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What Kerala is Famous for - The Best 8 Things to Do
Last updated: 15 Jan 2021


What Kerala is Famous For



Stretching along the southern reaches of India's Arabian Sea coastline, Kerala is able to blend tropical beaches with thousands of years of history. Called 'God's Own Country' because of its stunning natural beauty, food also plays a key part in what Kerala is famous for. In fact, it was the spice trade that first attracted Europeans to the area, now better known for its laid-back beach vibes. Let's check out Kerala's top attractions!


1. Epic beaches

Kerala has somewhere in the region of 600 kilometres of shoreline on India's western Malabar Coast, and a huge proportion of this length is composed of fine sand beaches. Ask anyone what Kerala is famous for, and it's likely the state's beaches come very high up on their list, and there's very good reason for this.

While you'll find plenty of accommodation options and other attractions around the likes of Kerala's best-known beaches, such as Varkala, Kovalam, and Kappad, there's really no shortage of potential spots in which to lay down a towel and soak up the sun's warming rays. The biggest are set up with sun loungers, umbrellas, and water sports. Facing west, Kerala's beaches are great for romantic sunsets too.

Epic beaches


2. Houseboat excursions

Though Kerala's coastline is a major destination for many, it is not the only water-based attraction on offer. Kerala's 'backwaters' - a network of saltwater lagoons that run parallel to the coast and are connected together by dreamy canals - are another highly-rated reason to visit this part of India.

Estimated to extend for around 900 kilometres in total length, these backwaters can be explored at leisure aboard a houseboat. These traditional wooden structures drift across the calm backwaters carrying tourists rather than the spices and other goods they once ferried from place to place. Covered in authentic thatched roofs, they form complete floating apartments, containing bathroom facilities, lounges and even kitchens, and are an excellent alternative to a hotel.

Houseboat excursions


3. Architectural splendour

Although today’s India is a unified state, like most countries, it is made up of a series of historic city-states which means the architecture of the towns and cities of Kerala can be significantly different to that found elsewhere in the country.

What’s more, Kerala’s past as a blend of indigenous princely states, Portuguese trading posts and British-ruled lands means there’s more architectural heritage to explore here than elsewhere in India. For instance, Kowdiar Palace in Thiruvananthapuram was constructed by the maharajah in the 1930s for his sister, while Kannur is known for St Angelo Fort, constructed in 1505 by the earliest Portuguese settlers to the Malabar Coast.

Architectural splendour


4. Mouth-watering cuisine

Traditionally laid out on the fresh green of a mature banana leaf, Kerala's cuisine is typified by a feast called sadya, which can be made up of as many as 28 different dishes. The sheer number of different plates that might appear before you make it difficult to explain exactly what you might find at such a feast.

However, it's safe to say that it will include plain white rice that acts as a base for a variety of different pickles, deep-fried vegetable fritters, pulses, and other side dishes. Followed by a number of tasty desserts, what unites each sadya dish is the rich blend of spices used - not to create heat on the tongue, but subtly evolving flavours.

Mouth-watering cuisine


5. Intriguing history

The region's history might not immediately rank in the top five of what Kerala is famous for, but pause for a moment and you'll agree that the state does indeed have an intriguing history. As an example, head to Kochi and you'll find a city that has not only been influenced by European powers such as the Portuguese and Dutch, but also by Arab traders from the Middle East, and even the Chinese, all several hundred years ago.

You never have to go far to stumble quite accidentally on some part of Kerala's history. Head to Kozhikode (Calicut), and you'll be following in the footsteps of the explorer Vasco da Gama, who landed here in the very late 1490s having circumnavigated Africa first. Its archaeological museum shouldn't be missed. Elsewhere, Munnar's Kannan Devan Tea Museum guides visitors through the history of one of the world's most important drinks.

Intriguing history of Kerala


6. Ayurvedic rejuvenation

Sometimes described as the oldest form of healthcare in the world, ayurvedic treatments have been offered in Kerala for thousands of years, and undoubtedly should be found on any list of what Kerala is famous for.

It is a system of healthcare based on massages with oils and herbs, as well as yoga and meditation. It should therefore be thought of more as a spa experience than a nervy trip to the doctors. What's certain, is that you'll come out of any massage session with an ayurvedic practitioner feeling refreshed and extraordinarily relaxed.

Ayurvedic rejuvenation


7. Lively festivals

Drums sending their deep beat straight through your body. Temple elephants parading down streets draped in mesmerising costumes. Boats up to twenty metres long floating down its backwaters. This is what you can expect from the festivals in Kerala. Both Christmas and the Muslim festival of Eid are celebrated, but it's Onam which is enjoyed by every household in the state. Closely connected with the idea of the harvest festival, elaborate meals are prepared to welcome Mahabali, a god-king who brings prosperity on the region.

Keraala Lively Festivals


8. Cool hill stations

Beyond its beaches, its hill stations are also what Kerala is famous for. A range of verdant hills drift away from the coast, providing a dramatic backdrop from which to enjoy the cooler altitudes. Not only are these small towns tranquil escapes from the big cities in the state, but they are home to several wildlife sanctuaries too. They are also popular destinations for both domestic and international tourists seeking to stretch their legs along the hiking trails that run between the trees and tea plantations of Kerala.

Cool hill stations in Kerala


What Kerala is famous for - the verdict

Kerala might be known primarily for its long sweeping beaches, but there's more to this Indian state than pristine sands alone. Kerala also has a remarkable history, a culture that can be traced back millennia, and a unique geography of hill stations and backwaters too.






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