Kerala: Secrets Of The Backwaters
Deep in the south of India lies a coastal state known as ‘God’s own country’. Rimmed by the Arabian Sea coastline, studded with spice and tea-covered hills and cradling great expanses of backwaters is Kerala.
Life in Kerala is a far cry from that in the rest of the country. Languid and serene, it can feel like a wonderful hideaway from what can almost feel like the ‘outside world’.
Nothing is expected of you in Kerala aside from gliding down the backwaters in a boathouse, savouring the delicately spiced cuisine and surrendering your body to a heavenly ayurvedic treatment.
Anna Whitehead, a travel consultant with Mr & Mrs Smith, says, “Some tourists are worried about India as a destination; it can be known as a ‘difficult’ place to travel. Kerala is anything but that.”
“It is the perfect introduction to India as it moves at a much slower pace than the north, but is just as beautiful.”
woman with drive asked Anna, who just returned from a trip to Kerala, for her travel insights into India’s most beautiful state.
What is the secret pull of Kerala?
There are clean streets, top-notch hotels and plenty of colourful festivals. Kerala is also known as the ‘spice garden of India’. For many years, Europeans and Arabs would visit to trade for Kerala’s famous pepper, and their cultural influences are still very apparent there today. Because of this, Kerala’s history is rich, vibrant and fascinating.
One of the most awe-inspiring attractions in Kerala is the famous backwater cruise, where you can watch life on the riverbanks from an iconic kettuvallum houseboat complete with a thatched roof. It is pure bliss just sitting back and taking in the postcard views.
What would be your top choice of a luxury experience in Kerala?
Ayurvedic spa experiences are everywhere. That is a must-do!
How long should one ideally stay in Kerala to really soak up its vibe?
You can easily spend two or three weeks in Kerala because there is so much to see and do! It is worth spending as long as possible to really absorb the culture, the food, and just ticking off what seems like an endless list of experiences.
If you are limited for time that is okay, just do not get to spend as long in each location. At a push, I would say Kerala can be seen in a week to 10 days. Fly Qantas or Singapore Airlines from Sydney via Singapore to Cochin.
Where are the top three places to stay at that would each offer a different experience?
A backwater houseboat experience is essential so try the wonderful Lotus Hotel, a modernised rice barge with just two suites.
It is also worth taking a short history tour with a local guide around Cochin, where you can watch fishermen bring in their catch and meet the locals in one of the beautifully-kept parks. Consider staying at The Brunton Boatyard for its prime location and excellent sea views.
Or book a spa treatment, set your alarm in time for yoga at sunrise and enjoy plenty of hammock time at Niraamaya Retreat Surya Samudra.
What do you wish more tourists knew about Kerala?
You will notice churches, mosques, Hindu temples and synagogues all sitting next to one another. People live in genuine harmony here and everyone will welcome you like an old friend. For this reason alone, it really is a special place. And this is before we even mention the cuisine. Most people would expect delicious food in India but Keralan cuisine is simply exquisite.
Main image credit: Kerala Tourism
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