Kerala and tourism are almost synonymous; lush tropical greenery, coconut palms, palm fringed beaches, pleasant placid backwaters with floating house boats, numerous temples, the aroma of Ayurveda, languid lakes and lagoons, canals, islands etc etc are some of the undeniable impressions of Kerala and Kerala alone, beckoning those with a wanderlust from across the globe.
Its not small wonder that the 'Traveller' magazine of National Geographic and 'Travel + Leisure' stated it to be one of the "ten paradises of the world" and "50 must-see destinations of a lifetime" and 'one of the 100 great trips for the 21st century'.
Shades of tourism
Each city, town or the remotest village of this state, crowned as the 'God's Own Country', has its own tale to tell and are silent invites for those with a keen eye to explore as well as to enjoy. Kerala's fourteen districts, Kasargode, Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Idukki, Kottayam, Alappuzha (Alleppey), Pathanamthitta, Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram being some of the much sought after tourist destinations themselves, encompass numerous others which are travel treats for the discerning ones, who would like to venture into the horizon of tourism.
Kerala tourism sports many shades be it sandy beaches, blissful backwaters, hill stations clad in beauty best of nature, innumerable places for the pious; easily assuming itself to suit the traveller's look out for a simply relaxing and rejuvenating vacation, a fun filled holiday, an encounter with adventure, a romantic rendezvous or a peaceful pilgrimage.
Kerala Waterways – Stretches of Aqua
The magical backwaters of Kerala include Alappuzha or Alleppey, Kumarakom, Thiruvallam, Kollam, Kasargod etc which offer that holiday which one craves to have by the backwaters. Kerala backwaters are dotted by Kettuvalams and houseboats, the latter, a more improvised version of the former used as accommodations for travellers, apart from the numerous backwater resorts. The traditional 'Snake Boat Race' performed annually in Kerala is attracts a lot of tourists to the state. The snake boat race is a major aspect of Kerala tourism.
Vembanad lake, Ashtamudi lake, Pookode lake, Sasthamkotta lake, Veeranpuzha Vellayani Lake, Paravur Kayal, Manachira etc are some of the lakes that are impelling aspects of Kerala. Not to forget that the Vembanad Lake is one of the largest lake in India.
Kerala hill stations – Undulating wonders
Munnar is a pristine and pure hill station in Kerala, still not in the clasp of commercialization, when compared to the other hill stations of South India. It is one of the much sought after honeymoon destinations with a romantic air about it next to Wayanad in the state. Vagamon, Ponmudi, Thekkady, Peermede etc are other hill stations that can be explored, with Thekkady also known for its wildlife and wilderness with scope for adventure as well. Kerala tourism thus has some mesmerising locations for a holiday tucked away in the lap of its hill stations.
Culture, Cuisine and Cult – Integral impressions
The culture of Kerala which forms an integral part of the Indian culture, is distinct in different aspects of art forms, cuisine, clothing etc. Kerala is home to a lot of dance forms, theatrical forms, folk art etc. Kathakali and Mohiniattam are dance forms that boast of worldwide acclaim. Popular dance and theatrical forms also carry religious undertones with Parisamuttu and Chavittu nadakom of Christians, Oppana of Muslims while Koodiyattam is one among the numerous temple art forms pertaining to Hinduism. Keralities are also well-versed in Carnatic music. Keralites also clad themselves in Mundu, which is their traditional attire.
Puttu, Iddiyappam, Unni appam, Paladai prathaman (a form of payasam), banana chips, dishes made out of fish, the red rice that is distinctive of Kerala etc are some of the delicacies of the state. Sadhya is a term known for a variety of sumptuous dishes prepared and served on a banana leaf. Onam Sadhya prepared on Kerala's major festival, Onam, is a special form of an extended Sadhya.
Hinduism, Christianity and Islam are the three major religions followed in Kerala. Kerala is a home to a lot of temples and is a place where Goddess Devi devoutly addressed as 'Bhagavathy' is fervently worshipped. Chottanikkara Bhagavathi temple, Attukal Bhagavathi temple, Kodungallur Bhagavathi temple, Meenkulathi Bhagavathi temple, Mangottu Kavu Bhagavathi temple etc are some of the prominent Bhagavathi temples which are thronged by thousands from Kerala and other neighbouring states.
Guruvayur Shri Krishna temple is a popular shrine which opens doors of divinity to devotees across the country. Needless to say about Sabarimala Ayyappan temple, one of the most popular religious centres of India. Ayiranikulam Mahadeva Temple in Thrissur, Padmanabaswami temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Thiruvalla Sreevallabha temple etc are some of the most popular shrines in Kerala. Elephants caparisoned during festivals bearing the image of the Lord on their back, moving in a procession is a sight worth seeing which is truly Indian. The numerous temples dotting the state simply are integral parts of Kerala tourism.
The soil of Kerala is further sanctified by the birth of Jagadguru Adi Shankara Bhagavadpada, the expounder of the Advaita Vedanta of Hinduism in Kalady.
Malayatoor Church, St Francis Church in Kochi, Santa Cruz Basillica in Fort Kochi, St. Mary’s Forance Church near Kottayam are some of the prominent Churches in Kerala. Pazhayangadi Mosque , Madayi Mosque, Cheraman Juma Masjid, Kanjiramattom Mosque, Malik Dinar Mosque are some of the places of worship in Kerala for those who are firm in their faith in Islam.
So what else could hold one back from visiting Kerala? It has all of it to offer; all aspects of a delightful travel.