There's an excellent reason why Kerala is known as God's own country. The sheer magnificence of this land in south-eastern India lies not just in its warm-hearted and welcoming people, but also in the diversity of the region's landscapes. From breathtakingly refreshing tea gardens to some of the most romantic sandy beaches of the country, Kerala takes pride in its multi-cultural and religious disposition that welcomes people of all faiths and interests from across the globe to engage with its many fascinating wonders.
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7 Amazing Must-Have Experiences in Kerala, India
Enjoy a Backwater Stay in a Houseboat
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The highlight of any trip to Kerala is the chance to admire its scenic backwaters. Exploring the 900 km of rivers, lakes, canals, and lagoons that form the Kerala backwaters is a once-in-a-lifetime event.
There are several ways to witness the attractiveness of this region, be it through nominally priced ferry rides that locals take on a day to day bases or pre-organized tours that last anywhere from one hour to an entire day. Gently swaying on the water, passing through quaint villages, palm trees all around, and the possibility to come across a variety of birds and the odd crocodile is both fascinating and calming.
Alleppey and Kumarakom are two of the best places in Kerala to experience the backwaters. For a truly magical break, pick one of the ultra-luxurious houseboats that feature multiple bedrooms, air-conditioning, and the option of tasting some delicious regional food.
Eat the Traditional Sadhya Meal
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Although sadhya, meaning feast in the local Malayalam language, is the traditional meal to have during the vibrant ten-day festival of Onam in Kerala, its fame is such that many restaurants serve it all year round. A genuinely tasty gastronomic delight, sadhya involves serving a variety of local delicacies on a banana leaf. Diners eat using their hands, and the food can consist of up to 30 different types of items covering both sweet and savory selections.
Some of the main dishes you will find in every sadhya are upperi – fried banana chips, manga curry – mango pickle, red rice, Olan – black-eyed peas with pumpkin and coconut, aviyal – mixed vegetables, and payasam – rice pudding.
Explore Kerala's Wild Side at Periyar National Park
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Among India's most beautiful national parks, Periyar is one of many in Kerala. However, its rising tiger population, an abundance of elephants, Indian bison, deer, and bird watching occasions makes it a hot favorite with out-of-state visitors.
In addition to the jeep safaris that tourists can take to venture into the wild, the presence of Lake Periyar gives the park a distinct character. Travelers can choose from various types of boat rides at the lake, including ferries and speed boats. A more exciting possibility is to go hiking in the area with a guide, followed by a thrilling trip around the lake on a bamboo raft.
Admire the "Niagara Falls of India"
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The 80-feet high Athirappilly Falls in the Thrissur District of Kerala is often referred to as the "Niagara Falls of India." The largest waterfall in Kerala, it is a good two-hour drive from Kochi, but worth a day-trip for its majestic and thundering beauty. 300-feet wide, visitors can relish the panoramic views from the top or hike down to the base for a closer, more intense scene.
The falls are equally enchanting all year round but are a gorgeous sight to see after the rains. While it is not possible to go under the falling water, people can take a dip in the cool waters a little before the falls start.
Spend a Day at the Beaches of Kovalam
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Goa might be better known around the world as the premier beach destination of India, but Kovalam isn't far behind. Fashionable with both locals and tourists in the know-how, Kovalam's beaches have a less commercial and more laidback appeal to them, making them ideal for spending an entire day soaking up the rays or playing around in the water.
Kovalam Beach is the most well-known, famous for its sunsets and the nearby working lighthouse, which opens up its spiral staircase to visitors for a couple of hours every evening. Samudra Beach is slightly secluded and recommended for those wanting to swim in the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. Life along the beaches of Kovalam is always in motion and full of color. One experience not to be missed is eating fresh seafood at any of the beachside shacks or restaurants.
Watch a Kalaripayattu Performance
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Considered by many as the oldest form of martial arts in the world, Kalaripayattu is an integral part of Kerala's heritage. Over 3000 years old, this art form is on a path of revival now where more locals are participating and performing it to keep this ancient tradition alive.
While there are classes and even residential programs offered by training schools to teach this combative sport, for tourists, it is possible to watch a dance or fight performance held regularly in cities like Kozhikode, Kochi, and Thekkady. Kalari Kshethra in Munnar, Greenix Village in Kochi, and C.V.N. Kalari in Thiruvananthapuram are some of the recommended places to view this exquisite fighting style.
Indulge in an Ayurvedic Massage
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The ancient medicinal art of Ayurveda is immensely popular across India, but its practice and application are most prominently visible in this province. No matter where in Kerala you are, there are opportunities to refresh and rejuvenation the mind, body, and soul through several different ayurvedic massages. Typically, a Kerala Ayurveda massage utilizes hot oil to deep cleanse the body. Still, other forms of treatments are also available and include exclusive and proven techniques such as pouring buttermilk on the head to relieve stress and tension.
The best place to try one of these massages is at a well-established center, most of which are in cities like Kochi and Kozhikode. Some of the top-rated hotels with spas also offer therapies to their guests.
Crowded cities or secluded hilly escapes, there is something for every type of vacationer in Kerala. The best way to explore the state's beauty is to either spend a few weeks touring its diverse sights or else pick a couple of destinations and revel in them entirely. Kerala encourages slow travel, for its gorgeousness lies in acknowledging the small pleasures of life, be it the panoramic views, the carefree lifestyle synonymous with beach side living, or the joys of biting into Kerala's exotic local cuisine.