Well they say, you need a whole month to fully explore the lush green lands and mystics of Kerala or Keralam (land of coconuts), but consider yourself blessed if you ever get a chance to be there, irrespective of the number of days. Kerala, rightly called ‘God’s own country’ commands a glorious landscape and distinctive aura on the south-western coast of India. In no time, it wins you over with its swaying coconut trees, tranquil houseboats, verdant hills, serene spice plantations, picturesque backwaters, winding roads, regal history, and authentic Ayurveda messages. I am just back from a power-packed trip to Kerala and can’t stop gushing over my culturally-immersive trip from Kochi to Trivandrum via Marari, Allepey, Kumarakom, Thekkady, and Munnar. Strategically located between the Western Ghats mountain range on the Eastern side and the Arabian Sea on the Western, Kerala is much more endearing than what you may have heard of it. This wasn’t my first time but this trip of 11 days was made of many firsts. To begin with, this was my first experience with Kerala travel mart. I am glad I had this opportunity of being part of the domestic media at the recently concluded Kerala Travel Mart 2022 (KTM) and the pre-KTM tour.
What is Kerala Travel Mart? What was special about KTM 2022?
As the name suggests it is a travel trade exhibition where everything is centered around travel. It is a meet and greets event where the crème de la crème of the industry come together to take the cause of travel to greater heights. Since its inception, it has been a leading event in the country in promoting travel and tourism destinations across Kerala. Kerala is blessed with everything to emerge as one of the premium experiential tourism hubs of India. It is one of the most popular states as well. KTM focuses on identifying the true potential of the offerings here and puts them across to the world. KTM is always received well by domestic and international participants.
KTM 2022 turned out to be a huge success. After a hiatus of a few years, it was one of the most awaited travel events in the country. The whole travel, tourism, and hospitality industry was looking forward to the grand celebrations and the exhibitions. More than 1500 buyers and sellers registered their participation and the enthusiasm truly signaled the revival of tourism like never before. This eleventh edition of KTM, the country’s biggest tourism business-to-business (B2B) event was really special as it rose stronger from the setbacks of the pandemic.
A few things that really stood out for me were
- Going paperless was a good step towards greener initiatives. A lot of hospitality brands ditched visiting cards and paper dockets.
- There was special emphasis on responsible and eco-tourism.
- Caravan tourism sounded like lots of fun and an exciting product. It was good to see the efforts being made by the state to emerge as a caravan tourism hotspot.
- The promptness and the eagerness to understand the needs of new age travelers, especially after covid, and to provide them innovative solutions.
Last but not the least, the event was exemplary of the joint effort of state administration, government agencies, hotels, resorts, houseboats, Ayurveda centers, hospitals, tour operators, transport operators, media, buyers, sellers, agents, and more.
My Pre-KTM Tour route (1st-6th May)
This was a lovely opportunity to relive, refresh and make new memories in one of the most fascinating states of India. I chose to do one of my favorite routes-Kochi to Alleppey to Kumarakom to Thekkady to Munnar. And later I extended my trip to Trivandrum to explore the mystics of Ayurveda. Kerala is mesmerizing and it never fails to serenade one with its tranquillity and elegance. It is a global destination that needs no introduction. What we need are more and more bespoke experiences. While every day of my trip deserves a detailed blog post, here I begin with a small note for each of the places that I visited. It will also be useful for those looking for a Kerala itinerary.
Roadtripping in Kerala was my favorite part of the media trip. There was never a dull moment. The colorful houses, lush coconut trees lined all along, and picturesque landscape painted myriad memories all along. Our group of media friends, the tour guide (Shyam Ji) and the driver (Mr. Abel) made a great company.
While the city of Kochi has many facets to it, I like the overall vibes of the city. There is something for everyone, history lovers, curious travelers, or conventional tourists. Walk around the city, take a metro ride or simply hop on a ferry, there is a different feel about this city. It’s truly photogenic. Don’t miss the marine drive, museums, and a walk around Fort Kochi and Mattancherry area.
Marari Beach is a beach at Mararikulam village in the Alappuzha District of Kerala. It is a secluded, little-known beach destination, perfect for a village experience by the seaside. Marari is nestled on the coastline, thus, it has many beach resorts. We stopped at one of the beach resorts for lunch and it was refreshing to wash our feet in the sea water. Marari is one of the upcoming and calming beaches of Kerala.
Kumarakom and Allepey
They are the major backwater suburbs in Kerala and thus no trip to Kerala is complete without visiting Kumarakom and Alleppey, two corners of Vembanad backwaters. Alleppey is a town. It has more lively activities around, whereas Kumarakom has a more peaceful side to it. It is a collection of various islands. Both the places are popular for houseboat experiences. Kumarakom has many high-end resort experiences as well. Our group had an opportunity to experience the best of both. We stayed in a resort in Kumarakom and went for a house boat experience as well. Green paddy fields, flocks of ducks, narrow canals, tiny villages, old churches, and the lush greenery will keep you entertained in this part of Kerala. Kumarakom has a spectacular lagoon and a bird sanctuary as well. Morning bird watching trail and sunset cruise happen to be my favorite activities from the trip.
In Kumarakom, we also visited the town’s oldest church, mosque, and temple. It was good to be introduced to the ancient forms of architecture and also see the influence of different communities.
This one lies in the Idukki district which is called the Spice Garden of Kerala. I love the cardamom plantations of Thekkady. Thekkady is also blessed with one of the best wildlife reserves in the country. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is unmissable here. This time, I could not go for the boat ride in the Sanctuary but it is a great experience that I remember from my last trip. It is a must-do. In Thekkady, I also had a chance to see the Kalaripayattu show, the oldest and most scientific martial arts in the world and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Misty Munnar is popularly known for its breathtaking tea plantations and low-lying clouds. Munnar has a very interesting location, situated at the confluence of three mountain streams- Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni, and Kundala. The Britishers used it as a summer resort. The winding lanes, unending tea plantations, picturesque pockets, exotic flora, and calming weather make it stand out. Munnar is also home to the highest peak in South India, Anamudi. We made the best of this trip by visiting the tea plantations, tea museum, and chocolate-making shop. Also, you may use one of the evenings for watching a Kathakali performance. We went for it and thoroughly loved it.
After Munnar, our group reached Kochi again, attended KTM. On 7th, each of us dispersed with our individual plans. I had my plans to travel to Trivandrum.
I extended my trip by 4 days and decided to be in the capital city for a few days. The capital is unlike the metropolitan Kochi. It is more on the calming side and has a slower pace of life. I stayed at one of the Ayurveda beach resorts to experience the mystics of Ayurveda therapies and treatments. And I can only say we do not know about it until we experience it ourselves.
Keep watching this space for more posts on Kerala. Also you may see my delightful Kerala Instagram stories here – https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17959509598710289/