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Kerala

Kerala

Kerala, the land of green magic, is a narrow, fertile strip on the south-west coast of India, sandwiched between the Lakshadweep Sea and the Western Ghats. The landscape is dominated by rice fields, mango, cashew nut trees and coconut palms. The Western Ghats, with their dense tropical forests, misty peaks, extensive ridges and ravines, have sheltered Kerala from invaders, but at the same time, have encouraged maritime contact with the outside world.

Cities of Kerala

Kerala has 14 districts that are spread across the length and breadth of the region and these districts basically make the major cities of Kerala. All the cities of Kerala have been lavishly blessed by Mother Nature and have immense tourist potential. The cities of tourist attraction in Kerala includes the Backwater paradise of Alappuzha, the commercial capital and twin city of Kochi – Ernakulam, the great pilgrimage centre of Pathanamita, the green and clean capital city of Thiruvananthapuram and Kerala’s cultural capital Thrissur.

ALAPPUZHA

Situated on the banks of Vembanad Lake, the town’s commercial centre lives in a maze of canals. Set in the labyrinth of Backwater channels, the town is one of the best gateways to explore the unspoilt countryside. A historic and romantic name from Kerala’s past, Alappuzha was once one of the best known ports along the coast of Malabar. The centre for Backwater Cruises in Kerala, the Backwaters of Alappuzha (Alleppey) can be best experienced in a country boat. Alappuzha (Alleppey) is a bustling, messy town of ramshackle wood and corrugalated roof houses, chiefly significant in the Coir industry.

alappuzha

KOCHI

Kochi (Cochin), the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala, has one of the finest natural harbours in the world. Ancient mariners from Arabia, China, Holland, Britain and Portugal have all left their mark on this beautiful island city. One of the finest natural harbours on the Arabian Sea coast, Kochi (Cochin), earlier known as Cochin has been a port of call for foreign traders from early times. Its cosmopolitan character is reflected in the buildings and structures representing different regions of the world. A city of peninsulas and islands, today it is Kerala’s commercial hub.

kochi

TRIVANDRUM

Thiruvananthapuram, formerly known as Trivandrum is gateway to one of the most beautiful Indian states, Kerala. Stretching along the southern coast of the country, with the Backwaters reaching deep into the verdant countryside, Kerala affords a fascinating experience. The city of the Thousand – headed Anatha, the holy serpent on which Lord Vishnu reclines. trivandrum is one of the most beautiful cities of India. Perched on undulating terrain of low coastal hills near the southern edge of the Indian mainland, clean and green Trivandrum, which was previously called Trivandrum, is an ancient city with trading tradition dateing back to 1000 BC.

trivandrum

THRISSUR

Thrissur, with its rich history, cultural heritage and archaeological wealth, is rich in cultural activities. From ancient times, this district has played a significant role in the political history of south India. Thrissur, the name derived from ‘Tiru-Shiva-Perur’ (the town with the name of Lord Shiva) is the cultural capital of Kerala. Its most prominent feature is the Vadakkumnathan Kshetram or temple, which has Shiva as its presiding deity. Many rulers and dynasties beginning with the Zamorins of Kozhikode, Tipu Sultan of Mysore and Europeans including the Dutch and the British have had a hand in moulding the destiny of this region.

akhnoor

KOTTAYUM

Kottayam, located in the southern part of Kerala is an important commercial centre of India, producing a large chunk of cash crops. A beautiful town situated in the hills, most of India’s natural rubber originates from the acres of well-kept plantations of Kottayam. The town is also home to the Rubber Board, one of the country’s Primary Commodities Board. Situated in the ‘Backwater’ circuit, the populace of Kottayam is marked by the presence of the Syrian Christian community. Well known for its churches, Kottayam sandwiched between serene palm-fringed backwaters on the west and the Western Ghats on the east.

kottayam

ERNAKULAM

A prime tourist destination and also the commercial capital the district represents the modern facet of Kerala. The most cosmopolitan of the state’s cities, Ernakulam (Kochi) has been long eulogised in tourist literature as the `Queen of the Arabian Sea’. The beauty of the place is stunningly different and has long-standing maritime importance. Ernakulam is Kerala’s major port, which is strategically located on the East-West trade route. Boasting of one of the finest natural harbours in the world, the city forms the hub around which the city revolves. The Backwaters extend east and south of the harbour and contain tiny islands .

ernakulam

THEKKADY

Thekkady, located in central Kerala, is a popular hill station and a wildlife centre. This town, which is an important plantation centre, conjures up images of elephants, unending chains of hills and spice scented plantations. In the Periyar Forest of Thekkady is one of the finest wildlife reserves of India and spread across the entire district are picturesque plantations and hill towns that hold immense opportunities for treks and mountain walks. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary offers a fairly good chance of seeing the great Indian tiger in its natural habitat. Thannikudi. Reservations can be made at the Forest Information Counter, Thekkady.

thekkady

Pilgrimages in Kerala

Religious Places in Kerala is an enchantingly beautiful, emerald green land, flanked by the Western Ghats on one side, the Arabian Sea on the other, and strewn with rivers, lagoons, backwaters and rich vegetation in between.

SABARIMALA TEMPLE

Situated on the banks of Vembanad Lake, the town’s commercial centre lives in a maze of canals. Set in the labyrinth of Backwater channels, the town is one of the best gateways to explore the unspoilt countryside. A historic and romantic name from Kerala’s past, Alappuzha was once one of the best known ports along the coast of Malabar. The centre for Backwater Cruises in Kerala, the Backwaters of Alappuzha (Alleppey) can be best experienced in a country boat. Alappuzha (Alleppey) is a bustling, messy town of ramshackle wood and corrugalated roof houses, chiefly significant in the Coir industry.

sabarimala

GURUVAYOOR TEMPLE

A temple, famous all over India as a pilgrim centre, dedicated to Lord Krishna popularly known as Guruvayoorappan. The Sreekrishna idol of this temple is believed to have been worshipped by Vasudevar and Devaki at Dwaraka. This shrine popularly known as ‘Dakshina Dwaraka’ (Dwaraka of south) is in the form of a rectangle. There are a lot of mural paintings around the ‘Shrikovil’ (Shrine). Guruvayoor, where the famous Sree Krishna Temple is situated, is one of the most sacred and important pilgrim centres of kerala. The walls of the sanctum sanctorum are inlaid with exquisite mural paintings and carvings.

guruvayoor-temple

KALPATHY TEMPLE

The Vishwanatha Swamy shrine, the oldest Shiva temple is situated 3 kms from Palakkad. The annual chariot temple is a gala event. The annual ‘Ratholsavam’ or Chariot Festival at Sree Viswanantha Swamy temple lasts for seven days. On the last three days, beautifully decorated temple chariots are ceremoniously drawn through the streets by thousands of devotees whose soul stirring chants rent the air. The festival is dominated by three magnificent chariots, bedecked with flowers and flags, each sanctified by the presence of the lord. Teeming crowds of people and millions of hands try to reach out to be one of the privileged .

kalpathy

THRIPRAYAR TEMPLE

Thriprayar Temple, located south of Thrissur is one of the important temples dedicated to Lord Rama. The exquisite wood carvings, sculptures and Mural Paintings are an interesting sight. The temple festival is held in November / December and includes a parade of 17 elephants. During the Onam festival in the months of August / September, there is a snake boat race. There are regular buses to Thriprayar from the Shakthan Thamburan bus stand.

thriprayar

JAMAT MOSQUE

Jamat Mosque is located in Malappuram on Malappuram-Venkara Road. It is modeled after a temple. This 280 years old Mosque has blue doors and snow-white walls to give it a distinction it rightly deserves. It was built under the directions of the Hindu Prana Nambi family.

jamat-mosque

ODATHIL MOSQUE

Odathil Mosque is located 500-m from Thalassery Fort in Kannur district. The Mosque is built on the land gifted by Portuguese by an Arab gold and timber merchant. It has no domes or minarets. With carved wooden walls and copper ceiling the Mosque has a real temple touch. It was renovated with the help of Portuguese Fundaceo Oriente Institution in Lisbon.

odathil_mosgue

Beaches & Houseboats in Kerala

Kerala is blessed with a 600-km long coastline that extends its length to 11 of the 14 districts of Kerala. On Kerala’s beaches, you can bathe in the glory of the sun or bask in the splendour of the sunset and refersh yourself with a sip of tender coconut milk.

ALLAPPUZHA BEACH

Alappuzha beach also known as Alleppey beach is one of the most popular spots in the district of Alappuzha. The pier, which extends into the sea here, is around 140 years old. With the Arabian Sea on the west and a vast network of lakes, lagoons and several freshwater rivers criss-crossing it, Alappuzha is a district of immense natural beauty. Referred to as the Venice of the East by travellers from across the world, this Backwater Country is also home to diverse animal and bird life. By virtue of its proximity to the sea, the town has always enjoyed a unique place in the maritime history of Kerala.

allappuzha-beach

KOVALAM BEACH

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 this beach paradise.

kovalam

VARKALA BEACH

Varkala is a sea side resort, as well as an important Hindu centre of pilgrimage. High cliffs with rich mineral springs rise majestically from the coastline. The 2000 year old Janardana Swamy Temple and the Nature Centre are the two main attractions of Varkala Beach. High cliffs border the excellent beach. Varkala is a beautiful beach that has a more than 2000 years old shrine of Lord Vishnu. This beach of Kerala is rich in mineral water springs that are known for their medicinal value. A dip in the holy waters of Varkala beach is believed to purge the body and the soul of all the sins hence the name ‘Papanashini’ for this shore.

varkala-beach

KAPPAD BEACH

Kappad, the historic beach. It is the beach where Vasco da Gama landed on the 27th of May, 1498 with 170 men in three vessels, thus discovering a sea route to India. The rock studded beach is locally known as Kappakadavu. An interesting feature of the landscape is the sprawling rock that protrudes into the sea. The temple on the rock is believed to be 800 years old. A solitary pillar commemorates the event with the inscription, “Vasco da Gama landed here, Kappakadavu, in the year 1498”. The sea here is placid and seemingly untouched by history or time.

kappad-beach

BEKAL BEACH

Situated at the northern tip of Kerala, 79 km from Kannur, Bekal is a beach destination of the future. It has long palm-fringed beaches and a rocky headland topped by the huge Bekal fort. This beach is being developed a resort. But for now, you can still savour the touch of history as you view the serene Lakshadweep sea from the tall observation towers of the fort’s once huge cannon emplacements.

bekal-beach

KETTUVALAM HOUSE BOATS

Kettuvallams, the stitched boats provide the best way to experience the colourful backwaters of Kerala. The Kettuvalloms of Kerala are giant country crafts, measuring up to 80 feet in length. The traditional house boat, the indispensable part of the picturesque backwaters of Kerala, was mainly used in Travancore and Kochi and in the Minicoy Islands in olden times. The wood commonly used to make Kettuvalloms is ‘Anhili’, which is found in abundance in central Travancore area. Large planks are tied together using hand made coir ropes and beaten coconut fibres.

kettuvellam

Monuments in Kerala

A rare blend of myth and history gives Kerala a unique charm. In this land, the tourist who is also a traveller in time can enjoy a journey to the enchanting past on the wings of its ancient legacy.

In this land of diversity, history unravels in myriad ways. Archeological museums, art galleries, palace hotels, historical monuments, wood and metal sculptures, murals, paintings, ancient scripts, royal chambers, forts, temples, chapels and synagogues.

May be Kerala is not having as attractive or breathtaking forts and monuments like the states of Rajasthan and Delhi, but one cannot underestimate the surprises that Kerala has instored for those who are looking for something different.

Kerala has a rich repertoire of historic and cultural monuments, which represent a unique amalgam of various styles of architecture. Nalukettu is the main architectural style though in regions like Fort Kochi, a curious mix of European, Chinese, Jewish and Arabic styles are evident in the architecture.The significant monuments in Kerala include Jewish Synagogue, Kaudiar Palace and Mattancherry Palace

JEWISH SYNAGOGUE

The Synagogue at Fort Kochi,constructed in 1568, is the oldest in the Commonwealth. Destroyed in a shelling during the Portuguese raid in 1662, it was rebuilt two years later by the Dutch. Scrolls of Old Testament and a number of copper plates inscribed in the Hebrew script are preserved in this Synagogue. This synagogue stands out as a testimony of communal harmony in the state for centuries

jewish-synagogue

KAUDIAR PALACE

This palace, home of the late Maharaja Sree Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma and his family is off limits to the public. But the view of the grand old building from the gate is excellent, a co-operative gate keeper just might let you walk a few meters inside for a better view

kaudiar-palace

MATTANCHERRY PALACE

Built in oriental style, Mattancherry Palace, situated in Ernakulam district of Kerala was originally built by the Portuguese and presented to the king of Cochin, Veera Kerala Varma, in the year 1555 AD. It was later taken over by the Dutch who improved it through extensions and repairs in 1663 AD. Since then it came to be called the Dutch Palace, though at no time did the Portugese nor the Dutch stayed there. One of the oldest buildings in Kerala, the Mattancherry Palace is a portrait gallery of the kings of Cochin. In the centre of the building, is the Coronation Hall where the Cochin Rajas held their coronations.

mattancherry-palace

Wildlife in Kerala

Just like green pastures, beaches and backwaters, Kerala is also a wilderness beauty. There are numerous wildlife reserves situated within the state, but the major part is that even if they are wild reserves they present a unique travel experience to every visitor who visit them. For the true nature lovers Kerala is one where varied colors of nature in its abundance can be seen.

CHINNAR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY

Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is a unique thorny scrub forest with xerophyte species. Chinnar is the habitat of the endangered Giant Grizzled Squirrel of India. Located in the rainshadow area of the Western Ghats, unlike other sanctuaries, Chinnar has only 48 rainy days in a year. Dry deciduous forests, high sholas and wet grasslands are also found here. As one travels from Karimuthi to Chinnar Elephants, Spotted Deer, Sambhar, Hanuman monkey and even Peacocks can be seen on either sides of the road. Declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1984, it is spread over an area of 90,422 sq. kms.

nandniwildlife

ERAVIKULAM WILDLIFE SANCTUARY

Eravikulam Wildlife Sanctuary is a sanctuary set up for the preservation of the endangered Nilgiri Tahr. Eravikulam Wildlife Sanctuary stands out for the stark beauty of its rolling grasslands and sholas, spread over 97 sq. kms of unblemished natural splendour. Anamudi, the highest peak south of Himalayas, towers over the sanctuary in majestic pride. The slopes of the hills abound in all kinds of rare flora and fauna. The Atlas Moth, largest of its kind in the world, is a unique possession of the park. The sanctuary was declared as a National Park in 1978. The park is breathtakingly beautiful .

kistwarnationalpark

KUMARAKOM BIRD SANCTUARY

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, situated on the banks of the Vembanand Lake is known for its varied avian population. Local varieties such as waterfowls, cuckoos and owls, as well as the migratory Siberian Cranes can be viewed here. The Kumarakom Tourist Complex, sprawling over 101 acres of enchanting wooded land and lake, was built around the 50-year-old ‘Baker’s Mansion’, which was earlier a small hotel run by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC). Now the complex has been renovated in grand style by the Taj Kerala Resorts Ltd. Boats are available on hire for a a cruise around the sanctuary.

surinsarwildlife

IDUKKI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is located at a distance of 40 kms from Thodupuzha. This sanctuary extends over the Thodupuzha and Udumpanchola taluks of Idukki district spreading over 77sq. kms, at 450 – 748m above sea level. The Idukki reservoir formed by three dams-Cheruthoni, Idukki and Kulamavu-extends to 33 sq. km. A picturesque lake, a majestic arch dam across two hills and roaming herds of elephants and gaur are sights that lure you to this enchanting canopy of tropical semi-evergreen and deciduous forests. The fauna also includes Langur, Leopard and Wild Boar.

ramnagarwildlife

Hill Stations in Kerala

The Western Ghats run along the length of Kerala, India and there are a number of beautiful hill stations on these beautiful ranges, which provide an alternative to the beaches and backwaters of Kerala. Yes! Hill stations in Kerela. That’s one of the most unique feature of India, the topography is so varied that it always leaves the visitor awestruck. Kerela’s hill stations are also something that aren’t probably not as popular as the Ayurveda and backwaters.

MUNNAR

Munnar is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams namely Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala.This hill station, located at an altitude of 1600 m above sea level, 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. Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands is the ‘Neelakurinji’. This flower which bathes the hills in blue every twelve years will bloom next in 2006 AD. Munnar also has the highest peak in south India, Anamudi, which towers over 2695 m.

munnar

MATHUPETTI

Situated at a height of 1700 m, Mattupetty is famous for its highly specialised dairy farm, the Indo-Swiss live stock project. Over 100 varieties of high yielding cattle are reared here. Visitors are allowed into three of the eleven cattle sheds at the farm. The Mattupetty Lake and Dam, just a short distance from the farm, is a very beautiful picnic spot. The sprawling Kundala tea plantations and the Kundala Lake are other attractions in the vicinity. DTPC Idukki provides boating facilities on the Mattupetty Dam. Speed Launch and slow speed motor boats are available on hire.

mathupetti

PONMUDI

The salubrious hill station of Ponmudi is at a distance of 61 kms from Thiruvananthapuram. The enchanting bounty of nature can be witnessed here in the quiet surroundings. Perched at an altitude of over 100 m above sea level on the Western Ghats, the shimmering green waters of the winding streams and verdant woods of Ponmudi do not spare anybody. Trekking is a passion with the visitors to Ponmudi, lying within easy driving distance from Thiruvananthapuram. One will find oneself compulsively pausing every now and then to drink in deep the spectacular sweep of the hill ranges, tea-estates etc

ponmudi

ECHO POINT

Located 13 km from Munnar, Echo Point is a popular adventure tourism destination. Trekking and nature walks are popular activities in this scenic destination with beautiful views of the green hills.

echo-point