Kerala, India’s southernmost state, offers an extraordinary range of experiences within just a few hours drive of each other. Cruise the idyllic backwaters on a converted rice barge, visit spice and tea plantations, explore the historical fort town of Kochi (Cochin), experience the rich, diverse culture and cuisine, go trekking in the national parks or rejuvenate with an Ayurvedic massage treatment. It is one India’s more prosperous and educated regions, thus providing a gentle introduction for first timers to India –or India with a soft landing as we like to call it.
Main Cities: Kochi, Trivandrum- state capital, Ernakulam, Munnar, Thrissur, Kannur, Kottayam, Alleppey, Kollam, Kozhikode
Airports: Kochi, Trivandrum, Kozhikode
Local Language: Malayalam
Fun Fact: Pappadavada, a famous restaurant in Kochi, puts a fridge on the street, so patrons can leave leftovers for those in need.
Kerala offers the perfect combination of exploration and relaxation. A typical tour will include exploring historic Kochi, cruising the idyllic backwaters on your private houseboat, gaining an understanding of local life whilst staying at a home stay, venturing into the western ghat mountains to see tea and spice plantations, taking a nature trek at Periyar National Park and finally relaxing for a few days at one of the many palm fringed beaches. For those with more time, you could even stay in a tree house in the rain forest of northern Kerala.
Thrissur Pooram: Thrissur, April-May
One of the most famous temple festivals in Kerala that has been celebrated for more than 200 years. The festival is celebrated to worship Lord Shiva and involves colour, music, and richly adorned temple elephants.
A ten day long harvest festival which also marks the homecoming of King Mahabali, who used to rule Kerala during ancient times. Beautiful designs are made with flowers to decorate the ground infront of people’s houses and there are feasts, dancing, sports and the famous snake boat race in the backwaters.
Kerala Boat Festival: Backwaters, July-September
For a few months every year during the monsoon season, Kerala comes alive with colourful snake boat races. Typical snake boats are 100 to 120 feet long, and hold around 100 rowers. Each of the villages in the region has its own snake boat, which they take great pride in. Every year the villagers get together and race the boats along the lakes and rivers.
Theyyam: Northern Kerala, October-May
A flamboyant 800 year old festival where you can experience more than 400 types of cultural dances, performed by people dressed as deities. The “dance of gods” performance is used to enact mythological stories during which the god possesses the body of the dancer.
There are three distinct seasons in Kerala:
- December to February is cool and dry making it ideal for touring trips. This is the peak tourist season.
- March to May is the summer season which can get hot and humid.
- May to November is the monsoon season which is regarded as the best time for ayurvedic treatments.