A different version of this article ’11 Obvious Things to do in Kerala’ was published in the inflight magazine of Batik (Malindo) Air, a few months ago. This will be handy for you on your trip to Kerala. Kochi Water Metro is commercially open for public use, (April 2023) and you must not miss a chance to enjoy the ride on the Water Metro and relish the scenic beauty of the city.
The idyllic backwaters, stunning greenery, abundant coconut grooves, pristine beaches, picturesque mini-islands, enthralling wildlife, gorgeous spice plantations, enticing local cuisine, world-popular Ayurveda, and tremendous history in its belly are the top-notch reasons to plan a wholesome and holistic vacation in God’s own country in India. Kerala has always been one of the most popular and photogenic states in India because of its plentifulness. Apart from the natural abundance that the state enjoys, the Chinese, Arab, Portuguese, Dutch and British influences have shaped its unique character. The sprawling peninsula-and-islands’ geographical and cultural setting of Kochi is heart-warming. And once you set out on a voyage to explore its many moods, the life in and around Vembanad Lake, the mystic that makes Munnar, the dazzle that exists in Varkala, the cultural heritage of Kathakali, the mastery moves of Kalarippayattu and the allure of hidden villages, you are left mesmerized. The charisma of the state of Kerala is unstoppable. Here are eleven must-do activities for you.
Let us Go to Kerala!
- Indulge in the cultural heritage of Fort Kochi and Mattanchery
Fort Kochi and Mattanchery are the two famed cultural pillars of the capital city where the clock stops ticking. They are iconic, photogenic, and historic centers of Kochi. Every house, café, or dilapidated building there, narrates a story of its own. The Dutch, British, and Portuguese influences can be seen in architectural landmarks like St. Francis Church, Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, Indo-Portuguese Museum, and other restored colonial homes. With its vibrant streets, picturesque murals, antique shops, and mystic Dutch cottages, Fort Kochi is best explored on foot. Every walk begins with a quick stop-over near the Chinese fishing nets to see the fishermen in action and ends at the not-far-away Jewish town aka Mattancherry. The Mattancherry palace, popular as Dutch Palace was built by the Portuguese in 1545 AD and deserves your visit. The Jain Temple, Jewish Synagogue, and the vibrant Jew Street are not to be missed.
- Go cruising in Alleppey and Kumarakom
No itinerary of Kerala is perfect until it includes the backwaters of Kerala. It is every traveller’s dream to spend a night onboard the houseboat in Allepey and go for a sunset cruise in Kumarakom in Kottayam. The labyrinthine web of canals, rich bed of flora and fauna, gorgeous paddy fields, and small villages in Allepey make it the most ideal honeymoon destination. The houseboats are equipped with all amenities and there are options for sunset rides and overnight rides. Kumarakom on the biggest freshwater lake, Vembanad Lake is more peaceful, picturesque, and romantic. Some more backwaters can be enjoyed in Kerala in Kuttanad, Kollam, Calicut, and Kasargod.
- Night walk and Tiger trail in Periyar Tiger Reserve
Periyar in Thekkady is one of the most rustic and refreshing destinations in God’s own country. It is known for the Periyar Tiger Reserve where there are a significant number of tigers, elephants, lion-tailed macaques, sambar deer, leopards, Indian bison, and other wildlife forms. The scenic lake cruise in Periyar lake is a must-do. The tiger trail, the night walk, and the safaris are the best ways to get acquainted with the jungle and its rich biodiversity.
- Spice Plantation Visits
Kerala’s soil and climate are just perfect for some of the most precious spices which are exported all over the world. Most of the spice plantations of cloves, nutmeg, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, cocoa, etc. are found in two picturesque locations-Thekkady and Munnar. Vast stretches of land have been dedicated to spice gardens. They are beautifully maintained for visitors to come, see and learn about them. A visit to the cardamom plantations of Thekkady and the tea gardens of Munnar becomes mandatory for nature lovers.
- Visit Tea Museum and Factory in Munnar and watch Kathakali dance performances in Munnar
The tea-tasting experiences are entertaining as well as educative. To learn about the origin and evolution of tea plantations as well as to know about the various varieties and processes involved in their packaging, one must visit a tea estate or a museum in Munnar. The tea trail walking tours promise stunning views and lots of information concerning tea. Kathakali is the 300-year-old classical dance form of Kerala. One must watch at least one dance performance in Munnar. The beauty of this temple dance drama (with elaborate attire and makeup) cannot be appreciated without knowing the century-old traditions and culture associated with Kathakali. The younger artists must be appreciated for practicing traditional dance.
- Watch Kalaripayattu performance
Not many people know that Kalaripayattu is one of the oldest martial arts and its roots can be traced only to Kerala. The mother of all martial art forms, Kalaripayattu is a perfect balance of art and science. It is a form of physical discipline-cum-self-defence technique that not only enhances bodily vigour but also builds on flexibility, balance, and stamina. In Kerala, especially, Thekkady, one can see Kalaripayattu shows where you get to see the professionals do special acts for you.
Also Read – Welcome to Carmelia Haven in Thekkady
- Indulgence in Ayurveda in Trivandrum
It is a known fact that Ayurveda took birth in Kerala. People from around the world swear by Kerala massages and return to the state for their annual treatments. And all it takes is one traditional Kerala massage to fall in love with it and realize its numerous benefits. Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala has some of the most authentic Ayurveda villages cum resorts overlooking pristine beaches. And the calmness in these places is so contagious that people end up living here for months at a stretch. Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala, Somatheeram, AyurSoma, Parasuram Health Centre at Kovalam, and Kairali are some of the accomplished Ayurveda centers to look out for.
- Go Caravanning
The pandemic and the requirement for social distancing gave birth to caravanning in Kerala. This form of adventure tourism has found an immediate fandom among travellers. Not only caravan buyers have been increasing but even more and more caravan parks are opening in Wagamon, Malampuzha, Wayanad, Palakkad, etc. People are really enjoying their privacy, family time, and the joy of exploring at their own pace. This is a great way to discover the lesser-known destinations of Kerala.
- Indulge in the culinary traditions
When they say South Indian food, one must savor the wide array of dishes that are made in Kerala’s kitchens, all around the year. The humblest local shops dish out the fluffiest appams (rice hoppers), idli, dosa, sambhar, chutneys, aviyal (vegetables cooked in coconut), fish dishes, and sweets. In the northern part of Kerala, the Malabar cuisine woos you with its charm, distinct flavors, and unique ways of preparation. Malabar Parantha, curries, biryani, and ghee rice are some of the most lip-smacking dishes that you can gorge on all day. The abundance of fresh spices, coconut, and seafood governs the eating habits of the state. In Kerala, the fish may be grilled, curried, or fried differently but it will guarantee deliciousness everywhere.
- Picturesque beaches and upcoming getaways like Munroe Island, Kovalam, Kasargod, Varkala, Jatayu Earth Center and Marari.
One visit is just not enough for Kerala. The second round deserves a break from the conventional itinerary. There are many smaller places that have gained popularity for their enchanting beauty. From the picturesque beaches in Varkala to canal cruising in Kollam (Munroe Island) to the cultural uniqueness of Kasargod, Kerala is replete with gorgeous getaways. The calming beach resorts in Marari and the Jatayu Nature Park with the largest bird sculpture have won the attention of travellers in the recent years.
- Take a ride on the Kochi Water Metro
It is one of the most advanced metro systems in India. The Kochi Water Metro project is very exciting. It is a first of its kind public boat service in India integrated with a metro rail network. The first phase has been inaugurated on 25th April and the whole project being implemented by Kochi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (KMRL) with the assistance of a German funding agency, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau. Kochi water metro will serve as the feeder service of the Kochi metro rail lending end to end connectivity, making it easier to move around as well as enjoy the scenic beauty of the city.