Kerala is a destination of choice mostly for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Which is not to say that this is a haven for extreme sports; rather, that the appeal of ‘God’s Own Country’ lies in exactly that – god’s creations. Although there are some excellent tourist places in Kerala such as the many temples that one can visit, and Kerala also happens to be home to the oldest mosque in India – the Cheraman Juma Masjid in Thrissur District – that’s worth visiting, but all in all, it will be the backwaters, the tea gardens and the hill peaks of the Western Ghats that will capture your heart in Kerala. So in that light, here’s our pick of the most captivating tourist places in Kerala to visit in your next trip to this beautiful coastal state.

Munnar

Tourist Places In Kerala - Munnar

Tourist Places In Kerala – Munnar

Munnar is a hill station located in the western ghats in Kerala, known chiefly for as a resort for the former British Raj elites and later as the site of the Tata tea estates. The tourist season runs from August to May, although it is best to avoid the winter months as it can get quite chilly.

There are extensive tea gardens located on rolling hills throughout the town of Munnar, most of which belonged to Tata, but were later sold off to employees. There are numerous treks and strolls you can take through the tea gardens of course. You can see first hand tea being picked and processed, and maybe even try a cuppa fresh from the gardens! If you want to know more about the history of the place, you can’t do better than to make a visit to the Tea Museum at Nallathanni Estate. If you can’t choose which tea garden to tour, you can’t go wrong with the Kundale Tea Plantation, which surrounds a beautiful lake to boot. For accommodations, look no further than the Tea Sanctuary, which is the name of a series of refurbished old bungalows located in the heart of the tea gardens.

Wile Munnar is a great place to just sit back and relax among the beautiful scenery that greets you everywhere you turn, it also offers a lot by way of adventure. The whole area is beautiful in the most breathtaking way where the hills are shrouded in mist and the greenery is lush in a way that makes you feel that perhaps we are well equipped to tackle climate change after all. If you fit the category of such a nature lover, then you will most definitely enjoy a trek from here to Anamudi, the highest peak in south India located in the western ghats. Where there are hills there’s bound to be an opportunity for rock climbing, and Munnar offers some excellent sites for that, as well as for para gliding. Another option for activities here is a day in the immensely beautiful Eravikulam National Park, the home of the elusive and enchanting, Nilgiri Tahr. One very special secret about this park is that every 12 years or so, its lush, rolling hills of green change colour and are covered in a carpet of lavender as the Neelakurinji flower blooms for its brief glory in the sun, only to reappear 12 years later again. The Lakkam Waterfalls is another, more permanent attraction in the park.

Wayanad

Tourist Places In Kerala - Wayanad

Tourist Places In Kerala – Wayanad

Wayanad is a district in Kerala much like Munnar, only a little more romantic and a little less obvious on the tourist map, but only by a small margin. The name Wayanad is derived from a word which means ‘paddy fields’, so you can guess how the landscape here will differ from Munnar. In terms of development this district is considered backward, but ironically it is also the largest foreign exchange earner for the state of Kerala, with exports of cardamom and other spices. It also has immense tourism potential just waiting to be exploited.

The most exciting thing to do in Wayanad is trekking up the Chembra peak, the highest in Wayanad, with magnificent views of the valley around and an option to spend a couple of nights at the summit in a camp. Another great option is to visit the Edakkal Cave in Ambukuthy mountain. What makes the cave interesting is the newly discovered rock carvings on its walls, presumed to be done by a prehistoric people of the area. Lastly, you can enjoy an elephant ride in the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary located close to the Karnataka border. One of the most exciting things about Wayanad from a tourist’s point of view is the excellent homestays at offer, which allow visitors an authentic interaction with Keralite culture.

Kerala Backwaters

Tourist Places In Kerala - Backwaters

Tourist Places In Kerala – Backwaters

What are called the Backwaters is actually a network of picturesque, palm lined lagoons and canals in the Kerala interiors. These canals form an integral part of the lives of the locals but also contribute heavily to the tourist industry in Kerala. The main entry point to the backwaters is Alleppey, although tours run from Kochi and Kollam as well. Right at the heart of the network is the great Vembanad Lake.

There’s different ways of experiencing the backwaters depending on your budget. If you’re there to relax and enjoy your time, then most people like to hire a houseboat called Kettuvalam. You can stay overnight in the boat as it floats along on the canals as you enjoy fresh Indian food and a chilled beer sitting on the deck and taking in the sunset. For those on a tighter budget, a less glamorous but no less picturesque option is to take a cruise offered by the¬†Alleppey District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) tour. You might also be interested to know that there are numerous options for a homestay on the Vembanad Lake as well.

All these options will take you along the main waterways, but if you want to really explore teh back channels that go right into the villages, then you might want to opt for a canoe tour, like this one.

Kovalam Beach

Tourist Places In Kerala - Kovalam

Tourist Places In Kerala – Kovalam

While the beaches in Goa and Orissa and the Andamans get the most attention in India, the beaches in Kerala also garner their fair share of fame with the tourists. Kovalam is the most popular and well developed beach in Kerala, great for some water sport activities. It is located not far from the capital Trivandrum, and is a really popular surfing destination. It has tree lined avenues of beach shacks selling tasty snacks when you feel like a break from all the activity. A more laid back and less crowded beach right near Kovalam is the Samudra beach.

Varkala Beach

Tourist Places In Kerala - Varkala

Tourist Places In Kerala – Varkala

This is an incredibly beautiful and romantic beach in Kerala. The scenery is breathtaking mostly because the beach is lined by a cliff and palm trees that give spectacular views of the sunset and the water. There are plenty of shacks catering to your every possible need on a beach and also enough options for cheap accommodation on the cliff. This is a hugely popular destination for young couples, and while not as crowded as Kovalam, it’s fast catching up. Seriously, for the best sunset you’ll ever see, Varkala is the place.

Kannur

Tourist Places In Kerala - Kannur

Tourist Places In Kerala – Kannur

Kannur is a small town in northern Kerala which would ordinarily have no business being on the tourist map, but if you like places that are slightly off the beaten track then maybe this is for you. Kannur’s biggest export to the world is its culture. Specifically, it is home to Theyyam, a ritual dance and theatre performance from northern Kerala. The headgear that the dancers wear is simply beautiful and awe-inspiring. Happily, the Kerala government publishes a timetable for the performances each year, so you can make sure you don’t miss it! Here’s the link to the timetable.

Another thing that Kannur is very famous for is its drive in beach called¬†Muzhappilangad Drive-In Beach. You can literally take your four wheel drive right to the edge of the water and drive the length of the beach, which is approximately four kilometers long. Be prepared for it to not be quite how you’re envisaging it right now, mostly because there usually are quite a few other cars trying to create that same magical Bollywood-esque romantic drive as you are. Traffic can get a bit trying for sure. Avoid the evenings where there are more crowds than usual, trying to catch the sunset.

Periyar National Park

Tourist Places In Kerala - Periyar National Park

Tourist Places In Kerala – Periyar National Park

The Periyar river in Kerala was dammed in 1895, giving birth to a magnificent lake surrounded by the lush, tropical Periyar National Park. Sightings of animals can be few and far in between, although elephants are abundant. The Park stays open all year round, although a visit in the cooler winter months is much more pleasant. While big game animal sightings might be few, there’s lots of other exciting ways to enjoy the nature around you. The best way is to participate in the eco tourism activities organized by the park authorities. These include bamboo boat rafting, jungle treks with reformed poachers as guides, night time jungle patrols, and heritage stays in the surrounding villages. There’s a sports center in Periyar offering demonstrations of the ancient Kerala martial arts called kallaripayuttu that you can visit.

Tourist Places in Kerala

So there you have it! This sample itinerary should make sure your next trip to Kerala is jam packed with adventure worthy of memories of a lifetime! Do you know of any more drool worthy tourist places in Kerala? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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