Ten Reasons Why Kerala Is Hot Right Now
The Taj Mahal may be on your bucket-list and Udaipur may promise the storied beauty that all of your dreams of India are made of, but for second timers, or perhaps those who would just prefer a gentler introduction to this chaotic country, southern India’s Kerala is where it’s at.
Lying between the rugged Western Ghat mountains and the Arabian Sea, Kerala is the thin strip that makes up India’s blissful southwestern coast – dubbed ‘God’s own country’ for its endless charms, one thing’s for sure: this picturesque province has a lot to offer. Plus, thanks to farming and fishing driving the economy here, so there’s simply no need for them to play on tourism. So, if you’re looking for an authentic escape, look no further, because Kerala has it all.
Need more persuading? Here are our top ten reasons as to why Kerala should be top of your bucket-list this year.
1. The peace and quiet
It may be the tropical air, or it may be that classic coastal effect – you know, the sea air being good for you and all that – but Kerala feels a million miles away from its north Indian counterparts. Here, time feels slower, the streets (or waterways, whichever the case may be) are quieter and life is perpetually laid-back. And really, does anything soothe the soul more than palm trees as far as the eye can see?
2. The backwaters
Ah, the backwaters. Winding waterways and glinting lagoons – the very reason that some people refer to Kerala as the ‘Venice of the East’. But, far removed from the gothic maze and general bustle of this classic european city, Kerala’s complex network of lakes and lagoons is ever-green and ever-chilled – nature takes precedence here. To see the emerald backwaters at their best, a few nights in both Alleppey and Kumarakom are a must.
3. The Tea
We’re British, loving tea is in our blood. So, what could be better than getting back to basics of our morning cuppa in the delicious rolls of verdant Munnar? You’ll witness tea-picking in action, be introduced to all the ins and outs of how a plantation is run and if it’s views that you’re after than it’s views that you’ll get, because here, they just continue to unfold.
4. The temples
There are a few words that spring to mind when thinking of India, and ‘temples’ is certainly one of them. Madurai may not technically be in Kerala, but for all intensive purposes it’s close enough in our eyes. Because this is a city that knows how to do temples and boy, does it do them well. Snapping a photo of the mighty Hindu feat that is the Meenakshi Temple is a must.
5. The spices
And we’re not just talking about the endless plantations, or the delicately spiced the food (which is thankfully known to be a lot less hard-hitting than the spicy food synonymous with the north of the country, so you can breathe a swift sigh of relief, there will be no Delhi belly in Kerala). Spice is the whole reason behind the mercantile heritage of this eclectic region. A booming historical spice trade brought merchants from near and far, shaping the likes of Cochin to be the culturally mishmashed cities that they are today. In fact, you can still find the Chinese, Portuguese, Arabic, Dutch and British influences here, so you won’t be short on exotic sights.
6. The beaches
Palm-fringed and sumptuously unpopulated, obviously – this is a coast that calls out for lazy, sun-soaked days and romantic evening strolls. If you need a deciding factor, Kovalam’s sunsets are to die for.
If you’ve read our blog on all things Ayurveda, then you’ll know that Kerala is the home of Ayurvedic treatments and if you haven’t, then get a wiggle on and read it here. It may have been around for thousands of years in this corner of the world, but in the west we’re only just learning the importance of this holistic approach to the help, with the likes of Jasmine Hemsley promoting its benefits. Whether you’re new to the concept or not, holidaying in Kerala is the perfect opportunity for getting stuck into Ayurvedic practises – even if it’s just an excuse for a good ol’ full-body massage. But only because it’s good for you, right?
8. The food
If you’ve been keeping up with Jasmine Hemsley’s travels through Kerala, then you’ll be no stranger to the food. And if the expert opinion of the food, lifestyle and wellness author isn’t advocation enough, the pictures alone should be enough to sway you. Hello, dosas. Hello, dahl. And it doesn’t end there, the state is also known for its ridiculously fresh fish, delicate spices and fragrant chutneys. Oh and meals are often served up on a banana leaf too – cool, right? The Mike Myers “Get in my belly” line may just come to mind.
9. The houseboats
It’s not just the backwaters, but the boats that float upon them that so often take centre stage when choosing imagery to showcase Kerala’s beauty. And these boats aren’t just the primary method of transport here, but also make for a pretty cool place to rest your head at night too. Traditional in style, but often decked out so as not to scrimp on any home comforts, you simply can’t go to Kerala without spending a few nights on a houseboat. It would practically be criminal not to.
10. The people
Yep, this really is Indian hospitality showcased at its very best. Let’s face it, the people of India are a pretty friendly bunch. They put our unsmiling commuter faces to shame. But the hustle and bustle of the big-hitting cities leave very little time to get to know the locals. In Kerala, things are just different. With less of a tourist-driven surrounding, you’ll soon realise that people aren’t just being friendly because they want to sell you something, they are literally just friendly people, there’s nothing more to it.
And we could go on. That doesn’t even touch upon the wildlife, the rich traditional art-forms, the festivals, or just how picture-perfect this state really is. But you’ll just have to see it for yourself, because it sure won’t take you long to be captivated by Kerala.