India is a country of variety. The rich culture of every state and every region is vast and unique and people living in harmony and peace is unparalleled, to say the least. Being from the country of plenty is something that has helped me in many ways.
Located in the south-west part of India, Kerala is a land of the gods. The verdant coastlines, calming backwaters, and exquisite food bring people from all over the world here. Walking on the streets here, you can see people selling coconut water that tastes like nectar. In the water bodies are the Chinese fishnets used to catch the copious supply of fishes and other seafood.
I went to Kerala just like so many others, to witness first hand the true face of this land and I was not disappointed. The Ayurvedic massages, the kathaks, the food was as relaxing and exquisite as they sound.
How to get here
We flew into Kochi (one of the major cities in Kerala). There are on-going deals on many airlines and you can get tickets for as low as Rs. 2500. You can also take the train or catch a bus from nearby states (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, or Andhra Pradesh). Kochi is connected via rail and highways to all major cities in India.
When to go
The best time to visit Kerala is from Oct-May. The monsoons can be unforgiving in India so it’s best to avoid the rainy seasons. Besides, you won’t get to go on a backwater boat ride and you cannot miss that!
Where to live
The popular tourist spots have a host of hotels to choose from. We stayed at the Rainforest Hotel in Athirapilly Falls. The Vasundhara Sarovar Resort at Alleppy was one of my favorite hotels of all time. Depending on your budget you can choose the package or hotel. When on vacation here, I recommend spending a few extra bucks and it’s worth it!
India uses Rupees as currency and the exchange rate is around 60 rupees per dollar. There are money exchange shops all over Kochi and you’ll get a good rate at the airport.
- Kerala has a tropical climate and is generally hot/humid. Pack plenty of soft cotton clothes and flip-flops.
- Beaches here are beautiful so pack your beach-wear and sunscreen! 3. Drink lots of water and beware of mosquitoes.
Located at a distance of 72 km from Kochi, this waterfall soars down with a majestic force. The 2-hour drive takes you through lush green forests and tea plantations. The Athirappilly Falls is the biggest waterfalls in Kerala and is sure to take your breath away!
We stayed at a hotel called the Rainforest Resort. Hidden in the forests away from the hustle and bustle surrounding the falls, you feel a sense of calm. I could see the falls right from my living room window and I could even take a bath onlooking the elegant falls.
The water flows down from the Sholayar Forest and joins the Chalakudi river. The sound of water gushing is like music to the ears. Even in the warm tropical weather, the temperature near the falls get quite pleasant and the sheer natural beauty makes the experience more pristine.
The falls is a prime tourist location and you are going to run into school kids on their field trips, local families on a day out and tourists from all over the world. The top of the falls overlooks the valley and you can see the dense verdant forest spanning for miles and miles. I recommend staying here for at least 2 days and enjoying the local cuisine and culture.
The staple here includes curry and rice. The local delicacies include the Appam- A type of rice pancake eaten with coconut chutney, Puttu Kadala- A popular breakfast dish and Avail – A mixed vegetable curry popularly eaten with rice.
The travel time from Athirapilly to Alleppy is about 3 hours by road. Overlooking the backwaters of Vylar was our hotel – Vasundhara Sarovar Resort. The resort has all the amenities you require for the most relaxing nights. It is a spa retreat with a huge swimming pool and path right along the backwaters. The hotel also includes a breakfast buffet, a gym, an amphitheater and a kids play area. We also had a whirlpool bathtub in our rooms!
The backwaters of Kerala are not hyped enough! The calm waters surrounded by small houses and coconut trees on both sides is a spectacle I haven’t seen anywhere else. People sitting by their homes weaving baskets and fishing, wave out to you with such enthusiasm that you have to repay the favor. You can rent a boat for almost half a day or go on a shorter boat ride in the backwaters.
We decided to get the full experience and rented out a boat for 6 hours. The cruise started at noon and ended at sunset. The backwater boat cruise will cost you about Rs.5000. Our ‘captain’ was a local who wasn’t fluent in English but that didn’t stop him from explaining the rich culture and history of his village. We were served fresh home cooked authentic lunch along with a selection of freshly picked and beautifully chopped fruits.
One thing that you can’t miss is the sunset over the backwaters. The silhouette forms a beautiful reflection which is dazzling and not the best camera can capture the natural beauty.
Spa and Massage
Kerala is famous for its Ayurvedic massage getaways. The resort has a spa where trained masseuse takes excellent care of you. They provide a host of massage options based on your skin, stress level and various other factors. I took the famous full body massage and was taken care of better than I was expecting.
On a relaxing day, you can go cycling deep in the villages away from the quickly paced city life or go fishing in the Vembanad Lake or sit by the hammock and get lost in a book. Can you picture a more relaxing vacation?
Kathakali is a major classical dance form in India. The dancers, dressed in colorful makeup, vibrant clothes and face masks dance to tell a story. The art form grips your attention instantly and you are left mesmerized by the fast movements and story progression always left wanting for more.
I have never met anyone who has been disappointed by Kerala and I guarantee, neither will you. The lush greenery, the nice people, the great food, the amazing masseuse, the relaxing sunsets will have you craving for more for sure!