10 Things you must experience in Kerala, India.
shared by Giana Spiteri
Kerala is renowned for being ‘God’s Own Country’ and after spending two weeks there with the Kerala Blog Express, it was clear to see why. Over the course of two weeks we travelled from Kochi crossing through a range of towns including Thekkady, Munnar, Wayanad and Kasargod, all the way to Trivandrum where the trip sadly came to an end. In that time we got to climb mountains, visit tea plantations, villages and cruise through the many backwaters Kerala has to offer. If you’re planning a trip to Kerala or wondering why it should be on your bucket list, keep reading.
1. Stay in a houseboat in Alappuzha and cruise through the backwaters. We spent one of the days strolling through the backwaters of Alapuzzha, whilst sipping on coconuts and seeing locals getting on with their daily routines on the banks. Rainbow Cruises served us a traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner in a nice air-conditioned room and each boat can comfortably accommodate up to 6 people (varying on the boat). The rooms were lovely and comfortable, the houseboat docks in the evening, so in case you travel from boat sickness, you can feel some sort of movement when you’re in bed – but much less than being on a cruise!
2. Watch traditional dances such as the Kathakali in Kochi. The Kathakali performances were like nothing I’ve seen before, it takes artists years of training to become a performer and the make-up can take up to several hours. Performances last at least half an hour and tend to tell a story (it’s okay if you get lost with what’s happening half way through). Mohiniyattam is another form of classical dance in Kerala and focuses on eye movements and some great costumes. 3. Have lunch on a traditional banana leaf. This is something you can experience all over Kerala, and if you want to immerse yourself in the Keralite culture then this is definitely something you need to try. As you can see from the photo, food is positioned accross the leaf and then you use your fingers to pick up your curry, ‘mush’ it with the rice and then use your thumb to push it into your mouth. It sounds messy but it was honestly easier and more ‘free’ than I thought it would be! 4. Get to know your spices. If you’re interested in getting to know your black pepper from your cardamom then book onto a spice tour in Thekkady, Munnar or Wayanad. Before our spice tour in Thekkady to me everything just looked like leaves so I was pretty clueless, but I felt proud when I could actually distinguish certain spices in Wayanad – and got to try some cocoa flower and cinnamon!
5. Climb a mountain in Munnar. We went on a 4 hour trekk with Kalypso Adventures to the top of ‘Phantom Mountain’ – I was a bit doubtful if I was actually going to be able to complete it because the only form of exercise I currently do is walking to and from university, but it was doable, not a walk in the park but definitely not the hardest. Plus, the views were breathtaking! 6. See how the locals live with a village tour. If you’re interested in how local villages make uses out of coconuts, fetch them from the trees, fish and live their day to day lives then this is definitely something I recommend. Did you know coconuts could also be used to make alcohol? Like a sort of coconut beer. We got to sample some and since I’m not a fan of beer to start with, it wasn’t my cup of tea but I couldn’t leave without trying it! You can also have a go at climbing a coconut tree, it’s definitely not as easy as it looks.
7. Stroll through the tea and coffee plantations. We saw plenty of these in Munnar and endless fields of green on our walk down from Phantom Mountain. Tea pickers are usually female, and if you’re interested in tea and how it’s made, then there are plenty of tea museums that showcase the history of tea in Kerala and how it goes from the plant to dusty or loose leaf tea. 8. Explore the streets and sample local street-food. Whilst in Munnar, a couple of us decided to stroll through the town in the afternoon. Visiting a local mosque, temple and haggling our way through the markets – just kidding I suck at haggling. I was obsessed with the moong dahl dried lentil snacks and wish I could have brought some back with me.
9. Have a go at outdoor activities in Wayanad. Muddy Boots offer a range of activities for fun seekers – including zip-lining, bamboo rafting, walking trails, plantation tours and other outdoor activities. We spent the afternoon trying out some of these and then went for a swim in our clothes whilst on the bamboo raft – because why not?
10. Drink and eat your weight in coconuts and bananas. Kerala is the land of coconuts after all, and in every corner you’ll find somewhere to buy some mini adorable bananas. Try and learn how to drink from a coconut without a straw, or find yourself a reusable bamboo one to do your bit for the environment!
These are just some of the things you could get up to in Kerala, the state is so big and varied that there are endless possibilities of things to do. If you have any further recommendations, I'd love to hear about them in the comments! Ready to plan your trip here? follow this link to find the best accommodation at great prices!