10 things to do in Kerala

Kerala has been a popular tourist destination for over 600 years now. This South Indian state is known for its scenic beauty, its aromatic spices and the centuries-old medical practice called Ayurveda. If you are visiting Kerala sometime soon, here are 10 activities to indulge your body and mind in God’s Own Country.

Cruise the backwaters

kerala-backwaters-houseboatWhen you think of Kerala what is the first image that rushes to your mind? Its serene backwaters, right? A Kerala holiday is incomplete without a ride on its turquoise backwaters. Coconut palms line the edges of these placid lagoons and enhance their beauty making them the perfect place to relax and unwind. The best way to enjoy the beauty of backwaters is to board a houseboat.

Find your inner self in scenic Munnar

Munnar has every right to be called Kerala’s Darjeeling or Nainital. Just like in Darjeeling, you will find plenty of tea plantations here. While Munnar tea is not as famous as Darjeeling tea, it has a subtle flavor and aroma.

Green is the only color you find in Munnar. The hills and the valleys remain wrapped in a green envelope throughout the year. The air is crisp and cold. The view is simply breathtaking and the wind brings with it the aroma of freshly brewed tea. This scenic hill town has everything you need to shake off the urban stress.

Capture the fabled fishing nets of Kochi in a camera frame

Chinese fishing nets of Kochi

The iconic Chinese fishing nets of Kochi

The Chinese fishing nets that line the harbor at Kochi has been the focus of countless photographs. These nets date back to the 1400s. They are made out of teakwood beams. The unreal silhouettes that they form against the seascape have captivated photographers all over the world.

There is more to Kochi than its fishing nets. This port city is steeped in history. Its association with international traders began several centuries ago. While you are here, make it a point to roam the Jewish streets of Mattancherry and visit the shops selling everything from spices to antiques.

Wash away your sins at Varkala


The Papanasam Beach at Varkala has a cliff close to it. It is a major tourist and pilgrimage center near Kollam.

Varkala is perched on a precipitous cliff and overlooks the blue waters of the Arabian Sea. The Papanasam (that which destroys sins) Beach here is believed to have holy waters that wash away one’s sins. This picturesque destination is a backpacker’s paradise and a major pilgrimage center.

Experience the healing power of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a centuries old Indian therapeutic science used to cure the ailments of the body, mind and soul. Experience the healing touch of Ayurveda at one of the many Ayurvedic spas of Kerala. Ayurveda uses various herbs and oils to rejuvenate the body and the mind.

Watch a Kathakali show

Kerala is the birthplace of several classical dance forms like Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Ottan Thullal and Chakyarkoothu. Of these, Kathakali is the most famous and the most spectacular. This dance tradition originated in the 17th century and enjoyed the patronage of the upper caste. Kathakali is famous for its elaborate costumes and colourful make-up. The performers use their eyes and hands to express various emotions on the stage. The movements are extremely graceful and the music that accompanies the performance can induce trance.

Visit a spice garden

Spices are what brought traders to this coast several centuries ago. Kerala’s spices continue to enchant visitors. Don’t forget to visit the spice markets of Mattancherry in Kochi while you are here. You should also consider visiting the spice gardens of Wayanad and High Range.

Meet the tigers of Periyar

The Periyar Tiger Reserve is home to over 50 Royal Bengal tigers. While touring this sanctuary, you will also have the opportunity to spot elephants, monkeys, leopards, deer, bison and snakes.

Learn Your Kalarippayat moves


Kalarippayat is a flamboyant martial art form of Kerala

Kalarippayat is a flamboyant 12th century martial art originated in Kerala. Few Malayalis are trained in Kalarippayat right now. However, there are several Kalarippayat schools from where you can learn the basics. Karate and Kung fu are said to have originated from Kalarippayat.

Get a taste of the Kerala cuisine

kerala sadhya

A traditional Kerala Sadhya – the typical meal that Malayalis eat for lunch or dinner is not as elaborate this one. In addition to the rice and sambar, there will be one or two side dishes. Grand feasts like this are only served at weddings and on special days like Onam or Vishu.

Rice is the staple food of Malayalis. Kerala cuisine is coconut based and makes moderate use of spices. Breakfast typically consists of Dosa, Iddli or Appam. These rice based fermented dishes are best eaten with coconut chutney or sambar. Unlike their North Indian counterparts, Malayalis eat fish and meat. Brahmins and some upper caste Hindus are an exception to this rule. Kerala cuisine is famous for its delectable use of spices, oil, ghee and milk. Eat in the restaurants of Malabar (Malappuram, Kozhikode and parts of Palakkad). They serve mouth-watering fish and beef delicacies. Or enjoy a traditional Kerala Sadhya (feast) served on a banana leaf. Eat with your hands.

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