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Find out where to visit, what to experience and which foods to try with our handy guide for holidays in Kerala, India.
With nearly 600 kilometres of the glistening Arabian Sea and beaches, languid backwaters, lush tea gardens, wildlife reserves and the smell of spices wafting in the air, it’s easy to see why Kerala is often described as India’s most beautiful state. A world away from some of India’s busy cities, the southern state of Kerala (also known as ‘God’s own country’) has a laid-back vibe but boasts plenty to see and do aside from its beaches.
With so many experiences to be had in this alluring state, an exotic Kerala holiday is often best enjoyed as an organised tour. Check out the list below to get an idea of Kerala’s many highlights and some of the wonderful experiences you can enjoy during a holiday to Kerala.
Also known as Cochin, Kochi is a mix of old and new with an intriguing blend of historical sites and cultures, plus, a fantastic setting on a beautiful estuary. You’ll find an array of interesting spots in Kochi with its Chinese fishing nets, 450-year-old synagogue, mosques, plus Portuguese and Dutch architecture. Outside of the centre of Kochi, you’ll find stunning backwaters and beaches, with a series of islands and canals that are well worth exploring. With a visit to Kochi, you’ll soon see why it’s been nicknamed the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’.
With its rolling hills and tea plantations, Munnar boasts a stunning terrain with breathtaking landscapes. The low Western Ghats mountain scenery is beautiful and you will often be up in the clouds watching layers of mist that cling to the hilltops. Munnar also has a fantastic tea museum that’s well worth a visit.
Also known as Alappuzha, Alleppey (dubbed the ‘Venice of the East’) is the gateway to Kerala’s pristine backwaters and is a popular tourist destination. Set beside an intricate network of canals, Alleppey has a relaxed setting and a well-maintained beach.
This pretty beach town is very popular with tourists and has three curved beaches with lush coconut palms and shacks selling typical holiday products. The lighthouse on one of the beaches is well worth a visit and the beachside restaurants offer fantastic views.
Explore the languid backwaters of Alleppey on one of Kerala’s well-equipped houseboats. Often included in a Kerala tour, a houseboat ride gives you the opportunity to enjoy fantastic views of lush paddy fields, Chinese fishing nets and historic temples.
Visit this arts centre to enjoy a traditional dance performance dating back to the 17th century - visually stunning, the shows boast fantastic reviews.
With a technique that’s been perfected over a course of 5000 years, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a relaxing ayurvedic massage treatment in Kerala.
Popular excursions in Munnar include visits to a tea and spice plantation, where you can find out more about the trade and enjoy some tastings.
Fantastic as a day trip, this wildlife sanctuary in Kerala boasts elephants, bison and tigers and visitors can enjoy a boat or jeep safari.
Appam is a Keralan staple that’s made from fermented rice flour and coconut milk and is similar to a thin, crispy savoury pancake. It’s delicious with ‘stew’ which is traditionally made with coconut milk, cinnamon and cloves. Popular varieties include appam with vegetable stew, which is often eaten for breakfast in Kerala.
With its coastal location, Kerala unsurprisingly boasts a delicious array of fresh fish and seafood and this is an extremely popular curry dish with locals. It’s traditionally made with coconut and kokum (a local fruit that’s often used to add a sour tang to curries).
This sweet rice kheer is similar to rice pudding and is a local delicacy in Kerala. Prepared using rice and milk, there are many variations available with additional ingredients such as jackfruit and banana.