12.1.15

A magical land of beauty - Kerala


Kerala – a patch of exoticism and natural beauty, so resplendent in nature’s bounties that it’s popularly known as “God’s Own Country”! Adorned generously with the palm fringed beaches, misty hills, beckoning backwaters and verdant forests, Kerala was placed among the “50 Destinations of a lifetime” by National Geographic Traveler, in special collectors’ issue released just before the turn of the millennium. Beautiful all year round, Kerala is especially magical for international tourists during the winter months when the climate is at its most pleasant, while being a welcome escape from the cold weather. Though the lures of Kerala are many, I have enlisted a couple of the cities where you can experience some key facets of the state’s many splendours.

An ideal itinerary should help you cover Kerala’s diverse geographic features in a limited span of time. For the first-time travellers, I suggest a flight into Cochin, or “Kochi”, Kerala’s emerging cosmopolitan city. A rich confluence of Portuguese, Dutch and English influences, this fascinating city hides many pearls that will make your stay here worthwhile. Shop for spices and some relics of the past as you walk down the lanes of Jew Town, or experience a global vibe in some of the more modern parts of the city. The 1.5 kilometers radius of the fort Kochi area boasts of an entire coastline dotted with the fascinating Chinese fishing nets that make for a mesmerizing sight along its quiet beaches. A small heritage lane and several parts of Fort Kochi are dotted with Old Dutch heritage homes and hotels, that make for some of the best and most relaxing accommodations for leisure travellers.





And if the idea of stepping out of your room, into a balcony overlooking an endless stretch of tea plantations appeals to you, head to the undulating hills of Munnar. A drive from Kochi to Munnar will see you revel in some of the most scenic natural spots right across the road. Perched about 1600 m above the sea level, Munnar is home to old world tea plantations, colonial bungalows, rivulets, waterfalls, and cool weather. Other sightseeing attractions include the Mattupetty Dam, a great spot for viewing the town, and Kundala Lake, a natural lake with picturesque view of the Western ghats, as well as the surrounding forests. A popular tourist destination throughout the year, Munnar offers ample boarding options for travellers. Most of them will arrange for a pickup from the Kochi airport.




A train or a drive will get you from Munnar to Kumarakom. Here, you can enjoy the sheer bliss of floating across the banks of Kerala backwaters in the traditional Kettuvalloms of houseboats. Traditionally used as grain barges, houseboats are now used to accommodate tourists, and come equipped with the most modern facilities. Your meals too are cooked on-board. You can hire the houseboat as per your family or group size. The houseboat is usually on the move throughout the day, giving you an irreplaceable glimpse into the Kerala backwaters, one of nature’s most magical realms. All houseboats have an electricity generator, but you can request the staff to switch off the electricity, and light some lanterns to create a rustic setting. Houseboats can b pre-booked through District Tourism Promotion Council’s pre-paid counter. Also visit the Bay Island Driftwood Museum which houses a unique collection of driftwood sculptures. You can also drive to the Kumarakom Bird sanctuary, a favourite of migratory birds like the Siberian stork, egret, darter, heron and teal.







This is, of course, just a cursory glance at the many treasured spots this state boasts of. To get an in-depth experience of Kerala will require time, and several visits. But even if you can visit just once, you can rest assured that you will indeed go back with a timeless memory. Such is the charm and magic of Kerala. 

*** All photographs in the Kochi and Kumarakom section are by the talented Desha Gehi, who contributed the photographs for the original feature, published in the Girls Guide To Paris, Et Plus, a digital magazine.

2 comments:

  1. Very true... Kerala definitely is awesome and worth a place in Top 50 destinations..
    Last month I got a chance to travel to Kochi for 2 days and it came out really great..
    Awesome pictures from Desha Gehi.

    ReplyDelete

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