Top Kerala

Kerala, known as God’s Own Country, is often considered one of India’s most beautiful state.  It is situated on the south western tip of the country, on the beautiful Malabar coast between the Arabian Sea and the larger states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.  It has become a sought after tourist destination, blessed with an amazing natural beauty including lovely Southern beaches, lush tropical forest and superb mountains,  as well as its unique backwaters and houseboat experience.  It has also became an increasingly popular destination for health and fitness enthusiast with its numerous yoga and Ayurvedic treatments.  It is no wonder that Kerala is often cited as one of the world’s best destinations, including as being on the top list of the National Geographic Traveller magazine "ten paradises of the world” and "One of the 100 great trips for the 21st century".  The tropical paradise of Kerala is definitely worth discovering to enjoy all it  has to offer from natural beauty to eco-tourism and health treatments.

Kerala topics

  1. Introduction
  2. Map of Kerala
  3. Top sights in Kerala
  4. Best hotels in Kerala
  5. Top cities in Kerala
  6. About Kerala
  7. Kerala images
  8. Kerala videos

Map of Kerala

Map of Kerala

View the top sights, natural wonders, cities and hotels on our Kerala interactive map with images and videos.

Map of Kerala
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The state of Kerala be divided into the following key regions from North to South:

  1. Malabar : Kerala’s northernmost region considered of the most historical destinations packed with plenty of heritage sights such as the Bekal Fort.  It is also a great place for food lovers with plenty of dishes and spices to taste.
  2. Central Kerala : known as the cultural heart of Kerala, home to Kochi, the largest urban agglomeration  and the Athirapilly waterfalls.
  3. Central Travancore : famous for being home to Kerala’s most sought after attractions, the backwaters
  4. Northern Travancore: the only one of Kerala’s sub-regions not touching the coast, it the home of hill stations and spices, tea and coffee plantations within the beautiful mountains.
  5. Southern Travancore : Kerala’s southernmost region, home to some of the regions’ most amazing beach destinations such as the Kovalam beach and the capital city of Thiruvanantapuram and its various temples, churches and other  monuments

Top sights in Kerala

For such as small state, Kerala has numerous attractions to impress its visitors, from its remarkable backwaters around Kumarakom to the idyllic palm fringed beaches next to Kovalam and Varkala, passing by hill stations and numerous historic and cultural sights such as the Bekal Fort or the charming town such as Kochi.  It is proud of its breathtaking natural beauty, a perfect mix forest, waters and mountains, as well as being the first Indian state to make tourism an industry and bring to life various ecotourism initiatives.

Some of the most sought after sights in Kerala include in alphabetic order:

  1. Backwaters: a complex network of rivers, lakes and canals, within the central Kerala region of Alleppey, Kumarakom, Kollam and Punnamada
  2. Beaches : idyllic sun and sea destination within the southern regions of Kovalam and Varkala
  3. Bekal Fort: an impressive and massive Portuguese fort on the coast of North Kerala
  4. Cities : such as Thiruvanantapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode, ideal to catch a traditional theatrical performances or for shopping
  5. Fort Cochin: once an important trading-post, it is today packed with various cultural and historic sites including plenty of colonial buildings influenced by Portuguese, Chinese, Jewish, Syrian, Christians and Muslim merchants, visitors, traders and settlers.
  6. Kathakali : home to some of Kerala’s most vibrant traditions including religious plays, dances, martial arts and delicious cuisine
  7. Heritage and Historic sites: such as the Padmanabhapuram Palace, the Mattancherry Palace, and various colonial forts and towns
  8. Hill stations: including Munnar, Wayanad, Wagamon, Peermade, Nelliampathi and Ponmudi
  9. Kannur: home of “they yam”, a  unique ancient ritual for spirit possession
  10. Kovalam: home to one of the worlds’ most famous beach and once a major hippie destination.
  11. Kumarakom: the epicentre of the popular backwater tourism and home to various luxury resorts especially around Kottayam
  12. Munnar: one of  Kerala’s most authentic hill station surrounded by misty mountains, home to various tea plantations
  13. National parks : with their pristine forests, waterfalls and caves such as the Periyar park, the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary or the Eravikulam National Park
  14. Pilgrim destinations : including Sabarimala Temple, Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvanantapuram, Guruvayoor Temple, Chettikulangara Temple, Vadakumnathan Temple in Thrissur, Sarkara Devi Temple, Padanilam Parabrahma Temple in Oachira, Beemapally mosque, Malayattor Church and Parumala Church
  15. Ponmudi: a charming hill station offering amazing natural beauty
  16. Silent Valley National Park: one of Kerala’s most beautiful rain forest, home to a variety of  protected and endangered species
  17. Thekkady :  a lush forest home to a variety of species including elephants and  Tigers within the  Periyar Reserve
  18. Varkala: offering some of the most breathtaking beaches and spectacular views surrounded by spectacular large cliffs.
  19. Waterfalls and Dams: spectacular natural beauty in the various national parks
  20. Wildlife Sanctuaries: including Wayanad for elephants and Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary and Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary for bird watching

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Top experiences

The following are some of the must do experience while in Kerala:

  1. Houseboat experience: a must-try experience to explore central Kerala’s backwaters
  2. Ayurvedic massage:  a unique regional therapy mixing various oils and aromatic herbs, for the perfect relaxation
  3. Thrissur Pooram: be part of one of the region’s  most famous, liveliest and colourful  summer festival’s with plenty of celebrants and even elephants
  4. Vallam Kali boat races : an annual sporting events taking place in the backwaters during August, on special  boats are that can accommodate between 60 to 100 rowers.
  5. Kalarippayat: look, or try it yourself this gravity-defying martial arts

Kerala Backwaters

The Kerala Backwaters are by far most unique attractions in Kerala.  It is composed of a complex network of criss-crossed canals, rivers, shallow pools and lagoons, and surrounded by numerous coconut palm trees and rice paddies.  Those Backwaters are separated by a narrow strip of sand banks from the sea, and although can be found all over the state they are mostly concentrated around Alappuzha and Kottayam.

The best way to explore those water is through a large and sleek wooden canoes  known as houseboats.  They are a variety of boats and routes to choose from day trip to more luxury sleep over experiences.  The houseboats navigate through small villages and towns  such as the charming Kollam (Quilon). 

Kerala Beaches

Kerala is also known as a popular holiday destination mainly due to is beautiful beaches such as the world famous Kovalam beach, popularized by the sixties Hippy counter-culture.  With over 650 km of coastline, the state has plenty of amazing beach destinations, contributing for a memorable sun and sea experience.

Some of the more notable Beaches in Kerala include:

  1. Kovalam Beach: perhaps the best known of all of Kerala’s coastal destinations, famous for its all night hedonistic beach parties since the 60s.  Located only  a few kilometers south of Trivandrum it offers a good and clean environment with plenty of accommodations to choose from.
  2. Varkala Beach : is another well known destination with the limits of Trivandrum.  It s breathtaking natural settings with a long stretch of long sand surrounded by large cliffs, and blessed with natural springs makes it a perfect spot to relax and enjoy your holiday.
  3. Alapuzha Beach and Kollam Beach : best known for beach and water sports enthusiasts, hosting a variety of tournaments each year.
  4. Cherai Beach: located not far from Kochi in the central part of Kerala, it offers a large stretch of sands beach
  5. Kozhikode Beach: famous as the place where Vasco da Gama first arrived in India, during the Age of Discovery
  6. Muzhappilangad Beach:  one of the few beaches on the northern part of Kerala, it offers breathtaking natural beauty with an almost 5 kilometers long stretch of sand surround by lush vegetations.  It is easily accessible by car and offers a variety of activities such as para gliding and para sailing, making it an ideal place for extreme water sport enthusiast.

Kerala mountains

Apart of its unique backwaters and amazing beaches, Kerala has another superb natural wonders, its breathtaking hills and mountains.  Indeed far inland away from the tourist crowds, lies the amazing mountainous Ghats, filled with a variety of teas and spices plantations, as well as being home to numerous exotic wildlife.

Perhaps, the most famous hills within the Western Ghats are the Blue Mountains, often  referred to as Nilgiris, packed with lush forest, various wildlife sanctuaries, rapids, springs and large waterfalls such as the one in Athirampally.  There are plenty of lovely hill stations, ideal place to relax, such as the much sought after Munnar, best known as Kerala’s honeymoon capital.

Best hotels in Kerala

Kerala has some of the country best hotels and resorts, from budget accommodations to luxury 5 stars establishment right on the beach. Indeed, with its golden sandy beaches, splendid backwaters and mountainous hill stations, the state has plenty of remarkable destinations to be discovered.  The following are some of the best establishments in Kerala as voted by the users, divided into 5 Stars, 4 Stars, 3 Stars and budget accommodations. 

Click here to learn more about those hotels including a short description, address and booking linking following.

Top North Kerala hotels

  1. Vivanta By Taj – Bekal Hotel, 5 Stars Hotel
  2. Kanan Beach Resort, 4 Stars Hotel

Top Kochi hotels

  1. Soma Birds Lagoon Resort, 2 Stars Hotel
  2. Hotel Arches, 3 Stars Hotel
  3. Holiday Inn Cochin, 4 Stars Hotel
  4. Dream Hotel, 5 Stars Hotel
  5. Goodkarma Inn, 1 Stars Hotel
  6. Elite Palazzo, 4 Stars Hotel
  7. Poovath Heritage Home Hotel, 3 Stars Hotel
  8. Kadalkkara Lake Resort, 4 Stars Hotel
  9. Vivanta by Taj – Malabar, 5 Stars Hotel
  10. Tissa’s Inn, 2 Stars Hotel
  11. Wyte Fort Hotel, 3 Stars Hotel 
  12. Vedanta, 2 Stars Hotel
  13. The Avenue Regent Hotel, 4 Stars Hotel 
  14. Lotus 8, 3 Stars Hotel
  15. The Mercy Luxury Business Hotel, 4 Stars Hotel 

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Top Thekkady hotels

  1. Paradisa Plantation Retreat, 4 Stars Hotel    

Top Alleppey hotels

  1. Krishnendu Ayurveda Wellness Centre, 3 Stars Hotel
  2. Coir Village Lake Resort, 4 Stars Hotel 

Top Trivandrum hotels

  1. Keys Hotels Trivandrum, 4 Stars Hotel 
  2. Classic Avenue Hotel, 4 Stars Hotel 

Top Kovalam hotels

  1. Fragrant Nature Retreat & Resorts, 4 Stars Hotel 
  2. Abad Harmonia Ayurveda Beach Resort, 3 Stars Hotel
  3. The Leela Kempinski Kovalam Beach, 5 Stars Hotel 
  4. Turtle on the Beach Hotel, 4 Stars Hotel 

Top cities in Kerala

Kerala has many important cities including its capital Thiruvanantapuram towards the South, Kochi at the center and Kozhikode towards the north.  Many of its cities are considered some of the best places to live in India, with 5 destinations being on the top 10 best cities in The Economic Times survey.

The most important cities include:

  1. Thiruvanantapuram : often referred to as Trivandrum, is Kerala’s largest city and state capital.   It is located on the low hills of Southern Kerala and is consider the gateway to  popular tourists resorts such as Varkala.  The city itself is known for its historical monuments and religious sites.
  2. Kochi : also called Cochin is often referred to as the Queen of the Arabian sea is one of Kerala most cosmopolitan city and important port.
  3. Varkala : a lovely coastal town situated North of the capital and offering amazing beaches surrounding with large cliffs
  4. Alapuzha (Alleppey) :  referred to as the Venice of the East being considered the epicentre of Kerala’s Backwaters
  5. Kannur: a charming historical town with a strong heritage including the Kalaripayattu unique martial art style, and the beautiful Theyyam temple art.  It is also close to the amazing spices/coffee growing hills and one of the best rated Muzhappilangad beach.
  6. Kollam (Quilon) : another town within Kerala’s backwaters, best known for its cashew and coir industries.
  7. Kottayam: strategically located between the backwaters and the hill stations such as  Munnar, it is locally known as an important literacy and educational centre.
  8. Kozhikode (Calicut): famous city best known as where Vasco da Gamma first landed in India.  It is today still has one of the world’s oldest thriving trade centres.
  9. Palakkad: one of the only main city inland of Kerala, considered the gateway the Western Ghats.  It is surrounded with numerous hills and rice fields, and the key sights of Tipu Fort, Malampuzha Gardens, Silent Valley National Park are located nearby.
  10. Thrissur (Trichur) : considered the cultural capital of Kerala and famous for jewellery shops and silk sarees. The Athirappilly falls and Guruvayur Temple are situated nearby.

About Kerala

The Indian State of Kerala is situated on the south West part of the peninsula bordered by Karnataka to the north and northeast, Tamil Nadu to the east and south, and the Arabian Sea to the west.  It is world famous for its backwaters, but is also the land of lush green vegetation, spice plantations and pristine rain forests, lovely beach spots surrounded by coconuts tree, wonderful Blue Mountains and their hill stations, Ayurvedic spas and eco-tourism initiatives.  It is state of diverse religions with a variety of churches, mosques , Hindu temples and even synagogues

The tourism industry only really started picking up in the 80s and has today became a niche holiday destination in India attracting over 8 million tourist a year.  Kerala is not only a great place to visit but becoming one of the best place to live in India.  Indeed it has some of the best cities to live, has the highest HDI and literacy rate in the country, as well as being considered the less corrupted state and one of the safest region in India.

Due to its unique geography, Kerala is the perfect place for nature enthusiasts, with plenty of destinations to camp, trek and see wildlife.  With the rainy season sometimes going for up 8 months a year, most of its forests are classified as rainforests, giving the region a unique ecology and unique natural charm.

Top facts

  1. Kerala was formed on November  first 1956 combining numerous Malayalam speaking regions
  2. Kerala has an area of 38,863 km2 (15,005 sq mi)
  3. Kerala has a population 31.8 million
  4. Kerala Main language Malayalam
  5. Kerala best season to visit is between October to March
  6. Kerala’s width varies from 11km  at it shortest to 121km at its longest
  7. Kerala’s state capital city is Thiruvanantapuram
  8. Kerala has India’s highest Human Development Index (HDI)
  9. Kerala has India’s highest literacy rate in (99%)
  10. Kerala is the only Indian state to have banking facilities in every village
  11.  Kerala is the least corrupt state in the country
  12. Capital Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)

Kerala images

The following is a selection of some of Kerala s best photographs or click here to view the complete India image gallery.

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Kerala videos

The following is a selection of some of Goa’s best videos or click here to view the complete India video gallery.  You may click on the video links to open it in a lightbox.

  1. Kochi in Kerala video

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