The small state of Kerala, which represents just 1% of the land mass, is considered to be one of India`s most beautiful state. It is a very rural state with most of the population living in villages but is culturally and scenically diverse. Kerala has two national parks, ten wildlife sanctuaries and two bird sanctuaries.
Kerala occupies a long (550km), narrow strip of land in the far south of India. Its coastline is on the Arabian Sea (part of the Indian Ocean) and its eastern border with the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu is the top of the majestic Western Ghat mountains. The landscape varies from long golden beaches to cool hill stations and dense green jungle to bustling cities. Its unique feature is the 1,900km of palm fringed backwaters.
The people of Kerala are warm and friendly and interaction with them is often a highlight of a holiday to Kerala. Keralites have a span culture and are fiercely proud of their state. Some of their art forms (eg Kathakali and Theyyam) and martial arts (kalaripayattu) are unique.
MUNNAR: Munnar was the summer resort of the British Government in the south. The town is situated on the confluence of three mountain streams, Muthirappuzha ( Kannimalayar), Nallathanni and Kundala. Munnar has some of the biggest tea plantations in the world. This hill station more than 5000 feet above sea level with its mist and flowers, has very good potential to be developed into a tourist spot.
THEKKADY: With its matchless scenic beauty and the facilities offered by the Periyar lake, Thekkady attracts a large number of tourists. The sanctuary spreads over an area of 673 sq.km and is situated at a height of 900 to 1800 metres above mean sea level. Facilities are available for cruising in this lake.
Wild animals seen here include elephants, bisons, sambar, monkeys and wild bear. Fortunate visitors can have a glimpse of the tigers foragaing in this area. However on sunny summer days one can see herds of wild elephants bathing in the lake. Bisons are a wary and hardy lot and usually never allow any intruder to approach them and the sound of the motor boats scare them away. But a keen animal lover can stay in one of the few observation towers for a couple of days and luck will surely come his way.
Some of the famous tea gardens are located around this place. Further Peermede, 43 k.m. below Thekkady, has a golf course and offers excellent facilities for stay.
COCHIN: Kerala`s major port, Cochin is a city of history and colour. Founded in 1341, it was one of the key stops on the ancient spice route from China to Rome. Straddling both the Arabian Sea and the famous backwaters, its islands and promontories offer a fascinating spectacle. The Portuguese, Dutch and British have all left their mark on local architecture and culture, while influxes of Jewish and Arab settlers have added another intriguing dimension. Here you can see India`s first European church - and a 16th century synagogue! A major Kerala gateway, Cochin makes an ideal starting point or finale for your tour: from here you can travel easily into the hills, travel the backwaters or head north to Calicut. The handsome Taj Malabar Hotel on Willingdon Island - between the modern Ernakulum District and historic Fort Cochin/Mattancherry, and with superb harbour views - combines colonial elegance and modern comfort and makes the perfect base from which to explore the city, and also features a Spa with Ayurvedic treatments. Other recommended hotels are the Malabar House Residency, Trident, Bolgatty Palace, Casino, Le Meridien, The Brunton Boatyard and Taj Residency.
KUMARAKOM: An enchanting backwater destination, Kumarakom offers visitors many other leisure options. Boating and fishing facilities are available at Kumarakom. Holiday packages on the houseboats, traditional Kettuvalloms, are an out-of-this-world experience at Kumarakom
KOLLAM: Located 71 km to the north of Trivandrum, Quilon is the center of the country`s cashew trading and processing industry. One of the oldest ports on the Malabar Coast, Kollam was once the port of international spice trade. Thirty per cent of this historic town is covered by the renowned Ashtamudi Lake, making it the gateway to the magnificent backwaters of Kerala. The eight-hour boat trip between Quilon and Alleppey is the longest and most enchanting experience on the backwaters of Kerala. The district also has some interesting historic remnants and a number of temples built in the traditional ornate architectural style.
TRIVANDRUM: Located at the southwestern tip of India, Trivandrum district is bounded by the Arabian Sea on the west and Tamil Nadu on the east. The wooded highlands on the Western Ghats in the eastern and northeastern borders give Trivandrum some of the most enchanting picnic spots. A long shoreline, with internationally renowned beaches, historic monuments, backwater stretches and a rich cultural heritage makes this district a much sought after tourist destination. Trivandrum is the capital of Kerala
KOVALAM: Kovalam is extremely popular as a beach resort. It was known to Europeans since 1930`s, then became very popular among hippies in 70’s
Kovalam has three big adjacent crescent beaches. The southernmost, known as the Lighthouse Beach , is the most popular of the three - it has hotels, restaurants, decent lodges on the seashore itself. It is frequented by outsiders who stay and enjoy Kovalam. The Northern most crescent is crowded on the weekends, is very popular with the locals, day-travelers, and passing-by tourist buses. Hawa Beach , is among one of the beaches in India where top-less sunbathing is tolerated and well appreciated by the locals, who come on the weekends to admire this view free of charge. The tourism department provides a vigilant life guard service on both Lighthouse and Hawa beach. There are span currents, so it is wise to follow their instructions. Note, that the average age of tourists in Kovalam is between 40 and 60 years young. Those expecting a replica of Goa will be VERY disappointed. Most places will serve a thali meal during the day