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Places to visit in Kerala

Discussion in 'Kerala' started by Mad3, Mar 9, 2017.

  1. Mad3

    Mad3 New Member

    My family and I would like to go to Kerala for a holiday. We know that Kerala is famous for its backwaters which is something we would like visit and also go on the boats which go on the backwaters.

    Alongside this, we would also like to visit other places in Kerala and need some assistance in finding out what places to visit in Kerala. We don't know what the destination has to offer, so please provide a wide variety of places to visit.
     


  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, welcome to the forum!

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    (Images from Renjithks, Robin, Nborun, Heb and CJ Samson)

    Overview

    According to the statistics gathered by the India's Ministry of Tourism in 2016, Kerala is the seventh most visited state in India. With its varying tourist attractions, ranging from heritage sites, hill stations, beaches, nature and wildlife, it is often touted as God's Own Country. The beauty of Kerala is that it remains covered in lush greenery, whether you're in an urban area or a rural area. The famed backwaters of the state, a series of interconnected water canals, are reminiscent of the beautiful water bodies of Venice. The warmth of the locals, the undeniably scrumptious South Indian cuisine and the rich culture are all additional features of Kerala that would make your visit even more memorable. In this guide, we would highlight some of the best places to visit in Kerala.

    Places to Visit in Kerala

    A glimpse of the past...

    1. Kochi - In history, Kochi was an important part of the spice trading route of India. It was also the first colony of the Portuguese and even served as their capital prior to moving to Goa. Thereafter, the Dutch and the British conquered the city, which is why Kochi has this European vibe to it. Kochi can be divided into two main sections, Ernakulam, the more modern side of the city and Old Kochi, which was the original site of the colonial rule. Of course, of these two sections, the latter exudes the old-world charm. On this side is the Fort Kochi, which is more like the colonial side of the city, to which you won't find fortified walls but rather structures that were built during the rule of the three conquerors mentioned above. Of noteworthy mention here is the Mattancherry Palace, which was originally built by the Portuguese as a gift to Raja Veera Kerala Varma, as the former destroyed a palace of his during their invasion. The palace is also known as the Dutch Palace, because it was obtained by the Dutch thereafter. With its murals depicting scenes from the Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, this is probably the most popular attraction of the older part of the city. Also in display here are the weaponries, costumes and portraits of the former rulers of Kochi. The St. Francis Church, also built by the Portuguese, is the oldest European church in the country, having been built during the year 1503. For some time, it also housed the tomb of the Portuguese explorer, Vasco Da Gama. The Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest active synagogue in all of the former colonies of British India. Yes, Kochi was once the home of the Jewish communities too though only about five individuals from the community reside here now. The handcrafted blue delft tiles, the Venetian chandeliers and the gold torah crowns are the main features of this synagogue. Kochi also finds mention in some accounts of Chinese traders. In fact, one of the few Chinese Fishing Nets in India can be found in this port and has become a famous attraction of the city. Kochi has lots of attractions in offer for tourist but if you're particularly interested about its history, these are the best places that you can visit in the city.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Fort Kochi, Mattancherry Palace, St. Francis Church, Paradesi Synagogue and Chinese Fishing Nets
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    St. Francis Church - Kochi (Image from Anirudh)

    2. Kasaragod - Kasaragod, near the border of Kerala with Karnataka, is the home of the Bekal Fort. Originally, this sea-facing fort was built by Shivappa Nayaka during the 17th century. Shivappa was a ruler from the Keladi Nayaka dynasty and overseen the construction of several forts in Kasaragod. With the decline of the dynasty, the sultans of Mysore conquered the fort, most noteworthy of which is Tipu Sultan, who used the fort strategically to defend the coastal areas of South India. As such, the fort is devoid of any striking palaces, though it does have a temple near its entrance. The main attraction here is the watch tower, from which you can get a panoramic view of the Arabian sea. There are other forts in Kasaragod, like the Chandragiri Fort and Hosdurg Fort, but both are relatively ill-maintained as compared to the first fort. Nearby the fort, just close to the Arabian sea or beach, is the Bekal Beach Park. Though not really an important part of history, it's where you can enjoy eating some street food or riding in a camel with your loved ones. You can also visit the Ananthapura Lake Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, which is around 14 kilometres away from Kasaragod. This is the only lake temple of the state and has marvellous architectural style depicting that of the traditional Kerala style, with its pagoda roofing and wooden interiors. What's interesting is that the lake is home to a crocodile, named Babia, which is famed for being vegetarian. Over the years, this crocodile hasn't hurt any human and is fed by the temple management by rice or other non-meat meals. One of the oldest mosques in the state, the Malik Deenar Mosque, established for Malik Deenar, one of the companions of Mohammed, is also located in this city. If you want to take a peek into the somewhat obscure Indian royalty era of Kerala, Kasaragod is a good destination for that.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Bekal Fort, Chandragiri Fort, Hosdurg Fort, Ananthapura Lake Temple and Malik Deenar Mosque
    Tough to beat hill stations...

    3. Munnar - If your idea of a paradise is mist-covered lush greenery, then you won't be disappointed with a visit to Munnar. This is the jewel and star of Kerala, often a part of tourist circuits. It's a place where scenic views are plenty, from the lush tea plantations, unbelievable waterfalls and even the serene lakes that flank the various areas of the hill station. Now when in Munnar, it's a must to visit the Tea Estates, which are quite plenty in the hill station. You can go the touristy way, opt for the famed Tata Tea Plantation, or the non-touristy way, opt for the Kolukkumalai Tea Estate. Inevitably, you're bound to be mesmerised by the natural beauty of these estates, just make sure you also witness the exact way of how tea is made, which these plantations would be happy to show you. View points like Top Station and Pothamedu are the perfect places for capturing the misty aura of Munnar. As a bonus, you would be passing by tea estates along the way which only adds to the unique experience. Take in the scenic mountain views by visiting the Mattupetty Dam, where you can enjoy lush greenery while boating. The lesser known Kundala Dam is perfect for those who want some time away from the crowds that never seem to leave the hill station. For the monsoon travellers, the Attukal Waterfalls is a can't be missed attraction during that season. Falling at a height of about 20 feet, the cascading water of the waterfalls is a sight to behold. It takes a bit of trekking to reach its base which is well worth it if you enjoy a bit of an adventure. Truly, despite being a famous destination in the state, Munnar manages to still capture the hearts of every visitor because of its enthralling beauty.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Tea Estates, Top Station, Pothamedu, Mattupetty Dam, Kundala Dam and Attukal Waterfalls
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    Tea Estates - Munnar (Image from Sasi)

    4. Kalpetta - Kalpetta is a part of the Wayanad district, which is comprised of various hill stations altogether. In contrast to the other localities, Kalpetta is a bit more developed and located centrally, so you can enjoy the tourist infrastructures here while at the same time, being able to see attractions that the hill station has to offer. The prime attraction of the hill station is the Chembra Peak, which is famed for its small heart-shaped lake. The trek to reach the peak is moderate and can take around three hours to complete. The best feature of the peak is that it remains relatively serene, not yet commercialised so there are no food stalls in it. You can enjoy the panoramic view of the district from the top. For the physically challenged, the Lakkidi View Point is a better alternative. From this point, which won't require any trekking at all, you can enjoy the view of the winding roads leading to Kalpetta, along with the valleys below. For monsoon travellers, do venture into the Soochippara Waterfalls or even the Meenmutty Waterfalls. Both require an easy trek not lasting for more than a few minutes and become alive during the monsoon or rainy season. For the adventure seekers, a trek to reach the Edakkal Caves is a must. While the climb is short, it is very steep and requires some balancing. Interestingly, the cave was formed after an earthquake and is in the form of two rocks alongside a central fissure. Historically, the cave bears some inscriptions which can be traced back to the Neolithic era, which are thousands of years old already. Boating can be enjoyed in the Pookot Lake or you can even try out coracle boat riding in the Kabini River instead.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Chembra Peak, Soochippara Waterfalls, Meenmutty Waterfalls, Edakkal Caves, Pookot Lake and Kabini River
    Beaches to laze on...

    5. Payyanur - Payyanur is a coastal town sandwiched between Kanhangad and Kannur. It is home to the most serene yet captivating beaches of Kerala. About 13 kilometres away to its north is the Valiyaparamba Beach & Backwater. This lone island is approachable by a ferry ride from Payyanur. This postcard picture perfect beach would take your breath away. Surrounded by coconut trees along its shores, the Arabian sea on the other and then the backwaters on the remaining sides, it is truly the hidden gem of Kerala. The golden sands, the crashing of the waves and the enveloping tranquility are enough to capture your heart. The Mattool Beach is about 21 kilometres away to the south of the town. Largely undeveloped, the beach has a unique feature in that the sea wall separates the Arabian sea from the backwaters. At one end, these two sections converge to which one renders speechless because of the picturesque beauty. The raging Ettikulam Beach, also further to the south of Payyanur, is also a must visit. Its golden sands and serene atmosphere provides for the perfect picnic spot. However, swimming here might be risky, especially for the little ones, as the waves are rough.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Valiyaparamba Beach & Backwater, Mattool Beach and Ettikulam Beach
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    Ettikulam Beach - Payyanur (Image from Uthradam Resort)

    6. Mararikulam - Mararikulam is a coastal village in the Alleppey district of Kerala. This town has a long stretch of white sand beach, the Marari Beach, also known as the Mararikulam Beach. The beach is largely developed with several resorts to its shore side. But it still has that air of serenity, especially with its silky and powdery white sands that go well with the almost turquoise water. The coconut palm trees surrounding the shores give some shade to the tourists though sun loungers and shacks are almost non-existent. The waves here are generally calm but can be rough on some seasons. The best part is that it still isn't as crowded unlike Kovalam, which is the prime beach destination of Kerala. The water here remains very clean and perfect for swimming. The small crabs that dig their way unto the sands provide some glimpses of the abundant marine life of the sea. You can also venture into the nearby coastal area of Cherthala, where you can find the Arthunkkal Beach and the Thaickal Beach. In contrast, these are lesser developed beaches to the north of Mararikulam which are best visited on day trips only. But if you're looking for a bit of serenity, these beaches won't disappoint, as they're mainly fishing beaches that aren't known as much to tourists yet.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Marari Beach, Arthunkkal Beach and Thaickal Beach
    On the laps of nature...

    7. Kumarakom - Kerala is best known for its backwaters and houseboat tours, specifically in the Alleppey region. But if you want to go the less touristy way, why not opt for the Kumarakom backwaters instead? This is where nature truly abounds, where greenery is dominant everywhere and where rural life is apparent. The Vembanad Lake flows alongside the town, through narrow canals, water ways, all the more proving the resemblance of Kerala to Venice. Aside from a houseboat stay, the village has a number of resorts overlooking the backwaters. You can opt to stay in any of these resorts for an idyllic getaway as well. In contrast to Alleppey, Kumarakom has the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, which is a forested area amidst the backwaters. You can take the trail to reach the watch tower here, from where you can spot some bird species that are both resident and migratory to the region. During monsoon, a visit to the Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls is recommended. Though fairly small, the beauty of the surrounding greenery and the clear waters are highlighted during the rainy season.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary and Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls
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    Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary - Kumarakom (Image from Thea)

    8. Athirapally - The Athirapally Waterfalls is often regarded as the Niagara of Kerala. It's not hard to understand why, falling at a height of about 390 feet, this is the highest waterfall of the state. Its unique feature is that it can be visited all-year round though monsoons would definitely add their glory to the waterfalls. You can approach the waterfalls by trekking or by road, but access to it, as in swimming, is restricted. Still, this hasn't stopped tourists from flocking to this famed waterfalls, which have been featured in numerous films and music videos. The Vazhachal Waterfalls is located just seven kilometres away from the former waterfall. The difference is that this waterfall has a neighbouring mountain which adds to its picturesque charm. Unlike the former waterfall, the falling water here cascades through rocks at a lesser height. Finally, you can also visit the Thumboormuzhi Dam & Garden, a small dam with picnic facilities that can provide for a meaningful bonding experience. Test your courage by crossing the wobbly hanging bridge across the dam too. There are also some activities here that the little ones can enjoy, slides and swings mainly. For the adults, there are facilities for trekking and river crossing.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Athirapally Waterfalls, Vazhachal Waterfalls and Thumboormuzhi Dam & Garden
    For the love of wildlife...

    9. Periyar National Park - The Periyar National Park in Thekkady needs no introduction as it is Kerala's most popular wildlife sanctuary. With the Periyar River flowing and meandering around, the national park gains its fair share of water nourishment for the wild animals. Dense forests of both the moist deciduous and semi-evergreen can be found all around. The wildlife reserve is best known for its huge number of Indian elephants residing within its premises. Royal Bengal tigers also reside here though in fewer numbers and harder to spot due to their elusive nature. If you're lucky, other animals like gaurs, Indian bisons, Indian wild dogs, sloth bears and Nilgiri tahrs might show their appearance. You can console yourself with an idyllic boat ride amidst the Periyar Lake, which aside from being serene, is also home to a wide number of avifauna and aquatic species. Feeling more adventurous? The management also offers night safaris for brave guests. The safari would be on foot and you would have guides with you.
    • Must Spot Animals - Indian Elephants, Royal Bengal Tigers, Gaurs, Indian Bisons, Indian Wild Dogs, Sloth Bears and Nilgiri Tahrs
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    Malabar Giant Squirrel - Periyar National Park (Image from Nazeer)

    10. Silent Valley National Park - Last on this list is the Silent Valley National Park, the last undisturbed and uninhabited forests of the Western Ghats. This national park is home to dense rainforests of shola trees and sometimes, open grasslands. Sometimes, it is referred to as the Amazon of Kerala, which is truly an apt designation for this unique wildlife reserve. It is also the home of the endangered species of monkey which can now only be found in Kerala and Karnataka, the lion-tailed macaques. Also residing here are other animals such as the Malabar giant squirrels, Nilgiri langurs, Hanuman langurs, ruddy mongooses and Indian palm civets. Just last year, two new species of Rhacophoridae (Shrub Frogs) were discovered in the national park, proving of the high biodiversity of this reserve. One of these two species was named after the national park, the Silent Valley Bush Frog. While the forest department also allows for nature trailing inside the park, this activity is only suitable for the physically fit and courageous ones. Spiders, leeches and other insects are bountiful here which can make your trek more difficult.
    • Must Spot Animals - Lion-Tailed Macaques, Malabar Giant Squirrels, Nilgiri Langurs, Hanuman Langurs, Ruddy Mongooses, Indian Palm Civets and Silent Valley Bush Frog
    Conclusion

    The wonderful state of Kerala has something to offer for all types of tourists. In fact, this list isn't that exhaustive at all, because the truth is, there are lots more destinations that one can explore in the state. So whether you're a nature lover, a heritage site explorer or a wildlife enthusiast, you have plenty of choices in Kerala. The lush and verdant beauty of this state is known far and wide. Truly a pride of India, Kerala, won't disappoint even the hardcore travellers. Good luck and enjoy your trip to the state!

    :)
     

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