Kerala  is a state in Southern India, famous for its beaches, backwaters, culture, spices, hills and religious places. It is also one of the most literate states in India. Going by the state tourism department moniker "God's Own Country", it is blessed with abundant greenery, tropical forests, a fertile coastal plain, fishing, tourism and a relatively stable political situation.
Myth has it that Kerala was created by Parasuraman (an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu) when he tossed his axe dripping with the blood of his mother, over the Western Ghats Mountain into the sea. He was asked to decapitate his mother by his father over an allegation of adultery. Parasurama chopped off his mother's head and this pleased his father so much that he granted him any wish he wanted. He promptly asked for his mother to be brought back to life and it was granted. However Parasurama felt so bad after this that he tossed his favorite weapon to the sea and renounced violence once and for all. However the sea which is depicted as a Goddess didn't want to receive the spooky axe and receded creating the land of Kerala, which is today a famous tourist destination for spending holidays.
- Kannur (Cannanore)
- Wayanad (Wynad)
- Kozhikode (Calicut)
- Palakkad (Palghat)
- Thrissur (Trichur)
- Alappuzha (Alleppey)
- Kollam (Quilon)
- Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)
- Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) - the capital city of Kerala
- Alapuzha (Allepy) - A network of canals criss-cross the city, leading to it being called 'the Venice of the East'. The biggest boat race (the Nehru Trophy Boat Race) in India happens here every August.
- Kochi (Cochin) - divided into Ft. Cochin and Ernakulam, the principal financial hub of Kerala
- Kollam (Quilon) - The backwaters, and the former Portugese settlement at Tangasseri close by make Kollam an interesting place to visit
- Kottayam - The city that has the last word in rubber in India. Most interestingly, it is the centre of Kerala's Syrian Christian community
- Kozhikode (Calicut) - where Vasco da Gamma landed for the first time in India. Third Largest City
- Thrissur (Trichur) - the cultural capital of Kerala
Major Tourist destinations
- Kerala backwaters - stretching across central Kerala, a must-try experience
- Kovalam Beach - a popular beach near Trivandrum
- Kumarakom - bird sanctuary near Kottayam
- Munnar - One Of the most untouched hill stations in India
- Varkala Papanasam Beach - near Trivandrum, with a 2000-year-old temple
- Silent Valley National Park - rain forest
- Thekkady - Periyar Tiger Reserve
- Wayanad - Caves, waterfalls and pristine forests
- Bekal Fort - Fort in North Kerala, On the sea shore
Alapuzha - Backwater,kuttanadu, alapuzha beach,Marrari beach,Pathiramanal(midnight island),Thannermukkom ,Nehru trophy snake boat race(Augest 9th saturday)House boat cruice Ayurveda.
- Other Featured Destinations of Kerala 
- Sabarimala (in Pathanamthitta) - Hindu holy site. This is one of the most crowded places in India during the pilgrimage season from November to January. Also, temple authorities do not allow women into the temple grounds, supposedly to avoid tempting the deity.
- Guruvayoor - the Krishna temple here is one of the most important pilgrimage centres in Kerala
- Kalady - birthplace of Sri Adi Sankara, pioneering Advaita philosopher
- Chottanikkara - This is one of the famous piligrim centre of goddess Durga in south india.This temple is Ernakulam district and there is lots of busses from kochi.
- Ambalapuzha - Sree Krishna Temple is one of the famous pligrim centre in Alapuzha.15km from Alapuzha KSRTC bus station and railway station.road and rail stations nearby.Karimadi kuttan a 3000 years ols shrine of Budha is very near to the temple.This is protected by archeological department. House boat journey through the sites are immommarable. [[Image:Example.GIF]
- Mannarasala - Nagaraja Temple The most famous nagaraja temple in kerala.Naga aradhana(worship of snakes) chanting nature is one of the main feature of hindusm.
- Mullakkal - Mullakal Devi temle is in the heart of the backwater city of Alapuzha.Houseboat terminal is just ten minute walk from this Temple
- Cherthala - Karthyayani Temple is 10km from Thannermukkam backwater Resort(KTDC),is in the heart of Cherthala Town.2km from Railway station,no time from Ksrtc bus station
- Kanichukulangara - Kanichukulangara Devi Temple is famous as it is the centre of many social reforms in kerala is 17km from Alapuzha,6km from Cherthala.
- St Mary's Church, Kudamaloor
St. Mary's church Kudamaloor is one of the ancient churches of the Syro-Malabar Rite. It is a famous Marian pilgrim center and is situated 7 km north of Kottayam town. "Alphonsa Bhavan" - the birthplace of Saint Alphonsa is under this parish. Mannanam, a pilgrim center, where the tomb of Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara situates, is also under this parish.
The old church was built by King Chempakasserry on AD 1125. There is a legend associated with the establishment of this church. Once, the Chempakassery Rajah was about to start an important journey. When he entered into the cart, the horses stood stationary and many attempts failed to move them. The King had to postpone his journey. The King ordered the chief astrologer to find the reason behind his journey disruption. The astrologer found that the place where the horses stood was a battlefield. The King excavated the area and found many skeletons of many warriors. The King listened to the advice of the astrologer and he decided to establish a church and immigrated five Nasrani families namely, Mukkunkal, Chakkunkal, Palathunkal, Thekkedam and Vadakkedam and gave land and wealth these families. In addition, families like Alumkal, Thuruthumali, Perumali, Thayyil etc. also settled as a result of Christian immigration during the establishment of Kudamaloor church. Out of these families only traces of Mukkunkal and Thekkedam are around the Church of Kudamaloor and the rest all have disintegrated to various parts or have changed their family names after successive partitions, to worship . The present day Syrian Christians in this area are these immigrants.
The church is dedicated to " Mukthiamma" (Blessed Virgin Mary). There is a very beautiful oil painting on the Madbaha and is of 400 years old.. Unlike many Christian pictures, infant Jesus has been painted with the colour of Lord Krishna. The church used to have a pulpit built on a wooden elephant and the main beam is still decorated with elephant’s head; these features are very characteristic of the Hindu influence. The church is very famous for the rituals during the Holy week. The special offerings such as Neenthu Nercha, Karinercha, Thamukku Nercha, Kanji Nercha etc are popular.
There are some historic churches and mosques through-out Kerala.
Did you know?
Kerala is one of the few places in India that was not subject to direct British rule. Parts of Kerala, The Tiruvithamkoor (Travancore) and Kochi (Cochin) regions were ruled by local kings during the period of the British rule in India. People here live largely the same way they have lived traditionally and much of its rich culture and heritage is well-preserved.
Kerala has one of the oldest (some say, second oldest) functioning mosques in the world.
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. Christianity, believed to have been brought over by the Apostle St. Thomas, and Judaism have also existed in Kerala for around a couple thousand years and as well. A strong, distinct Muslim culture in the North of Kerala also stands out. The local language (Malayalam), the cuisine, the practice of Ayurveda (a traditional health system), the widely prevalent use of traditional clothing, all reflect this diversity.
Political activism is one thing that separates Kerala from the rest of India. Trade Unions in Kerala can put the British or French Trade Unionists to shame. If you do visit Kerala, be prepared for general strikes to come without warning, and for it to lead to a complete shutdown of all infrastructure. The state has the dubious distinction of having more strikes called than any other state in India. On the other hand, residents of Kerala love political debate...be prepared to be drawn into one at the local bus stop or on board a train.
Kerala has a sizable number of atheists due to a strong Communist movement. While Hindus constitute about three fifth of the population, Muslims and Christians account for about one fifth each. Irrespective of religion, people are religious when compared to other cultures in India and communal and sectarian tensions are very minimal.
The state has an area of 38,864 km2 and is home to 33 million people. The main language spoken in the state is Malayalam. Other languages spoken, or understood, include English, Tamil and Hindi.
Onam is the biggest festival in Kerala. Onam Festival falls during the Malayalam month of Chingam (Aug - Sep) and marks the homecoming of mythical King Mahabali. Onam festivities last for ten days and brings out the best of Kerala culture and tradition. Intricately decorated Pookalam (floral carpets), the mammoth Onasadya (the festival feast), breathtaking Snake Boat Race and the exotic Kaikottikali dance are some of the most remarkable features of Onam, Kerala's harvest festival.
The festival is celebrated in memory of the mythical King Mahabali and his reign, during which perfect harmony and prosperity prevailed. The King Mahabali's popularity was at its height and led to the envy of the Gods. This golden age ended when Vamana, the dwarf incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, expelled him from his throne to the netherworld. On account of his virtue, Mahabali was allowed to visit his subjects once a year, during Onam.
- Most parts of Kerala are densely populated. The population adheres to a variety of faiths, like the rest of India. However compared to other parts of India, there is very little communal and sectarian tension. Having said that, at any given day there could be violent flare-ups between political parties somewhere in Kerala, not unlike football hooliganism in Europe.
- Kerala counts as the most educated and healthiest state in India. A majority of households have a family member or two that works and lives outside Kerala, often in the Middle East. As a result, Keralites are fairly exposed to other cultures, people and viewpoints and tend to be much more tolerant than elsewhere in India.
- Kerala has three distinct seasons. The Summer, Monsoon and Winter. March to late May is summer. It's very hot and isn't the best time to visit. Late May to mid October is the Monsoon or Rainy Season. Mid October to late February counts as Kerala's rather mild winter.
- 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 the humidity can be unforgiving in the summer months.
- Kerala is a state in the Union of India. The state has a cabinet of ministers headed by the Chief Minister. A Governor appointed by the Central Government of India has a titular role as head of State. Kerala's governing body is called the Legislative Assembly and the law makers are called Members of the Legislative Assembly (shortened as MLA).
- The State of Kerala is divided into 14 districts and the districts are further divided into Taluks. Each district has a Central Government of India appointed District Collector to oversee administrative activities. Each Taluk is headed by a Tahsildhar. Again a Taluk is divided into Villages, which are the smallest revenue division.
- Kerala's Growth rates are 9.2% in 2004–2005 and 7.4% in fiscal year 2003–2004.
- Most households have family members working somewhere outside Kerala, typically the Middle East. Their remittances make up for around 20% percentage of the economy.
- During recent years, Kerala has undergone an image makeover. There is now a growing IT and ITES industry, which in turn has led to a spurt in construction activity in big cities.
- Tourism is now a booming industry in Kerala, and accounts for a significant part of the State's economy.
Why should you visit
- Among the 10 must see destinations of the world identified by the National geographic magazine "traveler", Kerala is known for its glorious sights and surprising sounds. Mesmerizing greenery, enchanting backwaters, verdant forests, vibrant wildlife, sun-kissed beaches, cascading waterfalls, scintillating valleys with abundant coconut and areca nut palm groves, unending rice fields and mist-capped mountains make Kerala a land of nonstop magic. A land like no other.Populated with the most advanced society in India, Kerala has a 100% literacy rate. Its physical quality of life index is the highest in the country and the culture of hospitality is well known. 
- Kerala is wedged between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats Mountain range. The sun, the sand, the back water lagoons , the mountains and the culture is a unique combination that you won't find anywhere else, when planning for a holiday .
- Due to its unique geography, Kerala gets rain for at least 8 months of the year and the forests are classified as 'rain forests' just like those in the Amazon. You'll be spoiled by the number of opportunities to trek, camp and see wildlife.
- There are many back-water lakes along the coast making it an ideal location for water sports. Time your arrival for the 'Vallam kali', annual boat race.
- Take a trip in the Water Routes of Alappuzha, the Venice of the East
The people of Kerala speak Malayalam (a palindrome when written in English). However, most of the people speak and understand English. Most bus routes and other important signs are written in English.
There are three airports in Kerala, with flights to domestic and international destinations. The airports are at Kozhikode, Kochi,Nedumbasseri and Thiruvananthapuram. The airports have several carriers operating international flights around the world. Most carriers offer connection flights to one of the airports in Kerala. Domestic destinations accessible by direct flights from these airports include Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Agatti, Hyderabad,Mangalore,Goa and Delhi.
Indian Railways  operates several trains to and from (and within) Kerala. Trains into Kerala start from all the neighbouring states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, etc. Long-haul direct train services from cities like Delhi and Mumbai are also available.
Be aware that 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.
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.
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.
Trains, buses and taxis provide the easiest way to get around Kerala. Trains are good for long distance travel, say from the north to the south.
Taxis are good but expensive way to get around for short distances. Do negotiate the price before you get into the taxi.
Buses are good for very short travel. Both government and private buses travel between and within cities. Buses within cities are very crowded and if you travel on them, please take care of your belongings (wallet, passport) as pickpockets are not rare.
Auto-rickshaws (also called auto) are another convenient mode of transport for very short travel - not too expensive and fast. 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 unecessary arguments at the end of the trip. The best way not to get tricked would be to ask a helpful Samaritan how much it would cost to your destination and check it up with your driver before you get into the auto. 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.
Three weeks in Kerala, see some of the highlights that Kerala has to offer: experience bustling Kochi (Cochin)and Thiruvananthapuram, relax in the Backwaters, hike in the mountains and enjoy the beaches. Starting from Kochi you can move on to Munnar and en route there are couple of good places worth a visit,if you have time. From Munnar a scenic road leads to Thekkady, or you can also make this trip via Idukki Dam, Aruvi and Wagamon. From Thekkady, KK Road will take you to Kottayam from where you can move on to the backwater haven of Kumarakom. After relaxing there, it's most ideal to go to Allapuzha for its famed inland waterways and sandy beaches. The National Highway 47 (NH47) will be your best option to go further south. You can stop at Kollam (cashew nut hub...pick them up for cheap here) en route and its better to keep Paalaruvi, Thenmala (Dam site and good for treks) both near the Tamil Nadu border while NH47 is in the coastal region. During the return trip you can also visit Thenkasi (in Tamil Nadu, famous for a big temple) and Kourtyalam. After Kollam proceed to Thiruvanathapuram. The Padmanabhapuram Temple, Kovalam beach. If time permits proceed to Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. Taking a taxi for the entire trip will be the most hassle-free option, though its slightly expensive. Bringing your own bicycle or renting a motorcycle for cycling the entire route is also a good choice.
Kerala is one of the few places which caters to all kinds of tourists. It has hill stations, virgin beaches, lazy backwaters, rain forests, historical and cultural destinations. If you are interested in culture, surely you should visit Thrissur (Trichur) the city of culture where you can visit different Hindu temples, churches especially St.Thomas church at Palayoor and the Mosque in Kodungallore, that is the first Mosque in India.
- About Kerala Tourism, 36/1866 2 Sangamam Nagar(Enchakkal Trivandrum), ☎ 9447051702, . To explore the real Kerala life, food and culture a stay with a local family is needed. There are very good Homestays are available in Kerala . www.aboutkeralatourism.com has Homestead Holiday package with exclusive home stays.
Kerala cuisine is distinctly different from food elsewhere in India. Rice is a staple here, unlike the wheat-eating north of India. Seafood is also a big part of the diet. Quite a large number of traditional dishes will have coconut paste in it. The oil used for cooking is also often coconut oil. Unlike rest of India , beef is also popular in Kerala. Food in Kerala tends to include a variety of spices and there are a few fiery dishes.sadhyaolanavialinjipuleekaalanthoran
Kerala cuisine varies with the regions. The southernmost parts serve the most traditional sadya (or so they believe). Central Kerala cuisine is enriched with non-vegetarian dishes of all kinds. In Northern Kerala cuisine, you can see the influence of Arabian cuisine on the food. Sea food is available all over. In regions bordering the backwaters and lakes, traditional cuisine includes fresh-water fish like Karimeen, Prawn, Shrimps, Kanava[Squid], and many other delicacies served along with 'Kappa'[Tapioca] or rice.
The road connecting Alappuzha to Changanasery known as AC Road is a wonderful place for foodies as there are a plethora of 'Toddy Shops' which serve the fresh catch of the day from the nearby water bodies cooked deliciously along with Toddy, a type of liquor obtained from coconut/palm trees which is sour-sweet in taste. You will love the ambience, when you are sitting in a toddy shop in the middle of a water logged green field nibbling on spicy fish and sipping toddy.
- Water is usually safe to drink, but mineral water is available at almost all shops and is the safest bet.
- Fruit juices, tender coconut water, coffee and tea are available in even the smallest towns.
- Alcohol. Kerala tops in per capita alcohol consumption in India, despite the high rate of government taxation. You'll find a bar in most hotels serving anything from 'Kallu' to Scotch Whisky. Alcohol consumption in public is frowned upon, and the bars in everything except the most expensive hotels tend to be seedy.
- Locally made toddy is tempting to try, but be aware that some people become sick due to bad Brews. If you do try it, make sure you stick to the license-made brew, and not local moonshine.
Kerala was one of the first states in India to pioneer the concept of Homestays and make it a successful industry, providing a much needed source of extra income to the locals, while at the same time giving travelers more than a peek at the real Kerala. Under this Homestay concept, you get to stay with a family who can show you around and also help you to find what makes Kerala tick. Your accommodation and food is taken care of at a nominal cost.
You will in all probability be staying with a family whose members are well versed in English or at the least can speak decent English. All the people offering homestays are vetted by the Government and will have to register themselves as such.
Rs 322.50(~7 US$) and Rs 700(~15 US$) are magic numbers when you are looking for budget Non-AC and AC rooms respectively. Most budget hotels in Kerala will have a room in this price. You can expect basic facilities with a bed, T.V and an attached bath-room.
For a more comfortable stay, you need to shell out above 500 Indian Rupees(~11 US$) for a Non AC room or More than 1200(~26 US$) for an AC Room. This category would include many 3 star hotels. You could expect to have more spacious rooms, English proficient concierges, Airport/Railway Station Pick-Up and Drop. However if you are expecting a cheap extended stay hotel, with attached kitchenette, India is the wrong place to be in. Only 5 star hotels and resort cottages provide extended stay facilities.
If you are in one of those yet to develop tourist spots like Munnar, you can find hotels only in this range.
Themed resorts also would fall in the category. Prepare to shell anywhere above Rs 2000 and you could rent out a whole cottage in an idyllic location and they do come with kitchens.
Five Star hotels in India don't come cheap. If you are willing to stay in these hotels, most of them throw in a guided tour or a packaged tour as a compliment. Most Five star hotels provide attached kitchenette and if you are sick of Indian food, this is an option.
Visiting Religious Centers
Kerala is one of the places where multiple religions exist in great harmony. This is achieved by one respecting the customs and rituals of other religions. A visit to these shrines is necessary to understand the breadth of cultural influences in the state.
In some Hindu temples non-Hindus are not allowed enter the shrines. It is best to ask someone at the temple. Many are happy to let you in as long as the usual rules of the temple are observed. However, photography inside the temple is a strict no-no.
Also for male visitors at many places inside a temple, dress code is traditional mundu without a shirt - the no-shirt rule will be enforced even if the mundu rule is not. The best thing to do is to watch what others are doing and follow. You are also expected to take off your footwear outside the temple. Usually there are no locker facilities, cheap footwear is best.
For females any non exposed dress, preferably not shirts and trousers.
There are exceptions to these rules. For example everybody is welcome at Adhi Shankaracharya's temple. At Shabarimala any male that has performed a set of pre-defined rituals is welcome, but females are not.
At a Muslim mosque females have some restrictions.
At Christian churches usually men sit to the left of the aisle and women to the right. Some of the more traditional churches don't even have pews...you'll have to stand.
The synagogue at Kochi is not open to non-Jews on Saturdays.
This page was last edited at 03:50, on 15 March 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Colin Jensen, Sumesh Narmath and S Sulfi, Wikitravel user(s) AHeneen, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.