Kerala Travel Essentials

Usual harbingers of Kerala Monsoon is steep price-drop in airfare to the land while mushrooms sprout in abundance in nooks and corners of Konkan coast. I had the good fortune of visiting most parts of Kerala in sunny genial days of December holidays, Wayanand being a road trip from Bangalore by August end, as the rains were waning away. I would recommend Kerala Monsoon to everyone if your childhood memory reminisces the movie Bombay and Arvind Swami humming “Tu hi re…” as waves of Arabian break against littoral lighthouse. A cup of brewed “Kapi” ( how we say coffee here), a laptop to work and a homestay in the Silent Valley forest; pretty much sums up small pleasures of life.

My first ever long term trip (2 weeks, not justified by international standard, I know) anywhere as an adult was Kerala; it retains a specialty designation for all the good reasons. As Sayantan and I explored the exquisite beaches, enthralling jungles, hibernating backwaters, drove miles in bright sunny days, cursed while stuck at traffic on hilly curve, tasted the spikes of coconut oil infused delicacies and made merry under the moonlit tree-houses, we realized all the reasons to name Kerala as God’s own country.

It is people that defines the appealing characteristics of a land. Kerala is a place where I have felt the safest till date. As a female Indian traveler it means a lot. People here smile innocence even when directing you to a nearby Todi shop or charging Herculean price while selling a piece of sandalwood. That remarkable indifference when the jungle guide told me he can fire only at air if confronted with an animal at the ungodly hours of night trails at Periyar reserve, I will treasure for this lifetime.

Places to visit

  • Town: Kochi, Thrissur, Thrivandam
  • Beaches: Kovalam, Varkhala, Kochi, Alleppey, Kozhikode
  • Backwaters: Alleppey, Kumarkon
  • Forests: Silent Valley Jungle, Periyar Reserve forest (in my next life, may I be a tree in the reserve, I loved the place), Thekkady
  • Hill-stations: Indisputably Munnar, Wayanand

How to commute

  • Airports: Kerala has 3 working international airports, Kochi, Trivandam and Calicut/Kozhikode
  • By Train: The Great Indian Railways, enough said
  • By Bus: From Bangalore and Chennai multiple overnight bus journey brings in a pile of commuters everyday

Recommended length of stay

If you have the luxury of time, a good 3 weeks stay is recommended to assimilate the spirit of the land.
A lot of tourist visit Kerala from nearby states as weekend escapades as well. I know a friend who frequent the beaches almost every other week, as mind-blown she is.

Experiences to cherish ( all IMO)

  • Be prepared for an extravagance of taste bud experiences. Use of spices, quintessential coconut oil, curry leaves and the beef will transport you to a unforeseen heaven quite frequently.
  • the Toddy shops: For the uninitiated, Toddy shop is the place where local made alcohol is served with a “chakhna”, a spicy accompaniment to uplift overall mood. Toddy shops can be overwhelming in shadiness.
  • Locals wear Mundu, a white piece of cloth, tied across waist and they take immense pride in their culture. Women will decorate hair with garlands.
  • The movie posters around the city are to die for. Mohonlaal is very famous but personally I loved the cute young guy with beard, trying hard to recall the name, will come back.
  • River Periyar and the jungle surrounding are ethereal. I will be dedicating an individual post on them soon.
  • All the temples will have elephants to your amazement.

Expenditures

  • Hotels: Budget hotels will be somewhere between INR 2000 to 5000(USD 28/71), with breakfast spread. Of course there are Airbnbs and home-stays, but I suggest do pay hid to previous travelers’ experience.
  • Meal: In a fine dine restaurant, a meal for 2 would cost INR 2000 (USD 28) with a mug of beer. Tody shops will help you fill up within INR 500(USD 7) with good dose of alcohol, again for 2 people. Then of course there are street food vendors and regular eateries.
  • Commute: If you travel by public transport, price drastically reduces, may be INR 200 per day. I mean exploring the city by auto, bus etc. If you plan to rent a car for a longer stay, travel becomes a bit easier and costlier as well.

Precautions

  • Take insect repellent before venturing into the jungle, leeches, snakes, mosquitoes… the list goes on
  • If renting a car, get the deal cleared from the beginning.
  • Indulge in fresh fruit while visiting the damn but insist on them being cut fresh
  • Think repeatedly before trying Tody
  • Respect local culture, suggest not to wear dresses that may expose too much of skin.

How we did it

  • Day 1: Overnight bus journey from Bangalore to Kochi
  • Day 2: Explore Kochi, feast on seafood, stand hesitantly in front of Tody shops but did not enter
  • Day 3: Encounter with Arabian sea, meet the cab driver ho will take us for further travel
  • Day 4: Start for Munnar, early morning
  • Day 4: Explore Munnar, have fun in the lake, tree house, top station, hike the coffee plantation
  • Day 5: Explore the small town of Munnar, shiver at night as the bright Moon smiles on you
  • day 6: start for Thekkady
  • Day 7: fall in love with Periyar reserve
  • Day 8: Explore Periyar in morning, at night, do not stop
  • Day 9: Start for Alleppey
  • Day 10: laze around at the backwater, eat great food, stand in queue to collect your bottle of beer from one of the 2 state approved alcohol shop that shuts down at 9 pm sharp
  • Day 11: Explore the beach, lighthouse
  • Day 12: Start for Calicut, experience a never ending car drive on a calm quaint state
  • Day 13: crash at the hotel of Calicut ( at least we did), have a great supper, go to a tody shop, finally
  • Day 14: Return home

(Pictures I clicked all by the previous Lenovo P780 and a Nikon P&S, pardon image quality. This is just an introduction to my loveslaborlost travel to Kerala. I will write more about each and every place, how I experienced and what I loved and loathed. Stay tuned.)

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The manmade lake
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At the top station Munnar
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Periyar river, this is where the residents come down to quench thirst
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House on a boat, backwater life
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table mat from a restaurant in Calicut
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small pleasures
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the Chinese fishing nets, standing as a witness of time bygone
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Hello Hello Arabian
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“We shall overcome”
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Munnar as we drove by
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My constant
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Vacay
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the Treehouse I loved

 

Have you read about the must haves about Kerala cuisine? Read here https://orangewayfarer.wordpress.com/2017/06/17/foodtrip-kerala-trail/

I would love to hear your feedback. Do let me know how you are planning your trip to Kerala and surroundings.

 

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17 thoughts on “Kerala Travel Essentials

  • It finished so quickly like it wanted to just hear u go on and on writing about it , flawless works for me ???? Kerala the abode of heaven , truly serves the saying ???‍♀️

  • Anson K

    Good and nice article…….being a Keralite, may I add/clarify few things….
    Toddy is not exactly the same country liquor available in other parts of the country but an extract from coconut/palm trees which gets fermented over time and gains alcoholic properties…..be careful with toddy…..its highly adulterated these days….
    Costs will be much lesser for accommodation and food as there are plenty of good and economical options available……if you wish luxury, that is also available in plenty…..
    for commutation, you can make use of public transport including state run KSRTC, private buses with fixed routes and schedules, boats for inland water ways, trains…..
    If you are to spend more than 10 days in Kerala, you may start either from the North ie; from Kasargode or Kozhikode and proceed to south and return from Trivandrum or vice-versa…..since Kerala is in a straight line, planning a travel will be much easy and the journey itself will be a sight seeing…
    Thank you very much for the nice and informative post and for visiting Kerala…

    • Firstly, welcome to my blog, sir!
      About Toddy, how I loved it! May I also add the beef fritters they serve with it are not the best part of the meat and I suspect intestines -_-.. true palm or coconut tree extracts, fermented over time, I could not recall.
      Since I visited during December end, primetime, I ended up paying that much for decent hotels. Booked all through MMT. Luxury hotels were 8k or up at that time.

      I intend to visit Kovalam/varkala for next trip, I just loved food from the land. My next blog will be on that. Hope your​ valuable feedback on the same.

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  • If I manage to come back to Bangalore, I have an itinerary ready for Kerala, all thanks to you. Also, is Kerala safe for solo travel? I want to go solo but I am always unsure and then I end up scrapping the plan altogether.
    The pictures are stunning, I have no complaints about the picture quality ? In fact, they make me want to go to Kerala ? ?

    • Thank you.
      Do visit Kerala, experience their exquisite culture. It is extremely safe for women, as I said people are very nice. However as a solo traveler stay away from the tody shops.

  • Kerela is truly amazing…

  • Rekha

    The best places to visit in Kochi comprises of :

    Fort Kochi
    Mattancherry Palace
    Jew town
    Jewish synagogue
    Bolghatty Islands
    Marine Drive
    Hill Palace Museum
    Cherai beach
    Since the best homestays in Kerala is here, accommodation in Kochi is quite easy, where even homestays near lakeshore hospital is available http://sherlyscasagrande.com/

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