KERALA DESTINATIONS

HILL STATION

HILL STATION

Munnar, Wagamon, Ponmudi.. More

 

Munnar at 1600 m above sea level is the most popular; it provides a lot of tourist activities ; also there are many tourist spots around it.  These include Eravikulam National Park, Anamudi the highest peak in Kerala, Mattupetty Dam and lake, Chinnakanal waterfalls , Tea Museum among others among extensive tea plantations. Nearest airport is Cochin International Airport 125 km away. It is 110 km from Aluva Railway Station. 

Vagamon lies in the Idukki -Kottayam border area. The altitude is 1130 m, with cool summers. The place is immensely beautiful with many points of tourist interest. The meadows, forests and hills veiled in mists make it alluring. It is a must be seen spot. Nearest airport is Cochin; by rail Kottayam is closest. Palai, 33 km away is the nearest town.

Ponmudi is 58 km from Trivandrum, the capital. A road trip passing 22 hairpin curves and crossing many rivulets takes you there. Day trip will give you time to cool among forests and hills. KTDC runs a hotel for overnight stay and also a place for conferences. Peppara wildlife sanctuary, Golden Park and Kallara river are nearby places to visit. Waterfalls invite you to their cool green shade.

Lakkidi is the gateway to Wayanad the hilly district. From Calicut, a comfortable road with a lot of view points on the way takes you there. Wayanad experience starts from there. . Most of the tourist spots are around lakkidi, Vythiri and Kalpetta and all these places which are near each other offers plenty of places to stay. Hotels, resorts, cottages and even tree houses are available. Calicut Airport is the nearest, and Calicut is the railway station to embark. A distance of about 75 km exists between Calicut and the important parts of Wayanad.

Gavi, a hill station in Idukki is growing in popularity. It is a part of Periyar Tiger Reserve. The road trip starts from Vandiperiyar 28 km away, by jeep. It is an Eco-friendly spot where you experience the solitude of the wild. Camping is possible with permission, permanent  accommodation is increasingly being built. (More travel information on Gavi is covered in this article : My Travel Experience to Thekkady)

WILDLIFE

WILDLIFE

Thekkady, Thenmala, Wayanad....

Kerala, the land of mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls and backwaters, has numerous national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. The enchanting green forests with elephants, tigers, wild dogs, sambars, gaurs, leopards, as well as many exotic species of reptiles,land and water birds offers a wonderful sight to the tourists.Some of the reputed forest zones such as Silent Valley are located in Kerala.

Kerala, the naturally green state in India, with a plethora of greens with thick undergrowths and verdant forests, a temperate climate and so many natural sources of water, provide the perfect habitat for the growth of wildlife. Naturally there are many wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala that have been developed to look after and preserve the wide variety of birds and animals in the wilderness of Kerala. The Kerala Wildlife sanctuaries are major tourist attractions where people from all over the world come to catch a glimpse of some rare species of animal or bird and some stunningly beautiful nature spots. 

There are treks that can be taken along with nature trails and nature walks along the green pastures of the sanctuaries. The visitors can also go on wildlife safaris, on jeeps or elephants, and watch the wild animals in their natural habitats in the interior of the wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala. There are a number of wildlife sanctuaries and bird sanctuaries in Kerala, which constitute a repertoire of natural wealth for the state. 

Parambikulam Sanctuary is a protected area of 285 km sq, that lies in Palakkad district between hills. It is  part of the 391 km sq Tiger reserve. 3 major peaks lie in the area. Also a number of rivers and reservoirs attract tourists. Forests are dense, and the bio-diversity is rich. Trekking, stay in tree house, observing from watch towers, boating are the activities possible. Rest Houses afford you comfortable stay. The place is accessible by road or rail from Pollachi 45 km away. 65 km from Palakkad lies Pollachi in Tamil Nadu.

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary or Thekkady is set high on the cardamom hills that border Tamil Nadu. Periyar the longest river of Kerala has its origin from this area. The river and the Periyar lake are the water sources for the reserve. It is more of a reserve for elephants and tigers. Nearly 75% of the area is covered with rain forest. Tall trees 40 to 50 meters are seen here. Only 55 km sq in the buffer zone can be used by the tourists. Pilgrims to the famous shrine of Sabarimala  pass through this area. Only guided treks and walks are allowed. Bio diversity is amazing! It is 4 km from Kumily, 100 km east of Kottayam. Nearest airport is at Kochi.

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is an integral part of the Nilgiri biosphere reserve. The sanctuary is home to tigers, leopards and elephants among many others. A variety of birds also live there. The trees are deciduous.

Aralam Sanctuary is the northern most one. It is only 55 km sq in area but the elevation ranges from 50m to 1145 m. Katti Betta is the highest peak. Flora and fauna are endemic to Western Ghats. Teak and Eucalyptus plantations are wide spread. The sanctuary is 35 km from Thalassery in north Kerala.

HOUSEBOAT

HOUSEBOAT

Kerala Houseboats

A leisure cruise along the palm-fringed backwaters of Kerala in a luxury houseboat is the most enchanting holiday experience among travellers today.The boat ride takes you past ancient Chinese fishing nets, water lilies, lush paddy fields, coir villages, rustic homes, ancient temples and coconut groves.The “kettuvallams”come with all modern comforts and services that include well furnished rooms and cabin crew at your service.

Houseboats are huge, slow moving, exotic barges designed for sheer leisure trips. Formerly, houseboatswere used to ship rice, spices and other goods between Kuttanad and the Cochin port. It was a three-day affair those days. A standard houseboat, which could be about 100 feet long, can hold up to 30 tons, and that is as much as three big lorries can.

houseboat which is made of hundreds of fine but heavy-duty planks  of jack-wood is held together absolutely by coir knots, the  speciality being that not a single nail is used. Kettu means knot in the local parlance and Vallam is boat. This framework is then coated with a caustic black resin extracted from boiled cashew kernels. And it lasts for generations. 

BACKWATER

BACKWATER

Alappuzha, Kumarakom, Kollam ...

Kerala Backwaters

 

The coastal regions of Kerala have a network of waterways, inlets, estuaries,lakes and natural canals connecting coastal towns.This interlinked body of waterways is known as the backwaters in Kerala,over 900 km of which is navigable.Travelling in traditional houseboats along these backwaters to enjoy the scenic landscape is a wonderful experience and extremely popular among foreign visitors.

The leisurely cruise along the famous  backwaters of Kerala gives one a first hand experience  of the village life style in the state and its rustic activities like coir-making and prawn farming. You cannot miss the breathtaking view of the water, land, birds and human habitation on the water side, coexisting peacefully.

The hub of backwater tourism in Kerala, Alleppey or Alappuzha means land between the sea where a network of rivers flows into it. If you are in Alleppey, perhaps your main reason to be there is to cruise through the backwaters in Kerala.Backwater by definition means “a part of a river not reached by the current, where the water is stagnant”, and Kerala showcases a great deal of its picturesque backwaters in Alleppey. The houseboat rides along these backwaters can prove exhilarating to the tourists as they take you through Kottayam, Alleppey,Quilon, Kumarakom and Kuttanad area.

 

Vembanad Kayal, the longest lake is the star attraction. The Port of Kochi at the lake’s outlet to the Arabian Sea is the chief starting point; Alleppey the Venice of the east also is an equally  popular location to start the cruise. So is Kollam the gateway from the south end.

Regular ferry services connect towns on both banks of the backwaters. Tourists prefer to use furnished Houseboats with all facilities, such as fresh tasty meals, viewing decks, freedom to stop where you want etc. There are islands like Vypeen near Kochi, Kumarakom bird sanctuary, Pathiramanal, Monroe Island near Kollam and many others. Hotels and resorts and even home stays are available throughout the course of the backwaters. Canoes can be used for narrow canals.

Ashtamudi, Sasthamkotta are also major lakes in the system. Backwaters of KuttanadKollam, Allapuzha, and Kochi are well known names in Kerala and all are equally splendid. The view of coconut palms, green fields, birds, small town life is all to be enjoyed while cruising.

 

COCHIN

COCHIN

Cochin

The commercial capital of Kerala and the most cosmopolitan of its cities, Cochin has long been eulogized as the 'Queen of the Arabian Sea'. This simple term does not do full justice to the city's myriad charms which go beyond its stunning natural beauty and long maritime history. Centuries ago, seafarers and merchants from around the world called at Cochin to trade in spices, seafood, rubber and coir. Kochi has been invaded by various foreign countries ranging from Portuguese to British at various times in the last millennium. Most of the invaders left behind their cultural marks on the land giving it a multi cultural facet.

The unmistakable imprints of-these influences are seen in many landmarks such as - The ubiquitous Chinese fishing nets dotting the shoreline and backwaters, The elegant Jewish synagogue at Mattancherry built in 1568 by the prosperous Jewish community, The St. Francis Church, constructed by the Portuguese in 1503, The Santa Cruz Basilica, originally built by the Portuguese, near the church. The Dutch Palace, built by the Portuguese and gifted to the Raja of Cochin in 1557, and later modified by the Dutch. The Bolgatty Palace, built in 1 744, by the Dutch and now converted into a heritage hotel, Willingdon Island, created by Sir Robert Bristow out of the material dredged for building the modern Cochin Port, and The Hill Palace Museum, once the traditional seat of the Cochin Rajas, now converted into a museum complex.

Various religious entities including Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jews harmoniously inhabit the city making it a cultural potpourri. Among the religious festivals celebrated here are Onam, Vishu, Christmas, Easter, Eid ul-Fitr and Milad-e-sherif. North Indian festivals like Holi and Diwali are also celebrated

PONMUDI

PONMUDI

Ponmudi, Kovalam

Ponmudi which is located at a distance of approximately 60 km from Trivandrum is one of the main tourist spots in the district. This hill station is many times referred as local Ooty of Trivandrum and is at a height of nearly 3000 feet from the sea level. This contributes to the cool climate here.

The way to Ponmudi itself offers magnificent pictures of nature’s beauty and the views of mountains are really enticing. You can experience the calmness in local villages here and the natural springs, vivacious singing birds, flickering butterflies and vast tea plantations sprinkled with small pretty cottages are doubtlessly a feast to the eyes. The Travancore kings were the very first to build rest houses here. It was built for their summer retreat and only those from the royal family were allowed to stay there.

There are a lot of sightseeing places here availing leverage to the scope of Ponmudi tourism. A vast variety of orchids decorating the landscape is one of the main attractions. You can also enjoy the scenic allure of carefully maintained plantations like rubber, pepper tea, cardamom etc. The invigorating rubber milk streaming out from rubber trees dropping into coconut shells is a common sight here. In almost every house here you can see plentiful rubber mats hanging.

Menmutty falls is one of the most sought tourist destination here in Ponmudi. This is located at a distance of nearly 45 km from Trivandrum city centre. The waterfall is just 3 km away from the Kallar main road. Numerous small natural pools are peppered near to this magnificent waterfall. Reaching the place itself is a great pleasure as you have to take long trekking through the dense but beautiful forests. Special permission has to be obtained from the concerned Forest Department for this. You will get all necessary facilities for trekking purposes at Kallar.

MUNNAR

MUNNAR

Green and surrounded by the serenity of spectacular hills, the beautiful hill station of Munnar in Idukki district of Kerala, redefines nature like no other place does. The picturesque hill station of Munnar is one of the most popular tourist destinations of India, drawing a wide variety of people with the lure of her scenic landscapes. Thus, whether you are a newly wed couple planning a honeymoon in Munnar hill station or just want a holiday in Munnar hills with your family, this mountainous district promises to charm!

Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands of this hill station is the Neelakurinji. This flower which bathes the hills in blue every twelve years, last bloomed in 2006 AD. Munnar also has the highest peak in South India, Anamudi, which towers over 2695 m. Anamudi is an ideal spot for trekking.

Tea plantations

Munnar is situated at a distance of 70 km from Idukki and is 1600 meter above the sea level. This hill station was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in south India. Sprawling tea plantations, picture-book towns, winding lanes and holiday facilities make this a popular resort town. Munnar is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams - Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala, from where it gets its name.

The high ranges of Munnar were earlier known as the Kannan Devan Hills, named after a certain Kannan Devan, who was the landlord in the Anchanad Valley on the eastern side of the district. The principal crops cultivated in the hill station are Tea and Coffee.

Kochi or Cochin is the airport nearest to Munnar, located around 130 kms away from this scenic hill station. The town of Munnar is well-connected to the airport at Kochi by a number of means of transportation.The nearest railway station to the quaint hill station ofMunnar is at Kochi and is well-connected to the hilly slopes of Munnar. Munnar is well- connected to almost all its neighboring districts by smooth roads and an efficient system of local transport. These include cities like Madurai which takes around six hours to reach, as well as Coimbatore at almost the same distance. 

THEKKADY

THEKKADY

Thekkady in Kerala State, India's largest wildlife sanctuary is a dream destination for any tourist visiting India. The 120 years old 'Surki' dam built across Peryiar, Poorna in Vedic parlance, is a major tourist attraction. This sanctuary is spread over an area of 777 Sq.Kms, surrounded by an artificial lake over an area of 25 Sq.Kms.

The Country's sole Tiger reserve, Thekkady, with its bountiful treasures of tropical flora and fauna is the ultimate reservoir of many an endangered species and a rich tribal culture. Thekkady is a pleasant heaven on earth for those who love nature in its wild manifestations.

Thekkady is placed at an altitude of 700m above the sea level. Located in the Idukki district of Kerala, Thekkady is a perfect retreat for anyone who loves adventure, fun, wildlife and nature. Nestled between the ever-green and semi-evergreen forests of Western Ghats, Thekkady has so many things to offer for the tourists who visit this place. In the biggest wildlife sanctuary, you can sight Asian elephants, bison, sambar deer, boars, tigers, leopards, wild squirrels, lion tailed monkeys etc.

Ferry boats are arranged by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation and you can enjoy the wildlife and the surrounding nature while having a ride through the river. The sight of herd of elephants is an unforgettable experience. It will take around two hours to complete one boat ride. At the end of the ride you will be able to sight the walls of Mullaperiyar Dam. 

Thekkady offers a very peaceful and calm atmosphere. The chill climate of Thekkady will refresh your mind and body. The forest areas around Thekkady is strictly uninhabited by the Forest Department to preserve the Mother Nature. The nearest town to Thekkady is Kumily, which is 4 kilometer apart. You can plan a calm walk though this town. This town is also a place for shopping. You can shop here handicrafts, spices and cloths. 

Don?t miss the elephant rides here at reasonable price. With these rides, you can dwell deep into the forests and enjoy the thrilling experience of sighting wildlife very near. Trekking also can be done with the help of foresters. Thekkady is also blessed with several luxury hotels, resorts and homestays. So, you will not find any difficulty in accommodation. You can enjoy the serene and tranquil atmosphere of Thekkady, while having a stay in this resorts and hotels.

Other than the National Park, you can roam around the places like Murikkady, Chellar Kovil, Anakkara, Mangala Devi Temple etc at Thekkady. To reach Thekkady, you can get down at Cochin or Madurai Airport. Frequent buses are available from there. Nearest railway station is at Madurai and Kochi. 

ALEPPEY

ALEPPEY

Alleppey/Alappuzha Backwaters

Alappuzha, previously known as Alleppey, in Kerala is surrounded by waterways and canals and is therefore also called the "Venice of the East." Alappuzha is famous for the beautiful backwaters surrounding it. Many Kerala Backwater cruises begin or end in Alappuzha. The backwaters with water birds and flowers and greenery along their banks are a beautiful and refreshing sight. See the serene attractions of Alappuzha on Kerala tours with Kerala Backwater.

Alappuzha is also known worldwide as a center of the coir industry. Coir is made from the rough outer husk of the coconut. The fibers of the husk are processed and woven to make useful items including packaging material, boards, mats and brushes.

Alappuzha is famous for the Snake Boat Races held here every year around the time of the Onam festival. The giant snake boats called Chundan Vallams, race against each other for the prestigious Nehru Trophy. Prime Minster Jawaharlal Nehru donated the trophy after he received an unforgettable reception along the waterways of Alappuzha. Teams of rowers seated on the long Snake Boats with their curving prows battle it out for the honor of winning the Nehru Trophy. Crowds throng the edge of the waterways where the race is held. Many tourists come to Alappuzha to see this exciting event. Alappuzha wears a carnival atmosphere during the boat races held at the Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha. You can see the exhilarating snake boat races of Alappuzha on Kerala tours with Kerala Backwater.

Alappuzha also has a number of historic colonial buildings and a beautiful beach, with a garden alongside the beach. A pier, lighthouse and grove of palm trees are scenic attractions near the Alappuzha beach. Enjoy touring the attraction of Alappuzha in Kerala, India on Kerala tours with Kerala Backwater

HOUSE BOATS

HOUSEBOAT

Kerala Houseboats

A leisure cruise along the palm-fringed backwaters of Kerala in a luxury houseboat is the most enchanting holiday experience among travellers today.The boat ride takes you past ancient Chinese fishing nets, water lilies, lush paddy fields, coir villages, rustic homes, ancient temples and coconut groves.The “kettuvallams”come with all modern comforts and services that include well furnished rooms and cabin crew at your service.

Houseboats are huge, slow moving, exotic barges designed for sheer leisure trips. Formerly, houseboatswere used to ship rice, spices and other goods between Kuttanad and the Cochin port. It was a three-day affair those days. A standard houseboat, which could be about 100 feet long, can hold up to 30 tons, and that is as much as three big lorries can.

houseboat which is made of hundreds of fine but heavy-duty planks  of jack-wood is held together absolutely by coir knots, the  speciality being that not a single nail is used. Kettu means knot in the local parlance and Vallam is boat. This framework is then coated with a caustic black resin extracted from boiled cashew kernels. And it lasts for generations. 

ATHIRAPALLY

ATHIRAPALLY

The soothing sounds take you to the nature's most relaxing, rejuvenating place, East of Chalakkudy, ?The Athirapally Waterfalls? in Trichur District, Kerala, India. Athirappally is an 80ft high waterfall which literally takes your breath away. Starting calmly from the high ranges, and crashing through gorges overhung with trees, this waterfall is one of the best places in India to re-capture a real sense of the classical idea of the "Picturesque" ...not just calm and sweet, but something wild and natural.

Perched high above in the Sholayar forest ranges on the fringes of Kerala's framed rain forests, the waterfalls provides a restful escape for those warning to leave the hurried pace of city life behind. The water plunges and joins to the Chalakudi River. The scenic attraction of Vazhachal, the other picnic spot is just a drive from Athirapally. These scintillating waterfalls in the thick green forest are part of the Chalakudy river stream.
 

Athirappally Waterfalls is located 78 kms from Kochi (Cochin), located at the entrance to Sholayar ranges, this waterfall is a popular picnic spot. Affording to the onlookers, one of the most bewitching sights, Athirappally Falls is about 80 feet high and located in the forest area. Combined with the greenery, it infuses freshness into any tired soul. The Athirapally Falls join the Chalakkudy River after plummeting a drop of 80 feet.
 

A tranquil and much needed escape from the troubles and stress of life. Let the soothing sounds take you to some of natures most relaxing places - the beautiful waterfalls of Athirampally. The charm of the Athirapally nature cannot be described by words. The thick lush green forest around the beautiful waterfall, will lure you definitely. If you are a person, who love to have an adventurous trip or trekking, the Athirapally waterfalls will be a perfect place for you to indulge with. You will have to collect an entry pass in order to be at Athirapally and Vazhachal waterfalls.
 

Now there is a narrow path leading to the bottom of the waterfall, which will give you a chance to enjoy the spectacular waterfall in close proximity. The view of the waterfalls from here is something you can never run away from your memories. Close your eyes and enjoy the roaring sound of the water falling upon the rocks and feel the water drops sprinkling upon you. You should be more careful, while climbing upon the rocks as they may turn slippery and there is a chance for you to fall down.

 

WAYANAD

WAYANAD

Wayanad lies at an altitude varying from 700-2100 meters above the sea level. The district has the highest number of tribal settlements in Kerala. Established in 1973, the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is contiguous to the protected area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur of Karnataka on the northeast and Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu on the southeast.

Rich in bio-diversity, the sanctuary is an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Wayanad is also known for its lovely mist clad hill stations, sprawling spice plantations, luxuriant forests and rich cultural traditions. The leading tourist centers of South India like Ooty, Mysore, Coorg, Kozhikode and Kannur are around this hill station. Wayanad is one of the districts in Kerala that has been able to retain its pristine nature. Hidden away in the hills of this land are some of the oldest tribes of people, who are yet untouched by the fast pace of civilization. 
 
A bio-diverse region spread across 2,132 square kilometers on the lofty Western Ghats, Wayanad is one of the few districts in Kerala that has been able to retain its pristine nature. Hidden away in the hills of this land are some of the oldest tribes, as yet untouched by civilization. And the very first prehistoric engravings in Kerala discovered in the foothills of Edakkal and around Ambukuthimala bear testimony to a pre-historic culture dating back to the Mesolithic Age. Strikingly scenic, it is known for its sub-tropical savannahs, picturesque hill stations, sprawling spice plantations, luxuriant forests and rich cultural traditions. A holistic confluence of wilderness, history and culture, Wayanad is located on the southern tip of the magnificent Deccan plateau.

 

TRIVANDRUM

TRIVANDRUM

A 1000-year old city of legends and royalty, Trivandrum is the capital of Kerala. A long shoreline with world-class beaches, a profusion of architectural landmarks, vast expanses of blue-green backwaters and a rich cultural heritage make it one of the most favored tourist destinations. The Padmanabha Swamy temple, the Kuthiramalika (Puthenmalika) Palace Museum, Napier Museum, Sree Chithra Art Gallery and the Kanakakunu Palace are priceless treasure-houses of period furniture, culture, art collections and paintings.

Thiruvananthapuram literally means the city of Lord Anantha, a holy serpent in Hindu mythology on whose hood Lord Vishnu or Padmanabhan reclines. Sree Padmanabha temple is situated in the heart of the city attracting devotees from all over the State. The Aaarat of Padmanabha Swami Temple is celebrated with great fervor here and the other major festivals include Attukal Pongala, the Beemapally Uroos, and Vettucaud Perunaal. During Onam season, State Government organizes a week long celebration to attract tourists. Kovalam, a tourist hotspot in the district, is one of the most visited tourist destinations in South India.

KOVALAM

KOVALAM

On the Malabar coast along the Kerala shore line is a small village, called Kovalam. This sleepy town suddenly came on the tourist map when its fabulous beaches were discovered.Today Kovalam has become one of the most popular beach hangouts in India. Kovalam means a grove of coconut trees and truly the coconut trees along the beaches gives it a ravishing look. The palm-fringed bays in secluded coconut groves, promise a relaxed stay. The boundless blue waters of the Arabian Sea and miles of white sands washed away by the surf at the feet of the stalwart palms and the rocky promontories, makes Kovalam a beach paradise. This marvellous beach destination is a tourists dream come true.

Kovalam has a sheltered natural bay with cool soothing palms and gentle waves. Where when you are tired of aquatics, swimming or sunbathing, you can explore the handicrafts, jewellery and cloth shops spread along the waterfront. Not to speak of the delightful sea-food fare including lobsters available at the beachside restaurants. The crescent-shaped beaches of Kovalam can be divided into three parts: The southern most beach, and the most popular, is the Lighthouse Beach. Further south on the beach one can have a spectacular view of the Vizhinzam mosque.

Tourist Amenities 
The middle beach is called Hawah Beach. Each morning this beach acts as a base for the local fisherman. The northern most beach,Samudra Beach, is least affected of all by the changing times.It is dotted with a few rudimentary wooden fishing vessels. In the evening the quiet atmosphere of the place is enlivened by Kathakali performances, the classical dance-drama of Kerala. This mellowKerala coastal village of Kovalam was once a picturesque settlement built next to two palm-fringed coves enclosed by rocky headlands, and was the nerve centre of the hippie culture of the 70s.

Theres a plethora of places to stay, ranging from budget hotels to up-market resorts and three to five star accommodation and a large number of of homestays and restaurants catering to all categories of tastes. There are other hotels as well to suit every pocket.Kovalam is developing not only as a beach resort but is fast developing as a Yoga and health center. One can have Ayurvedic massages and oil baths or learn the intricacies and dynamics of Yoga and meditation taught by experts. Kovalam can be reached by direct and regular bus services from Thiruvananthapuram. Buses also link the place from Ernakulam, Kanyakumari and Periyar wildlife sanctuary. Thiruvananthapuram Airport and Railway head serves the requirements of Kovalam.

 

KANYAKUMARI

KANYAKUMARI

Kanyakumari is known to many just as the southernmost tip of Indian peninsula, but its beauty is yet to be unearthed by a huge section of tourist population. Sharing culture and custom of Tamil Nadu and neighboring state of Kerala respectively, Kanyakumari is bestowed with architectural wonders and interesting culture apart from its all round scenic beauty. The town is deeply associated with Indian history whose remains are still noteworthy. Till date Kanyakumari is considered to be a great centre for art and religion. People from far across the world come here to cherish its architectural splendour and imbibe within them spiritual learning. Attractions in Kanyakumari are not only known for their imposing structure or surrounding beauty, but also for the deep rooted history of Indian soil.

One such name that strikes our mind while talking about Kanyakumari is the Vivekananda Rock Memorial. This sacred temple is built in memory of Swami Vivekananda on a huge rock in the middle of the ocean. It is this iconic monument from where one can watch the magical confluence of Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. Apart from these, other places to visit in Kanyamukari are:

  • Kanyakumari Temple
  • Thiruvalluvar Statue
  • Padmanabhapuram Palace
  • Suchindrum and
  • Udayagiri Fort.



The confluence of majestic hills, pristine beaches, meandering streams, mild hills and remains of Hindu mythology is gradually turning Kanyakumari into a treasured tourist destination of India.

BEACH

BEACH

Being a coastline State Kerala has a long western border with Arabian Sea. There are beaches of all types :- wet and wild hilly shores, long promenades, beaches adjoining backwaters and the sea . Take your choice.

Bekal Beach in the northern most part of Kerala Kasargod is a long lovely one. The Bekal Fort in the middle makes it enchanting. View the sea from the ramparts of the fort, or walk, swim, or picnic. The place is a declared tourism spot, so all amenities are provided such as accommodation for all pockets, good roads, clean beach etc. It lies at a distance of 16 km from the town of Kasargod.

Muzhuppilangad Beach is 5 km north of Thalassery. (15 km from Kannur ) An unpaved road winding through coconut groves lead you to the beach. The 5 km long beach curves in a wide expanse: you can even see the Kannur beach to the north. About 200 meters away is the Green Island. But the Prize goes to the 5 acre Dharmadam Island in beauty. During low tide you can walk to the island if you get permission from the owners. The rocky shores are remarkably beautiful.

Kovalam Beach is the most well-known beach in India. The bay created by the jutting promontory is calm and ideal for bathing. The place has everything you need, comfy cottages, high-end hotels, pools, yoga center, places where you can have soothing medicinal oil baths. It is only 12 km from Trivandrum City.

Varkala Beach also known as Papanasam (washing away sins) Beach is unique for the presence of cliffs a strange sight on the flat coast. As the waves dash against them, water spouts and spas are formed.  One can bathe and swim also at the beach. There are many shops around to have snacks. The town of Varkala is about 32 miles north-west of Trivandrum.

Cherai Beach is on the western coast of  Vypin Island ,25 km from Kochi. Goshree bridges connect the island to the mainland. There are regular ferry services also connecting  the two areas . Cherai beach is the longest compared to two other beaches in the island.

Sankumugham Beach is located very close to Trivandrum City. It is one of the evening hideouts for the city dwellers to unwind and relax.

Calicut Beach is another beach that is located close to the city center.  I have never seen any other beach where these many ice creams shops operate close-by. I am not talking about the ice cream carts but actual shops.

Kappad Beach is a historically important beach in Kerala. It is the place where Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer landed in 1498. It is 12 kms away from Calicut city and has beautiful sandy beach stretches.
Well, there are many more beaches as Kerala is a coastal state. 

WATERFALL

WATERFALL

Kerala,the land of coconuts is famous the world over for its breathtaking scenery, beautiful lagoons, superb lush mountain regions,carpets of spice and tea plantations, excellent sandy beaches and the irresistible charm of its cascading, gorgeous waterfalls.No wonder the National Geographic Traveller recommends Kerala as one of the 50 greatest must see top tourist destinations in the world. It is also one of the top 10 tourist destinations listed in the Paradise Found category. 

The forests of Western ghats are punctuated with large and small waterfalls that gurgle and splash down the mountain side.The wooded forests of the Western ghats are hidden with cascading showers that enchant the visitors.The important waterfalls in Kerala are Athirapally, Vazhachal, Palaruvi & Tusharagiri.The picturesque places around the falls are popular trekking and picnic spots, with the greenery and landscape infusing freshness into any tired soul.

Some of them especially the ones at Athirappilly and Vazhachal are scintillatingly beautiful and offer a bewitching sight.Others like the Palaruvi fall is said to contain medicinal properties.There are also others ranging from small gurgling streams to roaring rushing falls that provide a scintillating attraction to visitors.

Athirapally waterfalls is located in Thrissur district on the Chalakudy River. The fall drops in 3 streams, which keep the river turbulent for the next 1 kilometer. The river flows through forests and ranges.

Vazhachal Falls just 5 km from the entrance to Athirapally is also a tourist attraction. One can drive 30 km from Chalakudy rail Station through winding roads and greenery to reach the place. A paved path leads you to the top; a steep path takes you to the bottom of the falls. Kochi is the nearest Airport.

Palaruvi Falls is located in Kollam district, 75 km from the city of kollam. It is a single drop (299 ft) horsetail type across the Kallada River. The up-stream herbal groves give a healing property to the water.

Thusharagiri Falls is formed by the Chalipuzha River which diverges into 3 Falls, which envelopes the area with misty spray.  The highest is the Thenpara Falls from a height of 246 ft. The place is amenable to hardy trekkers and rock climbers if they are equipped for it. It is about 50 km from Kozhikode Station; Calicut Airport is a further 28 km.

Thommankuthu is a seven step waterfall, 20 km from Thodupuzha. It is a lovely picnic spot in the greenery surrounding the Falls. There are a number of caves to explore in the area.

Meenmutty Waterfalls, one of the gorgeous waterfalls in the state is located in Wayanad.  To reach there, one needs to go on a 2-kilometer trek enjoying the wild terrain..

AYURVEDA

AYURVEDA

Ayurveda is a traditional form of healing that developed in India around 600 B.C. Ayurveda is widely practised in Kerala.The practice of healing the body through natural means, using the extracts of plants was refined into a science by sages and healers in ancient times in India. Ayurveda means the "Science of Life" and it is a holistic method of healing and rejuvenating the body. Ayurveda in Kerala, has gained popularity for its non-invasive and natural techniques that have proved effective in treating many conditions.

According to Ayurveda, the body has several humours. When these humours are unbalanced,then the body is in a state of ill health. These humors are called vata, pitta, and kapha and form the energy or life force that sustain the body. Their depletion or disturbance causes the body to lose its immunity and relapse into illness. Ayurveda has many methods of treatment. The most common method is massage with medicinal oils. Ayurveda seeks to treat the body holistically and tackles not merely the symptoms but the root cause of the illness, thus restoring the body to good health. Ayurveda in Kerala is an established branch of treatment and there are many Ayurveda resorts and Ashrams where you can find licensed practitioners of Ayurveda, with years of experience in treating patients. 

By eliminating toxins, reviving immunity and rejuvenating the body, Ayurveda effectively treats many chronic conditions. Ayurveda is also used in beauty therapy to rejuvenate and refresh the body and revitalize the skin tone. Medicinal oils containing the beneficial extracts of plants are applied to the body by trained Ayurvedic masseurs. The combination of the massage and the medicinal properties of the oils helps restore the patient to health, relieves stress, eliminates toxins and rejuvenates the body. 

Some of the conditions in which Ayurveda is particularly effective are stress relief, spondylosis, slipped disc, sports injuries, bone and joint problems and back injuries. Ayurvedic therapies such as Abhayanga,Shirodhara,Swedana,Elakizhi,Netra tarpana, Nasyam,PizhichilNjavarakizhi,  Udhwarthanam and Vasthi are used in Ayurveda treatment in Kerala. 

 

PILIGRIM

PILGRIM

Kerala has a number of pilgrimage places and famous pilgrim centres consisting of ancient temples and shrines,remote places of worship in villages and on hillocks as well as popular and crowded pilgrim centres spread across the length and breadth of Kerala.The sacred temples of Kerala that lie in different parts of this picturesque coconut country are popular among devotees.Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, is known as the city of temples. There are hundreds of sacred temples in Thiruvananthapuram alone.

The land of ayurveda, yoga and meditation, Kerala provides a pure and pristine atmosphere where you can spend your pilgrimage tours in divine prayer,invoking the Almighty by participating in devotional songs, temple festivals and other temple activities.Various fairs and festivals are celebrated all year round in these pigrimage places,with special sets of religious rituals characteristic to specific festivals.Elephants have a special place in the hearts of the people of Kerala and they play an important role in religious ceremonies at the temples and other sacred places of Kerala.

Kerala has a number of pilgrimage centres of importance to Hindus, Muslims, Jains and Christians alike.Some of the popular destinations comprising temples,churches and mosques are Guruvayoor, Sabarimala, Chottanikkara,Attukal, Bharananganam,Malayattoor, Maramon, Parappanangadi,etc where thousands throng to worship their deities and pay obeissance.Kerala also houses some ancient Jewish synagogues in the island town of Fort Kochi.

 

  • Sabarimala (in Pathanamthitta) - Hindu holy site. is very famous for its diety Lord Dharmasastha or Ayyappan as commonly called, believed to son of Lord Shiva and Vishnu. The saintly god, is always in meditation, believed to give darshan only for 41 days in a year starting from 1st of Malayalam Month of Vrishickam (16 or 17th of Nov) till last week of December, which is known as Mandalam Pilgrimage. Mandalam Pilgrimage is reported to 2nd largest pilgrimage in the world, with nearly 300 million devotees from all over world reaching here. The appearance of celestial flame in skies on Makara Jyothi day (Mostly on mid of Jan), is one of the most auspicious day, though pulls one of the most heaviest crowd for a glimpse of this mysterious celestial appearance. This is one of the most crowded places in India during the pilgrimage season from November to January. Also, temple authorities do not allow women into the temple grounds, supposedly to avoid tempting the deity, as being the lord considered as a chronic bachelor. The temple is open only on 41 days during Mandalam (Pilgrimage) Season as well as on 1st day of each Malayalam Month. Ideally male tourists can choose the second option, as best time to visit. Ladies above 60 and girls below 12 are permitted in. The temple is well known for its secularist values. A visit to nearby mosque (Vavar Palli), considered to be tomb of Muslim warrior Vavar, believed to Lord Ayyappa's friend, is a must before entering the main temple.

 

The Temple is located on a hill top known as Sannidhanam (Sacred Abode) surrounded by 7 major hill ranges and 7 minor ranges. Vehicles has to be parked at Nilakkal parking grounds and all pilgrims must trek 4.5 km pilgrim trail route to the Sannidhanam. The temple is located on a raised platform, above 18 golden steps, each believed highly sacred. Certain rituals have to be followed before visiting the shrine, which could be consulted with any local priest in any neighbourhood temples. All pilgrims must take vows (Vritham) for 41 days, by abstaining from all worldly pleasures such as wine, sex, beauty etc and adopt ascetic lifestyle during the period.

 

  • Guruvayoor - the Sree Krishna temple here is one of the most important pilgrimage centres in India. One of the 108 Maha Vishnu temples of India, this temple is believed to constructed by Deva Guru (Guru of Gods) as well as Lord Vayu Deva (God of winds) on orders of Lord Krishna, during his death time. The temple do have the deity worshiped by Lord Krishna during his lifetime in Dwaraka (Gujarat) and brought to Kerala, after Dwaraka was taken over by seas. One of the most sacred temples, its extremely famous for its murals and sculptures. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside and foreign tourists, who are Hindus, must show certificate of Hinduism (if converted) to enter inside. However a visit to this temple town is really worthy, to see the grandeur of the temple. The lord of Guruvayur is believed to be the owner of Largest number of Domesticated Elephants in the world, having more than 65 elephants in its stables. A visit to Punathur Kotta (Elephant Fort), is a must for any tourist, to get awestruck seeing the luxurious lifestyle of these elephants in a large Palace courtyard, exclusively for them. The best time is to visit during Monsoon season, when the elephants gets one month long Ayurvedic treatments and pleasure massages, something really amazing for most of the tourists. The temple is also famous for its arts. Every evenings, a special dance unique to the temple, called Krishnanattom (Dance of Krishna) stages outside the temple. The Elephant race held prior to Temple festival, is also an interesting sport for any tourists.

 

  • Sree Padmanabha Temple (Trivandrum):- is a popular sacred temple, located in the heart of the city. The city of Thiruvanathapuram gots its name from the Temple and one of the 108 Great Vishnu temples. The Lord, Sree Padmanabha is an unique form of Lord Vishnu, in a sleeping posture which is rarely seen else. This temple holds a very important position in Kerala History, as the Lord Sree Padmanabha was crowned as Emperor of Travancore in 17th century and all the later rulers of Travancore ruled the state in his name and with designation as Sree Padmanabhadasa(servant of lord padmanabha). Thus regality is spread in every air of the temple. This temple belongs to Travancore Royal Family. Its very famous its 108 beautiful craved sculptures pillar, other sculptures, murals, stone works etc. The Royal Crown of Travancore is also preserved inside this temple, though its off-the-limits to public. The Temple is guarded by Palace Guards of Travancore and do have many unique customs and codes, which must be rigoursly followed inside temple, considering the Regal status of the Lord. Non-Hindus are strictly not allowed inside temples. Dress code is very strict. Ladies has to wear Mundu-Neriyathu or Sari and gents have to wear Mundu without shirt. No Camera, baggage, mobiles etc allowed inside. The Travancore Maharaja and his family visits the temple everyday from 8:00 am to 8:45 am, and during his visit, the no body else is allowed inside.

 

The 2 Royal Arrattus and Navarathiri are main festivals of the temple and its worth to see the festivities.

 

  • Mannarasala - Nagaraja Temple located in Haripad near Alleppy. The most famous Snake temple in Kerala. This is believed to be capital of Snake God- the Vasuki (Naga Raja) and his consorts- Naga Yakshi (Snake Ghostess) as well as Naga Rani (Snake Queen) along with a huge battalion of Snake army. Naga aradhana(worship of snakes) is very unique to Kerala's culture, as its believed Kerala is derived out of Naga Empire and most of the people do worship snakes as a Thanksgiving for lending their land for humans to live. Snakes are believed to keep the vision of eyes as well as preserving fertility of humans. Hence they are worshiped for bestowing children as well as curing blindness. Manarsala temple is a wonderful place, built within a natural forest with trees and creepers covering the area, where snakes live. The only temple, where its a lady priest who worships and do rituals. A special ceremony, by which an Uruli (a brass open vessel used for cooking) is turn up-side down before the sanatorium, to seek bestowing children by childless couples. Its believed that they get conceived within 21 days of time.

 

  • Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna Temple:- 20 Kms from Alleppy, is a celebrated Krishna temple. The main diety Lord Krishna is in a Baby form, so very important for children and babies to worship. The baby Krishna is believed to be naughty, so no offerings will be returned back, unlike other Krishna temples. Very famous for its extremely distinctive Paal-Payasam (A sweet Milk dessert made out of Rice with Jaggery in Milk) which has a very unique taste due to an extremely guarded secret recipe and specialty of the Kitchen where its made. Its believed the same cooks, cannot reproduce the same taste using same ingredients, anywhere, due to special blessing given by Lord to his favourite Kitchen. Must try if you are somewhere near to this temple. Everyday exactly at 12:00 Noon, this payasam shall be distributed. Only those who have prior booking, get from temple, though you can get it from the stall just outside the temple.

  • Malayattoor
     Kurisumudi church
     is an important Christian pilgrimage center near Angamaly. It is believed that St. Thomas held his prayer at the top of this mountain after being attacked by some tribes when he landed in Kerala. Due to his meditation, the rock where he sat started bleeding and a golden cross appeared. Due to this belief, a pilgrimage to this mountain is considered one of the most holiest among Indian Christians. The most important pilgrimage season is the days just before Easter, when hundreds of thousands of devotees climb the rocky mountain by foot, with a heavy cross on back, recreating the painful Last Journey of Christ. A kiss on the holy rock is considered as most divine moment. The hilltop church is located 10 km away from the town of Kalady.

 

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Malayattoor Kurisumudi church is an important Christian pilgrimage center near Angamaly. It is believed that St. Thomas held his prayer at the top of this mountain after being attacked by some tribes when he landed in Kerala. Due to his meditation, the rock where he sat started bleeding and a golden cross appeared. Due to this belief, a pilgrimage to this mountain is considered one of the most holiest among Indian Christians. The most important pilgrimage season is the days just before Easter, when hundreds of thousands of devotees climb the rocky mountain by foot, with a heavy cross on back, recreating the painful Last Journey of Christ. A kiss on the holy rock is considered as most divine moment. The hilltop church is located 10 km away from the town of Kalady.
Malayattoor Kurisumudi church is an important Christian pilgrimage center near Angamaly. It is believed that St. Thomas held his prayer at the top of this mountain after being attacked by some tribes when he landed in Kerala. Due to his meditation, the rock where he sat started bleeding and a golden cross appeared. Due to this belief, a pilgrimage to this mountain is considered one of the most holiest among Indian Christians. The most important pilgrimage season is the days just before Easter, when hundreds of thousands of devotees climb the rocky mountain by foot, with a heavy cross on back, recreating the painful Last Journey of Christ. A kiss on the holy rock is considered as most divine moment. The hilltop church is located 10 km away from the town of Kalady.

KOLLAM

KOLLAM

The town Kollam on the Ashtamudi Lake is renowned for being the gateway to the beautiful backwaters of Kerala.The tourists have the option of going for a backwater tour or cruise that commences from Kollam in Kerala. The backwater tour from Kollam to Alappuzha happens to be the longest cruise in Kerala.This town Kollam is famous for its cashew crop. Kollam (earlier known as Quilon) was one of the leading trade centres of the ancient world, eulogised by travellers such as Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo.

Thangasseri Fort

Kollam is also the starting point of the backwater waterways in Kerala. The famous Ashtamudi Kayal in Kollam, known as the gateway to the backwaters of Kerala, covers about 30 per cent of Kollam.The 8 hour house boat ride from Kollam to Alappuzha is the longest cruise in Kerala backwaters and is a delightful ride with a view of the scenery landscaped by lotuses and water lilies all around.The historic Thangasseri Fort near Kollam, which is situated 71 km north of Thiruvananathapuram, is a major tourist attraction around the backwaters of Kollam.

Places to Visit

Lighthouse
The Dutch Quilon as it was called, used to be a British Enclave. The place is also popular as Thangasseri. The lighthouse built at Quilon by the British in the year 1902 is visible as far as 13 miles in the sea. The lighthouse stands to an amazing height of 144 feet. The picturesque view of the sea from the place where the lighthouse stands is breathtaking. In the vicinity lies the Portuguese Fort. The fort was built in the year 1517 and at present only a wall of the fort has escaped the assaults made by Time. 
 
Ashtamudi Lake
The serene Ashtamudi Lake is a great place to hanker for in the Kollam district. The house boat trips here are great pleasures and so is the boat cruise. The boat cruise to Munroe Islands is a wonderful experience. The popular cruises one can avail at the place are Kayal Pradakshina Cruise and Sayanthanam Sunset Cruise. 

Chavara
Chavara is one of the important industrialized zones in the state of Kerala. There are large mineral deposits located in the Chavara region. The place supports four major industrial establishments which includes Indian Rare Earths, The Kerala Premo Pipe factory, Kerala Mineral and Metal factory and Titanium Complex.

Adventure Park 
Next to the government Guest House at Asramam, 3 km away from the central bus stand, is an Adventure Park which delights children. The Quilon District Tourist Promotion Council organises backwater cruises from there and during the season conducts cruises to Alleppey.
 
Thangasseri 
This seaside village of historic importance has the ruins of an old Portuguese fort and churches built in the 18th century. The Thangasseri Lighthouse is open to visitors from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm. There are buses at 15 minute intervals from Kollam town. 

RameshwaraTemple
This temple which shows Pandyan influence in its design has inscriptions in Tamil, dating from the 12th to the 16th century. The Vyala monster sculptures in this temple are carvings which give one the impression that the creatures are animate and are actually climbing upstairs with their outstretched paws.
 
Mayyanad 
Mayyanad is noted for its shrines and temples. The most important of the nine temples here is the Subramanya temple at Umayanallor. This shrine is said to have been consecrated by the great Hindu philosopher Sree Sankaracharya. There are frequent buses from Kollam to Mayyanad.
 
Sasthamkotta  
The vast fresh water lake here is the largest of its kind in Kerala. The ancient Sastha temple which lends its name to the town, is an important pilgrim centre. There are frequent bus services from Kollam. Accommodation is available at the PWD Rest House.
 
Ochira (34 km north of Kollam town)
The unique feature of this famous pilgrim centre is that there is no deity or idol at the famous Parabrahma temple dedicated to universal consciousness. Ochira Kali in mid June and the twelve day Panthrandu Vilakku in November/December are the two main annual festivals. Ochira Kali is a mock fight enacted between groups of men dressed as warriors on the padanilam (fighting spot). They perform a martial dance standing in knee-deep water, brandishing swords and shields and splashing water in every direction. There are frequent buses from Kollam and Alappuzha.
 
Kulathupuzha (64 km from Kollam town) 
Situated on a forest range on the Thiruvananthapuram - Shenkottai road, Kulathupuzha is known for the Sastha temple. The Vishu Mahotsavam in April/May is the most important festival. There are frequent buses from Kollam to Kulathupuzha. The Thenmala railway station is just 10 km from here.
 
Paravoor
Paravoor, 20 kilometres from Kollam, is a narrow skirt of land stretching in between the backwaters and the sea. A beach resort by KTDC and a major water sports complex by Kollam DTPC will adorn this place very soon. The famous Varkala beach is a mere 15 kilometres drive from here. Paravoor is well connected by road and rail.
 
Thenmala (66 km east of Kollam) 
The area is covered by dense forest, rubber and tea plantations. An Eco Tourism Development Project is under implementation here. Thenmala is also a dam site.

Thenmala Deer Park 
The other attraction of Thenmala is the Deer Park. Thenmala Rocks are about 5000 years old, which are worth seeing.
 
Kottarakkara Kathakali Museum
KottarakkaraThamburanKathakaliMuseum is the memorial of Kottarakkara Thamburan (King), the father of the Kathakali. Exhibited here are various models of Kathakali, Kathakali costumes and ornaments, rare musical instruments, sculptures, models of mohiniyattam and other classical dances, 108 natya Kiranangal (Dance Songs) etc.
 
Thevalli Palace
This is a beautiful and historically renowned palace situated on the banks of Ashtamudi Kayal (backwater),Sasthamkotta, 26 Km. north-east of Kollam city. Sasthamkotta is situated on the banks of Kallada river. There is a temple dedicated to Lord Sastha. The place is also known for the Sasthamkotta fresh water lake. This natural gift is set amidst scenic surroundings covered by hills on the three sides. 
 
Ariankavu (70 km from Kollam town)
Situated on the Kollam - Shenkottai road, Ariankavu is famous for the shrine dedicated to Lord Sastha. Mandala Pooja and Tirukalyanam celebrated in the month of December are the main festivals here.
 
Palaruvi Waterfalls (75 km from Kollam town)
Palaruvi which means "milky stream" makes its `milky way down the rocks, falling from a height of 300 feet. The Palaruvi woods is a beautiful picnic spot. There are frequent buses to Ariankavu from Kollam. The PWD Inspection Bungalow and the KTDC Motel offer comfortable accommodation.
 
Thirumullavaram Beach (6 km north of Kollam town) 
This secluded beach is a beautiful picnic centre and has frequent bus connections to the town.

CHERAI

CHERAI

Cherai Beach is a beach in the Cherai village of Ernakulam district of Kerala, south India. Cherai is a part of Vypin Island. Cherai Beach is just 30 km from Kochi, the business capital of Kerala and 30 km from Cochin International Airport. The nearby towns are North Paravur(6 km)and Kodungallur (10 km) and the nearest railway station is Aluva (20 km).

 The 15 km of long golden beach is very clean, shallow, and attracts swimming and sunbathing. This is one of the few places where we can see the lagoon (kayal) and ocean separated only by a few hundreds of metres. One of the main events in this beach is the tourism fest during December. The best season to visit is all throughout the year barring the rainy season (June - October). Tourists can find beach resorts and cottages nearby the beach.

Most of Kerala’s main attractions — beach, backwaters, seafood, Ayurveda, ethnic-style cottages — are available here at reasonable rates. For a middle-class tourist, not able to afford Kerala’s expensive charms such as the swanky Kumarakom resorts but wanting to have a ‘Kerala vacation’, wanting to get a taste of the soothing Ayurveda treatment, as well as to have a good time with family or friends, Cherai is a really good option.

Many foreign visitors come to the beach resorts at Cherai for long-term treatments for diseases, especially diseases like psoriasis and back pains. These treatments require massages and also other therapies such as internal cleansing procedures like emesis or purgation, as and when required, Ayurvedic oral medication, and many more procedures. The therapists here are pleasant and skilled and they have been trained intensively at the Ayurvedic speciality hospitals in and around Ernakulam.

In an hour or so of sheer bliss, the entire procedure starts with a relaxation massage done with a powder application on the head for warding off colds, continues with a 10-min head massage, and moves on to the main business — a rhythmic soothing, strong massage of the whole body with an oil smelling of camphor. It is followed by a medicated steam and herbal hot water bath to make the traveler feel clean, detoxified, sleepy, and content for the rest of his life. 

GAVI

GAVI

Gavi Eco-Tourism a project of the Kerala Forest Development Corporation has caught the attention of tourists, mostly from European countries. The project is exclusive in many respects and the majority who visited was nature lovers and adventure tourists. Over a short period of time visitors to Gavi gradually increased, especially after 'Alistair International' the world acclaimed tourism major listed it among the leading eco-tourism centres and one of the must-see places in India.

A highlight of the Gavi eco project is the involvement of the local populace in its activities as guides, gardeners and cooks. This will provide livelihood for the locals and also will help to create awareness on conservation of nature. Gavi, located in Pathanamthitta district offers its visitors activities like trekking, wildlife watching, outdoor camping in specially built tents, and night safaris.

The road leading to the picturesque Gavi is blanketed by tea plantations, which itself is a refreshing experience. En route to Gavi are places of interest like Mundakayyam, Kuttikanam, Peermedu and Vandiperiyar from where the road deviates to Gavi.

Once you reach Gavi the serene eco-lodge 'Green Mansion' awaits you like a fairy to embrace you in its protective fold. From the 'Green Mansion', one can savour the spectacular view of the Gavi Lake and the adjoining forests. Besides the accommodation provided in 'Green Mansion' visitors can also try out the tree houses here and can even pitch tents amidst the wilderness. Here one can have outstanding trekking experiences, which are overseen by trained local people. Those who would love to be left alone can do so in the tranquil environs of Gavi or may even go canoeing in the placid waters of the lake or enjoy a breathtaking sunset. Visitors are usually provided vegetarian food and snacks, which further adds to the eco-friendly ambiance of the place.

The place is rich in flora and fauna. There are hills and valleys, tropical forests, sprawling grasslands, sholas, cascading waterfalls and cardamom plantations. Endangered species including the Nilgiri Tahr and Lion-tailed macaque are often sighted at the outskirts of Gavi. With more than 260 species of birds including the great pied hornbill, woodpecker, and kingfishers, Gavi is a heaven for birdwatchers.

Some of the breathtaking viewpoints at Gavi like the Valley View offer spectacular view of a deep ravine and the forest below. From Kochu Pampa, a point near Green Mansion eco-lodge one can track the grazing Nilgiri Tahrs.

The famous pilgrim destination, Sabarimala is a short trek from Gavi. For those interested in observing the nocturnal wildlife, night safaris to Kullur, Gavi Pullumedu, Kochu Pampa, Pachakanam provide ample opportunities for wildlife viewing.

Another unique feature of Gavi is camping in the forests. One can pitch a tent in the camping site, which is a rarity in many Indian forests. As the dusk stretches into the silence of the night, one can feel the presence of wildlife in the middle of nowhere, an experience that cannot be explained in words. There are also tree top houses where one can enjoy the avian life to the fullest.

Active involvement of tribals in Gavi makes it a unique venture of its kind in the country. Traditional knowledge of the forest and its way of life helps Gavi to sustain its surroundings in its original state.

Gavi is bound to cast its magical spell on every visitor and is surely a place that should not be missed in one's lifetime. Gavi is pristine, and it belongs to the wild, which is a reminder that visitors are responsible for their intentions and actions, which will have a bearing on the upkeep of Gavi for a long time to come.

 

VAGAMON

VAGAMON

Vagamon, nestled in the laps of the Western Ghats, is an enticing hill station of Idduki in Kerala. The vista of mist-clad pinnacles of the blue-brown hills, the rocky terrain clad in lush green vegetation and the wild multi-colored blossoms that sway in the breeze will surely take away your breath. Inhale the fresh air coupled with the heady aroma of spices from the nearby plantations. While you ascend the stony serpentine paths leading towards the hills you will feel a slight shiver as the cool breeze caresses you and drifts away. The hill station of Vagamon, encircled by a string of thee hills Kurisumala, Murugan Hill and Thangal Hill, is a placid place with inexplicable beauty and offers all sort of activities from pilgrimage to nature trails and deluxe resorts. Vagamon hill station is also the site of great religious and spiritual activities. 

 The Vagamon Hills is located at a height of 1,100 meters above the sea level. It lies in the district Idukki, about 151 km south-east of Kochi, 60 kilometers from Kottayam and 100 kms from Thiruvananthapuram. Flowering plants of various colors and species are found in this hilly region. Thorny shrubs and long grasses grow in the lower altitudes while evergreen trees are found in the higher altitudes ofVagamon hill station. While you indulge in the nature trails in the woods of Vagamon, you get to see the untamed buffaloes, strange- looking birds and insects and huge elephants bathing and lounging in the small waterbodies. 


Interesting activities

The slopes of the Hills of Vagamon are not very steep and hence it facilitates adventurous sports like trekking, rock climbing, paragliding and other exciting activities. The favorable trekking paths are the favorite haunts of the trekkers. This place also offers various activities related to spiritualism. You can meditate peacefully amidst nature and feel the serenity of this blissful place slowly casting a divine spell upon you. 

 Vagamon is a place of three successive ( paras ) hills which have interesting things to offer besides mountaineering and trekking. Thangal Hill or Thangalpara is located 5 kms from Vagamon. It is said that the Mausoleum of Sheik Fariduddin was found atop this Hill and since then it has become a site of Muslim pilgrimage. You will also be amazed to see the remarkable rock formations of different size and shapes. You can also visit the Indo-Swiss project. 

 Kurisumala hill is also situated 10 kms from Vagamon and lies close to Thangalpara. This hill houses the Kurisumala Ashram, a cloister for Christian monks who have Indian as well as Christian beliefs. It was founded by a Belgian Cistercian Abbot Francis Acharya and reflects solitary bliss. The Dairy farm in Kurisumala is a must-see.This hill also has 14 Crosses that are positioned at regular intervals and there is also the St Thomas Mount, a centenary memorial.

ARANMULA

ARANMULA

 Aranmula Uthrattathi is the famous temple festival of Aranmula, a town in central Travancore. This festival coincides with Onam festival but is in the memory of the crossing of the river by Lord Krishna on that day.Through centuries, Keralites have special affinity to rivers and ponds. This is expressed in the organising of Jalotsvam (water carnivals). 

At the Aranmula boat race, the deity of the Aranmula temple is believed to partake of the race with every snake boat - and all boats are destined to try their best to reach the finishing line simultaneously. Thus the concept of cutthroat competition is eliminated and there is more of merriment, cheerfulness and friendly rivalry. 

The festival is held at the Parthasarathy temple of Aranmula, and the occasion breaks all barriers and differences among people. Palli oda seva Sangam, a popular organisation of the boat owners manages the festival. During the boat race thousands pack on either side of the river. Spectators from all across India and around the world reach Aranmula for the festival.

The race is a grand and enchanting spectacle. The traditional wooden snake boats extend to about 100ft length. The back end of the boat called the "Amaram", curves upwards while the front tapers gradually. Each boat accommodates about 100 rowers, a group of drummers and some ornamental umbrellas. The Aranmula boat race combines devotion, sportsmanship and friendship in a grand, memorable manner.

KAPPAD

KAPPAD

Located 16 kms from the main town of Kozhikode, the sandy Kappad beach is one of the most charming beaches of Kerala, also popular for its historic significance. After travelling around the coast of Africa by ship, Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer landed on Kappad beach on 27th May 1498. He landed with 170 men in 3 vessels after undergoing many weeks of travelling. A solitary pillar commemorates the event with the inscription, "Vasco da Gama landed here, Kappakadavu, in the year 1498". This opened up the famous sea route for trade between Europe and India and Malabar soon became the gateway of east.

 Rock studded beach

The pleasant and calm beach of Kappad in Kerala, locally known as Kappakadavu, is studded with rocks and is an ideal adventure destination. An intriguing feature of this beach is a sprawling rock that protrudes into the sea and has a temple on it. The temple is believed to be 800 years old. Kappad beach is a small walk on the Korapuzha river, and even after 500 years, it remains untouched and unruffled, making it one of the most serene and peaceful beaches in Kerala, south India.

 This little sea faring town of Kappad in Kerala, with its pleasant beach, is no less than a haven to the tourists visiting it for adventure. The best route to Kappad,Kerala is along the backwaters. Un-spoilt and un-crowded, the scenic backwaters of Kozhikode offer a bewitching experience. A ride down the backwaters through the Korappuzha river brings you to the beach of Kappad in Kerala.

The beach here offers opportunities for sand castle building and other beach activities andadventure. During high tide, the beach is only 30 meters away from the sea, while on low tide, this increases to around 80 meters so take local advice before entering the sea. Kappad finds mention in history and geography texts as the gateway to the Malabar coast.

NILAMBUR

NILAMBUR

 

Located at a distance of 52 kms from Palakkad, the cool hill station of Nelliampathy, nestling atop the majestic Western Ghats , offers a breathtaking view of the misty mountains and enchanting valleys interspersed with sprawling tea, coffee, cardamom and orange plantations. The bracing climate and green magic of nature enhances the exhilarating experience at Nelliampathy hill station. For a vantage view of the spectacle, one must visit Seethakundu, where a 100m high waterfall provides an added attraction.

It offers a fantastic view of the valley below, a wide-angled vision of one-third of the entire Palakkad area. A forest range 75 kms from Palakkad, the Nelliyampathy hills comprise a chain of ridges cut off from one another by valleys of dense evergreen forests and orange plantations. The height of the hills ranges from 467 metres to the tallest peak Nellikkotta or Padagiri looming at 1572 metres.Nelliyampathy has immense trekking potential. The community hall at Kaikatty provides a good camping ground for trekkers.

 

Dream haven

Accessing the hill station of Nelliyampathy from Palakkad is a sensation on its own, as one has to negotiate over a dozen hairpin curves on the Ghat Road, passing through the fascinating jungles of the Sahya Ranges . En route, 17 kms from Palakkad, the shimmering Pothundi Reservoir and its manicured surroundings make for the ideal stop over. Nelliampathythe hill stationdestination is the ideal place for developing farm tourism, eco-tourism and adventure tourism. It has immense potential for trekking and other sports activities like hand gliding and ropeway. Important view points are Seethakundu, Mampara & Kesavan Para.

Nelliampathy, the queen of Palakkad hills is the” poor man’s Ooty”. The tea, coffee, cardamom and orange plantations here are exhilarating attractions. According to historians, a great and rich civilization was in existence in this part of Palakkad during Tamil Sanghom period. 

The beauty of the virgin and verdant Nelliampathy hills, the dream haven getaway, is to be seen and felt to be believed.The precious and unique Silent Valley National park, the famous Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary, Attappady hills and more than half a dozen dams like Malampuzha, Mangalam, Pothundi, Kanjirapuzha, Siruvani and Parambikulam are the attractions. Nelliyampathy is a fascinating hill country that is a favourite of trekkers.To reach the hill station, at least 10 hairpin bends have to be negotiated on the Ghat road that passes through the evergreen forests of the Sahya Ranges . Nelliyampathy hills is an ideal retreat for the nature enthusiast with avenues open for trekking and wildlife observation. 

PERIYAR

PERIYAR

Periyar wildlife sanctuary is located in Kumily, in Idukki district of Kerala. Set amidst the mountains of the Western Ghats at the border of Tamil Nadu, the Periyar wildlife sanctuary covers an area of 777 sq km out of which 360 sq km forms the core area. The park is one of the most renowned and famous sanctuaries in entire south India and can also be termed as the pride of Kerala. The history of the park states that as early as in 1895, a dam by the name of the Mullaperiyar was constructed across the Periyar River giving birth to the Periyar Lake.

In 1934, the Maharaja of Travancore appointed S.C.H. Robinson as the first game warden and it was his recommendation that converted the area around the lake into a sanctuary by the name of Nellikkampetty sanctuary. In the year 1966, the sanctuary was consolidated with the forest department and the Periyarwildlife sanctuary was created. The sanctuary was finally declared a Tiger Reserve in the year 1978, a few years after Project Tiger was actually initiated. Also, in 1991, the park was brought under the Project Elephant. 

This lake today covers an area of 26 sq km and is a major source of water for the resident animals and birds. Moreover, the beauty of the lake is also soothing for visitors. The park was earlier also known by the name of Thekkady wildlife sanctuary. The best time to visit the Periyar wildlife sanctuary is between the months of September to June. During the period from February and May sighting of animals becomes easier as the waterholes inside the forest areas dry up forcing the animals to come upto the lake to quench their thirst and wet their bodies. Thus animal sighting is enhanced between these months.

Evergreen rain forest
Around three fourth of the wildlife sanctuary area is covered with evergreen and semi evergreen rain forests while a part of the remaining area is covered by damp leaves forest Eukalyptus plantation and grassland. The rest of the area is covered by Periyar River and Pamba River. The floral attractions of the park are approximately 2000 species of flowering plants, 171 grass species and 143 species of orchids. The tall trees of the forest rise upto a height of 130 to 140 feet.

Approximately 62 species of animals await to welcome visitors on their trip to the Periyar wildlife Periyar wildlife sanctuary - around 1000. The most ferocious of these, undoubtedly is the Tiger. Many tourists visit Periyar just in order to get a glimpse of the Tiger, that according to estimates, number between 35-40. However, there is still a larger number of tourists who come here because of the Indian Elephants. The huge mammal is found in pretty large numbers in Periyar Sanctuary - around 1000. Other animals that manage to make their presence felt quite decently amidst these two are Leopards, Otters, Nilgiri Langurs, Common Langurs, Bonnet Macaques, Lion Tailed Macaques, Malabar Squirrels, Wild Boars, Sambar, Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, Nilgiri Tahr, Dhole, porcupines, Gaur and Sloth Bears.
The reptile population of the park at Periyar wildlife sanctuary is also commendable with around 45 species found. Out of these, a majority (30) of them are snakes. The rest of them comprise of 2 turtle species and 13 lizard species. Frequent sighting of King Cobras and Python, two extremely poisonous snakes is also an attraction for the visitors to the park.

As for the birds in the park, they include around 180 species. Prominent among these are Darters, Cormorants, Kingfishers, the great Malabar Hornbill and racket-tailed Drongoes. Tourists interested in spotting a large number of birds need to carry along their binoculars.

Periyar wildlife sanctuary also offers enjoyable opportunities to view its exotic fauna through boating, trekking&camping,bamboo rafting, elephant safaris, walking trips and other facilities arranged by the Forest Department.

THRISSUR

THRISSUR

Thrissur with its rich history, cultural heritage and archeological wealth is the cultural capital of Kerala. Trichur is famed for and wide for its pooram festival. This festival district has witnessed many rulers and dynasties starting with the Zamorins, Tipu Sultan to the Dutch and the British. A cultural center, the Kerala Kalamandalam, the Kerala Sahitya Academy and Kerala Sangeetha Nadaka Academy are located here.

The District lies between 10 0 -10-46’ North latitudes and 75 degree 55’ East longitudes. It is bounded on the north by Palghat and Malappuram Districts, on the east by Palghat and Coimbatore District of Tamil Nadu, on the south by Idukki and Ernakulam Districts and on the west by Arabian sea. Trichur District has a total geographical area of 3032 Sq.km and ranks seventh in the state in respect of area.

The two longest rivers of the state, namely, Bharathapuzha and Periyar flow through the district on its northern and southern sides respectively. The other rivers of the district are Chalakudy (144 km.)and Karuvannur (48 km.). Sholayar and Peringalkuthu Hydro-Electric projects are located in the basin of Chalakudy river.The rivers Parambikulam,Sholayar,Karapara and Anakkayam are the tributaries of the Chalakudy river. Karuvannur River is formed by the confluence of two rivers, namely, Manaly and Kurumaly.

Gayathri is the important tributary of the Bharathapuzha.Heavy rainfall,warm humid atmosphere and almost uniform temperature throughout the year are climatic features of the district.The north-east monsoon in the months of October-November is scanty and insufficient. There are four seasons –dry weather from March to May, southwest monsoon from June to September and northeast monsoon from October to November.

The District received an annual rainfall of 3500 mm. The average daily maximum temperature in March and April, which are generally the hottest months, is about 31 degree C to 32 degree C in the Coastal regions and about 36 Degree C to 37 degree C in the interior.

The District has a Coastline of about 53 KMs. It is unbroken and without any indentation to provide any natural harbor facility except for the two outlets from backwaters to the sea Kodungallur and Chettuwai.

The soils of Trichur and Talappilly Taluks are mostly laterite, excellent bricks for construction purposes. Forest soils is confined to the eastern region comprising of Thalappilly, Mukundapuram and Trichur taluks. In the backwater areas, due to sedimentation of soil and organic materials, soil is extremely fertile and of loamy type. Here summer paddy ('Kol' paddy fields) is grown.

Ordinary clay suitable for the manufacture of bricks and tiles is found in several parts of the District,viz. Ollur,Pudukkad,Karuvannur and Wadakkanchery.China clay is noticed at Kizhupullikara near Trichur.

The totel area under forest comes to 1036.19. Km.and are reserved. The forests of Trichur District are under the administrative control of the Trichur and Chalakudy Divisional Forest Officers.The area is spread over Mukundapuram,Trichur and Thalappilly taluks. The main forest products are teak wood, rosewood, eucalyptus, irul, softwood, bamboo etc.

VELI

VELI

Veli Aakulam Lagoon or backwaters is at the confluence of the Veli Lake and the Arabian Sea. Thebackwaters can be explored at leisure with pedalboats and paddleboats.Veli backwaters is situated at a short distance from Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala. Even speedboats are available on hire. The Veli Tourist Village nearby offers picnic facilities to tourists.Here you can enjoy all kinds of water sports and dine at the floating restaurant.The backwater destination of Veli also provides the facility of an amusement park. The east end of the lake is flanked by two scenic hillocks.Veli backwaters is altogether an enjoyable tourist destination. The Veli Lagoon or Backwaters is near Trivandrum and Kovalam, which is just 16 km away.

Breathtaking view

It is an incredibly different experience to cruise in the Veli backwaters in country boats with full-fledged amenities, absorbing the beauty of Kerala villages. Veli in south Kerala is known for its panoramic backwater stretch, lush green paddy fields, highlands and beaches. The scenery flashes up vivid contrasts of the breath-taking green landscape and the deep blue waters. Boat rides, houseboat cruises and holiday packages are available for the tourists at nominal rates.The house boat cruises along the backwaters of Veli have become a rage among domestic travellers as well as international tourists. 

VARKALA

VARKALA

Location: 51 km north of Thiruvananthapuram city in Thiruvananthapuram district and 37 km south of Kollam, south Kerala.

Varkala, a calm and quiet hamlet, lies on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram district. It has several places of tourist interests like a beautiful beach, a 2000-year-old Vishnu Temple and the Ashramam - Sivagiri Mutt a little distance from the beach.

The Papanasam beach (also called as Varkala beach), which is ten kilometers away from Varkala, is renowned for the natural spring. It is considered to have medicinal and curative properties. A dip in the holy waters at this beach is believed to purge the body of impurities and the soul of all sins; hence the name 'Papanasam beach'.

A two thousand year old shrine the Janardhanaswamy Temple stands on the cliffs overlooking the beach, a short distance away. The Sivagiri Mutt, founded by the great Hindu reformer and philosopher Sree Narayana Guru (1856 - 1928) is also close by. The Samadhi (the final resting place) of the Guru here attracts thousands of devotees every year during the Sivagiri Pilgrimage days - 30th December to 1st January. Sree Narayana Guru propagated the ideology: "one caste, one religion and one god", in a society torn by the taboos of caste system.

Varkala offers excellent accommodation facilities for tourists and is fast becoming a popular health resort with many Ayurvedic massage centres.

Attractions: Beach, mineral water springs, the Sivagiri Mutt and a 2000-year- old Vishnu Temple.