Travelling in Kerala would make you fall madly in love all over again. Falling in love? Yes! For different travellers, India represents something different. And for everyone, there is a part of India that they would love to go back to. After multiple detailed inspections and tours to Kerala, my urge to come back to this beautiful state keeps getting increasingly stronger. And this is where I fell in love all over again, my love for travel reignited, my love for nature, my love for photography and my love for a girl that I met here started something new in my life.
India is a vast country with an incredible diversity which is so varied that it becomes difficult to conceive as a single country for any international traveller. You definitely need to plan and decide what you are looking for before jumping right in. Rajasthan has a beautiful desert, lots of colours, history and the indomitable forts, Bengal has culture, theatre, cinema and the European feel, Ladakh has the Himalayas, insurmountable passes and high altitude lakes that defy description, Tamil Nadu has amazing temples that date back 1500 years. Then there is Kerala that gives you mental, physical and psychological transformation just by its character.
Kerala has a very soothing touch. This soothing touch is due to many factors. The people of Kerala are themselves “victim” to its own character. J I think it is the due to the way nature has been preserved here. The dense tropical landscape along the beautiful coastline, the lush velvety carpets on the Western Ghats with the tea plantations, the wonderful spice plantations of Periyar, the magnificent beaches, some of which are completely untouched by tourism, the shimmering waterways of the famed backwaters and the amazing cuisine, all of which contribute to the serene and calm character of Kerala. Once you are into Kerala, you would not want to settle for anything less.
I have personally known people who have fallen so deeply in love with Kerala after visiting this beautiful state that they wanted to find any excuse to stay back. Some of them have built hotels and started working to stay back; others have started travel companies in Kerala to make people discover the love of Kerala… any which way, it is an amazing destination that will touch your heart. And let us not forget the amazing Ayurvedic massages that you can get here to rejuvenate yourself.
A few words on what I find exciting in Kerala:
1. MUNNAR: This hill station covered with tea plantations is marvellous. Undulating tea gardens covering the hills like a rich green carpet is a photographer’s delight. Take a walk through the gardens and delight your senses in some great hotels here. The hotels that we use here are:
A. Windermere: Great place with a touch of old world charm. Expensive and truly worth every penny you spend here. They have their own tea gardens where you can go walk. If you come here, stay at least two nights.
B. Tree Top: Another nice place that we have used with our clients. Good food, nice views, friendly staff.
C. Deshadan Resorts: inexpensive and pretty good service. We recommend for clients who want the best of all worlds.
2. PERIYAR: If you are wildlife enthusiast, keep a keen interest in flora, love the greenery and are looking to rejuvenate yourself through Ayurveda, Periyar is a must stop. Each time I go there, I feel that the 2 nights that I stay here are not enough at all. The hotels that our clients use are:
A. CGH: Yes, CGH tops the list for us. It may be expensive but CGH epitomises Periyar in every sense. We promote CGH with pride in the product and we enjoy great privileges with them. CGH is destination in itself. I always stay here myself.
B. Shalimar Spice Garden. Beautiful place to stay. The approach itself will make you want to settle down here. Food is quite good too.
C. Wildernest: For those of you on a tighter budget, we can book this hotel for you. You have everything that you want in a place to stay in a small but green environment. They are clean and good. No restaurant though.
3. KUMARAKOM: Ah, the love of the waterways of the famed backwaters of the Wembanad Lake. Yes sir, Kerala is often known for these beautiful backwaters on the banks of which beautiful life blooms in a peaceful manner that you cannot find anywhere else. Take a houseboat ride on these water highways that will put your mind at rest and at ease. There are two hotels here that we recommend:
A. CGH topping the list here again. Right on the bank of the Wembanad Lake from where you see the sunset every day, the hotel itself looks like a village with canals crisscrossing the property heavily laced with coconut palm groves.
B. Emerald Isle. This is a small boutique heritage property, a one-man-run show that takes care of all your requirements and you will certainly love to live in a place like this where you get to interact with a family.
4. MARARI BEACH: Let us not indulge in the misuse of the word Beach here. I will refrain from using superlatives. However, the beaches of Marari are a thing to be experienced. They may not be as beautiful as the beaches of Andamans that we also visit every year. But Marari Beaches are arguably some of the best beaches in the world! The peace and calm nature of Kerala penetrates into the character of the beaches as well. People always talk about the Varkala beaches of Kerala which are extremely beautiful because of the red cliffs. That said, the beaches of Marari are really special. If you enjoy beaches, pack your bikinis and your suntan and head this way. You will love it! Where to stay?
A. Marari Villas. Now Marari Villas has multiple properties here all of which I love and recommend. My favourite however being the Hibiscus for very personal reasons. Every Villa here has a unique character. It is not easy to choose. Take your pick and you will be sure to enjoy. You can ask us to book for you and we will get you the Villas that is best suited to you with the correct price. Click here to book.
B. CGH. Yes, CGH has one of the best beach resorts here that you will ever experience in your life. Let me not exaggerate one bit, but CGH truly has the wish and the political will to maintain a marvellous resort in an eco-friendly environment against all odds that tourism imposes on nature. Yes, they are outstanding.
5. COCHIN/FORT COCHIN. This is something that you would not want to miss out on. The historical island of Fort Cochin will reveal more secrets and love stories to you than you can imagine. Spend your time having a historical walk in the by-lanes of this beautiful town, discover the harbour, meet the fishermen, sit in a café and while away your time talking politics with locals, whatever you do, Fort Cochin is quite enthralling despite being laidback. Hotels in Fort Cochin are nineteen to the dozen. There are lot of options and a lot of them are very good. The ones that we promote and deal with in the luxury segment are as follows:
A. Malabar House: The bright colours of this hotel truly reflect the character of India and the way the hotel welcomes you. It is a beautiful place to stay and we have been interacting with them for the better part of a decade.
B. CGH 8th Bastion. This is a great place to stay which is not very expensive for the CGH experience. I have never stayed here. I have inspected this hotel several times and I have eaten here many times as well.
C. CGH Brunton. This is the ultimate in luxury in all of Cochin. Taj is good too. But clearly CGH takes the cake. It is by far the best experience that you can get in this part of the world. I personally take care of my clients’ experiences with CGH and I totally recommend them.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when we talk of that small state of Kerala. Really! I have not even started talking about the food. It will take me a week to tell you what all you can get to eat here. Some hotel buffets have sixteen items on the side of non-vegetarian dishes. I mean sixteen different items. In the North, in the most expensive of resorts, the best they can muster is probably three! This is not a South vs North debate. But honestly, culturally speaking, Kerala stands out proudly with its varied cuisine at extremely affordable positions. Try it. You will never look back!
Kerala is an amazing travel experience that is not often talked about in travel magazines. This is something that we proudly promote. It is untouched, unblemished and beautiful. I have said a small part of what I wanted to talk about regarding the amazing experiences that are possible when you travel to Kerala. It is a small state with enormous possibilities. Spend at least a week long vacation here. I have friends and family who go to Kerala to spend a month or two and wish they could be there longer. Your busy schedules may not permit you to do that. However, a week in Kerala can actually change the way you live life the way it did for me. That is another story that I will reserve for another time. In the meanwhile, just take the plunge and go to Kerala. You will simply fall in love, all over again.
Author: Krishnendu, traveller, photographer and boutique travel designer.
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