Since the time of ancient Greece, Europeans have been seduced by the fecundity, vibrancy and cultural sophistication of India’s far southwest – an intensely tropical region known to outsiders as ‘Malabar’, and to its inhabitants as simply ‘Kerala’ – ‘Land of the Chera Kings’. Black pepper was the reason foreigners originally came here. Now it’s Kerala’s dreamy beaches, serene backwater lagoons, forested mountains and abundant wildlife that are the prime incentives, along with the chance to experience one of the oldest and most traditional cultures in Asia.
For despite being a go-ahead, modern state, with the country’s highest levels of literacy, it’s also among the most culturally conservative. Religion is very much in the foreground – whether Hindu, Muslim or Christianity (of which there are numerous denominations, some dating back to the time of St Thomas the Apostle). And clothing tends to be traditional, with knee-length, gold-and-green-edged mundus worn by as many men as Western-style trousers. Festivals, too, play a prominent part in the region’s calendar, particularly during winter months, when ear-splitting drum orchestras and processions of richly decorated elephants are a common sight around temples.
Kerala’s other great asset are its stylish heritage and boutique hotels. In the space of just a week, you can cruise the rivers of Kuttanad in a converted rice barge, bed down in a former tea planter’s bungalow high in the hills, and relax over an Ayurvedic massage in an antique wood nallukettu house nestled in the palm grove behind a secluded beach or backwater canal.
Such distinctive attractions – both cultural and natural – explain why National Geographic’s Traveler magazine named the state as one of their ‘Top 50 Must-See Destinations of a Lifetime’. TransIndus were among the first operators to offer trips to the region, and our local knowledge remains unrivalled.
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Places to visit in Kerala
The city of Alleppey in Kerala is an ideal location for wandering into tranquil areas of this beautiful region. Relax on a houseboat, enjoy the peaceful backwaters, and taste local home-cooked cuisine. The grids of streets and canals in t...
Eravikulam National Park
The mountains looming above the tea station of Munnar in Kerala are the highest in peninsular India, and a spectacular sight from the valley floor. Giant grey-brown crags rising above slopes of lush grass, shola forest and tea plantations,...
For centuries the hub of India’s spice and tea trade, Fort Cochin occupies the northern tip of a peninsula dividing the mouth of the Vembanad Lake from the Arabian Sea. Its low-rise, red-tiled skyline bears the imprint of its former coloni...
Almost the entire length of the Keralan coast is lined by beautiful white-sand beaches and coconut groves. Most still support robust fishing communities, whose wooden boats provide a pretty backdrop for dips in the warm surf of the Arabian...
Kovalam is a beach town in Kerala which has picture-postcard scenery - ideal for photographers and for those who like to venture to more secluded places. Besides golden sands and swaying palm trees, the town has some hidden gems which are ...
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Vembanad Lake is the largest of Kerala’s backwaters, a vast 200-square-kilometre lagoon that in calm weather is so still its horizon merges imperceptibly with the milky tropical sky. Houseboats gliding across its glassy surface appear to b...
Munnar, in east-central Kerala, is the epicentre of the state’s tea industry. Plantations of neatly manicured bushes cloak the slopes soaring above this ramshackle town, overshadowed by the dramatic bulk of Ana Mudi (2,695m), south India’s...
Periyar National Park
High in the hills of inland Kerala, the famous Periyar National Park hugs the border with Tamil Nadu. Its focal point is a convoluted reservoir on whose muddy shores herds of elephant, wild buffalo, gaur (Indian bison) and boar make freque...
Tallayar is yet another of Kerala's picturesque gems, set amongst a mountain range in the Idukki district. Lush plantations, undulating landscapes, and mountainous peaks disappearing into the heavens delight all travellers. Highlights whi...
Tellicherry (Thalassery) town in Kerala was a spice trade hub of the British East India Company and was known amongst Europeans as the 'Paris of Kerala' due to its close proximity to the French military base. Tellicherry pepper and cinnamo...
Oil massages and herbal steam baths are two of the many therapies that have been transposed with great success from traditional Ayurvedic medicine for use in modern spas. Whether in a traditional carved wood Keralan cottage or a modern des...
Up until the 1980s, large barges made of oiled jackwood and canopies of plaited palm leaves were used throughout the Kuttinad region of Kerala to transport rice and other produce through the backwaters. Now, trucks do the haulage work, but...
Keralan ritual theatre and martial art
Fostered by centuries of royal patronage, ritual theatre remains in Kerala far more than mere entertainment. In the best-known form, Kathakali, actors dressed in striking costumes and make-up enact scenes from the great epics. Performances...
Talk to the Experts
At TransIndus we are committed to quality and determined to ensure every one of our clients enjoys the best holiday possible. Having lived or worked, and travelled extensively in their specialist countries, our consultants are experts whose advice can be depended on. To make an enquiry, call us on 0208 566 3739
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