Godâ€™s own countryâ€™ is full of scenic and breathtaking views. But aside from these there is a tonne to do when you enter the mindbogglingly green landscape of Kerala.Â A melange of culinary experiences, the beautiful beaches, the serene backwaters and the massage are not all that it has to offer.
1. Elephant bathing in Kodanad
Can you imagine giving a bath to an elephant?Â Kodanad Elephant SanctuaryÂ is a major attraction in Kerala. 42 kms from Kochi, visit there for some exciting activities like elephant bath, elephant safari and elephant feeding and watching baby elephants too. The rates vary fromÂ US$ 5.00-20.00/personÂ depending on the time and activities involved.
2. Houseboat in Alleppey
Alleppey tops in the list of places to visit in Kerala. Looking at the lush green landscape and being served a freshly prepared meal as you travel through theÂ tranquil backwatersÂ is just as amazing as it is made out to be. The boat accommodates the whole family and includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Prices vary fromÂ US$ 100.00 -180.00Â and its better to call in advance and reserve.
3. Watch the Neelakurinji Bloom in Munnar
Eravikulam National ParkÂ is one the most frequented tourist attractions in Kerala because ofÂ Neelakurinji, which bloom once in 12 years and this rare view is a fascinating experience. Also see the Nigiri Thar, an endangered mountain goat while going on a trek to the peak of the hill. Tickets are for Rs 55 per adult and the park is closed in Feburary and March.
4. Enjoy Village life for a day
Have an authentic rural experience atÂ Kumbalangi Integrated Tourism Village. Exploring the local paddy cultivation, canoeing in mangrove forests, fishing, crab farming are amongst the many things to do in the village. Many homestays are available in the village which can be booked by the visitors. The village is 14 kms from Ernakulam railway station.
5. Meal at the Veli Tourist Village
From all the places to visit on your trip to Kerala, exploring theÂ Veli LakeÂ and dining in the floating restaurant at the lake is an incredible experience. Paddle boat in the lake and check out the floating bridge that links the tourist village with the beach. Veli Tourist Village is located at a distance of 8 Km fromÂ Thiruvananthapuram.
6. Go on Shikara rides in Alappuzha
About 4 hours fromÂ Thiruvananthapuram, AlappuzhaÂ offers some stunning views of the backwaters. Other than looking at the village life, the coconut trees, you will also see an array of birds. The double deck boats give a 3-4 hour ride without the expense of a houseboat and costs US$10.00 per hour.
7. Watch the Snake Boat Races
Watching the colourful Snake Boat races inÂ AlappuzhaÂ is an amazing thing to do in Kerala. Snake boat races are mostly held from July to September particularly during Onam festival. You can even rent a boat to look at the race from close-by. The closest station is Alleppey which is accessible from Ernakulam.
8. Stay in a Tree house
Number 8 on our list of things to do in Kerala is staying in a Tree House. Get closer to nature and experience the fun of staying in aÂ Tree HouseÂ atÂ Wayanad, Munnar, Athirapally or Thekkady. You can indulge in activities like rappling, rock climbing, nature walks and mountain biking. The tarrifs for tree houses start from US$15.00.
9. Take a spice tour
Take a tour ofÂ the spice plantationsÂ or gardens inÂ Munnar, Thekkady or Wayanad. Taste some authentic black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and the exotic vanilla and explore the farms on a nature walk. Most hotels include these tours in their packages but you can visit on your own too, like the Abrahamâ€™s Spice garden in Thekkady which costs only US$ 3.00 to enter.
10. Coffee plantation visit in Wayanad
Drink your cuppa joe where it gets made. Stay at aÂ coffee plantation resortÂ or homestay and it would include all the activities like trekking, night safaris, camp fire and plantation walks with rates starting fromÂ US$80.00/night.
11. Architecture tour in Fort Kochi
Fort Kochi is an amazing place to visit in Kerala. With the influence of Arabs, British, Dutch, Chinese, and Portuguese,Â Fort KochiÂ has a lot of eclectic architecture to gawk at. Explore the place on foot or on a bicycle including the Jewish synagogue, Indo portuguese museum, Chinese fishing nets, Santa Cruz Basilica and Fort Kochi beach.
12. Watch Theyyam
One of the best things to do in Kerala is watchingÂ Theyyam. They are staged in various temples of North Kerala, usually in front of the village shrine. Watch this exceptional and beautiful dance form in the districts of Kannur and Kasargod or if you are lucky you can catch a performance inÂ Kerala MuseumÂ atÂ Kochi. Make sure you look up the dates of the events on Theyyam calendar online before you visit.
13. Hi tea in Munnar
This little haven is a marvelous place to visit while in Kerala. Load up some locally cultivated tea inÂ Munnar, 3 hours from Kochi. Visit theÂ Kannan Devan Plantation Museumto witness tea-processing and taste different teas. You can also hire a jeep from Suryanelli (25 kms from Munnar) to visit the Kolukkumalai Tea Estate and a 100 year old factory. Jeep rates vary from US$ 18.00 -30.00.
14. Bird watching in Kumarakom
For all the nature lovers,Â Kumarakom Bird SancturyÂ is must to be on your list of places to visit in Kerala. Spot rare migratory birds such as egret, heron, waterfoul, siberian crane, while on a boat cruise. About 3 hours from Kochi, you can easily the destination by bus or taxis. Combine bird watching with a houseboat stay on Vembanad Lake to get the most out of the visit. November to Feburary is the best time to visit this place.
15. Swim in the Arabian sea
Bathe in the medicinal mineral water springs in Varkala beach and the salty ocean water on this beautiful beach. 50 kms from Trivandrum International Airport,Â VarkalaÂ is best visited between December and March.
16. Take the Periyar Jungle Jeep Ride
For the most fascinating experience of the forest, Thekkady should be on the top most list of places you are visiting in Kerala. About 190 kms from Kochi, Thekkady is famous for its diverse forest cover, fauna, mammals and aquatic life. The Periyar jungle ride covers the views of the lovelyÂ Iddukki town, Mullaperiyar Dam, the lush green vegetable farms, the sprawling vineyards and if you are lucky the endangered lion tailed macaque. You can also combine this with an overnight camp in a tent or a tree house. The cost for a dayâ€™s trip is US$28.00/person.
17. Get drenched under a waterfall
One of the many attractions in Kerala are the extraordinary, 80-feet tall,Â Athirapally falls which are now called the Niagara Falls of India. 55 kms from the Kochi International Airport, the falls are easily reachable by bus or taxis. The falls are most visited during the monsoons, from June to September.
18. Eat Bananas
The variety of Bananas found inÂ KeralaÂ are unparalleled in size, shape and taste. Try the varieties from the local stores and followed by their culinary counterparts including fried chips (upperi), steamed (puzhungiyathu) and fried in batter (pazhampori).
19. Watch the sunset at Kovalam Beach
Watch the beautiful sunset at theÂ Kovalam beach, one of the finest beaches in Kerala. About 16 kms fromÂ Thiruvananthapuram, the star attractions here are the Lighthouse beach, Hawah beach and the much quieter Samudra beach. The landmark lighthouse can be visited everyday between 3PM-5PM.
20. Bike ride in Idukki
The winding roads up and down the hills are a pleasure, best experienced on two wheels. From Kottayam you can take three routes to many places inÂ Idukki. One of the best is the route via Pala (Kottayam-Pala-Thodupuzha-Kulamavu) to see theÂ marvellous Idukki Arach Dam.