'God's Own Country' is an expression which has been bandied around for centuries! From Zimbabwe and New Zealand to Yorkshire, to name a few, have shared this status in a brief history of time. But in many of these places, it was more of wishful thinking. Nevertheless, in Kerala, located in the South of India, it seems to be a reasonable description.
The Malabar Coast and verdant backwaters are the highlights of Kerala, and they appear otherworldly. Besides natural bounties, the culture is flourishing too! The locals have the highest life expectancy and literacy standards in India.
God may or may not have created Kerala. But if you're seeking for a taste of paradise on Earth, a place where you can be as wholesome and happy as you can be; Kerala is unquestionably the place to be. It truly lives up to the name 'Gods Own Country.'
Here are a few plausible reasons why Kerala is indeed God's Own Country
1. Historical Legacy
Kochi was historically the anchorage of Cochin, a city of international trade commerce on the Arabian Sea. Spice retailers came here from Portugal in the early 16th century, and the Dutch and British arrived in their wake. It still preserves a universal feel, as many diverse communities, left their mark during their visit.
2. A Melting Pot Of Diverse Religions
The Jews settled in Cochin trace their history back to the time of King Solomon and have their own dialect of the regional Malayalam language. There are barely hundreds of Jews who still live there! However, you can visit India's most antiquated functioning synagogue in the trinket-lined Jew Street in the lovely Mattancherry section, dubbed ‘Jew Town'. There are also Syrian Catholic cathedrals, and festivals such as Holi, Eid, and Christmas are all celebrated with great enthusiasm. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and many other communities of different faiths, peacefully co-exist in Kerala. God! we can presume, would be very pleased indeed.
3. Offers Verdant Scenic Beauty
Conceivably the real beauty of Kerala is outside the urbane cities. The North-South mountain range, the Western Ghats, which runs through South India like a backbone, is a UNESCO Heritage Site on account of its scenic beauty and biodiversity. There are 20 national parks, forest reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala alone, not to mention a board strip of coffee, jade green tea, and spice farms.
4. Hosts Umpteen Number Of Spice, Tea And Coffee Plantations
Nestled amid rolling hills near Munnar, the convergence of three rivers, is Ambady Estate, a mist-filled channel of cardamom farms and rainforest. It's an excellent site for wildlife spotting: there are barking deer and macaque, Malabar giant squirrel, and, at some times of the year, millions of butterflies.
A true tea connoisseur should take some time to visit Munnar's Tea Museum as well. It is located in the Nalluthanni Estate and is run by Tata Tea. If you've ever questioned what makes black tea different to green tea, or how the tea gets of the plant to your cup, this is the site to find out. You can track the entire production process, and the story is further elaborated upon with photographs and various pieces of tea apparatus.
5. Home To Diverse Flora and Fauna
The treetops found in Kerala are always lively with the singing and twittering of birds. Binoculars will help you view them up close. But even with the bare eye, you can still identify whistling thrush, bulbul (forest songbird), barbet, sunbird, and vernal hanging parrot. Thanks to the altitude, the air is moist and refreshing, making it an ideal setting for a hike through the Parvathy Hills or a wander around one of Munnar's various tea estates.
6. Rich Culture And Colonial Past
The city wears its vibrant and diverse cultural heritage lightly. You can pay your respect at St. Francis Church, the most beloved European church in India. It is believed that Vasco da Gama - the man who first navigated the sea route about the Cape of Good Hope to reach India from Portugal - was buried here, at the church. His body was later delivered back to Lisbon, but the churchyard is still divided between Portuguese and Dutch vaults, a reminder of Kochi's colonial history.
7. Backwaters And Houseboats
Kerala's lushness and its ever-green backdrop come from the monsoon showers and the backwaters which flow across the state. The most arable agricultural land is, of course, along the riverbanks, and hence they make up the majority of Kerala's colourful villages.
Be it people farming in the paddy patches or scrubbing their clothes on the riverbank, the best way to see the rustic side up close is to take a boat and float through the backwaters of Kumarakom and Alleppey. Plenty of Kettuvallam - popular rice boats - have been transformed into luxurious houseboats. They are wholly made of natural materials, from the wooden hull tied together with coir ropes to the rounded thatched roof.
Kerala's traditional houseboats are exceptionally roomy, and luxurious too. One hundred feet in length, there is typically room on board for two bedrooms, these days with en-suite showers as well. A private chef will prepare mouthwatering snacks from local produce which are seasonal and fresh.
The vessels move slowly, permitting plenty of time to observe the world go by, fish, read, or even have a rejuvenating massage on board. It's a slow yet passionate way to travel, and you'll witness the best side of Kerala than when you are travelling by road.