Kerala | India
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Kerala

God's own Country!

Kerala, (കേരളം) a state in Southern India, is known as a tropical paradise of waving palms and wide, sandy beaches. Kerala is also known by God's own Country.It is a narrow strip of coastal territory that slopes down the Western Ghats in a cascade of lush, green vegetation and reaches the Arabian sea. Kerala borders the states of Tamil Nadu to the east and Karnataka to the north. It is also known for its backwaters, mountains, coconuts, spices and art forms like Kathakali and Mohini Attam. It is the most literate state in India, and a land of diverse religions, where you can find Hindu temples, mosques, churches, and even synagogues. With world-class sporting options, Ayurvedic spas and treatments, eco-tourism initiatives, beautiful tall blue mountains, pristine rain forests, golden beaches and an enormous range of accommodation, Kerala has much to offer the visitor.

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1 Understand 1.1 Geography 1.2 History 1.3 Climate 1.4 Religion 1.5 Culture 1.5.1 Dance 1.5.2 Music 1.5.3 Martial arts 1.5.4 Drama 1.5.5 Cinema 1.6 Traditional dress 1.7 Government 1.8 Economy The tourism department of Kerala boasts that the state is God's Own Country. Once you visit, you will see where this claim comes from. The state really is blessed with great natural beauty. The state is also considered to be one of the safest regions of India. Incidents of local people cheating tourists are almost non-existent. Kerala has high standards of living compared to its neighbours and other Indian states and has indices such as education and healthcare that are on par with developed countries. Therefore, tourists can relax without being followed around by taxi drivers, touts or guides, though there are some beggars who have migrated from poorer states. Abundant rainfall means that you can find lush greenery that remains pretty much throughout the year. A holiday here is an opportunity for rejuvenation. You can get an Ayurvedic oil massage, spend a day or two on a houseboat with nothing to do but watch coconut trees pass by, or just laze around on Kovalam or Varkala beaches. Thus, tourism is more experiential here, rather than being devoted to seeing highly touristed sights. Kerala was named as one of the "ten paradises of the world" and "50 places of a lifetime" by the National Geographic Traveler magazine. Geography Kerala is wedged between the Western Ghats on the eastern side and the Arabian Sea on the west, thus having a wide range of topography from high altitude mountains to golden beaches, and is criss-crossed by 44 rivers. The tributaries, unique backwaters, lagoons and numerous small islands provide many scenic attractions for visitors. History The ancient period saw the rise and fall of the first and second Chera empires, which were the only two periods when Kerala was united under a monarch. Kerala is mentioned in the writings of many Greek, Roman, Arabic, European and Jewish travelers and merchants from the 1st millennium BCE. She was known for the spices that were grown in the lush hills of the Western Ghats. During the Middle Ages, there were three powerful kingdoms - Kolathiri/Cherakal in the extreme north, Samuthiri/Zamorin in Kozhikode (north and central), Travancore in the south. The Portuguese were the first to discover a direct sea route between Lisbon and Kozhikode in Kerala, and this marked the beginning of European colonisation in the country. Soon the Dutch, French, Italians and British were all lured by the wealth of spices and silk, and came with the intention of forming colonies. The defeat of the Dutch by the Travancore Army at the Battle of Colachel, and the decline of Portuguese Empire and French problems in Europe, resulted in the British gaining the full influence in India, and the annexation of the Malabar region (Kolathiri and Samuthiri) into the British Madras Presidency. However, the Kingdoms of Tiruvithamkoor (Travancore) and Kochi (Cochin) enjoyed some autonomy under the British. After Indian independence, the kingdoms chose to accede into the Indian Union, and were later merged into a single State of Travancore-Cochin. With the linguistic reorganisation of States, the Malayalam-speaking regions of Malabar and Travancore-Cochin were integrated into the State of Kerala on November 1st 1956. This realised a united Kerala, a dream held since the partition of the ancient Kerala Empire of Cheras in the eighth century. Today, people in Kerala live a largely traditional lifestyle, and much of the rich culture and heritage of the region is well-preserved. November 1st is celebrated as Keralappiravi (Birth of Kerala) Day (also observed as Malayalam Divasam or Malayalam Day). Kerala also played host to the first Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities of India. While the Jewish population declined following the establishment of Israel, Kerala still has a synagogue in Kochi. Kerala is known for its secularism and peaceful co-existence and brotherhood of the three major religions - Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Climate Kerala, being very close to equator, has a tropical climate. Kerala experiences heavy rains almost throughout the year, and is one of the wettest areas in the earth. Kerala has three distinct seasons: Summer lasts from mid-February to mid-May. The tropical sun is really hot and temperatures can go up to 35°C in the afternoons. The monsoon is in place from mid-May until early September. The North-East Monsoon winds bring heavy showers. Winter is mild and lasts from about mid-October to early February. Heavy rains occur from the last week of September until early November, due to the retreat of the South-East monsoon. There is no snow in Kerala, although it is quite cold and misty in the mountain regions. When in Kerala, carry an umbrella no matter what time of the year it is. You can be caught in a sudden shower in summer which will leave you drenched if you are unprepared. The Kerala sun coupled with high rate of humidity can be unforgiving in the summer months. The temperature averages around: 28°C - 36°C daytime, 24°C - 28°C at night in summer seasons of March, April 20°C - 28°C daytime, 18°C - 25°C at night for the rest of the year Temperatures may drop down to 10°C or lower during November and December in hilly areas of the Western Ghats, especially at popular hill-stations like Munnar and Wynad, which results misty days and freezing nights coupled with light cold showers. However, in other places, the temperatures never drop below 15°C. Summers have become hotter: though the maximum temperature has never risen higher than 36°C, the rising humidity has made summers difficult. The height of the Kerala summer is normally between mid-March and May. Wear only light, loose cotton clothes during this season. Consider a trip to hilly areas, where the temperatures never exceed 26°C. Kerala experiences mild winds throughout most of the year. The most pleasant time to visit is from September to March, when the weather is ideal for sightseeing, trekking and boating. Religion Hinduism is the largest religion in the state. Hinduism in Kerala is bit different to other parts of India, due to assimilation of traditional Dravidian culture, and later due to the unique practice of Marumakathyam (matrilineal system), which made the society highly matriarchal unlike patriarchal values found else where in India. This also helped the society to be highly tolerant to cross-caste/religious marriages and co-living systems. Also, Kerala is the only last place in world where ancient Hindu Vedic Tantric rites are practiced widely. Kerala's Islam is also unique. Kerala's trading relations with West Asia brought Islam to its shores around 600 CE soon after its formation in Arabia, through Arab Traders. Islam entered Kerala with an official fanfare and patronage from the ruling Hindu Chera Emperor and ever since that, Islam became one of the most popular religions in the state. Unlike other parts of India, Kerala Muslims are mainly descended from Arabs through inter-religious marriages between fisherman families, who are thus called Mappillas (meaning sons-in-law). Unlike other parts of India, Muslims were given high profile rankings in Kerala society by ruling Hindu Rajas and many of them are placed as close companions of ruling elite. Kerala's Islam is slightly different from Islam from other parts of South Asia, as Kerala follows the Shafi'i School of Islam like many Arab countries such as Yemen, and unlike the Hanafi school elsewhere in India. Christianity, too, has made a unique mark in Kerala's history. St. Thomas the Apostle came in 52 CE and spread the message of Christ. This resulted in a large influx of Syrian immigrants who soon assimilated with the locals. Kerala has the largest number of churches in India. In terms of denominations, Kerala is home to Roman Catholic Latin Rite, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara denominations, two major Orthodox denominations, two major Protestant denominations and one Nestorian church, apart from innumerable Charismatic/Independent congregations. For thousands of years, Buddhism was the most influential religion in Kerala. It was only in the 11th and 12th centuries that Brahmanism took hold in the state and Buddhism waned. Today the state has a small Buddhist population and almost all famous Buddhist temples in Kerala has been converted into large Hindu temples, some still having Buddhist saints worshiped. The famed Vadakkumnath Temple in Thrissur was a large Buddhist Vihara, which was converted into a Hindu Temple. Another minority religion is Jainism, with a fairly small number of followers in Wayanad, Kozhikode and Kochi. Jainism reached Kerala during the Maurya period, when the Great Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta Maurya retired to Shravanabelagola near Mysore in 3rd century BCE, though a large number of Jain monks accompanied him. Jainism became extremely popular in Kerala, with large number of Jain temples, until 6th century CE when there was a revival of Hinduism in Kerala. The decline of Jains resulted in many Jain temples being converted into large Hindu temples. The classic example is the famous Irinjalakoda Bharatha Temple which originally was a Jain temple dedicated to Saint Bharatheswara, a Jain monk, which was converted into a Hindu Temple in 5th century CE as Lord Bharatha (Brother of Sree Rama). Many Jain temples later got demolished during Tipu Sultan's raid. There are also a lot of followers of Sikhism in the state, mainly those who have migrated from the Indian state of Punjab. Judaism has existed in Kerala for about 2,000 years, and today a minority of Jews live around Kochi, although there was a mass migration in the 1950s following the founding of Israel. Jews arrived in Kerala during the Crusades when the fall of Jerusalem caused a large number of Jewish immigrants to take refuge in Kerala. The Chera Kulashekara Emperor invited Jews to settle down in Kochi and Kollam areas and issued them various grants and privileges. Unlike elsewhere, Kerala is one of the few places in the world where Jews lived peacefully with Muslims and Christians. Cochini Jews became the largest segment of Jews and several famous synagogues were established, though the first Jewish synagogue, which was established in the 15th century (the Commonwealth's oldest synagogue), is the only remaining one. During Portuguese rule, several synagogues were raided and many were demolished, until the Kochi Kingdom officially asked the Portuguese to stop attacking Cochini Jews. This resulted in existence of only two synagogues in Kerala- the Paradesi Synagogue of Mattachery (must see while in Kochi) and a small one in Paravur. Synagogues are off limits to tourists on Saturdays as it is the Sabbath. Due to its strong socialist values and history of several communist movements, there are a considerable number of atheists in the state. Hindus constitute about 56% of the population, Muslims 24% and Christians account for about 19%. Communal and sectarian tensions are rare. Kerala is considered the most peaceful place in South Asia. Culture Unique to Kerala, the Malayalee culture is derived from ancient Tamil-Dravidian practices combined with Arya-Indian culture, with influences from China, Japan, Arab countries, Portugal, Holland and even from the British. There are a lot of Tamil-Sanskrit elements, resulting in many unique practices and customs. Each community in Kerala has its own unique version of Malayalee culture which will not be found anywhere outside Kerala. Hindu influence brought Ayurveda (a system of medicine) into prominence. Kalaripayattu (Kerala's traditional martial art) adopted many Hindu practices. While religious beliefs and their associated myths and legends are well rooted in the Malayalee psyche, the influence of communism and the Kerala renaissance has resulted in separation of religion from the daily routine of life. Kerala architecture has lot of Tibetan-Chinese influence, due to its seclusion from other parts of India when the Western Ghats precluded Tamil influence. Most of the buildings have gabled, tiled roofs and a heavy use of wood with prominent slanting windows and ornamental flora designs. The Sree Padmanabhapuram Palace near Trivandrum is a classic example of this style. Dance, music and drama all have distinctive styles. Dance and music performances often attract large crowds. A good way to experience the entire spectrum of arts and culture of Kerala in one place is at the Annual Kerala State School Art Festival, normally held in December or January. The location changes between various district headquarters on a rotational basis. This was constituted by the government as a competition amongst school children to promote Kerala arts and culture. This is Asia's largest festival according to the Guinness Book of records, with more than 82 art forms show-cased during its ten-day duration. Dance Kerala has numerous indigenous dance forms. Chavittu Nadakam (Malayalam: ചവിട്ടുനാടകം). This is a highly colorful Christian classical art form that originated in Gothuruth village, North Paravur. It is noted for its attractive make-up of characters, their elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements presented in tune with the rhythmic playback music and complementary percussion. This art form highly resembles European opera. Chavittu Nadakam is believed to have originated during the 16th century AD. This form of play is prevalent among the Christian community in the districts of Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur. Kathakali, the lone Indian classical dance drama, originated from Kerala Kathakali. Kerala's celebrated classical ballad with use of large costumes and elaborate make-up. It is a dance drama, noted for wide range of characters. Each character has a special kind of costume and make-up, special movements, particularly extensive expressions, refined gestures, and innovative themes. The dance is accompanied with anchor music and precise drumming. The Kathakali Music is unique as it varies in accordance to expressions and reactions. Whilst traditional Indian epics, mainly the Ramayan and Gita Puran, constitute the main story-boards for the dance drama, many international versions like Shakespearian-Homer-Biblical works are now taken as themes. A glimpse of Kathakali can be seen in shows organised by various cultural centres across Kerala (including the ones at Thekkady), which showcase the art and educate people about it. Koodiyattom. An ancient form of theatre with a legacy of more than 2,000 years. This is very stylised Sanskrit theatre and recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Most of the characters are noted for Sanskrit recitations and highly stylised movement, particularly eye expressions. Some parts of the stories are expressed only using the eyes. Margam Kali (Malayalam: മാര്‍ഗ്ഗംകളി). One of the ancient group dances of Kerala practised by Saint Thomas Christians. The Margamkali is a ritual folk dance in which twelve people dance around a traditional oil lamp (Nilavilakku). They represent the 12 apostles, and Christ is represented by the lamp. They perform the dance wearing the traditional white dhoti and a peacock feather on the turban. Margamkali is essentially famous among the Syrian Christ of Kottayam and Thrissur districts. Mohiniyattom. This classical artform of Kerala is a subtle and graceful dance performed by women in traditional costume. Most of the themes are poems, unlike other classical dances which have an emphasis on Hindu mythology. Theyyam. This is a ritualistic rite performed in the temples of Malabar. It is an ancient tradition, whereby worship takes the form of performance, rather than formal worship. While dressed in Theyyam costume, performers are considered Gods and Goddesses. There are nearly 41 various types of Theyyam, each noted for its different legend and stories. A visit to any Malabar temples during Theyyam season (Dec-Mar) is advised. Music Kerala has its own indigenous music and orchestration. Melam. This is a percussion ensemble, with several variants differing in the number of percussive instruments used, as well as the style of playing them. Melam is extremely popular and is mostly used during temple festivals, when more than six hours of continuous playing is the norm. Melam attracts large crowds and creates wonderful notes. The Thrissur Pooram has the largest Melam, with more than 300 musicians in the ensemble. Sopanam. Kerala's unique classical music has slow, graceful rhythms. Most of the original versions are poems, and the music is coupled with poetic expression and style. Sopanam is now limited to regular performances at temple events. Mappila songs. This music is associated with the local Muslim community. Traditionally, the songs were performed in Mappila Malayalam - a mixture of Arabic and Malayalam - and most tell stories of social systems and customs. Today, Mappila songs are popular amongst youngsters, using Malayalam lyrics. Mappila songs have a charm of their own as their tunes sound a mix of the ethos and culture of Kerala as well as West Asia. Poems play a pivotal role in Malayalee music culture. Kerala is extremely well known for its various famous poetic traditions, and a large number of poems of high literary value. Aksharaslokam (Poem recitations) is a common sight in many village temple platforms and during festival times, where poets recites poems and challenge other poets to start their recitation with the phrase, the former has ended his recitation Film Music. As elsewhere in India, film music is extremely popular, and Malayalam songs can be heard everywhere. Martial arts Kalarippayattu (Kalari) is believed to be one of the oldest martial arts in world. Kalaripayattu has many styles, the best known being Northern Style and Southern Style. While former is focused on using various weapons, the Southern style uses powerful strokes with the bare hand. The knowledge of vital spots, known as Marma, on the human body helped Kalaripayattu warriors make blows that could freeze or kill a person. Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk, mastered Kalaripayattu while in Kerala, and later took it with him to China while he was spreading Buddhism. He taught it to the Buddhist monks in China, which gave rise to Shaolin Kung Fu, which in turn, gave rise to all other forms of Kung Fu, as well as Karate. The British Government passed legislation banning Kalari, considering it a potential danger, and this resulted in a brief decline. Today, it is a popular sport and exercise option which gets international attention. There are many cultural centres which showcase Kalari techniques, one of them being the Kalari Centre at Thekkady, as well as schools in Thiruvanathapuram, Kottayam and many places in north Malabar. Drama Drama was once a very popular medium in Kerala, and played a large role in the spread of Communist ideology and the social renaissance of the region. Due to the popularity of television soaps and cinema, the popularity of live drama has waned. However, some high-end dramas involving technology and innovative themes are gaining popularity in major metropolitan areas. Thrissur is the hub of Kerala drama, with many theatres hosting regular showss. Thrissur also hosts the annual International Drama Festival of Kerala, attracting prominent dramatists, from around the world. Most Kerala dramas are performed in Malayalam, and the stories based on social realities. Some temples offer dramas as part of their Temple festival programs. Cinema Malayalam cinema is a popular local entertainment option. It tends to focus on social realities, and avoids the glitz & glamour prevalent in the Bollywood and Tamil movie industries. For Malayalam movies shown in local theatres, there is no sub-titling, except for those movies nominated for out of state awards. Trivandrum hosts the annual International Film Festival of Kerala which focuses on Asian and Latin movies. Traditional dress Kerala Mundu style The traditional costumes of Kerala are called mundu and neriyathu, for both men and women. Sarees and blouses form the traditional costume of Kerala women. Kerala Mundu is very popular in the state and is worn by many men. It's a special white/cream-coloured dhoti worn across the waist. The dhothi has a golden thread work as a strip running down from the waist to the bottom, and the width of the gold thread determines the cost. It is an elegant costume, mostly used for ceremonial purposess. The women's Mundu Neriyathu is similar and has an upper shawl of same material. White is one of the most preferred colour for clothing in the state. Today, different versions of Mundu and Neriyathu with different colours and motifs are available. Government Kerala is a traditional socialist-leaning state and both the major parties, Indian National Congress and CPI(M), are socialist parties, and has a strong communist movement. This was the first place in the world where a communist government was elected to power through democratic means. Kerala's communism today is similar to the Chinese way in that it focuses on a market economy and reforms, although officially they are against capitalism. Kerala has a tradition of two major alliances: one led by the Communist Party called LDF (Left Democrats) and another led by the Indian National Congress called UDF (United Democrats). These tend to alternate in power every five years. The current government is led by the LDF under the leadership of Pinarayi Vijayan, who is the State Chief Minister. Economy Kerala has been through a period of strong growth with one of the highest per capita incomes in the country, and poverty levels are extremely low compared to elsewhere in India. Most households have family members working somewhere outside the state, typically the Middle East, and their remittances make up approximately 20% of the economy. Agriculture is highly focused on cash-crop cultivation such as rubber, tea, coffee, spices and coconut plantations. Tourism is now a booming industry in Kerala, and accounts for a significant part of the state's economy.

Kerala

Planning a Trip

1 Get in 1.1 By plane 1.2 By train 1.3 By bus 1.4 By road 1.5 By ferry By plane There are three airports in Kerala, with flights to domestic and international destinations: Kochi (Cochin), Kozhikode (Calicut), and Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). The airports have several carriers operating international flights around the world. Cochin International Airport (COK IATA) is the largest airport in the state, as well as the first Indian airport with operations on solar power, with regular flight connections to most parts of India, of the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka and Maldives. Europe- and U.S.-bound passengers need to transit in the Middle East or Mumbai. Thiruvananthapuram International Airport (TRV IATA) has regular connections to major cities of India, and to the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka and Maldives. Charter flights for tourism from London, New York and Moscow operate to Thiruvananthapuram. Kozhikode International Airport (CCJ IATA) is a new airport with limited international connects others than to the Middle East. There are 20 to 25 international carriers offering flights to Kerala. Apart from international carriers, Air India, Jet Airways, offer international connections from the 3 airports. Domestic destinations accessible by direct flights from these airports include Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Agatti, Hyderabad,Mangalore,Goa and Delhi. There are daily, and some bi-daily flights, to most Indian cities from airports in Kochi and Trivandrum. Many of the major Indian low cost carriers (LCC) such as Spicejet, Indigo and Jetlite offer daily flights from major Indian cities. By train Indian Railways operates several trains to, from and within Kerala. Trains into Kerala start from neighbouring states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Long-haul direct train services from cities like Delhi and Mumbai are also available. Log on to the Indian Railways booking site to book tickets online or you can walk up to any railway station to book tickets between any two destinations in India. Trains are the most popular method of transport and almost all trains in Kerala originate or terminate in Thiruvananthapuram or Ernakulam, and are usually heavily booked. Buy your tickets as early as possible. Another option is using Tatkal. You need to pay more depending on the class of accommodation, but have a chance of getting a seat. Tatkal is an emergency service, hence its booking is open just 24 hours before departure. The Tatkal booking starts at 10AM IST on the previous day of travel for AC classes, and 11AM IST on the previous day of travel for non AC sleeper class. Make sure that you have an Indian railway website login and valid identification card with you during booking. Some travel agents have authorised booking quotas for certain trains. The luxury tourist train The Golden Chariot offers a South Indian Rail Tour, which includes many parts of Kerala. This is a good option for those who want to visit the South Indian states on as tight schedule. The train starts from Bangalore and covers Chennai, Pondicherry, Trichy, Madurai, Trivandrum, Alapuzha, Kochi and back to Bangalore. The 7 night/8 day package tour, costs US$3,000-7,000 depending upon the class taken. By bus Inter-state private and government buses operates between neighboring states. Usually the journey is performed in the night so that you can escape the heat of the day. The most common inter-state bus is Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC-Karnataka) with daily bus from most of Major cities of Kerala to Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore. Tamil Nadu State Bus like SETC also operates regularly from Kerala. Kerala's State bus- KRSTC-Kerala do have regular ordinary bus to most of nearby places in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. KRSTC-Kerala also operates a few Volvo AC bus to Bangalore and Coimbatore. However private bus companies operate more buses than Govt options. Most of them are well maintained. Kallada, Shama, KPN are the major bus players. Raj National and few others offer pan-India operations. Kallada, KPN, Shama, etc., have regular buses to Bangalore, Chennai and many other places in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on various times It is recommended that you consider booking long distance bus tickets on air-conditioned Volvo buses operated by all operators as the quality of the other buses vary significantly. By road Kerala is well connected by National Highways: NH 17 (connecting Mumbai to Cochin via Western coastal side of Goa, Karnataka and almost all towns of Malabar like Kannur, and Kozhikode), NH 47 (connecting Salem with Kanyakumari via Coimbatore, Palakkad, Thrissur,Kochi, Alapuzha, Kollam, Trivandrum NH 212 (connecting Kozhikode to Mysore via Wayanad), NH 49 (Connecting Kochi to Ramaeswaram via Munnar, Madurai), NH 220 (connecting Kollam to Theni in Tamil Nadu via Kottayam, Kanjirapally, Kumily and enters into Tamil Nadu at Kumily), NH 208 (connecting Kollam with Madurai via Punalur, Shenkottai, Tenkasi) and NH 213 (connecting Palakkad with Kozhikode) NH 212 is a National Highway in Southern India. NH 212 connects Kozhikode in Kerala with Kollegal in Karnataka via Mysore Most of the NH roads are dual carriageways. As vehicle density is very high in Kerala, accidents are common [1]. You must be extra cautious while driving here. As Kerala receives large rainfall throughout the year, roads condition aren't the same always. So expect a delay in your schedule especially in monsoon season and afterwards (June–October) even on the National Highways. By ferry Kochi is a major cruise port and a large international cruise terminal is under construction. Once completed, regular cruises will be operated from Kochi. A regular luxury Cruise between Colombo, Male and Kochi is now operational. All Lakshadweep bound cruises originate in Kochi and make return trips. Also private yachts and other sea going boats regularly call at Kochi.

Kerala

Getting Around

1 Get around 1.1 By train 1.1.1 Different types of trains 1.1.2 Train fare 1.2 By car 1.3 By bus 1.4 By taxi 1.5 By autorickshaw 1.6 By ferry 1.6.1 By plane 10°8′24″N 76°15′0″EMap of Kerala Kerala is quite well connected with many modes of transport. The flat southern side is better connected than mountainous north. By train Trains are good for long distance travel within the state. Most trains are long distance trains with stops at many of Kerala's stations. Short distance trains are mainly intercity passenger trains, connecting only major cities like Trivandrum, Kochi, Palakkad, Alapuzha, Kollam, Kottayam, Kozhikode, Kannur and Thrissur. Different types of trains Basically there are five types of trains: Passenger Trains are slow trains that stop in all stations including very small stations. Fast Passenger Trains are passenger trains that skip smaller stations and offer the same fare structure. Express Trains stop only at major railway stations and charge higher than Passenger trains. Superfast Trains skip some of the major stations and charge even higher than Express Trains. Rajadhani and Shadabdhi Trains are elite trains that offer only air conditioned coaches. They stop only at selected stations. Train fare The average fare for a 200 km distance for different classes is given below : First Class AC: ₹1,200 Two Tier AC: ₹617 Three Tier AC: ₹430 AC Chair Car: ₹203 Sleeper Class: ₹120 Second class seat in Express train: ₹70 Second class seat in Passenger train: ₹30 By car Roads remain the primary, popular mode of transport. Nearly every nook and corner of the state is well connected by road. The primary roads are NH 47, NH 49, NH 17 and NH 212 and are all National Highways. The NH 47 is one of the busiest as it connects Kochi and Trivandrum. The traditional primary road is MC Road, which covers one the most scenic places in south Kerala. However travel on the NH 47 cuts the time by at least by 1 hour when travelling between Kochi and Trivandrum. State Highways connect to almost all parts of Kerala. Most of the SH are Bi-lane roads. Due to heavy rains, it's common to see potholes in most roads. Some of the wettest areas, like Alleppey, Kottayam, and Iddukki, have very damaged roads. By bus Nadapuram Bus stand featuring a variety of buses Kerala has a good network of private and KSRTC buses. Bus fare is usually ₹7 for 3 km with the Fast Passenger and Super-fast services of KSRTC charging a marginally higher price. The air-conditioned Volvo service operated by KSRTC charges around 250% the cost of ordinary fares. In every city of Kerala, there are separate private and KSRTC bus stations. In some cities, KSRTC buses service private bus stations, but never vice versa. Mini buses are more popular because they move very slowly and the crew are very courteous. For distances exceeding 100 km, night services are better because daytime traffic is hopeless and you can save a lot of time travelling in the night. By taxi Taxis are a good but expensive way to cover short distances. Negotiate the price before you get into the taxi. Ambassador and Indica Taxis are the most common services. Ambassador Taxis are rarely air-conditioned and are most commonly used in Trivandrum. Indica is more common in Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kottayam areas. Most of the Indica taxis are air-conditioned. Normal rate is ₹ 50 as minimum rate for 2 km and ₹20 per km later. A/C cabs charge normally 10 to 15% more. In Cochin, Trivandrum, day cabs are available that charge ₹ 450 for 4 hour trip anywhere within city limits or ₹850 for 8 hour trip within city limits. Most these will be Indica. Jeeps and 4 wheel SUVs are the most common form of taxi in hilly areas. By autorickshaw Also called autos, these are a convenient mode of transport for very short distance travel. By law the auto driver has to start a meter for every journey. However at times this law tends to be overlooked. It is wise to ask the driver, politely, to ensure he starts the meter at the start of your journey, to avoid unnecessary arguments at the end of the trip. Most of the larger railway stations and all the airports have pre-paid auto-rickshaw and/or taxi stands. Just tell them where you want to go and you will get a slip of paper with the destination and amount written on it. Pay only that amount of money and nothing more. Autorikshaws are cheaper in Malabar than southern Kerala because the drivers there do not charge more than what the meter shows. Auto drivers of Malabar also have a reputation for their courteous behavior towards the customers. By ferry Kerala has an extensive series of water bodies with rivers, backwaters and lagoons making travel by ferry an effective service. In some places, ferries are more popular and easier than road transport. Most of the places in the Alapuzha-Kuttanad area are interconnected with regular ferry services. The main waterways route, served by Kerala Water Transport Department boats, are as follows (1) Vembanattu lake - 52 km², connecting between districts of Alapuzha and Kottayam and numerous of canals in Kuttanad (2) Ashtamudy lake - 200 km², connecting various points in Kollam district. (3) Ernakulam - Vypeen - Fort Cochin ferry (Cochin port & Harbour) (4) Muhamma - Kumarakom, connecting islands within Kottayam district (5) Vaikom - Thavanakkadavu, connecting Kottayam with Ernakulam districts. (6) Payyannur - Parassinikkadavu, connecting various parts of Kannur district. In addition, the National Waterway- NW 3 has formally opened, which runs from Kollam in south Kerala to Kottapuram in Thrissur district, which will be served by large boats. The final touches to this waterway are underway and scheduled to open during the middle of the year. By plane Helicopter and air-taxi services are available between Kochi and Trivandrum. These services connect the two major metros with District Headquarters. It's a very expensive way to travel. There are no intra-city train/metro services in any Kerala city. Kochi has its own metro services, operating within the city limits. A dedicated Inter-city Rail called MEMU is under construction between Kochi and Kollam.

Kerala

Top Attractions

1 See 1.1 Scenic attractions 1.2 Historical monuments 1.3 Eco-tourism villages 1.4 Religious attractions Kerala backwater near Punnamada Lake Due to its unique geography, Kerala gets rain for at least 7-8 months of the year and the forests are classified as rainforests. There are many opportunities to trek, camp and see wildlife. Scenic attractions The Backwaters of Kerala are a maze of lagoons criss-crossed with rivers, shallow pools and canals, all separated from the sea by a narrow strip of sand banks. Backwaters are present throughout the state but Alappuzha and Kottayam are most notable in this regard. Munnar hill station The Blue Mountains of the Western Ghats, popularly known as Nilgiris, are close to Trivandrum and there are numerous hill stations in this area. The most popular is Munnar, the honeymoon capital of the state. The highest peak of the Western Ghats is Anamudi (2,695 metres), which is good for trekking. The area is also home to several sanctuaries and forest reserve areas. There are more than two dozen waterfalls, both large and small, with numerous rapids and springs. The largest fallwaters are at Athirampally, where three milky waterfalls fall at great speed. The world famous Kovalam beach, well known for fun and frolic Kerala has 650 km of coastline and numerous beaches. Popular recreational beaches include Alapuzha Beach, Kollam Beach, Cherai Beach, Muzhappilangadu beach and Varkala Beach. Some of these beaches also have historical significance such as Kozhikode alt-Kozhikode Beach where Vasco da Gama first landed in India and Kovalam Beach near Trivandrum, a centre of Hippy counter-culture in the 1960s. Historical monuments Kerala is home to numerous historical monuments that can be found in many cities. It hosts the Cherman Perumal Mosque in Kodungallor which is the world's second oldest intact mosque and is home to many rare artifacts. There are forts in Bekal, Palakkad and Thalassery from the pre-British Raj era that are worth exploring. Also of interest are several palaces in the state. Most notable are the Hill Palace in Kochi and the Palaces at Sree Padmanabhapuram, 30 km from Trivandrum. Eco-tourism villages Kerala was the first state to formally embrace the eco-tourism concept in South Asia, and has made considerable strides in this respect. The Akkalum Tourist Village in Trivandrum has a floating bridge and beautiful landscaped gardens and many famous statues and sculptures dot the area. Kumbalangi Model Village for Sustainable Tourism near Kochi was a once sleepy fishing village, and now popular visitor attraction with a planned focus on sustainability. Thenmala Eco-Tourist Village in Kollam is the first such place in India, with an intense focus on the natural environment. It offers numerous exhibits include 27 rare trees, many sculptures, and a large musical fountain. Religious attractions Kerala is famous for its pilgrimage options. Most of the religious sites are deep-rooted with shades of strong myths, legends, and many have long historical tales of more than 1,000 years to tell. Finding a temple, church or mosque is not difficult, as houses of worship are present in almost every nook and corner. Kerala is famous for its religious harmony. Keralites are very religious people and religious functions dominate all walks of life. This does not mean that those in Kerala are a closed minded people; it's an very open society that accepts respectful debate and discussions about religion. Many times one can find Hindu temples, Christian churches, Muslim mosques, and even Jain temples in the same city. While in Kerala, take note of the interesting architecture of many Muslim mosques. Unlike other parts of India, Islamic Architecture in Kerala is similar to Kerala Temple architecture without much Persian influence. However, many new mosques are built in Arab Style due to growing Arab influence in Kerala society. Normally in Kerala, mosques and churches are referred as palli, not masjids as the are called in other parts of India.

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