Truly God's own country... Kerala, India

| August 12, 2015

The evergreen state of Kerala is the second most visited state in India (after Rajasthan) and is often referred to as “God’s Own Country”. For those who are yet to explore Kerala, Cox & Kings’ Roop Kumar explains some of the highlights that may entice you to visit.

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The first thing that you will notice is the greenery. There are hardly any high-rise buildings or industrial areas like in many other parts of India. Although Trivandrum is the capital, Cochin hogs the limelight, being part of the original spice route. The city of Cochin bears witness to the Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Chinese, Arab and British influences from the various settlers and travellers of the past. One can easily explore Cochin all day long - wandering through Fort Cochin and Old Cochin, looking at beautiful colonial homes, as well as antique and spice warehouses.

The boutique hotel Malabar House or colonial Brunton Boatyard, are great places to stay. They make a good base to walk around Fort Cochin in the evening and mingle with the local families who picnic along the waterfront. One can also see the working of the Chinese fishing nets, take a harbour cruise, or simply buy some freshly caught fish to get cooked by the many stalls nearby run by catering students.

Whilst in Cochin it is a great idea to do a two or three-day cookery course. Spend time with a local housewife, shopping for produce and helping to prepare and traditional dishes.

From Cochin, drive through the beautiful hills dotted with tea plantations to Munnar (1600 metres above sea level). It will become obvious why the British Raj loved Munnar as a summer getaway. Munnar is also popular with locals - they come here to escape the heat of the plains, enjoy romantic misty mornings, splash in the waterfalls, all whilst being surrounded by neatly manicured tea plantations.

A visit to a tea factory shows the whole process - from the picking of the leaves to how it finally arrives in your teacup! Bird watching is another favourite of the locals and tourists alike. We suggest you to stay at the Windermere Estate, which is a hotel right in the middle of a Tea Estate.

On returning back to the plains, head straight to the Alleppey area and experience something totally different - a home stay. There are several options for you to choose from however we suggest either Philipkutty's Farm or the Vembanad House. From having your dinner cooked by the grandmother of the house, to actually going to the market and cooking local cuisine with a housewife, home stays are a great insight into local life. This is a good way to not only do something different, but also to understand Keralan culture and the local customs better.

From here you could go to Kumarakom and base yourself at The Kumarakom Lake Resort, which is on the site of an old backwater village. The meandering pool villas are perfect if you want to wake up and jump straight from your bed into a pool surrounded by tropical plants. Enjoy a full day backwater cruise with your own personal chef and a traditional lunch of fish and vegetables, whilst watching the world go by.

All in all Kerala is a great destination for nature, home stays, exploring India's best backwaters, amazing cuisine, as well as friendly locals.

Cox & Kings organise luxury tailor-made holidays to Kerala.

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