Kerala is where India slips down into second gear, stops to smell the roses and always talks to strangers. A strip of land between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats, its perfect climate flirts unabashedly with the fertile soil, and everything glows. An easy-going and successful socialist state, Kerala has a liberal hospitality that stands out as its most laudable achievement.

Resting on low hills in Southern Kerala, is the capital Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), used as a gateway to nearby resorts by many but boasting some of its very own attractions and dreadlocked faithfuls. North of the capital is Varkala with its stunning cliffs; but the real emerald jewel in South India’s crown are the backwaters that meander throughout Kerala. Here, spindly networks of rivers, canals and lagoons nourish a seemingly infinite number of rice paddies and coconut groves, while sleek houseboats cruise the water highways from one bucolic village to another – try stopping at Kollam (Quilon). Along the coast, slices of perfect, sandy beach beckon the sun-worshipping crowd, and far inland the mountainous Ghats are covered in vast plantations of spices and tea. Exotic wildlife also thrives in the hills, for those who need more than just the smell of cardamom growing to get their juices flowing.

This flourishing land isn’t good at keeping its secret: adventurers and traders have been in on it for years. The serene Fort Cochin pays homage to its colonial past, each building whispering a tale of Chinese visitors, Portuguese traders, Jewish settlers, Syrian Christians and Muslim merchants. Yet even with its colonial distractions, Kerala manages to cling to its vibrant traditions: Kathakali – a blend of religious play and dance; kalarippayat – a gravity-defying martial art; and theyyam – a trance-induced ritual. Combine this with some of the most tastebud-tingling cuisine in India, and you can imagine how hard it will be to leave before you even get here.

 

Best time to visit Kerala is October to March, during winter season.

Summer season – March to May it’s hot & humid in Kerala. Stay away from beaches, but hill stations of Thekkady & Munnar are still pleasant to visit. So good for budget trips.

Monsoon season – June to September – is good time for Ayurvedic treatments offered in Kerala as hotel rates are low due to heavy rains.

The state is traditionally rich in handicrafts. Owing to the abundance of forests and coconut groves in Kerala, wood, jute,coir and coconut shells traditionally remain the base of such handicrafts. A whole range of souvenirs, curios and trinkets are made from them. Artifacts made of teak, deep-wine rosewood and fragrant sandalwood make your eyes stop looking anywhere while shopping in Kerala. Buffalo horn is also popular with Kerala artisans as a raw material for the handicrafts.

Kerala is also called the land of spices. Since long past, Kerala has carved a niche of its own in the global spice market for its rich flavored spices. Spices are used in medicines, preservatives, perfumes and above all in cooking. They serve as exquisite shopping products, which enjoy international value.

Kathakali-masks made of wood or paper are also favoured by the tourists.There are a large number of private shops and government emporia, which are scattered all across the state. Kochi & Trivandrum (Tiruananthapuram) are the best places for shopping in Kerala. You can also check out the street side vendors or the artisans directly.

Some of the popular tourist shopping products in Kerala are coconut shell craft, coir items, woodcarvings, metalware, tea, coffee and spices like black pepper, cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, etc, metal inlaid wood craft, horn carvings, bamboo/jute mat paintings and kathakali masks.

Onam is the biggest festival in Kerala
Second most important festival is Vishu (New year)
Christmas & new year eve (31st Dec) celebrations are also popular in Kerala