Kerala is the one State in South India that offers the traveler everything… sun and sand… backwaters and birds… forests and fauna of amazing variety. With all these choices, how do you plan a compact trip in your travel schedule to India?
Here is a terrific plan… we begin with the capital city, Thiruvananthapuram (TP for short), which is almost at the southern tip of India. Landing here is a treat because the airstrip is really close to the ocean and till you touch the ground you feel you will be landing on water! TP is also very close to Poovar, which is an incredible place where the backwaters join the sea. Not only is the sand golden, it also has grains which are large, and the wildlife on the way in the narrow river is breathtaking. Varkala, on the northern side of TP, is among India’s best-kept-secret beaches. Kovalam, of course, is TP’s most beautiful beach and the best place to stay would be near the beach on the lighthouse road. The lighthouse is fully functional and can be visited between 3 and 5 pm. Chances are you would do all these things only once in a lifetime, so plan with this in mind. And don’t miss the Travancore Palace while you’re there.
From TP it is best to take a taxi. Up north to Allepy, where you can live in a houseboat and revel in the highest degree of serenity and calm you will find on this planet. Alternatively you can take a short ride on the backwaters (3 hours or so) and be at a hotel by the beach, which is quite secluded and has a great place to eat on the beach road.
Inwards of Allepy you climb up a few thousand feet to the Periyar Tiger Reserve (Thekkady). This is best seen by boat at 7 am since the elephants, boars, deer, gaur and even tigers come out to the waterside for their mouthwash in the morning! Even if you miss the tigers, the driftwood and forest are most beautiful… a completely different experience from the waters of the sea.
Returning from Thekkady, you drive directly to Kochi, the major center of the spice trade from China to Europe. Due to this location and history, you will find an incredible collection of antiques at Jew town… from China, Indonesia, India, Egypt and Europe. And it is best to stay close to that area, rather than in Ernakulam (the mainland city-side of Kochi) which is very crowded. However, one day must be dedicated to a picnic at the Niagra falls of India – the waterfalls of Athirapally. Your mind will be amazed by the sight.
With this heady mix of experiences, guaranteed you have got the best of Keralaaah! It can be planned comfortably into 9 days – and more if you’d like to have some of the famous Kerala Ayurvedic treatments… and we recommend the ones in Kochi. Enjoy!