Things you need to know about Kerala, India
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If you were to imagine an Eden, Kerala may be a good place to start. Located in the southwestern coast of India between the Arabian Sea and Western Ghat mountains, it has many beaches, lush forests, and numerous rivers. Kerala means “land of coconuts,” and the local cuisine and culture is definitely a reflection of that abundance. Here are some things you need to know about Kerala if you are planning to visit it any time soon.
Homestays are common
Homestays are similar to bed-and-breakfast places, where you can live among the locals instead of a hotel. Homestays in Kerala are easy to find online, and you can choose several locations for your home base.
The Kerala people are generally accommodating, and you can be sure of a welcome. Fort Kochi may be the most convenient location for you, as there are numerous places to stay there. The best time to go is from September to May, which is the high season when the monsoons will not ruin your trip.
Top places to visit
- Varkala – a beach resort with a very laid back vibe
- Cochin – Kodanad Elephant Training Centre, Athirappilly Water Falls
- Kumarakom – bird sanctuary
- Poovar – coastal village
- Wayanad – forests and caves
- Thekkady – forest
- Padmanabhapuram Palace, Princess Street, Mattancherry, Bekal Fort – historical sites
Kerala is a top destination for medical tourism, due mainly to its reputation for excellent Ayurvedic medicine. You will find many Ayurveda centers offering health services. However, you should only go to those approved by the Department of Tourism to ensure the quality of treatment.
There are many temples (Kshetrams) in Kerala, but non-Hindus may not enter most of them. You may be able to get on the grounds, but not inside. In the few temples that do allow tourists inside, you must follow these rules:
- Remove your footwear before crossing the threshold
- Do not take any photos or videos without asking first
- Do not take a photo of the idols (Vigraham) EVER
- Men must take off their vests and shirts
- Smoking and alcohol is strictly forbidden
One of the main attractions of Kerala is its abundance of wildlife. That said, you must be prepared for all types of wildlife, including insects, snakes, frogs, and elephants. Bring a good supply of mosquito repellent, be careful where you step, and do not approach an elephant if the master (Paappan) is not around.
The cuisine of Kerala is very heavy on spices and coconuts. If you are not used to such rich flavors, eat with caution, and always have something to help with an upset stomach or indigestion. IT is also a good idea to stock up on bottled water as you may not be used to the mineral content in the local water supply.
You may bring in as much currency as you like into Kerala, and there are banks open from 10 am to 3:30 PM on weekdays. Many commercial establishments accept major credit cards, but if you go to the remote areas, you need to be ready with cash. Make sure you always have small bills to pay for rickshaws and the like. Bargain your heart out when buying from local merchants; they are masters at it, and do not mind haggling. Kerala boasts 100% primary literacy rate due to its Athulyam literacy program, and most people understand English, although you may have a hard time understanding them.
Kerala is vey tourist oriented and is tolerant of other cultures. However, you should be sensitive to cultural differences if you want to enjoy your stay. Be mindful of the tips above, and refrain from public displays of affection.
Discover Kerala, Checkout various Kerala Tour Packages online to help you plan your trip to this beautiful destination.