Photo Credits- Arian Zwegers
Kerala can be classified as Paradise on Earth. It is a state that has a perfect mix of touristic pleasures. Be it for honeymoon, leisure, adventure, relaxation, vacation, or pilgrimage, there is something for everyone here. Medical tourism is high in the state. Kerala has an impressive number of Ayurvedic treatment centres.
Visitors from around the world visit Kerala to take these treatments and also go sightseeing. When in Kerala, there is no dearth of cultural tours as well. The unique culture of the region must be witnessed. There are plenty of festivals celebrated here. Kerala’s tradition has a rich legacy behind it.
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From the eternal palm fringed shoreline of Kovalam, to the lush unbound greenery at Munnar, the beauty of Kerala is uninterrupted. The backwaters of Kumarakom are amongst the most romantic destinations in the world. The intriguing forests of Thekkady enchant you with their pristine beauty. It is an exemplary fact that Kerala which is a narrow strip of land can hold such astonishing biodiversity. The following are some of the best Kerala tour packages that you can look into for the best experience in Kerala.
5 Places to see in Alleppey:
1. Exotic sights on an Alleppey houseboat
Photo Credits- Wikipedia
The backwaters of Kerala are among the most picturesque destinations in India and places to visit in Kerala.. These backwaters are actually a network of waterways. They flow in from the inland coast of Kerala.
Traditionally and even to this date, these waterways serve as a means of transport. Snake boat races are held here annually. The fringes of the backwaters have astonishing biodiversity. Villages, wildlife and homes exist amidst the lush surroundings.
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Houseboat Tours are arranged by private tour operators to travel through these backwaters. Each houseboat has all the amenities needed for basic travel. An on-board chef and his assistants cook delicious meals for you. Alternatively, the State Water Transport Department ferries public boats for transportation. You can hop on to one of these boats for an inexpensive way to see the backwaters.
Alleppey in Kerala is where you need to go when on Kerala luxury tour packages. There are plenty of houseboat service providers here offering houseboats on rent for a day to even several weeks. You can choose a houseboat service based on recommendations.
2. Alleppey Beach
Photo Credit- Shankara Subra Datta
Also known as the Venice of the East, Alleppey is full of waterways and . It is common to see boat races being held here often. Tourists from all over the world come to enjoy backwater vacations in Kerala. The Alleppey Beach is one of the many attractions here. This place is a well-known picnic spot.
The locals here visit this place for a one-day vacation. The highlight of the beach is the pier which extends into the sea. It is believed that the pier is a century old. A park named Vijaya Beach Park is located here. Plenty of entertainment options are available in the beach park.
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Near the beach there is a beacon of light for ships called the Alappuzha Lighthouse. You can visit this lighthouse that offers a panoramic view of the sea. Alappuzha Sea Bridge was once an important connecting bridge, but now its remains can be seen here. Many movies have been shot at this beach. So don’t be surprised if you see a movie shooting here.
3. Marari Beach
Photo Credits- Wikipedia
This is another beach in Alappuzha. It is only 11 kilometres from the town. A quiet little town named Mararikulam is located here and hence the name Marari Beach, beautiful places to visit in kerala, includes this. The village is a great venue for relaxation. There are some resorts in this area. The Marari Beach Resort is one. Erandia Marari is another concept resort offering ayurvedic treatments.
There are plenty of things to do here. You can play games. Beach volleyball and football are popular games here. There are certain sections in the sea that are shallow. You can stand in these sections to feel the waves lashing against you. If you are going as part of a tour package, you can ask for a trip on the sea on one of the local fishermen boats.
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These boats venture deep into the seas. You need not go into mid-sea. Only a short distance would do. Fishermen boats are expertly rowed. Fishermen are professionals in understanding the tides even if they are not trained. So you are taken on these expeditions when the tides are favourable for such activities.
4. Kuttanad Backwaters
The geographical position of Kuttanad is unique. This place is nestled between the hills and the sea. Long stretches of waterways characterise this place. Kuttanad is often considered the epicentre of backwater tourism given the plenitude of lakes and canals here. You will see numerous paddy fields here.
Cultivation of paddy is a prominent activity. Bordering the backwaters, these paddy fields are the main source of boiled rice – one of the favourite foods in the state.
The backwaters here are picturesque. For international tourists, these waterways as nothing short of paradise. To reach Kuttanad you have to reach Alappuzha. You can take a bus or train from the Alappuzha bus station or railway station to get here. From the international airport in Cochin, the distance to this place is 85 kilometres.
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Kuttanad is a land of rivers. Four rivers flow through this region. When on a backwater trip through the waterways, you can see the rich biodiversity that envelopes this region.
5. St. Mary's Forane Church
Image Credit: Wiki
This church is a popular place of pilgrimage for Christians in the state, country, and all over the world. The existence of this church is centuries old.
Documents revealing the existence of this church under the regime of Sakthan Thampuran in the late 1700s exist. During the medieval period, the region of Kerala was divided into several provinces. Each jurisdiction was ruled by separate kings. Koratty Kaimal was one such landlord family that ruled over certain regions. It is believed that this church came about with their initiative.
A popular attraction here is the Annual Feast held in the month of October. The Koratty Muth feast is another highlight of this feast. Everyone is invited irrespective of their caste, creed or religion.
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A grand procession takes place during this time. The St. Mary's Forane Church is located in the cultural centre of Kerala namely Thrissur at Koratty. You can submit a prayer request online on the church’s website. Regular prayers are held for the faith.
5 Places to see in Munnar:
6. Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
Photo Credit- Vijay Sonar
Located in the Western Ghats, the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the rain shadow region. The biodiversity of this place is its calling card. A number of plants and animals have made this forest their home. Presenting a natural environment and habitat for such plant and animal species, the wildlife sanctuary is a great place to see plenty of wildlife.
There is dry thorny vegetation here. This thorn foliage exists in conjunction with deciduous forests. There are also grasslands that are interspersed in between. The sanctuary is equally represented by hillocks and cliffs. A combination of rocky, thorny and lush terrain makes the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary a varied geographical location.
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There are more than 200 species of birds here. Located at Marayur in Munnar, this sanctuary is one of the finest in the country. There is plenty to see and explore here. You are never short of sightseeing attractions. Every moment at the wildlife sanctuary is exciting.
7. Eravikulam National Park
Photo Credit- Dominik Bartsch
This national park is located in Idukki district. Situated in the Western Ghats, this national park is in contention of being listed in the World Heritage Site list by UNESCO. The Eravikulam National Park is at an altitude of more than 2000 metres. The geographical make-up of this place is a combination of hills, grasslands and rocky terrain.
This forest is famous for having more than 26 species of mammals when one is looking for Kerala tour packages. When you visit this place do not forget to see the Nilgiri Tahr. The wildlife sanctuary is home to tigers, leopards, jackals, wild dogs, sambhars and gaurs. More than 130 species of birds are found here. This national park is among the most colourful given that more than 100 species of butterflies are bred and conserved here.
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Recently the Eravikulam National Park made news. A new species of frog was found here. The reddish-orange textured frog had short limbs and numerous glands. The terrain of this region is diverse and intriguing. A visit to this forest leaves you pleasantly exhilarated.
8. Mattupetty Dam
This is a picturesque dam in the hills of Kerala. Being a gravity dam made of concrete, the water in the Mattupetty Dam is used to generate hydro-electric power. Water is available in this dam throughout the year. This aspect has led to a teeming bird and animal population in the regions surrounding this structure.
The dam is within walking distance from the Anamudi Peak. Located in the lush green hills of Munnar, the dam is a natural retreat centre. From the regions surrounding the dam, you can choose any spot for a vacation. Lush green hills that roll in abundance characterise this place. If you are interested in boating the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) arranges ferry rides.
There is also a dairy farm close-by. Managed by the Indo-Swiss Livestock Organisation, you can see plenty of livestock here that have a huge yielding capacity. The dam is only 13 kilometres from Munnar. The nearest railway station is at Ernakulam.
9. Echo Point
Echo Point is yet another scenic location situated about 15 kilometres from Munnar. When you stand at this place and clap, a natural echo phenomenon takes place. Sound waves travel far and wide bounce against mountains and boulders and come back.
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Apart from experiencing the echo phenomenon, you can also do nature trails here. Adventure tourism is high in this part of the world. Plenty of trekking trails are available. The place is full of trekking and hiking enthusiasts. Many of them camp here for several days.
The freshness of the mountain air is unmistakable for visitors on the Kerala tour packages. This is the purest environment you could ever be in. The hills are almost always clad in mist.
During the early mornings, the scenic beauty that this place offers is breathtaking. Standing at the Echo Point gives you a panoramic view of the mountains that adjoin it. Shout, clap and sing as much as you want. Feel the sound reverberate into the green abyss of the valley.
10. Tea Museum
The Tea Museum is yet another idyllic location in the rolling hilly sections of Munnar. Tata Tea opened this museum to showcase different aspects of tea production. In the museum you see machinery and photographs. Each artifact encloses significant information on the genesis of tea production in the state.
Located in the Nallathanni Estate, the museum is a commemoration of tea pioneers who were determined to make Munnar a salient location for tea plantation.
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One of the interesting displays here is the tea roller which is in a rudimentary form. This is probably the star attraction in the museum. This equipment dates back to 1905 when it was used in tea production. A photograph shows a fully automatic tea production and manufacturing unit. As a visitor to the museum you can enquire about the different stages of tea processing.
Visiting the Tea Museum is a nice off-beat activity when visiting Munnar in general. It gives you an insight into the tea production history of this region.
5 Places to see in Wayanad:
11. Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary
Tholpetty forest is a well-known wildlife sanctuary in Kerala. Located in the Wayanad district and in Mananthavady, this sanctuary is home to plenty of wild animals, mammals and birds. Tholpetty and its twin sanctuary the Muthanga forest are the most visited in Wayanad. The biodiversity here is amazing.
The rolling hills and the lush plains constantly beckon you to explore it. You are enticed to explore these regions again and again. Such is the vastness and verdant authenticity of these regions.
The unique terrain of the sanctuary is an idyllic location for wildlife and its proliferation. The climatic conditions are moderate.
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Eco-tourism is widespread in this area. You can see herds of elephants in plenty. Gaurs are visible by the day. Tigers appear during the dawn and late evening time. You can see them resting in their natural habitat beside water bodies during the day. The forest is home to plenty of medicinal plants. The foliage here is exotic. You are in for a surreal experience.
12. Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary
This forest is located 16 km from Sulthan Bathery in Wayanad district. The highlights of the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary are the impressive number of elephants. These freely roaming herds of elephants capture your attention given their unique and majestic lifestyle habits. Deer are found in plenty too. You can see lots of them everywhere.
Visit this place on a jeep safari to see wild elephants from a safe distance. Muthanga forest comes under the Project Elephant conservation effort. It is part of a network of wildlife sanctuaries. The other forests connected to this one are Nagarhole and Bandipur.
Tigers are not as prominent as elephants and deer here. You could spot a tiger occasionally here. The forest is spread over 300 sq km. It is home to rich flora and fauna. If you love watching elephants then you have to visit this forest.
Wild animals are majestic creatures. Their natural habitat has to be respected. Elephants are also unpredictable. The forest department manages all excursions into the forest based on prevalent behaviour of herds.
13. Banasura Sagar Dam
Photo Credit- Bharath Shankar
The Banasura Sagar Dam is a huge encampment of water located in Wayanad. It is 21 km from Kalpetta. Being the biggest earthen dam in the country, the regions surrounding this dam are ideal for adventure activities. Scenic locations with plenty of trekking trails and camping sites characterise these regions. Due to these aspects, the dam is an important destination for tourism.
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A set of islands exists inside the dam. These islands are rich in biodiversity. A ferry ride takes you to one of them. Being on one of these land masses is a unique experience. Feel marooned on an island with water on all four sides. You could even think of taking a permanent sabbatical in such idyllic locations.
The Banasura Hill is a popular trekking spot. The hill offers plenty of trekking trails for amateur and professional trekkers. There is a resort on this hill that is the largest earthen resort in Asia. Tourists can go for water sport activities such as speed boating and paddling in the dam.
14. Meenmutty Falls, Kalpetta
Photo Credit- Hari Sudaram
Meenmutty Falls in Kalpetta, Wayanad has been frequently voted as amongst the best waterfalls in the region and even in the country. On first impression, it is a gorgeous waterfall. The lush greenery that surrounds this cascade is a perfect foil for this natural artistry created by nature.
The 300 metre cascade gushes creating a thunderous sound. This is the second largest waterfall in the state. More than being the second largest, the highlight of this cascade is its unparalleled beauty.
There is a section of the falls where water rises upwards. Fish cannot swim further from here. Hence ‘fish are blocked here’. In Malayalam, the language of Kerala, it means Meenmutty. The waterfalls have three tiers. Each tier is as brilliant as the other. There are some ancient caves in this region.
These caves have carvings from the Neolithic Age. From this it is evident that this region was once inhabited by prehistoric human beings. A famous cave called Edakkal is here.
15. Pookode Lake
Photo Credit- Akhil Mekkatt
This lake is a picturesque fresh water lake. Around the Pookode Lake you will find mountains, hills and evergreen forests. A boating experience on the lake is an out-of-the-world experience when visiting Kerala.
On the lines of a houseboat experience on the Vembanad Lake, this lake is also one of the most romantic destinations in the world. Located 15 km from Kalpetta, the lake is the origin of Panamaram, which is a rivulet that confluences with the Kabini River. An interesting trivia of this lake is its shape. The shape of the lake has a resemblance to the map of India.
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Nestled amongst hills, this is a fresh water lake with perennial water. The lake is home to a species of fish not found anywhere else in the world. Named the Pethia pookodensis, this lake has an abundance of this species. You can find plenty of lotus plants here too. The forests surrounding the Pookode Lake are home to rich flora and fauna.
5 Places to see in Kumarakom:
16. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Photo Credit- Smudge 0000- Flickr
This sanctuary is also known as the Vembanad Bird Sanctuary. The pristine Vembanad Lake is the perfect habitat for various species of birds. The regions on the fringes of the lake are rich in biodiversity. They attract numerous birds given that these regions provide a natural habitat for them. The bird sanctuary is located at Kumarakom in Kottayam district.
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When you are at the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary you can go on a guided tour. Accompanying you is an ornithologist who explains to you the finer details of bird lifestyles. Spread over 14 acres, this place is home to the heron, kite, darter, Siberian crane, and lark. You can see several birds during their migratory season.
Some of them come from as far off as the Himalayas and even Siberia. The ideal time to pay a visit to see these birds is during dawn. This is the time when birds leave their resting places and fly out to find food. Trekking in this sanctuary during the sunrise is a fun way to watch birds.
17. Kumarakom Beach
This beach is an ideal location to relax, play beach sports, and engage in water sport activities such as surfing. When you arrive here it is common to see people enjoying activities such as water skiing, and frisbee.
If you have come as part of an adventure club, this is the perfect location to try parasailing. Some of the exciting adventure sporting activities you can try is water polo, swimming, and wind surfing.
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There are plenty of resorts alongside the beach. These resorts provide a range of spa treatments when on Kerala tour packages. They are the perfect way to relax amidst all this fun. The area surrounding the Kumarakom Beach has plenty of nature trails. These regions have good camping sites as well. For trekkers and campers, they could not have asked for anything better.
You can also go on houseboat cruises on the backwaters of Kumarakom. You can follow up your visit to the beach with some serene time exploring the backwaters.
18. Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls
Located in Kottayam district in Kerala, this waterfall is one of the most fascinating and enchanting cascades that you will ever see. Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls are better known to be a great picnic spot. The regions around this cascade are excellent sites for trekking and camping.
The waterfall is multi-tiered and magnificent. The height of the cascade is about 100 feet. The water gushes out of the rubber plantations and forces itself amongst rocks and boulders before slapping hard on the ground. The sound created by the water is music to your ears.
You are inundated by the pleasant roar of a natural beauty. A church is situated atop the waterfall. Called the St. Mary’s Church, it is an age-old church. Therefore this waterfall is also a place of worship for people. The waterfall is located at about 22 km from Kottayam town. You can come to this place on your own or by public transport. This is a popular picnic spot for locals as well. So you always see visitors here.
19. Backwater Cruise, Kumarakom
Photo Credit- Ram Reddy
Kumarakom is known to be one of the most scenic backwater destinations in the world. A trip through the various canals, lagoons and waterways of this place is enough to get you pleasantly dazed with the astonishing beauty. The serenity, tranquillity and beauty of the place are astonishing and all-pervasive.
The backwaters are panoramic given that you can see lush greenery on the fringes all around. The green paddy fields are enticing to the eye. The network of waterways finally joins the Vembanad Lake.
You can go on boat cruises on these backwaters. Numerous homes have been constructed alongside the banks of these waterways. The common mode of transportation for these homes is boats.
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You can travel in one of these boats. But there are no safety precautions given that these boats are private ones. You are expected to know how to swim in case of a mishap. The best way to hitch a sail is to take the public transport service.
Kottayam has many tourist attractions. Venimala is a hill station located 15 km from Kottayam town. In this hill station two old temples are present. They are the Lord Sreerama and Lekshmana temples that are constructed in the belief that Lord Rama and his brother visited this place. Another hill station is Matrumala which offers scenic panoramic views.
Kallara is a village in Kottayam with vast stretches of paddy fields. Waterways connect this village with Vaikom and Kumarakom. These places to visit in kerala, can be travelled by boat .
You can visit Alapra which is a quiet hamlet located in the forest when on Kerala tour packages. There is a small temple in the jungle visited by pilgrims. This place is full of rocks, water streams and waterfalls. Padayani Festival at Alapra is a cultural and religious event held at the Thacharickal Bhagavathi shrine.
The Ponthanpuzha Forest is in close vicinity to Alapra. This forest has plenty of deer, fox, pythons, and avifauna. There are a dozen and more small rivulets that flow through this fores.
5 Places to see in Cochin:
21. Kerala Kathakali Centre
Photo Credit- Prashanth Chandran
Kathakali is one of the oldest dancing theatrical forms in the world. Originated in Kerala, the Kerala Kathakali Centre is the place to be visit in Kerala to see this ancient performing art in its finest manifestation.
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Out of the many Kathakali dance centres in Cochin, this is one among them. The Kerala Kathakali Centre renders training in Kathakali. Regular dance programmes and rehearsals are held. Kathakali is popularly performed on mythological stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
This centre is located in Fort Cochin. The highlight of this dance form is the make-up of the performers. Elaborately dressed and made up, these dancers become qualified after rigorous training. More than hand and leg movements, Kathakali employs gestures that are intricate.
A story is conveyed through eye and eyebrow movements and subtle and graceful use of arms and body. Pamphlets are distributed on this dance form to the people who visit the centre. This brochure encloses more information on this theatrical dance form.
22. Folklore Museum
Located at Thevara in Ernakulam the Folklore Museum is a three storeyed building that houses artifacts that depict the folklore history and heritage of Kerala. The museum displays expositions that convey the artistic splendour of Kerala’s numerous dance forms. Several artifacts that were used historically in such art and dance acts are on display.
You see masks, carvings in wood, stone, traditional ornaments, musical instruments, and ancient manuscripts. There are some utensils belonging to the Stone Age that have been preserved here.
The building itself is uniquely architected combining architectural styles of many regions in Kerala. For instance, the entrance is designed from the remains of a 16th century shrine. The first floor of the building is named Kalithattu. On this floor you see costumes of traditional dance forms displayed.
Some of the popular dance forms of Kerala apart from Kathakali are Theyyam and Mohiniyattam. Visiting this place gives you a sense of the rich cultural heritage prevalent in the state. It showcases the diversity and integrity of the culture of India for international visitors.
23. Fort Kochi
Fort Kochi is a historic town in Cochin. The best way to explore it on Kerala tour packages would be on foot. Essentially an island region, there is history in each nook and corner of this region. On the K. J. Herschel Road you can visit Fort Immanuel. This place belonged to the Portuguese.
It is a tribute to the bond that existed between the rulers of Cochin and the Monarch of Portugal. A bit further on the road is the Dutch cemetery. This region contains the tombstones of the Dutch people who left their homeland to build a colony outside of it.
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The Thakur House is your next destination. Another structure named David Hall is in close vicinity. The hall is built in commemoration of Hendrik Drakeston who is known for his book on the biodiversity of the state. Walk on till you reach the Vasco da Gama Square. Over here you see numerous street-side shops that sell tasty seafood. You can also drink some tender coconut water which is available in plenty here.
24. Chinese Fishing Nets
Also called Cheena Vala these fishing nets are an unusual way to catch fish. The fishing nets are affixed on land. Lift nets operated from the shore hold out nets into the sea. The nets cover a distance of more than 20 metres. A fishing net is about 10 metres high. Up to six people operate one fishing net. A man walks along the main beam as it bends into the waters. The net stays in the water for some time. It is then raised using ropes.
It is believed that these fishing nets were originally installed by Zheng He who was an explorer from China. Now Cheena Vala is a popular tourist attraction. When you visit this place, you can see fishermen actually operating this age-old equipment and catching fish and crustaceans.
You may not be allowed to operate the fishing net. Such fishing nets are also used in Vietnam. Watching this ancient way to catch fish still being practised in the modern era is a phenomenal sight.
25. Kodanad Elephant Training Centre
This elephant training centre is located 45 km from Ernakulam. It is 12 km from the Perumbavoor town. The Kodanad Elephant Training Centre is one of the largest in the state. Apart from housing numerous elephants, the place is peaceful and picturesque. You can see these beautiful and majestic creatures in such verdant settings. There is a small zoo in the region. Explore the flora and fauna of the place in this zoo.
At this training centre, you can see how elephants are domesticated to do various civil works. Elephants are used extensively in logging, carry goods from the ground onto a truck, in festivals, and more. They are also trained to be good riding animals when taken on safaris. Trained elephants are dispatched on duty either on rent, lease, or purchase. You can take a guide along with you who explains and translates what mahouts say about the ways and lifestyle of these gigantic animals.
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