by Sudha Mathew
Given the plethora of tourist attractions in Kerala, it’s sometimes difficult to draw up a travel itinerary. You might have questions like this – What are the must visit places in Kerala? Which sights and activities will match ‘my kind’ of travel? And so on and so forth. We are here to help, and that’s why we have picked this list of top 10 must visit places in Kerala. What makes this list different is that it’s an insider guide. I am from Kerala, and my passion (and current full-time occupation) is all about travel. So, here goes.
The picturesque Kerala, ‘God’s own country’, a nature lover’s paradise or a little piece of heaven on earth – whatever might be the description of choice, we must agree that the beauty of Kerala is beyond par. From the lush trees to the rolling green hills, from the resplendent backwaters to the state’s cultural heritage expressed through its monuments and people alike, Kerala is a unique and worthy travel destination in every sense. Amidst the general rush towards modernity Kerala has not lost its connection with its past. It is for this very reason that Kerala can afford us the languid pace of life where you can forget the rat race, and immerse yourself in the elusive beauty of nature.
Kerala is chock-full of sites and sights worthy of some valuable moments of our ephemeral lives. But if we must play favourites, for reasons of personal preferences or time constraints, here are the 10 must visit places in Kerala that you must consider including in your India travel itinerary.
The backwaters of Kerala have become so popular among Indians and overseas visitors alike, that one can’t think of Kerala without thinking of the backwaters. But the backwaters of Kerala are not just some hyped up tourist attraction or something that can lose its sheen over time. A ride on the backwaters is tranquil yet romantic. Taking a trip in a houseboat along the backwaters under a green canopy of palm trees and enjoying freshly cooked local cuisine on board is a must have experience on your Kerala holiday. If you can spare the time, spend a night or two on the houseboat itself, to enjoy the beauty of the backwaters fully.
Fort Kochi, the “Gateway to Kerala” is a captivating city whose charm is an amalgamation of centuries of royal influence. Kochi had seen the settlement of Arabs, Dutch, British, Chinese, as well as Portuguese, and bears testimony of all their historical presence, in its architectures and sites of historical importance.
Wayanad – Imagine rolling green mountains running parallel to the Western Ghats, abundantly thick and luxurious foliage dominated by coconut palms, paddy fields, landscape strewn with thick forests, and all of this being watched over by towering peaks- it is Wayanad. Not only does the destination offer a peek into Kerala’s ethereal natural beauty, but its terrain also makes it a hub for all kinds of adventure sports enthusiasts. There are peaks to be trekked along, wildlife to be spotted, historical sites to be explored and the serenity of nature to be enjoyed at Wayanad.
Fondly referred by the locals as Southern India’s Kashmir, Munnar is the loveliest hill station of Kerala. It is composed of exotic flora and fauna, winding narrow lanes, misty hills and valleys where you can walk among the clouds. The natural beauty and allure of the place is further added to by its sprawling tea plantations. Munnar’s tea plantations offer an opportunity to witness the entire process of tea making, right from the plucking of leaves to the pouring of the amber liquid in cups; in fact visitors are encouraged to taste the local produce on site.
Located in Munnar, the Anaimudi peak is the highest peak in South India and a trekking, paragliding and rock-climbing hub for all adventure sports. Not only is it a remarkable sporting destination, it also offers spectacular viewing pleasures due to its elevation.
Situated along the Western Ghats in the Idukki district of Kerala, Eravikulam National Park is a sanctuary for endemic flora and fauna. Presently under the consideration of UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site, this is a must visit site in Kerala for all nature lovers.
Located in the Thekkady district, Periyar National Park and tiger reserve is one of your best bets to spot elephants in their natural habitat. If you’d like to get a little closer to the elephant, there’s Elephant Junction, where you can feed, bathe and interact with the elephants, other than taking a ride. A must do activity while at the Periyar national park is to take a boat ride on the huge Periyar lake, where you can spot wildlife, and if you are lucky, spot herds of elephants coming down for a drink or bath.
Vast stretches of cliff on one side and breathtaking azure expanse on the other, a paved path running at the bottom of the cliff, flanked by coconut palms, charming little shops, relaxing beach shacks and people basking in the unhurried pace of life- that is Varkala beach. One of the best beaches found in the country, this is a must visit destination for all those in need for relaxation.
Kovalam – A scenic beach town beside the Arabian Sea and placed around 16 km from Thiruvananthapuram city, Kerala, this is another nature lover’s paradise in Kerala. Kovalam, which means a grove of coconut trees, is flanked by an endless line of coconut trees. This Kerala beach destination has three beaches, the crescent of which forms the Kovalam beach.
Thiruvananthapuram, also known as Trivandrum, is the capital city of Kerala. Trivandrum has one of Kerala’s 3 airports, and makes for a great base to visit nearby Kerala tourist attractions. This is the place to be at, for easy access to Kovalam beach, Sanghumukham Beach, Napier museum, Agasthyarkoodam peak, Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary and Neyyar Dam, Kuthira Malika palace, Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple, Ponmudi, Poovar, Varkala Cliffs and beaches and many others. The Thiruvanathapuram Zoo is a place of interest for reasons other than the animals housed in it. The Zoo is said to be the place where Yann Martel studied a disabled lion for months, for the research in writing his book “Life of Pi”.
Apart from providing easy access to many Kerala travel destinations, Trivandrum itself plays host to a number of other tourist attractions like Vizhinjam Rock Cut Temple, Priyadarshini Planetarium, Kuthiramalika etc.
Hope this list of must visit places in Kerala will help you with planning your Kerala holiday according to your tastes and preferences. We would love to hear from you – about your Kerala travel plans, tips if any, and about your favorite Indian travel destinations. Have questions about Kerala travel? Post a comment and we’ll guide you.
Picture Courtesy: Breathtaking Backwaters: NPEBD | Gorgeous Wayanad: Deals and You| Kovalam Beach: Wikipedia