Kerala Travel Guide

Inside This E-Book

Kerala Tour Packages

If you’re a travel enthusiast and want to experience all aspects of the exotic wonder that is India, your visit is incomplete without a trip to Kerala. This tiny state in the south-western end of India has a surprising number of attractions and activities to offer both domestic and foreign travelers.

Thick forests abundant with flora and fauna, gushing waterfalls, hill stations in the lofty Western Ghats, meandering rivers, sandy beaches, exotic backwaters, quaint towns, bustling cities, historic monuments and ancient temples, mouthwatering food, cultural heritage – Kerala has it all.

If you’re planning a Kerala tour, you will find lots of useful information in this e-book that will help you create the perfect itinerary based on your preferences.

Visa

Visa on arrival facility is now available to citizens of over 40 countries including USA, Russia, Germany, Japan, Singapore, UAE, etc. This is a single entry visa and is valid for a stay of 30 days, costs Rs. 2000, and is only for the purpose of a recreational or pleasure visit.

Please note that you need to apply for the visa online between 4 to 30 days before your arrival in India. It can be obtained at Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Trivandrum, Kolkata, New Delhi, Kochi, Hyderabad and Goa International Airports. It cannot be extended or converted into any other type of visa and is not available for diplomatic passport holders.

For other types of visas and for citizens of countries not included in this list, visas can be obtained by submitting applications to the Indian diplomatic missions in their respective countries. For detailed information on visas, please check the official Indian Government website .

Reaching Kerala

Kerala is extremely well connected to the rest of India and to several countries in the world.

By Air: There are international airports in the three major cities: Karipur Airport in Calicut to the north, Trivandrum International Airport to the south, and Nedumbassery in Kochi towards the middle. Both domestic and international flights operate out of all three airports. Another airport at Kannur, north of Calicut is also under construction.

By Road: You can take a bus or drive down and enter the state through Karnataka or Tamil Nadu; the state is served by NH 66 (which goes up to Mumbai) and NH544 (through TN). There are of course several State Highways and smaller roads that connect the different cities to one another. The Transport Corporations of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu operate regular bus services between several cities of Kerala and their respective states. A host of private bus operators also provide transport services.

By Rail: Kerala has excellent rail connectivity to major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and so on. Palakkad Junction is a major station for trains going towards East. Calicut, Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Shoranur Junction, Kochuveli etc. are other important stations.

Kerala Tourism Tips

A few pointers to keep in mind when you’re travelling in the state:

Travel within Kerala

There are plenty of local trains, and that is the fastest way to travel within Kerala. If you’re not in a hurry, you can hire a taxi, or go by bus – the public transport system is pretty good. Private bus operators are present in huge numbers, so you never have to wait for long to catch a bus to your destination. Tuk-tuks, or autos as they are called here, are also available. However, they don’t always go by the meter, and you may need to negotiate the price with the driver before you start your trips.

Accommodation

Accommodation of all types can be found in Kerala: budget hotels that cost you just 500 rupees per night, mid-range hotels that charge from 1200 – 2500, up to luxury resorts and 5 star hotels that will set you back by about 5000 to 11,000 rupees per night. There are plenty of options available, you can choose from home stays, hotels, resorts, farm stays, business hotels, heritage homes and more.

Expenditure per Day

If you don’t have your own vehicle, and hire a taxi, you’ll need to pay around 20 rupees per kilometer; the minimum bus fare is 8 rupees, with fares increasing as per the distance. Autos’ official minimum charge is 20 rupees, but in certain cities they quote of 30 rupees. You can get afternoon meals for around 50 rupees per person, with breakfast around rupees 40, and dinner anything from 50 to 100 – I am talking about budget restaurants. If you want to eat meat, you’ll have to shell out more.

Best Time to Visit

The months just after the first monsoon rains – from mid/end August to January, is the best time to visit Kerala. If you come during the Onam festival,(Aug-Sep) you will be able to see the entire state decked up with flower carpets and lighting, and partake of the traditional Onasadya, or feast.

Miscellaneous

You are advised to carry the following items: mosquito repellant, umbrella/raincoat (it can rain any time), light cotton clothing for the most of your journey, and a sweater/jacket if you plan hill stations. Restaurants serve hot water to drink, so you may want to carry bottled water if you don’t fancy that. Most temples in Kerala don’t allow pants and you’re advised to carry dhoties (similar to sarongs) with you. Many temples don’t permit non-Hindus to enter inside, however, you can enjoy the ancient architecture of the structure from the outside and learn about the special significance of the temple from locals or guides.

Most shopkeepers and hotel staff are able to converse in English and Hindi apart from the local language. There are plenty of ATMs in all cities, however, swiping foreign-bank cards can be problematic in some places. Many establishments accept online wallets and bank transfers too.

Things to buy and take back: Kerala’s hill stations are famed for their spice produce. You can buy black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, mace, nutmeg and other spices, as also handmade herbal soaps and chocolates. Coir products, off-white cotton two-piece dress with gold borders, called the mundu-veshti for ladies, and mundu or dhoties for men make great souvenirs.

Most museums and national monuments that charge an entry fee, charge more for foreign visitors, and there are often separate charges for camera use.

Now that we have those nitty-gritties out of the way, let’s talk places. Let’s start from the south, and move northwards.

Thiruvananthapuram

This is the capital city, and erstwhile royal seat of the Travancore family. Situated at the southernmost tip of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram offers spirituality, sandy beaches, wildlife, adventure, heritage and even hill stations.

Beaches

Perhaps the most famous tourist attraction is the Kovalam beach, which itself is divided into three – lighthouse, Hawa and Samudra beaches. Lighthouse beach – named after the Vizhinjam lighthouse – is the southernmost, and most popular; Hawa beach is home to several private resorts with private coves, and Samudra beach is a little away – past Kovlam junction. Sunbathers and volleyball players are a common sight here. Shankhumukham beach is about 8 KM from the city, quite close to the airport. A mermaid sculpture on the beach is a huge attraction.

Varkala beach is more popular among foreign visitors, with laterite cliffs looming behind; it’s quite like Goa in the sense that you find many shacks, and locals selling trinkets, and lots of ayurveda massage centers – and very few local visitors! Other beaches include Poovar, Vizhinjam, Chowara, Ahzimala, Puthenthope and Nellikkunnu. They are quieter compared to the beaches mentioned above. Most of them have tranquil coves, resorts and Ayurvedic spas.

Places of Worship

Perhaps the most famous temple in recent times because of the huge cache of gold and other precious materials found in its vaults, the 5000 year old Padmanabhaswamy Temple attracts millions of devotees every year. The deity is Lord Vishnu reclining on the snake Adishesha. Wearing a dhoti is compulsory; you may have to stand in long queues as there are huge crowds the year round. Another famous temple is the Attukal Bhagavathi Temple which is famous for the Pongala festival, a ritual performed by thousands of women who cook rice in an earthen pot till it spills over. The Beemapally Mosque, 10 KM away from the city, is visited by people of all faiths because of its splendid architecture.

Wildlife

The Neyyar wildlife sanctuary is about 35 KM away from the city, and you can get there by KSRTC bus or private vehicles. The sanctuary organizes lion safaris – not to be missed. The best time to visit is from October to March; timings are 9 am to 5 pm. The park is closed on Mondays. Adults need to pay Rs. 250 and children Rs. 125 as entry fees.

Hill Stations

Agasthya mala is situated within the Neyyar sanctuary and offers magnificent trekking opportunities. It’s also a shrine to the Hindu saint Rishi Agastya, and home to several species of flora and fauna; medical herbs are especially plentiful.

Ponmudi, at an elevation of 1,100, likes about 56 KM away from the city. Replete with valleys, hills, plantations and forests, this hill station offers breathtaking vistas of ethereal beauty. IT has a rich biodiversity and is home to many endangered birds and animals. The Kallar river and waterfalls, and Meenmutty waterfalls are the main attractions here.

Heritage

The Padmanabhapuram Palace actually is now in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadubut it was the seat of power of the Travancore Royal family. It’s the world’s largest wooden palace; built in typical Kerala style, the intricately carved doors and furniture is a sight worth seeing.

The Puthen Maliga palace in the city is also impressive with its horses carved out of the roof, the majestic palanquin, thrones, and so on. The Napier museum, Shri Chithra Art Gallery and the Natural History Museum are great for lovers of history and heritage.

Adventure

you can go boating and rafting in Neyyar Dam, trekking in Agastya mala and skydiving or SCUBA diving. The last two are offered by the Academy of Mountaineering and Adventure Sports; you can also go paragliding.

Kollam

Just north of Thiruvananthapuram lies Kollam, situated on the banks of the Ashtamudi Lake. An important trading center for centuries, Kollam is even today, a major foreign exchange earner; exports mainly include seafood and cashew. Check out what Kollam has to offer.

Beaches

Kollam beach is right in the city and can get pretty crowded on weekends. There are plenty of stalls selling snacks and soft drinks. If you’re looking for tranquility, head 6 KM out of the city to Thirumullavaram beach. It’s clean and secluded, but presence of sharp rocks makes it unsuitable for swimming.

Backwaters

A network of waterways beginning from the Ashtamudi Lake and including Monroe Island, make up the backwaters of Kollam. The island is surrounded by the lake and the Kallada river. Its unique ecosystem makes it an ideal home for several species of migratory birds and flora. You can take a boat ride (in a canoe) down its channels. For a tour on Ashtamudi Lake, you can have a Kerala houseboat experience. You have various options – you can go up to Alleppey, the neighboring district, which is very famous for its backwaters – or you can go on a round tour of Kollam.

Natural Beauty

You can visit the Palaruvi falls, where the Tourism Department maintains the place and has separate male female bathing spots. Jadayu Para is another popular spot for trekkers. The Shasthamkotta Lake, a huge freshwater lake is a muchloved scenic picnic spot.

Places of Worship

The Infant Jesus Cathedral was constructed by the Portuguese in the 17th century and features magnificent architecture, and draws thousands of visitors.

Pathanamthitta

Let’s move north and slightly eastward to this land of devotion and spirituality. Nearest airport: Trivandrum International Airport 113 KM.

Natural Beauty

The Konni forest reserve, on the banks of the Achankovil River, about 21 KM away from the city is an eco-tourist destination. You can go for a ride in coracles made of natural materials like palm and bamboo. The forest is pristine and nature lovers will love this unspoiled beauty of Kerala.

Places of Worship

Pattanamthitta’s main attraction are its numerous temples, the most important among them being the Sabarimala Dharmashastha Temple. Lakhs of pilgrims visit this temple from all over India; women between the ages of 10 to 50 are not permitted to visit. Pilgrims are required to complete a strict regimen of fasting and abstinence before coming here, and the most devout walk through 40 KM of forest. There are numerous other smaller temples which are usually more crowded during the Sabarimala ‘season’ of December-January.

The St.George Orthodox church, surrounded by sandalwood trees, is well known for its architectural beauty and the feast, held in May.

Alleppey

Let’s go west towards the coastal city of Alleppey – the land of the famous Kerala backwaters! Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport – 78 KM.

Backwaters

Alleppey houseboats are perhaps among the most famous and sought after activities for visitors to Kerala. Known as the Venice of the East, Alleppey is a town replete with interlocking canals, lagoons, estuaries and lakes. The backwaters are a unique geographical feature that has given rise to a rich bio-diversity of flora and fauna. Many residents use their own boats for commuting. Visitors can enjoy day rides or a day/night cruise in an elegantly crafted houseboat which looks like a traditional ‘kettuvallom’ from the outside, complete with bamboo, palm and grass.

You can float sedately down the brackish waters as take in the sights and sounds or rural Kerala –paddy fields, fishermen, women washing clothes – and tuck into delectable local cuisine prepared by your own board cook. Tour operators also arrange Aurveda spa treatments or performances of traditional art forms like Mohiniyattom or Kathakali, on the request of guests. A visit to Kerala is indeed incomplete without a houseboat crusise – a truly exquisite experience.

Beaches

Being a coastal city, Alleppey has plenty of beaches, but the best ones are the Marari Beach – a liittle away from the town, it’s full of graceful palm trees on the white sands; and Andhakaranazhi beach located off the Kochi- Alleppey road – peaceful and less crowded.

Places of Worship

The Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple is an ancient temple that is renowned in the area; the Mannarsala Sree Nagaraja Temple, and Subrahmanya Swami temple, featuring Tamil architecture are also much sought after by visitors

St. Andrew’s Basilica at Arthunkal is an old, exquisite monument with beautiful architecture; St. Mary’s Forane church is reminiscent of the Portuguese traders who frequented the area decades ago.

Coir Museum

A unique place, where you can see how coir is made from coconuts, and what all you can make with coir. Walk down the lane of history as you learn how coir trade started, and watch as the staff there actually work on the machines to create beautiful coir objects- if interested you can buy some of them as gifts and souvenirs.

Kottayam

Slightly to the east and we are in Kottayam; in fact Kumarakom is connected to Alleppey by the backwater network. Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport 90 KM.

Nature

Vagamon is a quaint hill station near the Idukki border. The lush green landscape and panoramic views help you melt the stress of hectic living. This eco-tourism destination also offers adventure activities like paragliding, boating, and trekking. 10 KM from Vagamon is the Marmala waterfalls. En route to Vagamon you can stop by for a trek or off-road drive to Illikkal Kallu; experience un-crowded and unpolluted nature and the spectacular landscape.

If you enjoy off-roading, Vagamon is ideal, as is a trip to Elaveezha Poonchira for enjoying the magnificent waterfalls. You can also trek to this place, but be sure to carry everything you may need like food, water, first aid and so on, as there are no stalls/shops in the area.

Museums and Galleries

The Clay Art Café is a unique blend of art gallery and a café. You can browse exquisite collections of paintings, sculptures and other art work, and sip on delectable cappuccinos and lattes or milk shakes.

The Bay Island Driftwood Musuem at Kumarakom has a collection of driftwood sculptures, which are truly mesmerizing to behold. If you’re into vintage stuff, don’t miss out seeing Sunny’s Gramophone Museum. You can even see many different gramophones, even one made during Edison’s time; discs and a couple of vintage cars too. Learn all about the history of sound recording – Sunny will be happy to oblige.

Backwaters

Kumarakom, 16 KM away from town, set in the backdrop of the Vembanad lake, is a major part of the backwater system of Kerala. It hosts a huge variety of flora and fauna – many of them endangered – and a bird sanctuary spread across 14 acres. Here too, visitors can enjoy serene cruises in houseboats – you can go for an hour-long ride, a day tour, or a day/night tour. For the complete experience, nothing beats a day/night tour. Enjoy a leisurely cruise on a Kerala houseboat and experience the backwaters in all its glory. You can book for a couple, a family or even a large group.

Places of Worship

The Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple is an ancient temple whose annual festival attracts millions of worshippers. The Vaikom Shiva temple is also much visited, and has a history: the so called ‘lower castes’ who were hitherto banned from entering temples, started an agitation to abolish the ban and allow everyone to enter temples.

There are a number of beautiful churches with intricate carvings and exquisite architecture: Tomb of St.Alphonsa, St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian church being prominent amongthem.

The Thazhangady Juma Masjid is over 1000 years old and features a blend of Persian and traditional Kerala architecture and intricate wood carving.

Idukki

This hilly district has several attractions for visitors. Nearest Airport: Cochin 110 KM. Nearest railway station: Aluva 105 KM

Nature and Adventure

Idukki offers several trekking experiences, each mountain offering scintillating panoramic views. En route to Munnar is the Cheeyappara Waterfalls, with water gushing down (except the summer months)., and is a lovely place to take a break and relax. 20 KM from Munnar is the Meesapulimala hills, so called because of 8 hills which spread and together resemble a vmoustache – are a favorite trekking destination.

The Kalvari Mount near the Idukki reservoir is another favorite trek. On reaching the garden at the hilltop you can lose yourself in the mesmerizing view of the reservoir waters below, and the tiny islands that dot it. Parking is 25 Rupees, and you need to pay a similar amount as entry fee too. The Idukki arch Dam is an imposing structure that offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscape and lake. Photography is prohibited here, as it is in all dams in India. The Anayirankal Dam Reservoir offers adventure activities like speed boating, kayaking and coracle rides. A scenic spot in the lap of Nature, this place offers breathtaking views of the tea plantations and tranquil relaxation.

Hill station

Munnar – resplendent with undulating tea gardens, waterfalls, and a wildlife sanctuary close by, this misty, cool, town, 1600 m above sea level, is the ideal hill station to visit in the summer. It’s 130 KM from Cochin, and is one of the best Kerala Honeymoon destinations. You can visit a spice farm, go for scenic drives, and visit the nearby waterfalls and lakes.

Though much of its wildlife was threatened due to the increasing tea plantations, the creations of several sanctuaries nearby have helped revive and protect the endangered Nilgir Tahr – a caprid, resembling a mountain goat – and other species like the grizzled giant squirrel, elephant, gaur, sambar and the Nilgiri langur. It is also home to the spectacular Neelakurinji, which blossoms once in 12 years, covering the mountainsides with carpets of blue-violet flowers. The next blooming is in 2018, in the months of August to October.

Wildlife

One of the important locations of Project Tiger, an initiative to preserve the tiger population of India, is the Periyar Tiger Reserve, popularly known as Thekkady. One can go for a boat ride in the lake, and if you’re lucky, you may catch glimpses of elephants, deer and bisons – or the elusive tiger too! The thick evergreen deciduous forest is a delight in itself. If you apply in advance to the Periyar Foundation, you can also get to trek through the forest with the local tribals, go rafting in the river, stay in bamboo groves, or even have a night trek. Mind you – this is only for the adventurous!

Ernakulam

Popularly known as Cochin, Ernakulam district has a great deal to offer visitors – it is replete with history, heritage and natural beauty. It’s a major port, which made it a trading destination since ancient times – and a Naval base, and is rightly called the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’.

Art and Heritage

The Kerala Folklore Museum is an architectural marvel in itself; it houses architectural treasures like objects of terracotta, stone, wood and bronze like sculptures, utensils, musical instruments, jewelry, masks, and paintings, oil lamps, folk and tribal art – a must visit for art and history lovers. The Kashi Art Café is a combo of art gallery and eatery; when you’re done browsing the art work, you can enjoy palate ticking cakes, coffee, shakes, or tuck into grilled fish or lasagna. The David Hall Gallery showcases local artists and keeps changing the art exhibits. Enjoy home cooked food like pizza and iced tea in the backyard of this beautiful Dutch bungalow.

The Thripunithara Hill palace is one of the largest palaces and architectural museums in India, and has a deer park in addition to the heritage and archeological museums. You can see the symbols of erstwhile royalty like the Crowns and ornaments, weapons, coins, stone inscriptions, majestic beds, and paintings, sculptures and more. It is open every day except Mondays and national /state holidays; timings: 10am to 12.30 noon and 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm.

The Maritime Museum showcases the Naval history of India, and you can see the different equipment, vessels and weapons used by the Indian Navy through the years. Visiting Hours: 09:30 to 13:00 hrs.&14:00 to 18:00 hrs; nominal entry fee; it is 12 KM from the railway station.

The Mattanchery Palace is a 16th Century Dutch building which features a mix of Dutch and Kerala architecture: European windows, intricately carved wooden ceilings, and so on. There are several paintings, artifacts and wall murals you can feast your eyes on. The Kerala Kathakali Center is a place where you can watch how the elaborate makeup is applied for the artists, and also watch a kathakali performance; the narrator explains the story that will be depicted by the artist through eye and hand movements and the song. It is situated in Fort Kochi close to the Santa Cruz Basilica.

Landmarks

No trip to Kochi is complete without a day in fort Kochi. You can get there by road, but it’s more fun to take the ferry, as this area is basically a group of islands. It’s an interesting place with several points of interest. There is a Jain Temple, a couple of ancient churches (including one where the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was once interred), a few ancient temples, the beach with its magnificent walkway, the IndoPortuguese Musuem, and of course – Jew Town.

This quaint area in Fort Kochi was once home to several Jewish families who fled persecution in their homelands at that time and found refuge, acceptance and love here. Sadly, only a handful of them remain, most of them having migrated to Israel. The Paradesi Synagogue however, a small but ornate Jewish place of worship, is still functioning, and maintained well, and is open to visitors. Jew Town is today home to curio shops, mostly run by locals. The oldest inhabitant Sarah Cohen sells challah covers and mezuzahs – now made by her Muslim caretaker Ibrahim; meeting her will be the highlight of your trip.

The Princess Street is another interesting street if you want to stroll and shop. This vibrant place is a melting pot of tradition and modernity, dotted as it is with colonial era homes and modern shops. You can dig into lip-smacking local and European dishes, and browse for antiques, handicrafts, clothes and curios. If you get tired after walking in the hot sun, step into one of the many spas or Ayurvedic massage centers for a relaxing and therapeutic session.

Beaches

The Cherai beach is the most popular Cochin beach; situated on Vypeen Island, 39 KM from Kochi city, it is a clean and tranquil beach, with fine white sand. Here too you can experience the Kerala backwaters, and enjoy a boat ride. You can see fishermen going about their daily work, and the operation of the Chinese fishing nets (shore operated lift nets) – a common sight in Kochi, but not seen elsewhere in Kerala. Swimming is not advised as there are strong currents. Of course you also have the beach at Fort Kochi as mentioned earlier.

Religious places

The Ernakulathappan Lord Shiva temple which gives the district its name, and the Chottanikkara Bhagavathi temple, with the presiding deity Goddess considered to be the healer of mental illness, are the most important temples here – of course there are several more.

The Santa Cruz Basilica in Fort Kochi, Edappally Church complex, a modern church in Edappally, and the church of St. Francis in Old Kochi are the popular churches. The Kadamattom church is an ancient church featuring conventional Kerala

architecture; it’s famed for the priest who was supposed to have performed exorcisms in the olden times. Surprisingly, there is a Sikh Gurudwara situated 3KM from the town; numerous mosques are present and there are also a Jain temple and two Jewish Synangogues: one in Fort Kochi, and another in the town, making this city a very multicultural place.

Nature and Adventure

If you love birds, don’t miss seeing the Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary, where you can see over 50 species of rare and migratory birds, including some endangered species which have been given refuge here. The Subhash Park is a huge well maintained green space in the heart of the city where you can simply walk, or relax with a book and music. It’s close to the Marine Drive, the most recognized landmark of Kochi. There is a lovely walkway you can stroll on, and get into a boat for a ride if you want. About 50 KM from the railway station is the Bhoothankettu Dam and Reserve Forest. It’s a scenic picnic spot, where you can also go for a boat ride, and enjoy views of the lush green forests surrounding the reservoir.

Special Event

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is a massive exhibition of international and local art (paintings, films, sculpture, performing arts), and is supported by the State Government. Held in Kochi, Muziris and other islands, this event attracts huge crowds from around the world. Exhibitions, workshops, seminars, and shows are held in galleries, heritage buildings, halls and other structures. It’s held in the even years, so if you’re an art lover, plan your visit accordingly.

Thrissur

We now come to the middle part of the State. Nearest Airport: Cochin 52KM

Religious Places and Events

Perhaps the best known thing about Thrissur is the Pooram, a temple festival held at the Vadakkunnathan Temple. It’s a very colorful and vibrant event, with impressive fireworks displays, the playing of traditional percussion and wind instruments, and processions of gaily decked elephants. Several nearby temples participate in the Pooram, and the festival is open to people of all faiths. Very year, millions of locals and visitors witness this awe-inspiring celebration held in the summer months of April-May. Thrissur is known as the land of temples owing to the large number of ancient temples there, the prominent being the Vadakkunnathan, Thriprayar, and Paramakavu Bhagavathy temples. The Bible tower is a tall church, with floors in the tower depicting the life of Christ; it is visited by thousands of people of all faiths.

Nature

Thrissur is equally famous for the Vazhachal Athirappally waterfalls just 5 KM from each other, at the edge of the Sholayar forest ranges, and part of the Chalakudy river. It’s Kerala’s largest waterfall, cascading down from 80 feet. They are great picnic spots, and a bird watcher’s paradise to boot. Apart from the scenic location and the lush forest on all sides, the area supports endangered hornbill species. Close to the Chimmony Dam is the Chimmony Wildlife Sanctuary; if you visit in the summer, you can go for a 12-hour trek that will cost you about 150 rupees per person. Trekking by the river amidst the lush rainforest is not an experience an adventurist would want to miss!

Heritage

If you’d like to know about traditional performing arts of Kerala, head to Kalamandalam where you can see demos of Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, and other dances, and listen to musicians on traditional instruments. A small museum houses interesting portraits of artists and instruments. The entire structure is made of rosewood and teak, and is fascinating to behold. Close to the Vadakkunnathan Temple is the Shakthan Thampuran Palace, built in the traditional ‘nalukettu’ style of Kerala. With its ornate carvings, stone paved paths, display of stone and metal artifacts used in olden times, coins and statues, it makes for a wonderful visit. The Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda Museum, 8KM from town, offers information on the history of Ayurveda, as well as the medicines, practices and treatments through the years and now.

Palakkad

District on the Kerala- Tamil Nadu border and called the Gateway to Kerala owing to the gap in the Western Ghats. Nearest Airport: Coimbatore 62 KM. Important junction for rail travel. This is a place full of dams, reservoirs and wildlife.

Dams

The most famous dam here is Malampuzha, 10 KM from town, and it’s Kerala’s biggest reservoir. It has a beautiful garden, ropeway and a snake park adjacent to it and is visited by millions every year. There is also a rock garden, featuring sculptures and artwork made from waste materials. The Pothundi Dam and Siruvani reservoir are less renowned and less crowded, but offer spectacular natural beauty.

Heritage

The Varikkasseri Mana is an old house built in the traditional Kerla architectural style, and has a pond and temple complex and is surrounded by paddy fields. It’s a popular film shoot location – worth a visit if you’re into heritage.

Wildlife

The Silent Valley National Park, 55 KM away, is home to several rare species of flora and fauna, including endangered ones like the hornbill, Nilgiri tahr, langur etc., several rare butterflies and moths and so on. December to April is the best time to visit the park, and timings are from 8AM to 1PM. You can book accommodation by applying to the wildlife warden here.

The Parambikulam Tiger Reserve in the Nelliampathy Hills is a biodiversity hotspot which is home to several wildlife forms. Activities available here include trekking, jungle safari and camping. It’s an eco-tourism venture, with no plastic allowed inside; you can choose accommodations like treetop huts and tented niche, go bamboo rafting, and spend time with the local tribals through specific programs. You can shop for locally made honey, bee wax balm and bamboo handicrafts, made by tribals. The Nelliampathy hills are good for a one-day trek; it’s a beautiful location and off the beaten track, and you need to book accommodation in advance if you want to stay overnight.

Malappuram

Slightly north of Palakkad. Closest airport: Calicut, 20KM

Nature

The hill garden Kotakkunnu in the heart of the city, is called the Marine Drive of Malappuram, with its open-air theater, Lalithakala Academy gallery, water theme park, Adventure Park, and so on. It’s an entertainment and picnic center ideal for families. The Kumaragiri estate is privately owned, but open to public. You can enjoy a pleasant trek through the rubber plantation and have an idyllic picnic by the small waterfall and its pool. Nedumkayam in Nilambur is an under-rated, serene and scenic place by the river, surrounded by thick teak forests.

Religious Places

Some of the major temples in Malappuram are Kadampuzha Devi temple, Thirunavaya Temple, Vellamassery Garudan Kavu, Alathiyur Hanuman Temple etc.

There are some famous mosques in Malappuram which includes Pazhayangadi Mosque, Ponnani Juma Masjid, Jamaat Mosque, Mampuram Mosque etc... Pazhayangadi mosque, about 500 years old, this mosque is famed for its traditional Malabari wooden architecture and its feast, attended by thousands.

Kozhikode

The third largest city in Kerala was the erstwhile royal seat of the Zamorins, ancient trading hub, and where Vasco da Gama landed in search of a route to India.

Nature

Kozhikode also has some of the famed Kerala backwaters though not many are aware of it. The Kallai, Kadalundi, and Canoli rivers are part of this unique water system, and you can enjoy a luxurious and serene cruise on a houseboat. The city’s beaches are quite crowded so if you want an offbeat experience, head to Beypore, 10 KM away. Here you can see the traditional craft of wooden ship-building (uru). These are made by hand and perfectly seaworthy.

The Peruvannamozhi and Kakkayam dams and reservoirs offer scenic and tranquil trekking, boating, rock climbing and picnic locations. At Kakkayam, on your boat safari you can glimpse the waterfalls which are inaccessible by road. On the way to Kakkayam is Kariyathumpara, 45 KM from the city. It’s a hidden gem that offers exquisite natural beauty. Peaceful and lush, it makes for an ideal place to simply enjoy nature.

19 KM from the city is the Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary where you can see rare birds, and buy fish from the local fishermen, and even enjoy a delicious meal. Tusharagiri waterfalls45 Km away is a wonderful trekking destination. A hollow tree and a hanging bridge are added attractions apart from the cool waters that gush down from heights.

Landmarks

The Sargaalaya Crafts Village is an interesting place where you can see and buy artifacts made of clay, bamboo, cane and other traditional materials. There is provision for boating as well in the lake, and you can enjoy the several ponds and the verdant landscape around it.

The Government actually transformed a defunct quarry to create this unique village. S.M. Street is a very old shopping area and market of Calicut. Formerly full of bakeries and shops selling sweetmeats, today the place has vendors of clothes, footwear, watches, cosmetics, home appliances, restaurants and even a movie theater. It was recently declared as a pedestrian market.

Food Capital

Calicut is the food capital of the state, so if you’re a foodie, you definitely need to visit here. You will find all kinds of eating places – of all budgets and cuisines. However, the specialties are seafood, biriyani, Parotta and beef curry, and puttu-kadala curry. The banana chips and halwa – a sweet of flour and ghee – are world famous, and a must-buy.

Religious Sites

The Mishkal mosque, built in traditional Kerala style in 1510 by a Yemeni trader, is an architectural beauty. The Matre Dei Cathedral, first built in the 15th Century is a beautiful and ornate structure that’s worth seeing.

There are several temples too, but the most important ones are the Tali Shiva Temple and Valayanad Devi temples.

Special Activity

Calicut is part of Malabar, the northern part of Kerala famous for martial art form of Kalari. There are several kalari schools that teach this ancient martial art, and several foreigners also come to do short courses of a few weeks or months.

Wayanad

Wayanad is one of the most picturesque tourist destinations in Kerala. Spread over more than 2100 The green carpeted hills, verdant tea gardens, and scintillating natural beauty appeals to domestic and international visitors, and this remains one of the most popular places to visit in Kerala.

Spread over 2132 square KM, this hilly district nestled in the lap of the Western Ghats, is home to a rich bio-diversity, and is even more enchanting in the Monsoon. Gently rolling mist that ensconces entire hills and valleys, the myriad flora and fauna, the almost chilly rain – all these heighten the appeal of this paradise.

You may be astounded to know that even today, several tribal people live in the forests, in the old ways of their ancestors, oblivious to the ways of modern life. Resplendent with tea gardens, waterfalls and natural beauty, this hill district makes for a perfect getaway. Nearest Airport: Calicut 98 KM.

Nature

It’s literally all around you in Wayanad, and there are tons of places you can get breathtaking views of the Western Ghats and undulating hills carpeted with tea plantations. For trekkers, the Chembra Peak beckons, with its awe-inspiring flora. Keep this in mind: Timing – 7 am to 12 pm. Entry ticket – Rs 200 per day, 750 for up to 10 people. There is a Jain temple at the top, however, you need prior permission to visit; it has a hall of mirrors so that when you look into it, you see infinite reflections of yourself. The Banasura Dam, 21 Km from district HQ Kalpetta, is an earth dam with mesmerizing beauty; however you are advised to visit here after the monsoons as it can get very hot. You can walk about and soak in the amazing beauty of the hills and reservoir, take a boat ride, ride the swings, and enjoy snacks from the stalls.

The Soochippara Waterfalls in Vythiri also make for an interesting trek; you can enjoy dipping in the cool waters after a long trek from the parking point. The rocks can be very slippery, and you are advised to be careful. Other waterfalls include Meenmutty waterfalls close to Banasura and Kanthanpara near Kalpetta. The Pookode Lake in Lakkidi is a manmade lake which offers boating – it can get crowded on holidays.

The Papnashini River behind the Thirunnelli temple is accessible after a long trek; Hindus believe that taking a dip in these waters washes away your sins. 7 Km from Thirunelli is the Pakshipathalam Bird Sanctuary. At 1740 M above the sea and with moist deciduous forests that house several species of birds and animals, this makes for a great adventure. Near the Banasura Dam is the Karalad Lake which offers boating and ziplining activities.

The Edakkal Caves near Kalpetta are historically significant as they contain stone-age drawings. The climb is steep, but a must for any history lover. Kuruvadweep is a protected river delta of the Kabini. You can cross the river on a bamboo raft, trek through the forest and enjoy this virgin natural beauty of these tiny islands. Only 200 people are permitted in a day, so do plan ahead and take the required permits. Apart from these specific places, literally any place in Wayanad is a scenic beauty to be enjoyed.

Wildlife

The Tholpetty/Muthanga wildlife sanctuary is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere reserve and is home to elephants, spotted deer, tigers, bison, peacocks, vultures, and monkeys. August to February is the best time to visit, and the park functions from 7 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 5 pm.

Heritage

At Mananthavady you will find the Pazhassiraja Tomb – a monument to the brave King and the resistance he led to British rule. Close to Sultan Bathery is the Ambalavayal Heritage Museum which tells you all about Wayanad, its history and the life of its indigenous tribals.

Must-buy

Spices, handmade soaps, handicrafts of wood and cane, honey, tea powder.

Point to note

Wayanad has hundreds of resorts and homestays in scenic locations – you can enjoy Wayanad with its pleasant climate and mesmerizing beauty even by just staying at such places.

Kannur

Known as the land of cakes, cricket and circus, Kannur is dotted with beaches and temples and is home to the Ezhimala Naval Academy. Nearest Airport: Calicut 115 KM.

Beaches

Kannur is blessed with an abundance of scenic beaches – some sandy, some rocky. It is home to the country’s longest drive-in beach, Muzhappilangad is 15 KM from Kannur, and is 5.5 Km long, and was featured in the BBC’s show as one of the best drive-in beaches of the world.

The sand is firm and you can drive your car or bike at the waterline too. It’s a very tranquil beach with few visitors; you may see fishermen returning with their catch, and also locals nudging the wet sands for mussels that have washed ashore. You can also swim here and go into the ocean for a long distance as the water is shallow and the currents are very mild.

However there are no eateries on the beach or even nearby, so it’s better to come prepared with food and water. Other good beaches include Payyambalam, Thottada and Dharmadam.

Nature

Kannur too has a bit of the famed Kerala backwaters at Kavvayi islands; you can enjoy this unexplored and unspoilt beauty with a pocket-friendly boat ride. Trekkers can enjoy going up the Paithalmala hills; you can enjoy a night’s stay at the resort on top. Palakkayam Thattu, 30 KM from Taliparamba, is another hill station that offers majestic views of the surrounding landscape.

If you like reptiles, don’t miss out on the Snake Park at Parassini kadavu. Wildlife enthusiasts can head to the Aralam Sanctuary which has a rich biodiversity; camping is allowed with prior permission.

Religious and historic sites

The Kottiyoor Mahadeva temple is located deep in the forest by a river, and the festival in June draws huge crowds. There are several more but a significant one is Peralassery Sri Subramanya Temple which has a huge water tank.

The St. Angelos Fort, 3 KM from the city, is a 16th century fort built by the Portuguese. Overlooking the Arabian Sea, it is a wellmaintained and peaceful place where you can enjoy the day.

Adventure

For those seeking an adrenalin rush, head to the Tejaswini River for some river rafting and kayaking. You can also trek and camp in the forest.

Not to miss

Kannur is the land of ‘theyyam’, an ancient temple dance form; be sure to not miss this energetic dance performed by men decked in exotic costumes, headdress and makeup.

Kasargode

The northernmost district of Kerala. Distance from nearest airport – Mangalore 70Km; it has its own railway station and is accessible by road.

Nature

Ranipuram in Hosdurg is a beautiful hill which is a trekker’s paradise. Serene and undisturbed, the place is home to elephants and other wild animals that stay away from the trekking path – but you may catch a few glimpses.

Heritage

Bekal Fort:, perhaps the most famous symbol of Kasargode, this 17t century fort by the sea is well-maintained, clean, and offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Get a taste of ancient Indian history as you climb the watch tower, and see the old cannons and ammunition.

Religious sites

The Ananthapura Lake Temple is a unique temple situated in the middle of a lake and surrounded by coconut trees. The Madhur temple complex, 7 Km from town, is also much visited.

We hope you found this e-book to be informative. We have tried our best to make it the most comprehensive and inclusive guide to Kerala Tourism. If you’re interested in Kerala packages, we can customize your itinerary based on your preferences. This e-book can help you plan.

Happy travels!

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