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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Wrenn-Haye

The State of Kerala India: A Captivating, Tranquil Gem

Updated: Mar 29

Welcome to Escape With Us Blogs & Vlogs New blog post on the State of Kerala

"Kerala, Nature's Own Masterpiece."

General Overview

The state of Kerala is located in the south west corner of India and is considered to be one of India’s prettiest states.  You will find plenty of beautiful beaches such as Kovalam, Muzhappilangad, Varakala, plus many more beautiful districts which to explore.

It is a quieter tranquil region compared to the north of India and it boasts a fascinating history, peaceful and breakthtaking backwaters, splendid tea plantations and is encompassed by an Arabian sea coastline; all this, together with an inner landscape which is dominated by the hills of the Western Ghats. What's not to enjoy!

Kerala is a truly captivating state full of natural beauty and is also known as the ‘Land of Coconuts' as well as ‘God’s Own Country’ because of the stunning scenic visitas and it’s as if God came down himself and declared Kerala his own with one smooth brush stroke.


With regards to the population of Kerala, it has the highest female to male ratio compared to the whole of India and logistically every 1,000 miles you will find 1,084 females; the overall estimated population is 35 million and Kerala is considered the thirteenth most populous state in India making up 3.43% of the total population of the country.

The People & Religion

People from Kerala are known as ' Keralites', as well as being known natively, as 'Malayalees' which is the language that they speak.

You can expect the general nature of these people to be down to earth and very polite, and they follow a strict logic which is simply called 'Atithi Devo Bhava', which translated means 'The Guests are Gods'. Their idea therefore is to treat all guests with total respect and politeness at all times.

'Richard & Manoj, Our Driver'

The State of Kerala has a diverse culture and many ethnicities reside in the state, all of whom remain close to their ancient traditions, rituals, practices and religion.

Over half the population of Kerala practice Hinduism, with around 26% being Muslim and 18.5% Christian, plus the remaining percentage practice other religions. As with the whole of India, all religions live amicably side by side with no problem at all.

The Food

The Food in southern India is far different from that of the north. You will savour mouth watering foods which are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian absorbing the famed local spices and the ubiquitous coconut.

You will find characteristics of the Arab, Malabar, Syrian and Brahmin inspired Hindu vegetarian cuisine. Fish and seafood also features heavily on the menus. You will expect a generous portion of rice or tapioca along with various vegetarian accompaniments like Sambar and Avial along with a curry or two which can be poultry, meat or seafood when being served in most restaurants and homestays (guest houses). Most breakfasts will likely consist of dishes such as Idli or Dosa, which are made out of rice that is grown locally.


There are a plenty of festivals that take place in 'God's Own Country' and for ease of reference, you can find details here of each scheduled festival throughout 2024.

Their ancient national festival is called 'Omna' and you can expect to see this rich harvest festival when visiting mid-September. It exhibits the Omani culture and heritage through different art forms and various activities which we have been told is a sight to behold and a festival to be enjoyed by many when visiting Kerala.


Kerala is an amazing place not only for its stunning beauty, but it is also a shoppers’ paradise.  Popular items to buy are spices, tea and coffee, cashew nuts and banana chips, souvenir handicrafts, aroma oils, jewellery, Malayalee traditional dress which is called ‘Kasavu Mundu’ and is the traditional hand-made cotten textile of Kerala with a typical patterned border.

You will find plentiful shops and markets on your travels throughout Kerala, so leave room in your suitcase.

Locations worth a visit in Kerala

Kochi (Cochin):

Kochi is a thriving port city which has been established since 1341, also known as Cochin and which sits on the Malabar Coast; it was a major spice trading centre from that time. Quite often widely referred to as the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’ with its mesmerising culture and sheer natural beauty, it forms part of the Ernakulam region in Kerala.

You will find Arab, Chinese and European influences in Kochi with colonial bungalows and diverse houses of worship. Kochi has a rich cultural heritage and it has become a very desired destination for both domestic and international travellers alike.

We thoroughly enjoyed our two nights in Fort Kochi area staying at the ‘Francis Residence’  which is a beautiful and soothing homestay run by Francis and his wife Rosy.  If you are looking for a well-appointed homestay with bright airy rooms and modern amenities, then we highly recommend this particular place set amongst colonial-era remains and ancient monuments in the heart of the residential district. 

We found this location to be excellent for sightseeing and exploring the local area of Fort Kochi and Mantancherry.  If you are able, do try and organise your agenda ahead of time, as there is quite a lot to see and you will not want to miss out. One highlight for us, was taking a half day tuk-tuk tour with a driver who also acted as our guide, who took us to some off the beaten track places that we may not have experienced, had we not said that we wanted to see into the heart of area itself.

We loved everything about Kochi and no visit to Kerala would be complete with a stay here to experience the wonderful people, food and culture.

Allepey Backwaters:

Kerala is where you will find the serene backwaters which really calm your soul.  The backwaters themselves have a very unique geography with the lakes and lagoons running parallel along the entire west coast of Kerala.  They have a very intricate network of twists and turns and they also run into land; most of the backwaters consist of five lakes which are linked by narrow canals.

We arranged an overnight stay on one of the barges, or 'rice barges' as they are known and what a fabulously relaxing and unique journey on the backwaters in Allepey we had.

Our barge was just for the two of us, so a pleasant private experience. We had a magnificent attentive crew of three who looked after us from start to finish. The food was all extremely fresh and was cooked and served on board and it is certainly worth a mention too, as it was all exceptional and very tasty, prepared and presented by an experienced chef and served in a separate dining room.

Allepey Backwater Canals

We highly recommend organising a house boat overnight trip if you are visiting the State of Kerala. We sailed from Allepey on the 'Chaliyar' barge with a company called 'Xandari Riverscapes', but there are other companies and locations to choose from. It is truly a very special experience and one you will treasure forever.


Munnar is a very popular destination for tourists visiting Kerala, due to its diverse attractions including plantations, valleys and forests which provide a glimpse of the areas flora and forna. All of these attractions impart a rich and very enjoyable experience.

Munnar is at an altitude of 6,000 feet above sea level located in the Idukki district. It is an area that was favoured as a summer resort of the British rulers back in the colonial days.

Our particular visit to Munnar was short; we only stayed one night at a beautiful spot called 'Windermere Estate' run by a lovely gentleman called Simon John and his family who ensure that you have an impeccable stay throughout.

On reflection our one night stop just was not long enough to fit everything in that we wanted to see and appreciate this beautiful property, hence the reason why we would love to return one day.

During our stay in Munnar we opted to visit the 'Kulukkumalai' tea estate, which is the world's highest tea plantation estate at over 7,130 feet above sea level.

Although this tea estate was incredible to visit, with the most amazing and breathtaking views of the Western Ghats at its peak, the actual drive up to the plantation in an open jeep is certainly not for the faint-hearted that's for sure!

There is no denying that all the views are out of this world on the journey up to the summit, however it takes 90 minutes to reach the top with an experienced driver, over some of the worst terrain we have ever experienced in our lives, which somewhat detracts away from the experience itself. It was very tough to say the least being jolted around in the jeep and extremely uncomfortable if I am totally honest. You therefore certainly need true stamina for visiting this particular tea estate, especially with the realisation after your tea factory tour, that you then have to brace yourself to endure the same journey back down to your starting point which is at the edge of the estate.

At least one thing is for sure, the cup of 'Orange Pekoe' tea that we tasted at the Kulukkumalai tea factory was incredible and we did purchase some to bring back home, so each time we make a brew at home now, it brings back memories of this beautiful place. That is a great memory to have of this unique tea and the process of how it is made.

It was due to the length of this particular tour that prevented us taking in other sights in Munnar during our short stay. There are of course other tea estates that you can visit, which sit lower down in the Ghats too, so if you want time to spend visiting other places in Munnar, then do take this into account when organising a tea plantation tour on your visit to the area as this particular trip to this estate takes around 5 hours in total.

We recommend spending your time wisely, maybe just take in a general jeep safari to see the area instead, or going on an organised hike which is very popular.

On reflection from a personal perspective, although the views from the summit were like nothing we have ever seen or experienced before, we were physically exhausted after our trip and don't mind admitting that we would have preferred spreading our time across a selection of different attractions in the area of which there are many, so do your research well and in advance of your proposed visit.


This particular district of Kerala sits on the banks of the stunning Periyar River and is an area of utterly outstanding beauty. It's peaceful location is good for the soul, especially if you are doing a tour of India. It is a place of solitude where you are at home with the sound of nature set amongst rubber plantations and natural green lush surroundings. and you can spend time recharging your batteries.

The Periyar River at Dawn with kayaker on the River. Inchathotty Kerala India
'The Periyar River at Dawn'

For keen ornathologists, Inchathotty is approximately 45 minutes from the well-known 'Thattekhad Bird Sanctuary'which is worth a visit where you can see many varieties of birds, including migrating birds.

Our UK travel company 'Audley' arranged for us to stay for two nights at a location in a village called 'Neriamangalam' in the Inchathotty district for some tranquil downtime, staying in an unbelievably serene place known as 'Windermere Riverhouse' also run by Simon, who we mentioned earlier and whose family also owns the 'Windermere Estate' in Munnar. The attentive service we received was second to none and we will definitely treasure our memories of our special time here forevermore.

We highly recommend a visit to this destination and a stay at this fabulous place.

What is Kerala known for:


Kerala could not of earned its name, 'The Land of the Coconuts' if it weren't for the abundance of coconut trees you find everywhere. Kerala produces at least 45% of India's coconuts.

Coconut water is widely consumed across the state and coconut milk and the fresh coconut flesh features greatly in Keralan cookery too.

Another reason Kerala is referred to as 'The Land of the Coconuts' is because it is said that Kerala in fact translates to the word 'coconut tree' in the Malayalam language.


Kerela is known for its rich variety of spices which are popular around the world.  The important locations for the growth of spices in the entire state are in the Idukki and Wyanad regions where the warm, humid climate contributes to loamy rich organic soil, which combined with its reasonable amount of rainfall is ideal for spices to grow.  

The most highly prized spice is the Cardamon which is known as the ‘Queen of Spices’ and is grown on the Western Ghats in Kerala.

Auyervedic Treatments:

Kerala is renowned for its ayurvedic treatments and it is the only state in India that truly pursues the benefits of auyurvedic medicinal products for treating lots of diseases and disorders.  You will also find the only primary Ayurvedic resort in the world, which is located on Kovalam Beach, it’s called 'Somatheeram'.

Much of Kerala’s tourism comes from the aspect of healing, as it is such a soul-refreshing state.  The thriving greenery which you see everywhere means that there is no lack of medicinal herbs and plants; you will always find lots of ayurvedic products for sale wherever you go, as well as treatment centres scattered here and there.

We certainly tried out the wonderful relaxing auyervedic massage centres during our visit to Kerala. We also took advantage of the retail shops selling beneficial home-made products, including digestive drinks, plant face masks, soaps, charcoal free beautiful and unusual smelling joss sticks and freshly ground spices for cooking, to name but a few, all of which are fantastic.

One place we particularly enjoyed was the Periyar spice plantation in Munnar, where we learned all about the benefits of the plants, which is really very interesting; we enjoyed browsing in their retail shop that had an on-site Auyervedic doctor who actually prescribed many medicinal products for us to bring back home.  We have found all of these to be very beneficial.


Roaming across the state in the green fields are more than seven hundred elephants, most of whom are owned by institutions and temples and the elephants are Kerala’s pride and joy, featuring also on the Government emblem of Kerala.

Elephant Crossing Zone sign on the side of the road in the State of Kerala India

Folklore & Culture:

There is an outstanding culture in Kerala particularly in the Malabar region which has a particularly rich heritage with many enchanting folklores being associated with it.  There is a blend of both Indian and Dravidian styles of folklore and the different styles are Kathakali, Mohiniyattam and Kalaripayattu which has one of the most famous dance forms of India that is a combination of opera, ballet and masque.

We visited an amazing folklore museum on our way to Munnar and by some of the photos we display, you will see how interesting this particular museum is - we would certainly recommend a visit here to learn all about the folklore culture of Kerala.

Cookery Lessons and Demonstrations:

If you want to learn about the cooking techniques and popular recipes in Kerala then we would suggest booking yourself on either a cookery demonstration or a cookery lesson during your stay.  This is something that is now drawing visitors to this state with its rich variety of foods.

We had a cookery demonstration when we were here at the ‘Francis Residence’ in Fort Kochi with the lovely Rosy.  We really enjoyed our demonstration after which we got to enjoy a wonderful tasty feast in a homestead environment.  Highly recommended.

A cookery demonstration by Rosy at The Francis Residence Fort Kochi
'Cookery Demo with Rosy'

General Travel Advice

You can travel directly to the State of Kerala from all over the world; they have three international airports depending on which area you are wishing to travel to; they are Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi (Cochin) and Kozhikode.

We personally flew into Cochin airport as we had been travelling through Rajasthan beforehand for the first part of our trip.  Cochin airport was the first airport in the entire world to boast solar energy and is therefore completely self-sufficient.

Cochin Airport - the first airport in the world to be powered by solar energy.
Cochin Airport

With regards to travel in Kochi, if you are staying in the metropolitan area there is a metro train which also services satellite towns in the Ernakulam district.  There is also a great bus network that services Kerala. 

However, for generally getting around it is best to hire a driver with a vehicle for the duration that you are there and they will be able to transport you to all your travel destinations and assist with sightseeing trips. If you are travelling with a tour company as we were, they will arrange this for you as part of your itinerary however if you are on a self-guided tour of Kerala we would suggest taking a look at ‘Get Your Guide’ website which we are a fan of.


Winter - Summer - South West Monsoon - North East Monsoon

Generally you will find that Kerala is hot and humid, particularly in May; the best time to visit is the winter season which runs from September after the north east monsoon, through to March.  This will allow you to experience the gorgeous surroundings in pleasant weather without getting too hot.

If visiting the backwaters on the other hand, it is recommended you choose the months from November to February. The hottest month is April when temperatures reach in the region of 33 degrees with an average low of 26 degrees.

Kerala experiences two rainy seasons, the first of which commences in June with the south monsoon which is the earliest in India and the second is in mid-October ending around the middle of November.  The monsoon in Kerala is different to other places in India, as it does not rain continuously with incessant rain over days and weeks.  An interesting fact is that when the first rains fall in Kerala, ten days later it rains in Mumbai.


We chose to write this blog as a general overview to give you an insight into the State of Kerela. We will be providing separate blogs for the capital of Kerala, Kochi (Cochin as it is also known), as well as Munnar and Inchahotty where we visited on our month long trip to India which included a visit to the north first of all to various cities including Delhi and Agra in Uttar Pradesh, as well as Rathambhore, Barli our wedding vow renewal destination, Jaipur and Udaipur in Rajasthan.

Obviously Kerala has so much to offer and is an attractive, tranquil and relaxing place to visit and by no means have we covered everything here. We hope to return again one day and carry out a further tour of southern India taking in places that we could not cover this time around.

"The State of Kerala India, an unforgettable adventure, where every corner is a postcard perfect moment".

We highly recommend that you add Kerala to your proposed itinerary if you are planning to visit south India. It's sheer beauty will leave you in awe and the people are so friendly too which makes for an overall enjoyable holiday experience. It differs greatly from other states and districts in the north including Rajasthan.

If you have any questions concerning our blog, then please do not hesitate to get in touch via our contact us form below. Alternatively, you may have your own story of your travels to Kerala that you may wish to share with us.

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