Manal Assaad shares her trip to ‘God’s own country’, Kerala, India.
When I first said that I was traveling to Kerala in India, I was warned about the food, the weather and the crowdedness… Very few people, including me, really knew Kerala and what to expect! I assure you that your misconceptions will change, just like mine has, when you experience Kerala like I did… So read on to know how best to explore the marvelous state known for being God’s Own Country… In style!
Kochi – Rest Stop before embarking on your adventure
Kochi is the main city in North Kerala, and has the major airport through which I arrived. I’m not much of a city traveler so I didn’t spend much time exploring around Kochi, and given how often it was raining, I spent most of my time at the hotel. For my first 2 nights, I stayed in Holiday Inn Kochi, and enjoyed a panorama view of the city, cozying up by the window while it rained heavily. In my last night, I stayed at Crowne Plaza Kochi, with a more beautiful panoramic view of the city backwaters…
It was in Crowne Plaza Kochi that I also had the best food in my trip: A specially made sea food course with coconut milk and coconut butter flavor!
So you may not want to stay around in Kochi for more than 2 nights on your way in and out of the state, and if you’ve got time, do visit the Fort Kochi area for some touristic shopping and chill time at a street café.
Munnar – Exploring the Breathtaking High Ranges of Kerala
On the way out of Kochi, and to the high ranges of Kerala, is where you start to see the beauty of the state… Munnar was my next stop in Kerala, around 4 hours away from Kochi, high up in the mountains, surrounded by luscious jungles. I stayed at Mountain Club Resort, with a gorgeous view from the room and a relaxing natural ambiance, I really thought I’d not see anything more beautiful during my trip; but oh how I was wrong! Kerala kept amazing me with its beauty.
The resort is about 20 minutes far from the town, in the heart of Munnar’s vibrant nature and away from the crowdedness so you can truly relax. There are many activities at the resort such as swimming at the infinity pool, having fun at the recreation room or getting pampered at the spa, and when you finally feel ready for adventures, the resort can arrange lots of outdoor activities for you such as ATV rides (at Polaris around 3km away from the resort), biking, wildlife safaris and much more. I chose to go ATV riding, and I was so glad I did, not only because it was lots of fun, but because I was able to get to the lake I was seeing from my room view, and it was the most peaceful serene scene in my trip! Munnar is known for its lakes, most famous of which is Mattupetty Lake at Echo Point, its waterfalls and tea plantations… Miles upon miles of green mountain fields that just fill you with awe. As a tea addict, I of course couldn’t leave Munnar without stocking up on delicious natural fresh tea!
Thekkady – Adventures in the heart of Kerala’s jungles
Another 3 to 4 hours away to the south of Munnar, I got to Thekkady, to my stay in Greenwoods Resort and it was beyond expectations! No wonder it is rated as #2 hotel in Thekkady on TripAdvisor. I had the presidential suite and I could have easily not left my suite ever and still would have been overwhelmed! A 2 stories suite with its own private heated swimming pool and a Jacuzzi, surrounded by jungle… There is nothing like swimming in warm water, while it is raining, and seeing squirrels scurrying around the majestic green trees around. The whole resort is built in a jungle on top of a hill, so it’s like living in a jungle but in a 5-star style… And if you really want to experience an authentic jungle living, they actually have a tree house on the premise, where you can sit back and enjoy a cup of tea & homemade cake on top of a tree!
Apart from the awesomeness of the resort facilities, the staff was extremely pleasant, attentive and professional, and the chef took special care of me when he knew I don’t eat spicy food, preparing food especially for me, even though there were already plenty of delicious choices with live cooking stations. The resort’s location is strategic, as it is just a walk away from the local market where you can experience local life and shop for local products, and visit the offices of major attractions to get tickets, but the resort can also arrange them for you. Elephant rides, boat rides, cultural shows and dances, jungle treks and bamboo rafting, jeep safari tours are just a few of the awesome activities you can do in Thekkady… You wouldn’t know where to start! I surely went for an elephant ride, for the first time ever, and for the jungle trekking to explore the rich nature of Thekkady, and bamboo rafting in a serene lake surrounded by wildlife and exotic birds.
But if you really want to learn about Kerala’s nature and ecosystem, without going through the fuss of a jungle trek, then I recommend visiting the Spice Village Resort. A tour inside the resort with one of its naturalists will introduce you to the many types of trees, plants, and herbs that Kerala is famous for; you may even spot some exotic birds too!
Kumarakom, Mararikulam and Alappuzha – The magnificent backwaters and beaches of Kerala
Although you can never have enough of the beauty of Kerala’s highrange, but you do not want to miss the chance to see the state’s famous backwaters and beaches! I left Thekkady and headed to Kumarakom, about a 3 hour drive towards the west coast. Kumarakom is a village that’s more of a cluster of little islands, therefore known for its vast network of rivers and canals. You can experience the best of Kumarakom by staying at Zuri resort, with a scenic view of the beautiful backwaters, which you can also enjoy through the resort’s luxury houseboat ride.
But to really enjoy the backwaters, you must not miss the chance to go kayaking in Alappuzha (aka Alleppey)! Nicknamed “Venice of the East”, and listed by National Geographic Traveller as one of the top 50 destinations of a lifetime, it is the perfect opportunity to explore the beauty of the backwaters while also witnessing the daily lives of locals who fish, bathe, buy fish and water, do laundry and dishes by the sides of the canals.
Then head to Mararikulam, where I saw one of the most breathtaking beach sunsets at the eco-friendly Marari Beach Resort; I just shut down everything and relaxed on the beach, soaking in the sun rays, and watching fishermen throw their nets into the waves for the catch of the day. I later got to have that fresh catch of the day at the resort’s seafood restaurant, The Beach Grill, where the chef prepared it live in front of me; I then enjoyed my delicious dinner by candlelight while listening to the soothing sounds of the crashing waves… It was the perfect ending to my amazing experience in Kerala; truly God’s Own Country.
Over to you! have you been to Kerala, India? Share your experience with us in the comments!
(About the Author – Manal Assaad, better known as TheManalyst, is a Social Media consultant whose passion for exploring and sharing lead her to travel blogging. Read about her other adventures on her Blog)
(Disclosure: My trip was sponsored by Gateway Malabar Holidays who arranged my exquisite accommodations and transportation with a local Arabic/English speaking guide, and ensured my utmost comfort for a smooth and pleasant journey throughout.)