Kerala

Kerala is probably not the first destination that springs to mind when thinking of booking a break in the sun, but this Southern Indian State is a tropical paradise.

The land meanders along the coast providing an idyll of golden beaches and pure deep seas, the narrow strip of land becomes a maze of backwaters, rivers and canals that irrigate the lush greenery of the inland regions, these beautiful lowlands finally rising up into the majestic mountainous Ghats.

The sense of the mysterious is never far away, with hills clad in exotic spices, coconut groves and a plethora of wildlife that calls this amazing land home, Kerala is filled with the imprint of travellers that have come before, trading routes have created a land filled with the unexpected, cultures that have melded to create perfection and a sense of wellbeing that will fill your very soul.

Spice Village in Thekkadi is a great place to learn about the nature of the region, the resident naturalist loves to share his knowledge, guiding you around the extensive gardens that surround the holiday cottages of the resort; although quite remote, there is little that isn’t provided within the grounds making this the perfect place to escape into a completely different world.

Cochin is one of the main towns of the region and has many great places to stay, including plenty of great value hostels and guesthouses that have been established since backpacking through the region first became popular; this is the place to head to if you want to visit Kerala on a budget.

There is little in the way of restaurant culture in Kerala, however most of the hotels are open to non-residents and generally serve a high standard of regional cuisine; the abundance of seafood, coconuts and spices makes for a flavoursome menu, the one notable thing about the region is that due to the wider cultural influences there are less taboos regarding the eating of various meats.

Cochin has probably the widest variety of restaurants in the country and offers a reasonably good choice, Malabar House not only serves excellent freshly cooked food at spectacular prices but also has is licensed to serve alcohol; the Old Courtyard may be unlicensed but is worth visiting for the daily special ‘catch of the day’, which almost always is served in a huge banana leaf.

At first viewing Bekal Beach appears to be nothing more than a beautiful coastal area with long golden beaches and attractive parkland, but during the weekends this unassuming destination comes alive with visitors, as local families make the most of their leisure time – not ones to do anything quietly they make themselves known, the sheer sense of enjoyment is a sight to behold and more importantly to participate in.

No visit to Kerala is complete without a cruise along the backwaters and rivers, the peace and tranquillity that surrounds you as you glide along these quiet waters is pure poetry; the villagers that crowd the shores as you pass by will charm you into staying with them as the sunsets against the most perfect of views.

The climate in Kerala is influenced by its close proximity to the equator, the rains come frequently throughout the year but without them the beauty of the land would be lost, October to February is the best time for the unseasoned traveller to visit as the relentless heat and humidity that sometimes fills the air is yet to come, it is however still subject to tropical heat on the lower ground.

Inland towards the hilly regions has a much more forgiving climate, but as most tourists will want to enjoy the beauty of the lowlands, the climate there should always also be taken into consideration.

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