It’s summer season here in India. The school holidays have kicked off for kids. Goa feeling too commercialized and crowded for your liking? Then consider the greener pastures and the far less crowded beaches of Kerala for your family holiday. Being a Keralite, I may come off as a bit biased but the facts are out there — Kerala is one of India’s most popular states for tourism for a reason. From its famous backwaters, unspoiled beaches, great seafood to the hill stations of Munnar, national parks such as Periyar… you have a lot to do in Kerala if you are willing to get around a bit.
Flights to Kerala are aplenty and both Cochin and the state capital Trivandrum are well connected to India’s major cities. Flight booking should be a breeze but you may wish to consider which city to begin your journey from. If you fly into Cochin, then you have several attractions like Fort Kochi, Alappuzha (a.k.a Alleppy) and Kumarakom all within easy reach from Ernakulum city. Cochin is also a great hub to visit the hill station hubs of Munnar and Thekkady.
On the other hand, from Trivandrum, one can explore the famous beaches of Varkala, head to Kanyakumari and spend time in the capital city’s itself to have a great vacation mixing relaxation, sight-seeing and culture.
If you find the planning all this a bit challenging, consider the many Kerala packages from reputed tour operators like Thomas Cook and the like.
Although not easy to get to by plane right now, but by the end of the year, once the Kannur airport is complete and operational, flying into the northern district of Kannur will also open up tourism options of north Kerala as well. But let’s stick to south Kerala for now. Even as a Kannur boy myself, I can easily see why places Kochi makes sense as a starting point for the ‘ultimate Kerala experience’.
Backwater destinations such as Alleppey, Kumarakkom and Kollam are well developed for houseboat leisure trips. Beaches in and easily accessible from Cochin? Cherai, Marari, Andhakaranazhi and Fort Kochi beach. Even nearby Vypin island has some small sandy patches. Beaches from Trivandrum? Shanghumugham, Kovalam, Varkala and Kappil. And if the humidity of coastal Kerala gets too much to bear, head uphill to Munnar or Thekkady. A few hours drive and you are among the misty clouds and green hills filled with tea plantations. A visit to Periyar national park in Thekkady includes a boat ride on an artificial lake and if you are up for a bit of adventure, you can even indulge yourself on a trek through the jungle to spot wildlife in their natural habitat.
As for stay, there is accommodation to suit every budget. From small hotels to very nice resorts, the above destinations offer enough choice for everyone. For food, good international cuisine may not be available everywhere but for Indians, vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals are a satisfying variety. And contrary to perception, liquor is not banned in Kerala. You get it at state-owned liquor shops and at most high end hotels and resorts.
But trust me, you don’t need alcohol to have a good time in Kerala. It may not have the reputation of being a “party destination” but Kerala isn’t aiming for that tag. Instead, Kerala is aiming to be a wholesome family destination with traditional offerings such as Ayurvedic treatments aside from your beaches and hill stations. So if you have never visited this beautiful southern state before, I suggest you should.