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Must visit places in Kerala

Discussion in 'Kerala' started by KD, Apr 5, 2017.

  1. KD

    KD New Member

    I am going to Bangalore for a business conference which would be for around two weeks. I will be about 8-9 hours away from Kerala where I would like to take my wife who would adjoin me from Delhi.

    As I will be short on time, I won't be able to take her to too many places I need to know which are the must visit places in Kerala, which would be covered between 3-5 days.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, welcome to the forum!


    Kerala is the 7th most visited state by foreign tourists according to a 2015 research done by Zee News. Tagged as God's Own Country, Kerala is a vast state with such varying landscapes and destinations that can surely take your breath away. The best feature of Kerala is that it remains the least corrupt state so the tourist infrastructures and even the development of each region is on par even with the places considered as cities. Yes, Kerala might seem rural in many areas, but the difference is that the people are happier, the beauty of nature is preserved and there are equal opportunities for growth whether you're in a city or village. In this guide, we would discuss the best places to visit in Kerala during a short trip of three to five days.

    Must Visit Places in Kerala (Take Your Pick!)

    Spiritually-laden places...

    1. Guruvayur - Guruvayur is one of the most visited destinations in Kerala because it is home to the abode of Lord Krishna in the south. This temple is known as the Guruvayur Temple, the prime attraction of the city, revered sacred by many Hindus around the country and even from all over the world. The temple is believed to be over 5,000 years old already but the exact time when it was built is not known. The main sanctum of the temple has exquisite carvings depicting scenes from the life of the deity. This temple is also known for the Athaza Seeveli, a daily event wherein an elephant takes the deity's idol around the temple in a procession-like manner. Just a short distance from this temple is the Mammiyoor Temple, which in contrast, is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed that a trip to Guruvayur won't be complete without visiting these two temples so you can expect a huge rush in devotees here as well. The temple has a simple red and white facade, the premises are quite vast so that it can handle the throngs of devotees. The main sanctum houses an idol of Lord Shiva that is heavily ornamented, you can also find shrines dedicated to other deities. There's this air of serenity in the atmosphere, perhaps highlighting the non-rivalry between the two deities, who according to local legends, agreed to stay side-by-side in this little town without any grudges. Other temples worth visiting here that are further from the centre are Parthasarathy Temple, dedicated to Krishna as the charioteer, and Venkitachalapathy Temple, dedicated to Lord Balaji. You can also visit the Palayur Church, around two kilometres from the centre of Guruvayur. It is considered as the oldest Christian church in the country, established during the 1st century AD by Thomas the Apostle himself. The church though has already undergone several renovations throughout the years and the facade you would see now is more modern.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Guruvayur Temple, Mammiyoor Temple, Parthasarathy Temple, Venkitachalapathy Temple and Palayur Church
    Guruvayur Temple (Image from Ranjith)

    2. Thiruvananthapuram - Thiruvananthapuram is the state capital of Kerala and is mostly known for being home to the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Considered as the richest temple in the world, this religious attraction has a net worth of over a billion dollars in estimate. This is because it has hidden vaults, which were only opened recently, that contained gold-gilded idols, precious stones and other treasures that remain under the eye of the public. The temple is dedicated to Lord Padmanabha, the reclining form of Lord Vishnu. It is important that you pack lots of patience if you're planning to visit this temple as darshan queues can be brutal especially on weekends. You can also visit the nearby Pazhavangadi Ganapathy Temple, dedicated to Lord Ganesha. Simpler in design, not as rich as the former temple, but truly exudes serenity, you can have your peaceful spiritual journey here. If you have some wishes that you need to be fulfilled, simply break a coconut or two and the Lord Ganesha will do the rest. For the womenfolk, a visit to the city won't be complete without visiting the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple. Dedicated to Goddess Kanaki, the temple is known for its annual Attukal Pongala, an event which focuses on the women gathering and preparing pongala, the favourite dish of the deity. Also worth visiting is the Aazhimala Shiva Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, a beach-side temple that is located amidst overlooking the sea. Do explore heritage sites such as the Puthen Malika and Kanakakunnu Palace, both are 19th century palaces built during the reign of the Travancore dynasty in the region.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Pazhavangadi Ganapathy Temple, Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, Aazhimala Shiva Temple, Puthen Malika and Kanakakunnu Palace
    Hill stations to boost your mood...

    3. Munnar - Well, Munnar doesn't need any introduction as it is the most popular hill station of the south. With its sprawling tea gardens, salubrious climate and lush greenery, Munnar is a wonderful getaway to truly avoid the hustles and bustles of the city life. When in Munnar, it's a must to visit its tea plantations, the most popular ones being the Tata Tea Estate, the Kolukkumalai Tea Estate and the Kanan Devan Hills Plantation. It's highly unlikely that you can get enough of these plantations but once you do, there are plenty more to explore in the hill station. For the photographers, whether professionals or enthusiasts, you can visit the Top Station. Amidst the misty mountain views, you can also enjoy the views of the surrounding greenery in the hill station. There are runner-up view points like the Photo Point and Pothamedu View Point that you can also visit. For the nature lovers, a number of waterfalls can also be found in the hill station. Perhaps the most popular of which is the Attukal Waterfalls, a cascading waterfall amidst the rocks, approachable only by walking or by a two-wheeler vehicle. If you still have time, you can also explore lesser known waterfalls such as the Pallivasal Waterfalls and Thoovanam Waterfalls. An attraction that can be enjoyed by the whole family is the Kundala Dam Lake, which is a small lake formed from the Kundala Dam. For a rustic wildlife experience, there's the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can enjoy wildlife spotting or just being closer to nature.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Tata Tea Estate, Kolukkumalai Tea Estate, Kanan Devan Hills Plantation, Top Station, Photo Point, Pothamedu View Point, Attukal Waterfalls, Pallivasal Waterfalls, Thoovanam Waterfalls, Kundala Dam Lake and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
    Munnar (Image from Jakub)

    4. Idukki - Idukki is yet another ravishing hill station in the state. With its variety of dams, wildlife areas and natural attractions, Idukki would certainly delight the nature lovers. The Idukki Dam is the largest arched dam of India and Asia. It was built from the damming of the Periyar River, standing at around 554 feet in height. It is an imposing water reservoir built upon two hills which all the more gives it a picturesque look. There's also the Anayirankal Dam, which is another water reservoir but more commercialised since it has boating options. The Anchuruli Waterfalls is both a natural and manmade attraction, since the water falling from it comes from the tunnel which is between Erattayar and Anchuruli. It's a cascading waterfall that drops from several levels before into the pool. There's also the seven-tiered water from the Thommankuthu Waterfalls, although lesser known and requires a bit of climbing to reach. If you don't have the time to reach the first mentioned dam, you can instead visit the Kalvari Mount. With panoramic views of the dam and the surroundings, you're bound to spend a few hours here just adoring the grand vistas. The best part is that it doesn't require any trekking to reach, just a short walk from the parking and you're there. For the adventure lovers, there are various nature trails that you can take around the hill station, like Meesapulimala, Ramakkal and Panchalimedu, all can be completed within a day.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Idukki Dam, Anayirankal Dam, Anchuruli Waterfalls, Thommankuthu Waterfalls, Kalvari Mount, Meesapulimala, Ramakkal and Panchalimedu
    Strolling in the sands...

    5. Varkala - Located on the western coast of India, Kerala also has an assortment of beaches that are worth visiting. The Varkala Beach, set amidst a gorgeous cliffside location, is as picturesque as it is idyllic. Just a stroll amidst the cliff, looking over the vast ocean, can calm your senses. Then there's the beach, a vast stretch of creamy sandy shores and rough waves almost luring you into the water. It helps that there's an assortment of staying and dining options by the cliffside so that you won't need to stay too far out from the sea view. There are a few water sports available here, mostly non-mechanised ones and of course, paragliding which is even more exciting when set amidst the cliff. At the far southern end of the beach, you would find a separate section known as the Papasnanam Beach, which has the same white sands offset by some rocks at one end. This beach though is considered sacred by Hindus, so you can watch last rituals performed here. Do visit during late mornings or afternoons to avoid the rituals, if you want to frolic amidst the sands. About six kilometres away from Varkala is the Kappil Beach, which has views of both the backwater and the sea. This is a lesser frequented beach so there's still some serenity that you can enjoy here. On one side of the beach, there are huge rocks where you can sit on and contemplate about life or anything else.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Varkala Beach, Papasnanam Beach and Kappil Beach
    Varkala Beach (Image from Aleksandr)

    6. Kozhikode - Kozhikode, also known as Calicut, is another coastal town of Kerala. The Kozhikode Beach is the most crowded beach here, very busy and attracts the most number of tourists. The shores are lined with numerous big rocks, perfect venues for sitting and watching the sunset views. Along the shores, there are plenty of dining and staying options to choose from. There are also a few water sports available here such as speed boating and jet skiing. Then there's the Kappad Beach, historically important since this was where Vasco Da Gama landed first upon his arrival in India. The beach has creamy sands and some parts are laden with huge rocks. It is not yet commercialised nor crowded, as it is around 30 minutes of driving from the town, so families and couples can have a blast of a time here. If you have your own car, you can drive to the Payyoli Beach, one of the few drive-in beaches in the country. The creamy sands and surrounding coconut trees are sure to beckon you into your wildest coastal dream. However, this beach isn't as developed yet so you won't have as much tourist facilities here.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Kozhikode Beach, Kappad Beach and Payyoli Beach
    Adventurous safaris...

    7. Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary - The Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary is a unique wildlife reserve because it is not only home to various wild animals but also to indigenous tribes of the region. These tribes are the Kadar, Malasar, Muduvar and Mala Malasar. As a government initiative, the tribal people were given jobs within the sanctuary in order to provide for some living salary means and also for a combined effort to protect the sanctuary. Thus, whenever tourists visit the sanctuary, they are given tour guides from the tribes themselves, who are very knowledgable about the rich flora and fauna of the sanctuary. The forests here are dense comprised mainly of teak trees, with some other varieties of trees. Animals residing in the sanctuary are varied, from tigers, to leopards, to elephants, to sloth bears and even wild boars. The sanctuary is also home to various dams, where boating safaris can be done, and from where you can view crocodiles in. The management provides for various types of wildlife spotting, you can opt for the usual jeep safari, or maybe indulge in an adventurous night safari. Bird watching and trekking are some of the other activities offered here. You can also opt to rent one of the forest cottages or tents for a rustic wildlife experience.
    • Must Spot Animals - Tigers, Leopards, Elephants, Sloth Bears, Wild Boars and Crocodiles
    Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary (Image from Yoonus)

    8. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary - Located in Thekkady is the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, a haven for the wildlife lovers. It has many features, like being the origin from where the Periyar River comes from, dense forests of grasslands and eucalyptus to entice you, plus an elevated altitude that makes summers a bit more comfortable. Home to a variety of wildlife such as tigers, elephants, sambars, wild boars, langurs and more, the fauna here is very much extensive. However, spotting animals might not be as easy due to the dense forest covers. A favourite activity of tourists here is boating amidst the Periyar River on a traditional bamboo raft. It can be both thrilling and nerve-wracking but surely an adventure that you won't forget. There is also the usual jeep safari which can take you amidst the trails of the sanctuary. The best feature of jeep safaris is that they can go deeper into the forest at faster speeds saving you enough time and more chances of spotting wild animals. But for the true blue adventure seekers, there are also nature treks that the management conducts for tourists but never without a guide. Chances of spotting animals by this method are lower but you can enjoy getting closer to nature and being fit instead.
    • Must Spot Animals - Tigers, Elephants, Sambars, Wild Boars, Langurs and More
    Truly Kerala...

    9. Alleppey - No visit to Kerala is complete without exploring its vast backwaters. Alleppey is one such destination for that, if not the best. The backwaters of Kerala are a number of interconnected water pathways and canals, almost resembling the lovely Venice. You have a variety of options for doing the backwater tour. The most popular of which is through the local houseboat, which as the name suggests, is a house on a boat. There are varieties, ranging from one-bedroom houseboats, to two-bedroom houseboats and even luxury houseboats, you can choose according to your budget restraints. An alternative is through the shikhara, which is more of a day trip amidst the backwaters since this boat won't have amenities on board. There are also some local ferries plying around the backwater which usually transfers local passengers but if you're on a budget, why not? Aside from the backwaters, Alleppey has tons of attractions to keep one busy. The Ambalapuzha Sri Krishna Temple, believed to be one of the oldest Lord Krishna temples in India, is around 15 kilometres from the town. For childless couples, do visit the highly revered Mannarasala Sri Nagaraja Temple, boasting of traditional Keralan style of architecture. And finally, if you have enough time, watch a cultural show at the Kathakali. Here, the traditional dance form of the same name is performed by distinguished dancers, truly giving you a glimpse of the culture of the region.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Backwater Tour, Ambalapuzha Sri Krishna Temple, Mannarasala Sri Nagaraja Temple and Kathakali
    Alleppey Backwaters (Image from Thejas)

    10. Kochi - Last but not the least is Kochi, the almost capital of Kerala. Almost because it is perhaps the most developed part of the state and renders many opinions that it should be its capital. But enough about the political talk and more about Kochi, a huge melting pot of various cultures and tradition. A must visit here is the Paradesi Synagogue, located in the Jew Town. The synagogue was built during the 16th century and is considered as the oldest of its kind outside of Europe. The traditional design of the synagogue with its chandeliers and colourful lamps would strike your fancy. Proving the religious tolerance of the state, the Edappally Church is also located in Kochi. This is considered as one of the oldest and largest churches of Asia. The present structure though is newly built and has a combination of Keralan and European architectural styles. The pure white facade accentuated by the red roofing truly makes the church stand out. The Chottanikkara Devi Temple is another example of the religious harmony of the city, a temple dedicated to Goddess Durga. It has a traditional Keralan style of architecture with the sloping roof and wooden accents. Don't forget to visit the Chinese Fishing Nets, a spectacle to watch as the fishermen engage in traditional fishing styles that were invented years and years ago.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Paradesi Synagogue, Edappally Church, Chottanikkara Devi Temple and Chinese Fishing Nets

    So there you have it, some of the must visit places in Kerala. You can choose one destination from each category so that you can have a varied trip. For example, you can combine a trip with Thiruvananthapuram with Varkala, since both are under two hours away from one another. If you're more of a nature lover, then you can opt for an Alleppey trip combined with either the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary or Kozhikode. So depending on your interests, you can find tourist destinations in Kerala that are suitable for you. Good luck and I hope this helps you!