Kerala is India’s most dazzling state - from the lush green of its landscapes, fed by rain, rivers and lagoons, to the vivid colours of the traditional rituals and festivals. Arriving here is to see the usual chaos of India abate and the pace slow down – with a 600 kilometre coastline of beaches lapped gently by the Arabian Sea it’s easy to drop into the rhythm. Kerala is best known for its enchanting backwaters, a network of lakes, lagoons, canals and rivers that are best explored in a kettuvalum.
Gliding leisurely through Kerala’s fabled backwaters gives a fascinating glimpse at daily life in this unique area – a web of lakes, lagoons, canals and rivers. Of course, the waters are best explored in a kettuvalam (houseboat). Primarily used for the transportation of goods, today these boats are an integral part of the Kerala experience offering the chance to enjoy the sights, sounds and scenery throughout the day and overnight, with authentic cuisine cooked and served on board.
Strung across islands and peninsulas between the Malabar Coast and the backwaters, all linked together by bridges and ferries, Kochi is one of India’s most fascinating and delightful cities. Founded by the Portuguese and consolidated by the Dutch East India Company as a trading port, the old Fort Cochin district is a patchwork of world influences, from Chinese fishing nets to Raj to Portuguese houses, making it the perfect place to begin your explorations. Kochi is also a centre of Keralan arts, making it the best place to watch an elaborate performance of kathakali dance-drama.
Officially Thiruvananthapuram Kerala’s capital is, unsurprisingly, generally called its colonial name – Trivandrum. An energetic and easygoing city located just a couple of miles inland from the gorgeous beaches of the Arabian Sea, Trivandrum is growing fast but it’s still easy to find quaint neighbourhoods of traditional red tiled houses amongst the modern office blocks. The Puttan Malika Palace, once seat of the Travancore rajas, is a beautiful example of elegant Keralan architecture, whilst the old Fort area offers plenty of atmospheric alleys to wander.
Kerala’s top, and most developed, beach resort Kovalum’s four golden sandy bays are what makes this spot so popular. It is also just 30 minutes by road from the state capital Trivandrum and perfectly positioned to explore the Ayurveda treatments offered in the surrounding area.
Sitting on the shores of Kerala’s largest lake, Vembanad, this chilled out backwater town is best known for its fantastic bird sanctuary. The sanctuary is the ideal place to spot the numerous species of migratory birds that visit the wetlands area as well as native species such as the vivid kingfishers, egrets and flycatchers.
The Malabar House is in the heart of historical Fort Cochin and has a history dating back to 1755. This heritage hotel has 17 unique rooms and suites which are designed to the last detail and furnished with select antiques and art. The Malabar House has an Ayurveda spa and a swimming pool.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.