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KERALA

There is no other state in India that can present so much enthusiasm for life as it is visible in Kerala. Kerala is a special retreat to the tourists as it blends nature with life. The name Kerala means "The Land of Kera", i.e. coconut trees. Despite high population, the economic condition in Kerala is in much better shape than most of the other Indian states. In a special collector's issue released by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER to the tourists of the world - a well researched compilation of the 50 destinations of a lifetime, the only Indian destination that featured in it was KERALA other than the Taj Mahal in the World Wonders section.


Kerala also known as God's own country is the land, is characterized by cultural and religious harmony. Kerala has something special for people of all tastes; its widely varied topography painted with natures different colors permits that. Misty hills, golden beaches, coconut plantations, paddy fields, serene villages, calm backwaters, wall paintings, ancient temples, art forms etc. permit the visitors to enjoy varied retreats. It features unique culture and traditions which are reflected in its art forms and architecture. The culture of Kerala treasures the famous classical dance called Kathakali, which is a dance drama art of story telling. The dancers through exaggerated gestures and expressions narrate incidences of epic battles of gods and demons. Thiruvathira is a group dance performed by women dressed in traditional style around a lighted "Deepam". Mohiniyattom, Bharatanatyam, Kuchippudi, Kaikottikkali etc. are the other dance forms. The temples of Kerala worth a visit not just for all the lore that is associated with it, but for its pristine unspoilt beauty. Kalarippayattu, the marshal art of Kerala is a breath taking performance in which the participants flex their body to an extent that will break your neck.


There are several wonderful tourist destinations in Kerala and some of the most famous ones are:


Fort Kochi

To explore the historic town of Fort Kochi, there is no better choice than setting out on foot. Relax, breathe deep and come out in cotton dresses, soft shoes and yes - a straw hat. At each and every nook of this island steeped in history, there is something amusing awaiting you. It is a world of its own, retaining the specimens of a bygone era and still proud of those days. If you can smell the past, nothing can stop you from walking through these streets.


Walking straight through the K. J. Herschel Road and turning left, you can have a glimpse of Fort Immanuel. This bastion once belonged to the Portuguese and is a symbol of the strategic alliance which existed between the Maharaja of Cochin and the Monarch of Portugal, after whom the fort is named. This fort was built in 1503 and reinforced in 1538. Walking a bit further, you come across the Dutch cemetery. Consecrated in 1724 and managed by the Church of South India, the tomb stones here silently remind visitors of those Europeans who left their homeland to expand their colonial empires.


The next spot to watch is the ancient Thakur House, which stands erect as a concrete specimen of the colonial era. The building is simply graceful. Formerly known as Kunal or Hill Bungalow, it was home to the managers of the National Bank of India during the British rule. Now, it belongs to the Thakur and Company, renowned tea trading firm.


Walk on and there is another colonial structure awaiting you - David Hall. It was built around 1695 by the Dutch East India Company. The hall is associated with Hendrik Adriaan van Reed tot Drakeston, renowned Dutch commander, who is more admired for his monumental book on the flora of Kerala namely Hortus Malabaricus. However, David Hall is named after David Koder, a later occupant of the hall.


Wayanad

Travel to Waynad, the city that entices its tourists through its scenic beauty. One must travel this place to explore the culture and ethos. Wayanad means the land of paddy fields. It contributes about 36 percent of the tribal population of the state....


Munnar

Munnar is a breathtakingly beautiful and an idyllic tourist destination in Kerala. Set at an altitude of 6000 ft in Idukki district, Munnar was the favourite summer resort of the erstwhile British rulers in the colonial days. It's famous for tea plantations- pristine valleys and mountains....


Thekkady

There are very few places in the country like Thekaddy that simultaneously boasts of a sky-high literacy percentage and a proud culture and tradition, which have maintained throughout the ages. Tradition and culture compliments the natural beauty of the state in entertaining


Alappuzha

Referred to as the Venice of the East, Alappuzha has always enjoyed an important place in the maritime history of Kerala. Today, it is famous for its boat races, backwater holidays, beaches, marine products and coir industry. Alappuzha beach is a popular picnic spot. The pier, which extends into the sea here, is over 137 years old. Entertainment facilities at the Vijaya Beach Park add to the attraction of the beach. There is also an old lighthouse nearby which is greatly fascinating to visitors.


Another delightful experience while in Alappuzha is a houseboat cruise. The ones you find in the backwaters of Alappuzha are in fact reworked version of kettuvallams of olden times. The original kettuvallams or rice barges used to carry tons of rice and spices. The kettuvallam or 'boat with knots' was so called because the entire boat was held together with coir knots only.


Of late, houseboats come with all creature comforts of a good hotel including furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, cozy living rooms, a kitchen and even a balcony for angling. And one can always enjoy uninterrupted views of backwater life while staying in a houseboat.


Kovalam Beach

Kovalam is an internationally renowned beach with three adjacent crescent beaches. It has been a favourite haunt of tourists, especially Europeans, since the 1930s. A massive rocky promontory on the beach has created a beautiful bay of calm waters ideal for sea bathing.


The leisure options at this beach are plenty and diverse. Sunbathing, swimming, herbal body toning massages, special cultural programmes and catamaran cruising are some of them. The tropical sun acts so fast that one can see the faint blush of coppery tan on the skin in a matter of minutes. Life on the beach begins late in the day and carries on well into the night. The beach complex includes a string of budget cottages, Ayurvedic health resorts, convention facilities, shopping zones, swimming pools, Yoga and Ayurvedic massage centres.


Thiruvananthapuram

The capital city of Kerala, is just 16 km away from Kovalam and getting there is no hassle. But if you are on holiday it is better to stay in Kovalam and visit the city.


The City of Thiruvananthapuram has interesting places to see like the Napier Museum, the Sri Chitra Art Gallery, the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Ponmudi hill station etc. SMSM Institute, a State owned handicrafts emporium, is the ideal place to pick up ethnic curios and other articles. Best time to visit: September to March, though it is an all-year-round destination.


Palakkad

Palakkad is rightfully known as the Gateway of Kerala, giving the rest of India access to the State. Its other name is Palghat was contributed by British Raj. Palakkad is a land of palm trees and paddy fields. It's known to be rich in flora and fauna.