Kerala isn’t called ‘God’s Own Country’ just for the sake of it. Visit any place here, and you are sure to feel God’s persona and his grace. This coastal state is always brimming with India’s rich culture and heritage, giving you the feel that indeed God has instilled life in the state. In addition to its elephants, the state is also very popular for its unforgettable temple festivals, Sadhyas (meals served on banana leaves), peaceful backwaters and the hospitality and warmth that the natives of the state shower on their guests.
If you are thinking of taking a breather from the fast-paced city life, then Kerala is an ideal destination to plan a trip to. Don’t miss these top 10 must-visit places when you sit to build the itinerary.
Are you a tea aficionado? Then, Munnar has to be on your list. This region has many sprawling tea estates that are a sight to behold, especially during the monsoons and early winter mornings, when the dew settles on the tea leaves. They also have a Tea Museum, which is the first ever tea museum, situated at Nullatanni estate. Experience the process of tea being picked, pruned, and processed right in front of your eyes. With many winding lanes, misty hills and forests covered with exotic flora, you are sure to get lost here and trust me, you would love to!
Perfect For: If your idea of an ideal vacation is sipping on a piping hot cup of tea with a cool breeze sweeping past your tresses, then Munnar is a definite destination for you.
Options To Stay: The Sienna Village (http://www.thesienavillage.com/), Club Mahindra Munnar (http://www.clubmahindra.com/our-resorts/club-mahindra-munnar), KTDC Tea County Munnar (http://www.teacountymunnar.com/), and Windermere Estate (http://www.windermeremunnar.com/)
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Reasonably away from the main highway, Varkala is a beautiful beach situated between Trivandrum and Kollam. This is the only beach in south Kerala where you will find cliffs by the sea. Relax and set yourself up by one of the many beach cafes that adorn the whole area. Watch the waves play hide and seek with the cliffs and the mighty sun umpiring them from the background. The beach also has many waterspouts and spas that are rich in medicinal properties, and no wonder the beach is also called Papanasam – which translates to wash away your sins.
Perfect For: Ideal for beach lovers who love to spend their holiday in the company of the waves.
Options To Stay: The Gateway Hotel Janardhanapuram (https://gateway.tajhotels.com/en-in/janardhanapuram-varkala/), Palm Tree Heritage (http://www.palmtreeheritage.com/), and Clafouti Beach Resort (http://www.clafoutiresort.com/)
Alleppey is situated along the shores of the Arabian Sea and is a part of the Alappuzha district of Kerala. This is a must-visit destination for you, if still pristine waters awaken the traveller in you. The region is well known for its numerous Kettuvallams/Houseboats, also known as Rice Boats. Book yourself onto one of these boats and experience the fascinating backwaters of Alleppey. As you spend the days by the bay, watch the early sunrise and sunset, the fishermen trying to catch a stock or two using their Chinese fishing nets, flocks of ducks swimming by the river bank and small hamlets passing by the horizon. If you are the sporty kind, don’t miss your chance to be a spectacle, to one of the many magnificent boat races. The most popular being the Nehru Trophy boat race. It’s the largest water parade where 100-125 oarsmen, motivated by four helmsmen battle it out for the first position. It’s indeed a remarkable sight to watch the sheer teamwork of the oarsmen as they row in unison to the fast rhythm of the vanchipattu – song of the boatman.
Perfect For: If you are water sports enthusiast or like a holiday by the sea, then Alleppey is for you.
Options To Stay: Citrus Retreats (http://www.citrushotels.com/destinations/citrus-retreat-alleppey), Ramada Luxury Hotels (http://www.ramada-alleppey.com/), Punnamada Resort(https://www.punnamada.com/), Lake Palace Resort (http://lakepalaceresort.com/), and Alleppey Houseboat (http://www.alleppeyhouseboat.org/)
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Thekkady is synonymous with herds of elephants grazing along continuous pastures of never-ending greenery and the air laden with the spicy aroma from the many spice plantations, which by the way, are spread across the length and breadth of this region. Offering great opportunities to go on mountain trail walks and treks, Thekkady gives you numerous occasions to create postcard perfect memories. Another very popular destination here is the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. A must-see for a wildlife enthusiast, the sanctuary provides unforgettable experiences of sighting the wild within close proximity, from boats that shuttle in and around the artificial lake formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam.
Perfect For: Wildlife enthusiasts. Go on, pack your bags and head straight to Thekkady.
Options To Stay: Spice Village (http://www.cghearth.com/spice-village), The Elephant Court (http://theelephantcourt.com/), and Citrus Thekkady Wild Corridor (http://www.citrushotels.com/destinations/citrus-thekkady-wild-corridor)
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The name ‘Wayanad’ draws references from Vayal Nadu, which means the land of paddy fields. Some popular tourist attractions here include the Chembra Peak, which is the tallest summit and popular for trekking, Sulthan Bathery, which is popular for its citadel constructed by Tipu Sultan, Pookot lake, a natural freshwater body and Koottamundu Glass temple, dedicated to Parswanatha Swami, the Third Tirthankara of the Jains.
Wayanad is also famous for numerous waterfalls in the name of Soochipara (soochi meaning rock and para is needle so you can see needle shaped rock here) and Meenmutty Falls, both of these are three-tier waterfalls, Kanthanpara waterfalls (highly recommended as it has the most picturesque path that leads to the falls) and the Chethalayam waterfalls. All these falls should be visited in and around or immediately after the monsoon season.
Perfect For: Are you the adventurous kind and yearning to go for a quick trek, then get yourself enrolled for one at Wayanad and yes, by the way, you have some mesmerising waterfalls to give you company along the way.
Options To Stay: Vythiri Village (http://www.vythirivillage.com/) and Blue Ginger Spa Resorts Wayanad (http://bluegingerresorts.com/)
6. Fort Kochi
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Kochi (Cochin), the port city of Kerala, is located on the west coast of India. Kochi Marine Drive, Jain temple in Mattancherry and the Folklore Museum are popular tourist spots to visit here. One of the most prominent landmarks here is the vintage region of Fort Kochi. When you stride here, forget your car. Explore this historical wonder on foot and soak into its grandeur and heritage. As you walk along, you will see many historical monuments like Fort Immanuel, Indo-Portuguese Museum / Bishop’s House, the Thakur House, David Hall, Maritime Museum and St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India.
Perfect For: Are you a history enthusiast and like to explore everything that is ancient and medieval, then Fort Kochi should get you all excited?
Options To Stay: Le Meridien Kochi (http://www.lemeridienkochi.com/), Bolgatty Palace & Island Resort (http://www.bolgattypalacekochi.com/), and Vedic Village Resorts (http://www.vedicvillageresorts.com/)
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Thrissur can rightly be called the cultural capital of Kerala. World renowned for the Pooram festival, Thrissur is an interesting mix of a rich legacy and an equally extraordinary present. The Pooram festival attracts many visitors who come in big numbers to witness this extravagant spectacle – the biggest elephant procession coupled with the most extraordinary fireworks. During the Onam festival, the Pulikali also known as the Tiger dance is performed here with equal fervor.
Perfect for: Lover of art and culture? Then, what are you waiting for; Thrissur is the perfect destination for you.
Options to stay: The Nattika Beach Resort (http://www.thenattikabeach.com/), The River Retreat (http://www.riverretreat.in/), and Kadappuram Beach resort (http://www.kadappurambeachresorts.com/)
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Call Kerala the emerald necklace of India and Thiruvananthapuram, the jewel that adorns on that necklace. This evergreen city is bordered by Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari, and Kollam and is known as one of the top ten greenest cities of India. Blessed with a reasonably pleasant climate throughout the year, the place becomes magical especially after a few monsoon spells. The competitive and majestic snake boat races, the grandeur of the elephant parade, the special performances of Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, and Koodiyattam, the vibrant cultural vibes of Kerala run far and deep in Thiruvananthapuram.
Perfect For: Looking for a getaway that is an interesting mix of a holiday as well as has the comforts and facilities of an urban lifestyle then Thiruvanthapuram is a good choice that you should consider.
Options To Stay: Beach and Lake Ayurvedic Resort (http://www.beachandlakeresort.com/) and Coconut Bay Beach Resort (http://www.coconutbay.com/)
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A popular and relaxing hamlet on the Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom is popular for its canals, where you can book yourself on a houseboat. Its bird sanctuary acts like a natural habitat for many waterbird species, cuckoos, and migratory birds like the Siberian stocks. Give your taste buds a nice twist by enjoying the numerous types of fish curries, rice, and tapioca delicacies that are found here in abundance.
Perfect For: Tired of the deadlines, schedules, meeting and craving for a peaceful getaway in the lap of Mother Nature, consider Kumarakom and you will surely not regret your decision.
Options To Stay: Kumarakom Lake Resort (http://www.kumarakomlakeresort.in/) and Coconut Lagoon (http://www.cghearth.com/coconut-lagoon)
Image credit: Karmakerala.com
Popularly known as Calicut, this city is famous for its temples and mosques. Other prominent attractions include the Kozhikode beach, which is a favorite spot for sunset viewing and also houses a marine aquarium as an added attraction and the Thusharagiri Falls, where water and land create an interesting combination and is very famous for trekking too. The city is also famed for its spices and is thus well known as the City of Spices.
Perfect For: The beach, some spice shopping, late meals, afternoon siesta, evening walks, do all this and much much more when you are in Kozhikode.
Options To Stay: The Raviz Resort & Spa, Kadavu (http://theraviz.com/), The Gateway Hotel Beach Road Calicut (https://gateway.tajhotels.com/en-in/beach-road-calicut/), and Copper Folia (http://www.copperfolia.com/)
Which of these places have you been to? What did you like most about the places? Let us know, in the comments below!