Kerala Travel- A complete guide for your ultimate trip

Kerala, which means 'the land of coconuts' also known as the 'God's own country.' But have you ever wondered why it has such a magical tagline? They have many stories about it. Some say it's because Lord Parasurama, the sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu in Hindu religion, created Kerala. Some say it's because of the cultural diversity, land, and sumptuous cuisine. And at some point, each story has a meaning to itself. But the creation of this iconic tagline took birth in 1989 by Walter Mendez. After he made this tagline, the tourism business in Kerala changed and became the most preferred destination amongst the travelers across the globe. Today, everyone gets to delve into its rich history, landscape, and backwaters. With the affluent crowd, Kerala travel diary offers luxury hotels, scenic views of the waterfalls, and kayak rides. As in the composition of A.R. Rahman's 'Shyama Sundara,' Kerala is indeed a ‘dusky and beautiful land of coconuts.’

  • 31-Oct-2019
  • Written By: Naila Arif

Places to visit and things to do-

MUNNAR-

Amongst the best of the 'Coconut Country,' there's a town called Munnar. Home to serene waterfalls, mountains, and opulence of greenery. This idyllic hill station is one of the most significant tea-plantation areas of South India. With breath-taking views, you can start with your Kerala itinerary and capture every ounce of Munnar for the keepsake.

Flower Garden-

Starting your tour with the Flower Garden. If you are a lover of nature and florets, then you must make a stop at this garden. Located a few kilometers away from Munnar city center, this rose garden has its maintenance by Kerala tourism. 

You will find varieties of plants, spices, crops like cardamom and vanilla, among other fruit trees. They are all differently named for you to distinguish. The mesmerizing aromas and the sight of the flowers will please your mind and your camera. Entrance fee and camera charges apply before entering.

Tata Tea Museum-

The tea plantation and its history is phenomenal in Kerala tourism. The Tata tea company holds the record of World's second-largest tea producers and distributors. 

When you are in Munnar, you must check out this plantation. Along with it, you can buy some herbal teas for your friends, family and yourself. 

The best thing about this museum is you can enjoy a thorough detail about how they make the tea. All you have to do is attending the show guided by the officials. There are two shows that you can visit- one at 10 AM and the other at 2 PM. 

Note: The Tata Tea Museum remains closed on Mondays and Good Friday. Entrance fee applies to both adults and children. If you are bringing the camera, pay the minimal charges. An additional fee applies for tasting all different teas. You can also buy the herbal teas for reasonable prices. 

TREKKING AND SIGHT-SEEING-

Mattupetty Dam-

In 1940, the Mattupetty Dam constructed under the Pallivasal Hydro-electric project. The purpose of this dam was to conserve water and generate power. It is now a vital source to generate electricity in Munnar. It is also a significant source of constant availability of water for wild animals. 

The most beautiful part of visiting the Mattupetty Dam is the captivating sight of the lake behind it. You can embrace a moment of peace at the lake. It is also famous for water sports activities like- speed boating, motorboat or row boating. 

The place gets crowded, so it is better to visit the site early in the morning. Travelers often like to do an optional trek to the Shola forest and hilly woods around the dam (If they have extra time on their hands). 

Echo Point, Kundala Lake & Top Station-

Travelers usually make a stop across the Echo point to behold a view while making it to the Top Station. And only a few kilometers away from the Echo Point, there's a picnic spot known as Kundala Dam. It is a small arch dam with boating facilities on the Lake like- Shikara boats, pedal boats or rowboats. You can watch the locals enjoying their leisure time here. 

The Top Station is the highest point in Munnar. At the 1700 meter, you can feel the clouds at your arm's length. Photographers love this place as they get a lot of pictures-perfect panoramas and time-lapse shots. An entering fee applies at the top station.

Attukad Waterfalls-

Between Munnar and Pallivasal in the Idukki district, this waterfall is ideal for trekking and picnic. The sight of this picturesque waterfall and rolling hills is a feast for the eyes. Travelers and photographers adore this capturing waterfalls. For trekking on the green forest of Attukad, you can hire a local guide to explore the area. 

SHOWS & PERFORMANCES-

Kathakali show and Kalartipayattu-

On the outskirts of Munnar, the Puranjani Traditional Village gives you an incredible Kathakali show & Martial art performances. On Kathakali show, you can admire the hard work and efforts of the artists to keep the traditional art alive. Meanwhile, you can also enjoy the Kalartipayattu (The Martial Art Performance) by the artists. Entry fee for Kathakali show is 250 Rs ($3.50) and 300 Rs ($4.20) for Kalartipayattu.

KOCHI-

Kochi (Cochin) aka 'The Queen of the Arabian Sea' is a place where India and China collides. A place which is attracting explorers, travelers, and traders for over 600 years. A combination of China, Dutch, Portuguese, France, and Britishers which you cannot find anywhere. And a delightful place to explore all the Uber-cool cafes, traditional and modern Keralan art. 

Quaint Lanes of Fort Kochi-

Under the district of Ernakulam lies the heart of Kochi- that is- Fort Kochi. While hearing the word 'Fort Kochi,' you might imagine some ancient fort or walled city. But that is not how it looks. Its charm and chilling-vibes will sweep you away the moment you set foot in Kochi. You will develop an energy, forcing you to discover its core. And that's when you would encounter the laid back region of Fort Kochi. 

This encounter is the testament of the beauty left behind by the Dutch, Portuguese, French, and Britishers. Also, the Malabar Coast which adds more color to it. Fort Kochi is one of the best places in Kerala for solo travelers along with the group travelers. And to explore the best of Fort Kochi, you must see these outstanding sights. 

St. Francis Church-

Built-in 1503, known as one of the oldest European churches in India. Interestingly, it is the place where Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer was initially buried. Then, 14 years later, his son came and took his remains back to Lisbon. But you can still see the gravestone of the late explorer. 

Chinese Fishing Nets-

The only Chinese influence left here are these enormous nets. Also known as 'Cheenavalas' for over 600 years. Ma Huan, a diplomat, once said- "The fisherman are tourist-friendly and will happily let you enjoy them." His words are true to this day. Try to linger around the fishermen, and you may get to watch their style and skills. 

Jew Town and Mattancherry-

The Jewish Paradesi Synagogue, constructed in 1568, is the oldest synagogue in India. The Jewish population may be a little less now, but they still kept the remains of their heritage safe here. People here even celebrate Hanukka (Festival of lights). 

Mattancherry is a small town known for its Dutch Palace and spice markets. The Palace was a gift by the Portuguese to the Raja of Kochi. It is a perfect place to look into the multicultural history of the city. And get a glimpse of all the luxuries the Dutch relished centuries ago. A walk in the spice market will lead you to all kinds of herbs, oils, spices, and soaps.

ALLEPPEY (Alappuzha)-

Alappuzha (Alleppey) also known as the 'Venice of the East.' Accurate in every way as today, Alleppey is famous for its backwater cruises, beaches, boat races, etc. People often come here as it is renowned as their 'picnic spot.' 

Alleppey has a vast network of houseboats which are the latest version of the 'Kettuvallams.' The 'Kettuvallams' means 'Structured boats,' used to carry tons for rice and spices in the olden days. These boats had a thatched roof, covering over the wooden hulls. 

You can find all kinds of luxurious houseboats at Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kasaragod. These houseboats provide you with breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with overnight stays. The prices of the cruises can differ from time to time. 

Lighthouse, Alleppey-

The major tourist attraction in Alappuzha is the Lighthouse. Built-in 1862, this Lighthouse gives pictorial scenes of the coast from the top. You can take the stairs to climb up to the top of this Lighthouse. Entry fee for Indians is 20 Rs ($0.30) and 50 Rs ($0.70) for foreigners.

THEKKADY-

The next chapter of your trip is Thekkady, a 'Wonder of Wildlife.' It conjures up the image of spice scented plantation, never-ending chains of hills and a shelter for 2000 elephants. Visit the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, a perfect example of rich biodiversity and scenic beauty. 

This sanctuary adorned by 100 years old artificial Lake and initially known for its wild elephants and thickly established Western Ghats Forests. 

This place is also well-known for its Safaris. You can savor a boat cruise in the jungle for half an hour, jeep safaris, and elephant safaris. And if you are bringing a camera to capture its beauty, then pay 285 Rs ($4.00) charge before entering. 

Athirapally Waterfalls and Vazachal Waterfalls-

On the last leg of the trip, visit Athirapally, home to the largest waterfall in Kerala. Also known as the 'Niagara falls of India.' These falls were also the part of South Indian iconic movie 'Bahubali.' This waterfall makes Athirapally a central hub for tourists all over the place. 

The best thing about this waterfall is it magically intertwined with green forest cover and silver cascades of Nila River (Bharathapuzha). It looks astonishing during the season of Monsoon. 

Nearby, there is another waterfall- Vazachal. A beautiful sight for the eyes and best for photography. Both Arithapally and Vazachal waterfalls are the notable attraction in Thrissur district.

Places to eat, drink and relax-

In Munnar-

Rapsy restaurant- This ordinary-looking restaurant is always overflowing with the locals at the lunchtime. It is well-known for its Biryani and Parathas (Indian style bread). Also famous amongst the travelers for its International dishes like- Spanish Omelette and Israeli Shakshuka (eggs with spices and tomatoes). 

Alibaba & 41 Dishes- A halal-restaurant near the bus station. Famous amongst the local and travelers for its Indian-international menu. People love its northern curries, Paneer and chicken tikka masala, red hot noodles, South Indian thalis, and spiced seafood. 

In Kochi-

Kashi Art Cafe- This Uber-cool cafe on Burger street, Fort Kochi is a real treat for the locals and travelers. It is a part-gallery and a part-diner which represents the work of Indian and international artists. You can enjoy a perfect coffee along with fresh juices, salads, soups, and sandwiches. 

The Drawing Room- This fantastic seafood restaurant is in the 'most favorite places' for lunch in the city. At the St. Francis Church, Fort Kochi, this restaurant serves the best salt-baked fish and anchovies on toast. The ambiance is perfect with the white frescoes and antique chairs and tables. 

In Thekkady-

All Spice- In Cardamom County, Thekkady Road, is a chic restaurant with excellent cuisine. People here love the Kerala beef curry and other dishes from the La Carte menu. A buffet system and friendly staff make it a must-visit.

Where to Stay-

In Munnar-

Chandys Windy Woods Hotel- terraced on the hill slopes, this 5-star luxury hotel is a one-stop. With luxurious rooms, restaurants and best staff facilities, this hotel is one of the best site-seeing destinations of India.

In Kochi-

Brunton Boatyard Hotel- CGH Earth - Inspired and designed from the colonial history of Kochi. This hotel is remarkably constructed and gives a picturesque view of the Lake. A 5-star property that reminds the olden times of Rajas, with high lofty ceilings and old-fashioned 'Punkhas' (Fan).

In Alleppey-

Waves and Dales- Alleppey Houseboats (a luxury houseboat) where you’ll get to experience the best of the backwaters and areas surrounded by it. This luxurious houseboat provides you with breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a comfortable bed for an overnight stay. 

In Thekkady-

The Elephant Court, Thekkady- In Thamarakandam Road, Thekkady, and this 5-star property gives the travelers a warm welcome. With the perfect ambiance, great staff, and excellent service, people highly recommend this hotel for a better stay at Thekkady.

How to get there-

Flights-

For better flight information from USA to Cochin International Airport, look up at this site. 

Kayak

Air India- flies daily from New York to Cochin International Airport

Emirates- flies daily from New York to Cochin International Airport 

Etihad- flies daily from New York to Cochin International Airport 

Car- Book an Ola or Uber ride for transfers between the cities.

When to Visit-

The best time to visit Munnar is winter (September to November and January to March). You will experience occasional rain, which gives a foggy view. 

The most appropriate time to visit Cochin is winters (from October to February). The weather is pleasant, and the temperature varies from 17°C to 33°C. 

Visit Alleppey in the winters (November to February) when the weather is mild and pleasant. Avoid Monsoon and summer as it can be risky in Monsoon and summers are usually hot as the temperature can go up to 37°C. 

To admire the wildlife and natural beauty of Thekkady, visit it in winters. It is the best time for site seeing. 

Note: If you’re planning a tour to India make some space for Kerala because one week in Kerala is like a drop in the ocean and you will not cover every ounce of beauty it offers.