Kerala in India – a place for meditation and relaxation
Kerala, India is one of the cleanest, safest and most beautiful states in the country. The tourists come here to relax at the sea and improve their health with the help of Ayurveda.
Kerala is a state in India located in the southwestern part of the country. It occupies an area of nearly 39 thousand square kilometers. The number of inhabitants is 34 million people. At the same time here the population growth is the lowest in India and the percentage of literate people is the highest in the country.
The capital of the state is Tiruvananthapuram and the official language is Malay. Despite the large number of people who live here, the state was founded only in 1956, and populated by the people of Malay (indigenous Indians live here very little). The name Kerala means “Land of Coconuts” or “Land of Coconut Mountains” in Sanskrit.
It borders the states of Tamil Nadu (eastern part) and Karnataka (northeastern part) and is washed by the Arabian Sea on the west. The length of the coastline is 590 km. Kerala can be conventionally divided into three parts. The first part is mountainous, with tea and dense forests. The second is hilly, most of which is occupied by coffee plantations. And the third is the plain, 90% of which is occupied by agricultural land.
Here are some more interesting facts about Kerala in India:
- 90% of the population is Catholic;
- Communism is very popular here, and you can see images of sickle and hammer on many buildings;
- One of the favorite historical figures of the locals is Che Guevara (stickers with his image can often be seen on cars);
- There are “pink police” who protect girls and women from attacks and violence.
Why come to Kerala
The home of Ayurveda is Kerala, so if you want to improve your health, it is best to go here. There are a huge number of ayurvedic clinics, spas, and yoga studios. The most famous are:
- Arya Vaidya Sala (Kottakal),
- Padinharkkara Ayurveda Hospital and Research Center (Pallakad),
- Hindustan Kalari Sangam Ayurveda Hospital (Kozhikod).
If you do not want to look for the right center on their own, it is worth contacting one of the travel agencies, which offer ready-made programs for 14 days or more. Each package includes:
- Ayurvedic treatments;
- specially designed diet;
- spiritual practices.
Another popular reason tourists visit the state is the desire to relax on Kerala’s deserted beaches. The most popular resorts:
These are very peaceful and picturesque villages where it is good to meditate, admire nature (such as butterflies, which are plentiful here) and visit spa treatments.
Cities and Resorts in Kerala
Trivandrum is the capital of Kerala and the most populous city in the state. It has a population of 750,000 people. There are no problems with the tourist infrastructure: a lot of stores, cafes and restaurants. There are both luxury hotels, and inexpensive guest houses. There are a lot of tourists.
If we talk about beach holidays in this part of Kerala in India, it is not very popular – near the airport, and the water is not the cleanest. Nevertheless, locals love these places for the bright sunsets, and recommend visiting the beaches Shangkhumugkham and Puthumenthoppu in the evening.
Trivandrum is not the most suitable place for Ayurvedic practices in India, but it is too noisy and crowded.
Cochin is a port city in the western part of Kerala. There are a lot of tourists here, because apart from the sea, there is a lot of Kerala’s architectural and historical sights concentrated here. There are no problems with stores, cafes, and hotels – accommodation can be found for every taste and purse.
The city itself doesn’t offer a chance to have a rest by the sea – it’s quite dirty here. But in the neighborhoods there are a lot of picturesque places: the beach Cherai, White Sand and Rajah beach. The sand on them is golden and the entrance to the sea is gentle. There are no stones or shells.
As for Ayurveda centers, there are a lot of them. There are both cheap hospitals and real palace of ayurveda, which looks like a 5 * hotel. Tourists from Europe often choose Kochin for recreation and treatment because it is inexpensive (compared with other cities in India) and beautiful nature.
Alleppey, also often called the “Venice of India” is a small resort village 62 km from Kochi. There are not as many tourists as in nearby cities, but stores and cafes are more than enough.
Most travelers come here to see the water channels – they are in different parts of town, and many are so heavily overgrown with plants that at first glance it is impossible to understand that it is water. Tourists also love to visit the local beach. It may be crowded, but it is not dirty and the entrance to the water is gentle. There are no strong undercurrents.
On the coast there are many hotels and hospitals, which are waiting for lovers of ayurveda. Prices here are not high, and the sea air and beautiful nature contributes to a good mood. This picturesque part of Kerala is worth coming to for those who want to restore their vital forces with the help of Ayurvedic practices, but fans of deserted beaches and famous landmarks should look for another place.
Varkala is one of the best places for a beach holiday in Kerala. It is a small township 36 kms from Trivandrum. It has the following beaches: Papanasam (the most deserted), Black (the smallest) and North (the most crowded). There is almost no trash on the beaches, the entrance to the sea is gentle. The only drawback – a large number of people in the evening.
As for Ayurvedic hotels and hospitals, there are a lot of them. There are both expensive and very budget options.
Since Varkala is only a village, you will not find a large number of stores and cafes. But hotels and hostels are more than enough. There are a lot of tourists in Varkala, so if you want to rest alone, choose an accommodation on the outskirts of the resort.
For more information about the resort, see this article.
Kovalam is the largest and most popular resort in Kerala. There are 4 beaches here: Ashok, where the locals relax, Samudra, where there are very few people, Gawa, which is considered a favorite place for fishermen, and Lighthouse Beach, very popular with tourists. The beaches are regularly cleaned of trash and sharp rocks, so vacationing here is comfortable.
There are very few ayurveda-friendly hospitals and hotels, so it is best to find a quieter place to stay. There are no problems with stores and cafes at the resort – there are plenty of them. The same applies to the hotels.
Since there are always enough people at the resort Kovalam, book accommodation in advance.
For a detailed description of the resort with photos, see here.
Attractions and attractions of Kerala
Kerala is home to the vibrant and passionate Kathakali dance that originated here thousands of years ago. This art was born through a combination of ancient Indian beliefs, Hinduism, local folklore and some martial arts.
Even today, and many centuries ago, it is performed only by men. The boys begin to be prepared for the performances at the age of 10-11 years, and the first time they go on stage is only 5-6 years later. In addition to the main actors, the performance involves an orchestra (3-5 people) and two announcers who explain to the audience the meaning of what is happening on stage.
Traditionally, the kathakali is performed on a moonlit night and the sacrament ends at dawn. Of course, now things have changed a bit, and daytime shows are put on for foreigners.
Many tourists who have already been to India advise to arrive an hour before the show to see how the actors are preparing for the show – they dress and put on makeup right on the stage.
Tea plantations are located in the northern part of Kerala, India, high in the mountains. Munnar plantations are considered the most famous because they are the most picturesque and easily accessible. It is not for nothing that this mountain resort is called the “City of Tea”.
Interestingly, the local plantations are considered some of the highest in the world, because located at an altitude of 2200 meters above sea level.
A few tips from tourists:
- You can get to Munnar from Kochi either by bus (travel time – 5 hours), or by shuttle bus. It is better to start the trip in the morning, when the other tourists are still sleeping.
- It is often cold in the mountains, so take a warm jacket with you.
- To visit the tea plantations can be either on foot or by jeep. Of course the second option is more comfortable and, most importantly, is suitable for people with disabilities or the elderly. But if you have the desire and opportunity – it is better to go on foot, because from the mountains you can enjoy fantastic views of natural attractions.
- If you also want to visit not only the natural attractions, but also the tea factory, which is located nearby, it is worth immediately to buy a full tour at the travel agency. Its cost – 900-1100 rupees.
- The best time to visit this attraction is from August to March.
- Many travelers say that one of the most striking impressions of India is to meet the dawn at the tea plantation. For this you need to go to the plantation no later than 4 am. It is also in the morning that you can take the most beautiful photos of Kerala.
Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple is one of the main attractions of Trivandrum. It was built in honor of the Hindu deity Vishnu, and was built back in the 6th century.
Interestingly, in 2011 the temple was entered in the Guinness Book of Records as the richest not only in India but also in the world. According to rough estimates, the site contains gold, silver, precious stones worth more than 20 billion U.S. dollars.
As for the interior of the site, it is undoubtedly impressive. The rooms are in semi-darkness, and the electricity is intentionally not used here, so it is possible to understand how beautiful this place is only 10-15 minutes after arrival – by this time the eyes finally get used to the semi-darkness. The monks say that one cannot see the whole picture, but even parts of the temple premises are impressive.
In addition to the main temple, there are several smaller shrines erected in honor of other deities. For instance, the Tiruvampadi Sri Krishna Temple or the Garuda Temple.
Kerala’s floods are a long chain of lakes and small lagoons stretching along the coast of the Arabian Sea. Their total length is 900 km. The uniqueness of this place lies in its ecosystem – fresh water of the rivers meets the salty waters of the sea. The largest local lake is Vembanad Kayal, which covers an area of 200 sq. km.
In order to see the most interesting sights, travelers are advised to rent a small boat for 2-3 hours – this time is more than enough to see:
- the largest lakes;
- rice paddies;
- local villages;
- Shrimp ponds.
Renting a boat is cheapest on the waterfront – there are many outlets for rental equipment.
If you want to get better acquainted with the local population and its customs, it is worth buying an eco-tour “house on the water” – a two-day trip on the boat. Many call such water trips a true meditation – in addition to scenic views, you will enjoy the singing of mantras at dawn, try Indian food, which is prepared directly on board, and see the reserve from afar.
Puwar Resort is one of the most popular and visited tourist spots around Trivandrum. Apart from its good location, it has everything you need to relax: cozy cafes, stores with Indian goods, and comfortable sun loungers on the beach. The main local attraction is the colorful fishing village, located one kilometer from the resort.
90% of tourists come to Puwar to improve their health and “recharge” with the help of Ayurveda. The resort is truly one of the best centers in India. Not only bad moods, but also serious chronic diseases are treated here.
You can get to the island of Puwar only by boat (travel time – 15 minutes), which also helps to create a romantic mood.
On the downside is that the only beach, which is on the opposite shore, no one cleans up, and there is very dirty.
Antirappilli Falls in Thrissur is the most spectacular attraction of Kerala. There are 4 in total, and each one is at least 100 meters high. Locals say that this is the same place that has not changed due to the negative influence of man, and it is still very clean and beautiful.
Especially picturesque is the waterfall after the rainy season. Many people compare this natural attraction in India with Niagara Falls in North America.
It is better to come here on weekdays – on weekends it is very crowded. The best way to get to the attraction is by cab.
A few tips from people who have visited the attraction:
- Do not wear sandals or flip-flops – feet must be completely covered, as there are many small stones on the road.
- Do not enter places where there is a danger warning sign (and travelers do this very often, resulting in a large number of deaths).
- Bring an umbrella, or you will not get out dry.
- Walk up to the landmark only on marked trails – they are relatively safe, but others are easy to slip and fall.
- Once at the top, be sure to take some photos of Kerala in India.
- There are many good hotels nearby, and many recommend staying there for 1-2 days.
- Experienced tourists say that a course of true Ayurveda in India can not last less than 21 days. If you are offered a 7 or 10 day program, know that you are being cheated.
- Kerala is one of the most peaceful states in India, but you still need to keep a close eye on your belongings.
- If you are staying in a hotel and want to go on a tour of India, tell the staff in advance. Most likely, you will be given a free dry breakfast (sandwiches, juice and fruit).
- Many foreigners note that Kerala is one of the few states with virtually no annoying vendors.
- Kerala has a “dry law”. Alcohol here is relatively expensive and is sold only in restaurants in tourist spots. So it is not worth going to this state of India if you are looking for a place of noisy parties.
- If you plan to visit any temple in India, always wear socks. It is not allowed to enter the shrine with shoes on, and if you go barefoot, you can catch some skin disease.
- If you want to swim and sunbathe, do not go to Kerala in the summer – at this time of year, very strong waves rise, and lifeguards who are on duty on the shore, just will not let you in the water.
- Most of the young people in Kerala (especially in the southern part of the state) speak English well.
- Take a sheet with you on your trip – hotels usually only give out blankets.
Kerala, India is the most peaceful state in the country, where you want not only to go on excursions, but also to meditate and bathe in the sea.
A day in Kerala:
Author: Maria Protasenya
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You have an error in the area of the state, you wrote 39km2 and 34 million inhabitants. Can you believe that? Almost 1 million people per square mile. They just can’t fit in there. Please correct it to the actual area. Thank you