Kerala Travel Guide: God’s Own Country

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Kerala Travel Guide

After being in transit in Singapore and Sri Lanka, I, together with two other writers from the Philippines, finally arrived in Trivandrum International Airport in Kerala, India. Although not a major airport in India, Trivandrum International Airport was organized, clean, and truly impressive.

Kerala Travel Guide
Kerala Boathouse in Kumarakom

From the airport, we were transported to Turtle on the Beach Resort in Kovalam – a seaside district in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. Instead of being culture shocked, I was rather impressed with Kerala as we traveled to the resort from the airport. The roads were quite narrow. They only had one lane for each direction, yet the traffic was not as bad as other Asian cities I’ve been to, including Manila, the city where I currently live.

Roads in Kerala
Roads in Kerala

Kerala totally changed my bad impression of India as a whole. I used to see India in international news and movies as a dirty, chaotic country with an unending problem with water shortage and overcrowded streets, buses, and trains. Now I realized that Kerala is LOVE. With friendly and beautiful people, good food and wonderful sceneries, it’s really God’s Own Country. I couldn’t agree more.

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As I write detailed blog posts about places we’ve been to and other wonderful experiences we had, I decided to give you a short Kerala Travel Guide for those of you who wants to have a glimpse of Kerala.

Traditional Kerala Lunch
Traditional Kerala Lunch

Palm-fringed tropical beaches, boat trips on picturesque canals and rivers, traditional Ayurvedic massages, exciting wildlife parks and spicy seafood — Kerala is one of South India’s most popular holiday destinations for a good reason.

Kerala’s Tropical Beaches

As a country located near the Earth’s equator, India experiences a warm and tropical climate almost all year-round—the perfect environment for beach-hopping and other seaside activities. Kerala alone offers more than 20 natural beaches, ranging from the historical and tranquil ones to the busiest and urbanized ones.

Kovalam Beach in Kerala
Kovalam Beach in Kerala

If you plan to go see India’s huge trading vessels, Beypore beach will give you a front row seat to see Kerala’s natural and man-made blessings. You get to see the beach and the docks at the same time. It’s the best of both worlds. If you’re the artist type and prefer to go beaching with Kerala’s historical beauties, then Bekal beach is the place to go. Near Bekal beach is Bekal Fort, India’s largest preserved fort.

You get to go sunbathe, swim, and travel back in time to see India’s history—all in one beach. On the other hand, if you prefer a quieter weekend on the seaside, then Kerala offers you Kappil Beach. It’s secluded, and nearby is a cliff that overlooks the Arabian Sea—definitely the perfect place for the serene nature-lovers out there. Still, if you can’t make up your mind, there are over 20 beaches in Kerala to choose from (each having their own perks), so don’t you worry!

Kerala’s Peaceful Backwaters

Kerala, being situated near the Arabian Sea, is blessed with interconnecting bodies of waters, oftentimes called the backwaters. Since the dawn of time, the backwaters were one of the major sources of Kerala’s economy. Aside from offering the locals marine resources, the backwaters also served as the passageways of kettuvallams, houseboats that were used for mainly for trading commodities.

Boathouse in Kerala Backwaters
Boathouse in Kerala Backwaters

Over time, although the transport system has changed, and although the houseboats are no longer being used for trading, the kettuvallams still prove themselves useful to Kerala’s economy by attracting thousands of tourists every year. Today, the kettuvallams are being used to cruise the tranquil backwaters of Kerala—backwater tours are offered in most hotels and resorts—the symbol of the Indian state’s humble beginnings.

Ayurvedic Massages and Kerala Spas

The Ayurveda is chiefly of Hindu origins. This traditional system of medication mainly includes natural processes—such as using of herbal medicine, doing yoga on a regular basis, undergoing soothing massage sessions, and achieving internal bodily equilibrium.

Ayuverda Treatment
Ayuverda Treatment

Although Ayurvedic treatments are also offered in almost every part of the world now, it’s always best to get it in Kerala, India, its place of origin. Where else can you get the most experienced and well-trained hands for Ayurveda? Come to any of Kerala’s spa houses and you’ll see.

Kerala’s Spice Plantations and Wildlife Parks

If you’re not the type of person who likes the luxuries of the Kerala beaches or seaside too much, then you can always go up—up to the Western Ghats Mountains, where life is sustained mainly through agriculture. The state of Kerala alone offers 12 wildlife sanctuaries and 2 national parks, offering tourists the best of India’s faunas and floras. One of the most famous wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala is the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, housing most of the country’s spices and endemic animals. If you want to see the greenest side of India, then you better go to Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, which is known for having almost 100 square kilometres of forests.

Tea Plantation in Munnar Kerala
Tea Plantation in Munnar

Just imagine how much species of plants and animals thrive in those soils. Still, if you prefer seeing more people than trees and spices, you can always go to Eravikulam National Park, the abode of one of the world’s largest moths, the Atlas Moth. Nearby is Idukki, the Spice Land of India. There’s never a shortage of sanctuaries in the Western Ghats Mountains, so there’s always somewhere you’ll want to go to— just don’t forget to bring a jacket or two, because the mountains will literally give you the chills.

Spice Plantation in Thekkady
Spice Plantation in Periyar

The Best Times for a Holiday in Kerala

If you plan to go beach hopping in Kerala, do make sure to do it sometime between October and February. As a tropical country, India becomes super-hot during March through early June, and the wet (rainy) season comes in before July enters. Still, if you think you can withstand the heat and the rain, and if you want to see Kerala regardless of climate, then anytime of the year is the best time to come see Kerala!

Getting Around Kerala

Being near the Indian coastlines and the Arabian Sea, the residents and tourists of Kerala alike are able to travel either by land or sea without much of a problem. The main roads of Kerala also appear to be somewhat identical, due to the continuity and interconnection semi-urban communities. When on tour, always remember to stay close to your group and to your tour guide. Otherwise, always make sure to have a map with you.

Tuktuk in Kerala
Tuktuk in Kerala

As part of the Indian southern plains, the transportation system in Kerala and almost half of India is interconnected. India’s rail and road system is also very organized, giving everyone the luxury of traveling from Kerala to almost any point in India.

Visa on Arrival

To enhance its tourism, the Indian government developed the Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVoA), and is now available to 43 countries, that of which are the following: Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Djibouti, Germany, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kingdom of Tongo, Laos, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Niue, Oman, Palestine, Papua & New Guinea, Republic of the Philippines, Republic of Kiribati, Republic of Korea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Republic of Nauru, Republic of Palau, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Tuvalu, The United States of America, The United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, and Vietnam.

Visa on Arrival at Trivandrum International Airport
Visa on Arrival at Trivandrum International Airport

The TVoA, when enabled with electronic travel authorization (ETA), would make everything hassle-free. You’ll basically have to undergo the same process of applying for a visa, but with TVoA-ETA, all transactions would be done online. Applicants only need to fulfil all requirements, and visit the government website—no need to go to your respective travel agencies and Indian Embassies.

Once the process is completed (for a maximum of 72 hours only), you would be notified through e-mail. To be able to fly to India you just need this e-mail printed out, presented to the authorities, and you’re good to go. You don’t have to go through all the trouble, and you would even get to stay in India as a tourist for as long as 30 days.

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