At the far South-Western tip of the tear drop of the Indian Subcontinent lies the lush and verdant state of Kerala. Though renowned for its backwaters Kerala offers so much more to the discerning traveller, from the beautiful Eastern beaches of the Arabian Ocean to the misty tea clad hills of the Western Ghats, from the bustling colonial harbour town of Fort Cochin to the spice plantations and jungles of Periyar.
The variety of accommodation ranges from exquisite luxury boutique properties, renovated heritage buildings, 5* resorts and, of course, Kerala’s celebrated house boats.
Everywhere you travel in Kerala you hear the expression “God’s Own Country” – and it truly does seem that way. Calmer and more laid back than any of the other Indian States the variety and wealth of experiences are unsurpassed.
The Kerala Backwaters
Kerala is most famous for its 900 km network of waterways known as the Backwaters. These are the original routes from the coastal ports and harbours inland and many locals still use traditional dugout canoes as their main method of transport. Spending a couple of days on your own private houseboat being waited on by your dedicated crew and drifting dreamily through the backwaters watching rural life unfold before you is one of the most wonderful experiences India can offer you. From rice threshers to the Brahmins’ morning puja (worship), schoolchildren being paddled to lessons to mothers bashing their dhobi on the riverbanks, wood carvers chipping away at statues of the Virgin Mary to the hussle and bustle of a coir factory – all human life is here.
When you wake to the sound of the freight ships and the fishermen’s shouts starting their working day, then you know you’re in Cochin, the small archipelago of islands that was once the capital of this delightful State.
Said to be India’s oldest European built church, the 16th Century St Francis church once housed the remains of the explorer Vasco de Gama who died in Cochin in 1524. His bones were returned to Lisbon in the mid 1500s but it is still possible to visit his tombstone in the church.
At Mattancherry – the so called “Dutch Palace” – it’s possible to visit the king’s bedchamber where the walls are bedecked with some incredibly beautiful and well preserved murals all depicting scenes from the Ramayana, the ancient Sanskrit epic.
Cochin was once home to the largest population of Jews outside Europe. The 16th Century Pardesi Synagogue is still active in the heart of “Jew Town”, the old centre of the Cochin spice trade. The streets here are lined with intricately carved, though dilapidated, shops and markets selling everything from shirts to sea urchins.
In the evening Cochin’s famous Chinese Fishing nets are at work in the harbour – incredible feats of engineering with their ropes & counterweights. Traditional Kathakali dance ceremonies can also be seen and the night rounded off at Malabar House and its lovely tapas and wine bar for a real treat.
In the Western Ghats of Eastern Kerala bordering Tamil Nadu are the hills of Munnar. Rising to a height of more than 6,000 feet and strangely reminiscent of the Alpine locations in The Sound of Music but with added tea and spice plantations. Windermere Estate is a family run business with wonderful views, charming accommodation and impeccable service. It’s an ideal place from which to explore the pristine hills and valleys of this region. A hike over the craggy peaks at sunrise watching the dawn mists roll away to reveal a patchwork of manicured tea estates and to take in the crisp morning air is an unforgettable experience.
Head south down the Ghats towards Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and you’ll find yourself on a lush tropical journey through picturesque tea plantations & coconut groves.
At Idukki you find Paradisa Plantation, set on a hillside with far reaching views of the surrounding forests and jungle and bungalows built in the traditional Keralan style. Here you can enjoy yoga, Ayurvedic treatments, kite flying and excursions into Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary famous for its elephants.
The perfect end to this wonderful feast for the senses is to relax on the pristine beaches of Northern Kerala by far the best beaches in the whole of the subcontinent. Allow the waters of the Arabian Ocean to fully and completely immerse you in the relaxed atmosphere of this, India’s most chilled out State
Travel to Kerala with World Odyssey – call us on 01905 731 373 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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