Kerala is a state on the tropical Malabar Coast of south-western India. Nicknamed as one of the “10 paradises of the world” by National Geographic, Kerala is famous especially for its Eco-tourism initiatives. Its unique culture and traditions, coupled with its varied demography, has made it one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Growing at a rate of 13.31%, the tourism industry significantly contributes to the state’s economy. Kerala is known for its tropical backwaters and pristine beaches such as Kovalam.
Popular attractions in the state include the beaches at Kovalam, Kappad, Muzhuppilangad, Cherai and Varkala; the hill stations of Munnar, Thekkady, Nelliampathi, Ponmudi and Wayanad; forts like the Bekal Fort in Kanhangad and St. Angelo’s Fort in Kannur and the National Parks/ Wildlife sanctuaries at Periyar andEravikulam. The “backwaters” region—an extensive network of interlocking rivers, lakes, and canals that centre on Alleppey, Kumarakom, and Punnamada also see heavy tourist traffic. Heritage sites, such as the Hill Palace, Mattancherry Palace are also famous. Cities such as Kollam, Kochi, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Trivandrum are popular centres for shopping and traditional theatrical performance. The Grand Kerala Shopping Festival (GKSF) claimed to be Asia’s largest shopping festival was started in the year 2007. Since then it has become an annual shopping event being conducted in the December–January period. During this period stores and shops registered under the GKSF offer wide range of discounts, vat refunds etc. Along with the guaranteed shopping experience, shoppers are provided with gift coupons for a fixed worth of purchase entering them into weekly and mega lucky draws. As compared to shopping festivals being held in other countries, this Festival converts the entire state of Kerala into a giant shopping mall, incorporating not just the big players, but also the small and medium scale industries. The state’s tourism agenda promotes ecologically sustained tourism, which focuses on the local culture, wilderness adventures, volunteering and personal growth of the local population. Efforts are taken to minimise the adverse effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment, and enhance the cultural integrity of local people.
1. Kerala Backwaters
The Kerala backwaters are a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast (known as the Malabar Coast) of Kerala state in southern India. The network includes five large lakes linked by canals, both man made and natural, fed by 38 rivers, and extending virtually half the length of Kerala state.
The backwaters have a unique ecosystem – freshwater from the rivers meets the seawater from the Arabian Sea. In certain areas, such as the Vembanad Kayal, where a barrage has been built near Kumarakom, salt water from the sea is prevented from entering the deep inside, keeping the fresh water intact. Such fresh water is extensively used for irrigation purposes.
Many unique species of aquatic life including crabs, frogs and mudskippers, water birds such as terns, kingfishers, darters andcormorants, and animals such as otters and turtles live in and alongside the backwaters. Palm trees, pandanus shrubs, various leafy plants and bushes grow alongside the backwaters, providing a green hue to the surrounding landscape.
Wayanad district stands in the southern tip of the Deccan Plateau and its chief glory is the majestic Western Ghatswith lofty ridges interspersed with dense forest, tangled jungles and deep valleys. In the centre of the district hills are lower in height while the northern area has high hills and they give a wild and mountainous appearance. The eastern area is flat and open.The region was known as Mayakshetra (Maya’s land) in the earliest records. Mayakshetra evolved into Mayanad and finally to Wayanad. The Folk etymology of the word says it is a combination of Vayal (paddy field) and Naad (land), making it ‘The Land of Paddy Fields’. There are many indigenous tribals in this area.It is set high on the Western Ghats with altitudes ranging from 700 to 2100 m.
Wayanad is the only district in Kerala that shares border with both the neighboring states Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Wayanad shares border with Kozhikode, Kannur, and Malappuram districts in Kerala; Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu; and Chamarajanagar, Mysore, and Kodagu (Coorg) districts in Karnataka.
Varkala is a coastal town and municipality in Thiruvananthapuram district situated in the Indian state of Kerala. It is the suburban town of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum city). It is located 50 kilometres (approx. 32 miles) north-west of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) and 37 km south-west of Kollam city.Varkala is the only place in southern Kerala where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea. These Cenozoic sedimentary formation cliffs are a unique geological feature on the otherwise flat Kerala coast, and is known among geologists as Varkala Formation and a geological monument as declared by the Geological Survey of India. There are numerous water spouts and spas on the sides of these cliffs.
Varkala is also famous for the 2,000-year old Janardana Swami Temple which is an important Vaishnavaite shrine in India and is often referred to as Dakshin Kashi (Benares of the South). The temple is located close to thePapanasam beach, which is considered to have holy waters which wash away sins, and is also an important Ayurveda treatment centre. The temple has an ancient bell removed from a shipwreck, donated by the captain of the Dutch vessel which sank near Varkala without causing any casualties.
4. Periyar National Park
Periyar National Park and Wild
life Sanctuary (PNP) is a protected area in the districts of Idukki and Pathanamthitta in Kerala, India. It is notable as an elephant reserve and a tiger reserve. The protected area covers an area of 925 km2 (357 sq mi). 350 km2 (140 sq mi) of the core zone was declared as the Periyar National Park in 1982.
The park is often called the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary or Thekkady. It is located high in the Cardamom Hills andPandalam Hills of the southern Western Ghats along the border with Tamil Nadu. It is 4 km (2.5 mi) from Kumily, approximately 100 km (62 mi) east of Kottayam, 110 km (68 mi) west of Madurai and 120 km (75 mi) southeast of Kochi.
5. Eddakal Caves
Edakkal Caves are two natural caves at a remote location at Edakkal, 25 km from Kalpettain the Wayanad district of Kerala in India‘s Western Ghats. They lie 1,200 metres above sea level on Ambukutty Mala, beside an ancient trade route connecting the high mountains of Mysore to the ports of the Malabar coast. Inside the caves are pictorial writings believed to date to at least 6,000 BC, from the Neolithic man, indicating the presence of a prehistoric civilization or settlement in this region.The Stone Age carvings of Edakkal are rare and are the only known examples from south India.
Anamudi or Anaimudi (Malayalam pronunciation: [aːnɐmʊɖi]) is located in the Indian state Kerala. It is the highest peak in the Western Ghats and South India, at an elevation of 2,695 metres (8,842 ft), and a topographic prominence of 2,479 metres (8,133 ft). The name Anamudi literally translates to “elephant’s forehead,” a reference to the resemblance of the mountain to an elephant’s head.
The peak is not exceptionally dramatic in terms of steepness or local relief and is a Fault-block mountain. It is located in the southern region of Eravikulam National Park at the junction of the Cardamom Hills, the Anaimalai Hillsand the Palani Hills. The nearest town is Munnar, 13 kilometres (8.1 mi). The easiest route to the summit of Anamudi is a technically easy hike on grass slopes, starting from a rolling hill plateau with a base elevation of about 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). The north and south slopes are gentle, while the east and west slopes are steeper, with more difficult rock faces.
7. Allapuzha Beach
The beach has a small park nearby. Alappuzha Lighthouse stands near the beach which is also an interesting spot for tourists. Remains of Alappuzha Sea Bridge, which is in ruins, are still there as a memory of the good old days when Alappuzha port was one of the most famous and important ports in Kerala. The Sea Bridge enabled the passage of goods came via ships.
The beach is one of the best beach locations for movies. Movies like Thashan, sura etc. were shot here partially. Alappuzha is referred to as the Venice of the East by travellers from across the world. This Backwater Country is also home to diverse animal and bird life. By virtue of its proximity to the sea, the town has always enjoyed a unique place in the maritime history of Kerala.
8. Vembanad Lake
Vembanad (Vembanad Kayal or Vembanad Kol) is the longest lake in India, and the largest lake in the state of Kerala. It is also counted as one of the largest lakes in India. A lake spanning several districts in the state of Kerala, it is known by different names in different localities viz. Punnamada Lake in Kuttanad, Kochi Lake in Kochi. The Port of Kochi is located around two islands (the Willingdon Island and Vallarpadam) in a portion of this lake known as the Kochi Lake. The celebrated Nehru Trophy Boat Race is conducted in a portion of this lake; in the Kuttanad region, known as thePunnamada Lake. High levels of pollution have been noticed at certain hotspots of the Vembanad backwaters. Government of India has identified the Vembanad wetland under National Wetlands Conservation Programme.
The Vembanad wetland system covers an area of over 2033.02 km² thereby making it the largest wetland system in India. Of this, an area of 398.12 km² is located below the MSL and a total of 763.23 km² area is located below 1 m MSL. The lake is bordered by Alappuzha, Kottayam, andErnakulam districts. It is situated at the sea level, and is separated from the Arabian Sea by a narrow barrier island.
Ponmudi (Malayalam: പൊന്മുടി) (the Golden Peak) is a hill station in the Thiruvananthapuram districtof Kerala in India. Its located 55.2 km north-east of Trivandrum city at an altitude of 1100 m. It is a part of the Western Ghats mountain range that runs parallel to the Arabian Sea.
Ponmudi is blessed with scenic splendor and natural beauty, Ponmudi has a carpet of thick tropical forest that rolls down to the foot of the hill range. No doubt, the salubrious atmosphere and the twisted trails across clear streams must have contributed to her health.
A hill resort close to the sea, Ponmudi is idyllic with narrow, winding pathways and cool, green, wooded environs. Located at about 915 ft above the sea level, Ponmudi is home to many beautiful mountain flowers, exotic butterflies, springs and rivulets. The region is also occupied by spice and tea plantations and is dotted with waterfalls and view points. This hill destination is ideal for long walks and treks.
Thekkady in Kerala State , India ‘s largest wildlife sanctuary is a dream destination for any tourist visiting India .
The 120 years old ‘Surki’ dam built across Peryiar, Poorna in Vedic parlance, is a major tourist attraction. This sanctuary is spread over an area of 777 Sq.Kms, surrounded by an artificial lake over an area of 25 Sq.Kms.The Country’s sole Tiger reserve, Thekkady, with its bountiful treasures of tropical flora and fauna is the ultimate reservoir of many an endangered species and a rich tribal culture. Thekkady is a pleasant heaven on earth for those who love nature in its wild manifestations.
Thekkady is a perfect retreat for anyone who loves adventure, fun, wildlife and nature. Nestled between the ever-green and semi-evergreen forests of Western Ghats, Thekkady has so many things to offer for the tourists who visit this place. In the biggest wildlife sanctuary, you can sight Asian elephants, bison, sambar deer, boars, tigers, leopards, wild squirrels, lion tailed monkeys etc.
The name Munnar is believed to mean “three rivers”, referring to the location at the confluence of the Madhurapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly rivers. Munnar town is situated on the Kannan Devan Hills village in Devikulam taluk and is the largest panchayat in the Idukki district in Kerala having an area measuring nearly 557 km². The nearest major railway stations are at Ernakulam and Aluva (approximately 140 kilometres (87 mi) by road). The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, which is 105 kilometres (65 mi) away.
Munnar is a beautiful hill station, and was the summer resort of the British. Tourists come here to see the vast tea plantations of the area. The town itself is typically Indian with the usual shops, guest houses and is really beautiful and traditional. It is a good place to stay to see the surrounding countryside. It is also a popular place for Indian honeymooners.
Kumarakom is a popular tourism destination located near the city of Kottayam (16 kilometres (10 mi)), in Kerala, India, famous for its backwater tourism. It is set in the backdrop of the Vembanad Lake which is the largest freshwater lake in the state of Kerala.
Kumarakom is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is a noted bird sanctuary where many species of migratory birds visit. The Vembanad Lake, the largest backwater in Kerala, is habitat for many marine and freshwater fish species and it teems with Karimeen (Pearl spot) shrimp common name Poovalan chemeen. The bird sanctuary extends over 14 acres (57,000 m²), and came into existence following preservation efforts from the government. It is a very beautiful place to live. It is a major tourist attraction.
An enchanting backwater destination, Kumarakom offers visitors many other leisure options. Boating and fishing facilities are available at the Taj Garden Retreat, a sprawling old bungalow-turned-resort.
Waterscapes, the backwater resort of the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation has independent cottages built on stilts, set amidst coconut groves and panoramic view of the backwaters. Holiday packages involving houseboats, traditional Kettuvalloms (rice barges) offer great experiences.
Vagamon is a hill station located in Kottayam- Idukki border of Kerala. It has a cool climate with the temperature between 10-23°C during a summer midday. It is situated 1,100 metres above sea level.
Vagamon hill station is a combination of beautiful hillocks, valleys and cascading waterfalls that make it the wonderful getaway for tourists. The hill station has a chain of 3 hills called Thangal hill, Murugan hill and Kurismala that makes the hill even more attractive for the tourists.
The Vagamon hill station is very different from the other hill stations in Kerala. Besides, being know for their natural beauty, the place also offers us to consider the place for our spiritual mind. The peaceful surroundings with cool and soft breeze blowing across the valley makes it a perfect place for meditation and yoga.