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Kerala, South India
If you like places with lush landscapes, colourful characters, delicious cuisine and rich spirituality – Kerala will not disappoint. This sliver of green on India’s south-west coast offers the perfect setting to renew your soul and nourish your senses. Within this 580 km stretch of coast lies a diverse landscape ranging from coconut fringed beaches, wildlife reserves, mountain spice plantations and a maze of soothing backwaters. Kerala boasts India’s lowest birthrate, lowest infant mortality, highest marriage age and a l00% literacy rate. Add to this people who are as warm and ‘balmy’ as the tropical weather and you have a fascinating holiday destination bearing the title of “God’s Own Country.”

Dubbed the ‘Venice of the East’ you can explore Kerala’s 48 rivers and over 1,000 canals run over thousands of miles of backwaters from Cochin to Alleppey and back to Cochin. The perfect vehicle to explore these are the traditional houseboats called Kettuvallams. These unique boats are made without nails and span up to 80 feet long. The standard one includes a deck with a day lounge, bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen complete with your personal chef.

Kerala Culture

Preservation of indigenous culture is a high priority in Kerala in contrast to other areas of India where it is rapidly dying out. The two main dancing styles are Kathakali and Mohiniyattam. Performances depict the eternal struggle between good and evil through epics such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Kathakali is a garishly colourful dance performed by men with the story are conveyed through costumes and hand gestures known as mudras. Mohiniyattam literally means the ‘dance of the enchantress’. Reserved for female dancers this style is more delicate and subdued than Kathakali.

Kerala’s martial art, Kalarippayattu is India’s best kept secret. Believed by historians to be one of the oldest martial arts in the world it is fitting that it thrived in Kerala, home of India’s warrior class. The speed, agility and skill of its exponents is astounding. Training for years without weapons, once proficient enough, they learn to use a spear, sword, dagger, stick, shield and deadly vital points called marmas. They also learn the moral code of Yoga and the healing art of Ayurveda. With muscles shining from oil, jumping meters high, spinning and wielding weapons, a Kalarippayattu display is a memorable spectacle.

Kerala Cuisine

Kerala’s culinary delights are the closest thing to pure Ayurvedic cuisine in India, the traditional Kerala diet is very healthy. One thing you can’t avoid is coconut. Keralites love it, adding its flesh and milk to practically every dish. A typical meal, known as a thali, consists of 3 mild vegetable curries, rice, pappadams, pickle, dal, yogurt, sweet vermicelli and buttermilk to boost digestion. It’s a vegetarian’s paradise and all for around Rs.200. Other specialties to tantalise your taste buds include the savory dosa pancake, idli rice dumplings, avial coconut curry and sweet rice payasam.

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