidasa, the portraits of Kings of Cochin since 1864, sheathed swords, daggers, axes, royal caps and coins that have been issued under the reign of Kings of Cochin since 1864.

Mattancherry Palace

The Cochin Jewish Synagogue (Jewish house of worship) or the Mattancherry Synagogue, Paradesi Synagogue is considered as the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations. The synagogue was constructed in 1567 and is located right next to the Mattancherry Palace. It was built by Spanish- speaking Jews who named it pardesi. The interiors of the Synagogue have been ornamented with various beautiful chandeliers, antiques, clock tower and Chinese hand-painted tiles that make it strikingly beautiful to visit.

Cochin Jewish Synagogue

The Chinese Fishing Nets are the most popular attraction spots of Kochi. For a long time, these fishing nets have been the way through which people have recognised the city in magazines or posters. The Chinese fishing nets are large fishing nets that are attached to bamboo and teak poles. The nets are let down into the sea through a mechanism and by stones that are tied onto the ropes. These nets are left in the sea for a long time and are pulled back only when a significant amount of fish are caught. Visit here to experience the wonderful sunlight and the fishermen of Koch involved in their daily routine practices.

Chinese Fishing Nets: Kerala

Willingdon Island in Kochi is one of the largest man-made islands in India. It has been named after Lord Willingdon, the British Viceroy of India. The island is located between Ernakulum Jetty and Kochi Port and the ferry costs around 6 rupees only.

Willingdon Island

MUNNAR

After exploring the rich culture of Kochi, it’s time for you to head to the most popular and beautiful hill station of South India, Munnar. The famous hill station of the south, Munnar is just a forty-five-minute ride from Kochi. It has been recognised for being the summer resort of the British Government. Munnar has gained popularity amongst many tourists for its large spread of tea plantations, diverse fauna, rich forests and grasslands. Adjudged as the ‘Kashmir of South India’ for the purity unperturbed beauty that lies in its nature is something that should surely be experienced while touring from Kochi to other significant towns of Kerala. Munnar is especially perfect for honeymooners. 

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Munnar

The Anamudi peak of Kerala is the highest peak of the Western Ghats in the Southern part of India. Located at a great height of 8,842 feet, Anamundi translates into an elephant’s forehead due to its massive natural structure. Not just due to its structure, the name has also been inspired due to the peak being home to the largest surviving population of Asian elephants, Gaurs and Nilgiri Tahrs. The peak is situated in Eravikulam National Park. Anamudi Peak has been surrounded by rich greenery and the famous Neela Kurinji flower that blooms every twelve years. You can trek up to the peak only after getting permission from the Forest and Wildlife authorities at Eravikulam.

Anamudi peak

The Eravikulam National Park is a popular UNESCO world heritage site that houses one of the richest diversities of the region. The national park, previously known as the Rajamalai Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for its endangered inhabitant, the Nilgiri Tahr. Other animals that reside inside the national park include the Elephant, Nilgiri langur, Nilgiri marten, lion-tailed macaque, small-clawed otter and tiger, leopard and the largest Atlas moth in the world. The Anamudi Peak that sits pretty in the centre of the Eravikulam National Park makes for the perfect sight especially when it is visited by the inhabited animals. The hill becomes prettier when the Neelakurinji flowers appear. Sadly, that is only possible in the span of twelve years.

Eravikulam National Park

Tea has played an essential role in the development of Munnar. It is gone through years of vast development and growth regarding the way the teas plantations are grown and nurtured on top of the valleys of Munnar. Just some years ago, Tata Tea decided to dedicate an entire museum. The tea museum depicts the history of tea estates. The museum takes visitors on a significant journey that showcases the years when people used the rudimentary tea roller and then moved forward with the advanced fully automated tea factory. Tea lovers are going to fall in love with this place as it shows you the way the tea was made in the yesteryears and how it’s made today. A demonstration room in the museum has been dedicated especially for tea tasting too.

Tea Museum Munnar

Nature-lovers should definitely stop by the Pothamedu View Point that offers the best views of the green hills and the tea, coffee and cardamom plantations. One of the highest arch dams of Asia, the Idukki Dam can also be seen from the top of this point. The dam was constructed along with two other dams at Cheruthoni and Kulamavu. All the three dams together form an artificial lake that is used to produce electricity at the Moolamattom Powerhouse.

Pothamedu View Point

THEKKADY

Tourists especially wildlife enthusiasts across the globe have been known to travel to Thekkady as it is for being home to the country’s largest Tiger Reserve, the Periyar National park. It is a three-hour ride for people travelling from Munnar. Thekkady is considered as the perfect spot to spend a day or a couple of hours due to its varied adventurous activities. The most popular being the bamboo rafting around the Mullaperiyar dam that is considered as one of the most fun activities to try around the town. Surrounded by the rich flora and fauna, Thekkady is perfect to spend some quiet time around. You could also choose a little quiet spot for your family, spread a bamboo mat, soak in the sun and eat snacks. The magnificent view of the hills surrounding you, add a nice touch of perfection. 

Thekkady

The Periyar National Park in Thekkady is considered as the most diverse region of the world. The Park covers a vast area of 357 square miles. The park is encompassed with rich greenery, tigers, elephants and different species of birds. The Pamba and Periyar tributaries run through the park that helps in enhancing the flora and fauna of this region. The park is located around the cardamom hills, giving visitors the perfect merged view of the hills, tributaries and wildlife. Too surreal to imagine, right? Not just for strolling and witnessing the animals, the  Periyar National Park offers various kinds of fun activities to enjoy too like boat cruises, jeep safaris and elephant safaris. You can also enjoy boating at the lake and trekking through the dense forests. Since you’ll be spending only a day here, it will be sensible to spend time inside the Periyar National Park as there is a lot to explore inside and around the park.

Periyar National Park

The Mangaladevi Temple inside the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is more than a thousand years old. The temple has been devoted to an angry wife who was left devastated after her husband was falsely put to death by the king. Burning with anger, she burnt down the entire town of Madurai. The temple is opened only once a year during the Chitra Pournami festival. It is held either in April or May.

Mangaladevi Temple

Pullumedu is one of the most popular spots inside the park that offers a stunning view of the plantations, tall trees and mountain peaks. Perfect to visit this hilltop for the most scenic and unfiltered pictures.

Pullumedu

During the 12th century, an artificial lake was built in the centre of the Periyar National Park that today plays an essential beauty of the national park. The lake is also famous for bamboo river rafting. The rafting starts at eight in the morning and takes you through a three-hour trip that lets you spot the inhabited animals and birds.

People who love getting some scoop on how anything edible is built should definitely visit the Cardamom hills. True to its namesake, the hill is occupied entirely with cardamom plantations. You can avail the jeep tours that travel up to this hill.

Cardamom hills

KUMARAKOM

Kumarakom lies on a cluster of small islands with the backdrop of the largest lake of Kerala, the Vembanad Lake. The Vembanad is said to be one of the most stunning locations to visit here as it inhabits various kinds of marine species. The town promotes rich flora fauna through its popular bird sanctuary, the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. The Kumarakom is known for being the prime spot where various extinct birds are known to visit. Due to its abundant fertility, the town is full of lush fields, coconut and mango orchards. Hence, nature’s natural phenomenons can be spotted in abundance here that are bound to leave you spell-bounded on every step. Kumarakom was also named as one of the world’s 25remote and exotic destinations by the Cande Nast Travellers.  Thekkady to Kumarakom is an approximately three-hour drive.

Kumarakom

If you are looking for just a single reason why you should stop by Kumarakom while exploring the state of Kerala, then just a little peek of the backwaters should be enough to influence you. The backwater lies in the Kottayam district that is located around that are formed when the waters of the state canals and rivers meet and form the vast Vembanad Lake. Riding the backwaters on a boat while admiring the paddy fields, Chinese fishing nets, ducks quacking, birds chirping are just enough to leave you mesmerized. You will also spot many houseboats that offer great kinds of services to visitors.

The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary or the Vembanad Bird Sanctuary is one of the most popular sanctuaries of the southern Indian region. It is located on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, in the Kottayam district of Kumarakom that spreads up to 14 acres. The bird sanctuary is located  The sanctuary is special for being the hub of both native and migratory birds like owls, cuckoos, waterfowls, the exquisite Siberian Crane, Indian Darter, Little Cormorant, egrets, herons, White Ibis, kingfishers, water duck, teal, larks, flycatchers, wood beetles and many more that fly from the Himalayas. Hence, the perfect spot for bird watchers and admirers. You can choose to rent a motorboat or hop on a houseboat that gives a better view of the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. 

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

What’s better than having lunch with a view? Only if the view is of the beautiful Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls. The waterfalls are at a great height of 100 feet and are surrounded by thick rubber plantations. Many families choose to sit and amp at this spot. The cool climate makes it the perfect place to set up your own picnic spot. If left with some time, then you can also visit the St. Mary’s church at the top of the Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls.

The Toddy shop is famous for offering various kinds of mildly alcoholic beverages that are extracted from the fermented sap of Coconut palm trees. Kerala men climb tall trees to extract sap from the cut flowers which are collected with great skills. The sap is then allowed to ferment for a day to form toddy. Toddy is served with delicious Kerala cuisine, hence enhancing the entire experience.

Toddy shop

ALAPPUZHA

Alappuzha or formerly known as Alleppey is regarded as one of the most famous towns of Kerala due to its cleanliness among the entire states of India. It is famously called ‘the Venice of the East’ as it is the hub of Kerala’s backwaters and has over a thousand houseboats situated on its waters. The houseboats have been inspired by the Kettuvallams that were used for transporting tonnes of rice and spices. The interiors of the houseboats are like a hotel room with air conditioner, toilet, living room, kitchen and a balcony. The backwaters are surrounded by the sheer beauty of the lagoons, coconut trees, beaches canals and much more. Located at a distance of 53 km from Kochi, Alleppey is great to spend some time at. Beach lovers can choose to stay near the beach houses and probably opt for a swim or a rich ayurvedic massage.

Alappuzha

Alappuzha Beach is a top tourist attraction spot of Kerala. The beach is perfect to sit and admire the beauty that surrounds you or if you want to indulge in some fun activities then you could try adventurous activities here like boating. If you are visiting the beach with your kids then you can enjoy taking them at the children’s park near the beach that has a bunch of swings and slides to enjoy. There is also an old lighthouse near Alappuzha beach which attracts a lot of visitors. The beach is also famous for holding the Nehru Trophy Boat race every August. 

Alappuzha Beach

The Krishnapuram Palace and museum is located at a distance of 47 km from Alappuzha under the rulership of Travancore King, Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma. The architecture of the palace has been constructed with narrow corridors, dorm windows, gabled roofs, paintings and murals. The major attraction of the palace is the biggest mural paintings that can be only found in Kerala called the ‘Gajendra Moksha’. The mural painting is spread on a large area of 53 square feet. It holds a rich historical value for the locals of the state. The double-edged sword Kayamkulam Vaal can also be found inside the Krishnapuram Palace.

Krishnapuram Palace

Known as the ‘Rice Bowl of India’, Kuttanad is the wealthy paddy fields of Kerala. The region is regarded as the lowest altitude in India. It is one of those few places in the world where farming is carried on around 4 to 10 feet below sea level. The place can be perfectly viewed by travelling through the houseboats of Kerala. Tourists will get to witness different kinds of farming activities like toddy tapping, duck farming, coconut cultivation, and fishing too.

Kuttanad

The Champakulam Kalloorkadu Marth Maryam Basilic or the St. Mary Forane Church is one of the oldest churches of Kerala that was built in 427 AD. The church is considered as one of the oldest Syrian Catholic churches in India. It has been designed with exquisite Syrian and Portuguese architecture, rock inscriptions and artefacts that showcase the Portugal influence that was spread during that era.  It is believed by the locals that the church was the reason for agreement between the Catholics and Jacobian Syrians centuries ago. Hence, it is considered as a rich heritage of Christianity in India.

St. Mary Forane Church

KOVALAM

A four-hour drive from Alappuzha will land you at the paradise location known as Kovalam. Kovalam is a hit among the Indians as well as foreigners due to its vibrant and high vibes of the numerous places that will leave you confused which to visit and which to skip. A unique blend of native fishes and calm waters make for the perfect opportunity to take a dip. Non-swimmers also have plentiful options to act on. One of the must-have experiences in Kovalam for people to experience are the Ayurvedic massages at the Yoga and Ayurvedic massage centres that are surely going to relax every strained muscle of your body. There are various kinds of Ayurvedic health resorts, herbal body toning massage facilities, convention facilities and shopping zones to enjoy some relaxing and therapeutic time.

Kovalam

The Lighthouse beach has been named after the 30 m tall lighthouse which is a prominent landmark and hence, is famous for being visited by many tourists as it offers the best view from its top. To reach on top of the lighthouse, one has to climb a flight of 140 stairs that offer you the best view of the Poovar village and the Beemapally Mosque. Visitors can opt for numerous water activities like paragliding, swimming, surfing and parasailing or a casual walk on the beach.

Lighthouse beach

If you are among those visitors that are looking for a beach in Kovalam that is not too crowded then Hawah beach is the perfect spot for you. The beach is located at a secluded spot which makes it the perfect relaxing place to enjoy alone or with your family. Kovalam beach is famous for its mouth-watering cuisines that are offered by various small restaurants located on the beach sides. 

Vellayani Lake is the largest freshwater body in Kerala. It has been ranked high in the list of famous places to visit in Kovalam due to its vast flora and fauna. A boat race is conducted in the lake during the festival of Onam every year which attracts a large number of tourists too.

Vellayani Lake

Halcyon Castle or the Kovalam palace was built in 1932. It was made to serve as a summer retreat spot for the family of Maharani Sethu Lekshmi Bai. Constructed with traditional Kerala style architecture, the Halcyon palace was converted into a luxurious hotel in 1964 and then later sold to a private resort group. Visit here to learn about the royalties and the colonial rule.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Thiruvananthapuram or formerly known as Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala is one of the most crowded cities of Kerala. It is acclaimed for being among the topmost  Information Technology hubs. The great father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi called the ‘Evergreen city of India’. Home to various research centres and media institutions, Thiruvananthapuram is today considered as the premium hub spot for students too. In 2012, Thiruvananthapuram was named the best Kerala city to live in,  by The Times of India. In 2013, the city was ranked the fifteenth best city to live in India by India Today and was also selected as the best-governed city in India in the survey conducted by Janaagraha Centre for citizenship and democracy in 2017.

The Neyyar Dam & Wildlife Sanctuary is named after the Neyyar river that is located on the foothills of Western Ghats. It was built in 1958 and is home to unique flora and fauna. The Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary is home to animals like the Gaur, Sloth Bear, Nilgiri Tahr, Jungle Cat, Sambar Deer, Elephants and more. The place offers serene views of the surrounding, hence it is perfect to either relax or plan your own picnic.

Neyyar Dam & Wildlife Sanctuary

The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is one of the most popular temples of South India. The temple worships Lord Padmanabha who is a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. It has been featured in the Bhagwat Gita due to which many people consider it to be at least 5000 years old. The temples ask visitors to follow a specific dress code. Many mysteries and incredible discoveries have led this temple to gain a lot of limelight from the media and people too.

Poovar Island is located just 30 km away from Trivandrum and is adjudged as one of the most pristine locations of Kerala. The island is also famously called the fishing village. They have been surrounded by the waters of the Arabian Sea and the Neyyar River, that makes it a beautiful sight to witness. The island is also famous for its rich diversity. But, sadly you cannot take a dip here as the water is not suitable for swimming. Hence, taking a walk while admiring the surrounding trees, waters and sand are also considered as a great experience.

Poovar Island

The Kanakakunnu Palace is India’s first digital garden. It has been created by Akhilesh S. V. Nair and A. Gangaprasad of the University of Kerala. The palace is host to various cultural meets and programmes. Every year the all India Dance Festival is organised by the Department of Tourism.