Tourist Destinations of Kerala
Kochi is located on the southwest coast of India at 9°58'N 76°13'E, spanning an area of 94.88 square kilometres (36.63 sq mi). The city straddles the backwaters, encompassing the northern end of a peninsula, several islands and a portion of the mainland. To the west lies the Arabian Sea, and to the east is the urbanized region in the rest of the mainland area. Much of Kochi lies at sea level, with a coastline of 48 km.
The current metropolitan limits of Kochi include the mainland Ernakulam, Fort Kochi, the suburbs of Edapally, Kalamassery and Kakkanad to the northeast; Tripunithura to the southeast; and a group of islands closely scattered in the Vembanad Lake. Most of these islands are very small, varying in extent from six square kilometre to less than a square kilometre (1,500 to less than 250 acres).
Soil consists of sediments such as alluvium, teri's, brown sands, etc. Hydromorphic saline soils are also found in the areas surrounding the backwaters.
Predominant rock types found here are Archaean-basic dykes, Charnockites and Gneisses. An ecologically sensitive area, the Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary is located in the central part of the city. It has a wide range of mangrove species and is nesting ground for a vast variety of migratory birds.
Backwaters of Kochi are a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast (known as the Malabar Coast) of Kerala state in southern India. In Cochin, the stretch from Kochi Azhi to Munambam Azhi, the serene backwaters are popularly known as Veeranpuzha. It is the northern extension of Vembanad Lake. Vembanad Lake (Vembanad Kayal or Vembanad Kol) is India's longest lake, and is the largest lake in Kerala. It is also one of the largest lakes in India.
Marine Drive is a picturesque promenade in Kochi. It is built facing the backwaters, and is a popular hangout for the local populace. Marine Drive is also an economically thriving part of the city of Kochi. With several shopping malls it is as an important centre of shopping activity in Kochi. The walkway has two contemporarily constructed bridges, the Rainbow bridge and the Chinese Fishing Net Bridge.The view of the setting and rising sun over the sea mouth, and the gentle breeze from the Vembanad Lake has made Marine Drive an important tourist destination in Kochi. Hundreds of people (both natives, and tourists) throng the walkway during the evenings.Pedestrians can stroll along the Marine Drive, a waterfront promenade of Kochi.
Fort Kochi : situated on the Fort Kochi/Mattancherry peninsula, is the historical part of the city and home to many tourist attractions, such as the cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, the Mattancherry Palace and the Santa Cruz Basilica.
Hill Palace : is the largest archaeological museum in Kerala, near Tripunithura. It was the administrative office of Kochi Rajas. Built in 1865, the Palace complex consists of 49 buildings in the traditional architectural style, spreading across in 54 acres . The complex has an archaeological Museum, a Heritage Museum, a Deer Park, a Pre-historic Park and a Children’s park.
Athirappilly Falls : is around 60 km from Kochi. The Chalakudy River, 145 kilometres long, originates in the Anamudi mountains (Western Ghats) and flows through the Vazhachal Forest toward the Arabian Sea. Forest wildlife includes the Asiatic elephant, tiger, leopard, bison, sambar, and lion-tailed macaque. Plantations in the area contain teak, bamboo, and eucalyptus. The river initially runs smoothly but becomes more turbulent as it nears Athirappilly. At Athirappilly Falls, the water surges around big rocks and cascades down in three separate plumes. Below the falls, the river remains turbulent for about 1 kilometre until it reaches Kannamkuzhi. Then it calms and flows smoothly until reaching the dam at Imburmuzhi.
Cherai Beach : is a beach is just 30 km from Kochi. The 15 km of long golden beach is very clean, shallow, and attracts swimming and sunbathing. Cherai village is a part of Vypin Island.
Periyar River view at Bhoothathankettu is a popular pilgrim center because it is the birthplace of Sri Adi Sankara, one of India's foremost philosopher-saints who preached the Advaita or monastic philosophy.
Bhoothathankettu : is a dam and tourist site. It is situated in the village of Pindimana, about 50 km away from the Kochi. Bhoothathankettu is connected to the Salim Ali/Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, where visitors can see different varieties of birds and animals. The Idamalayam reservoir is about 12 km distance from the site.
Munnar is one of the most popular hill-resort towns in Kerala and in southern India. Munnar is located on the Western Ghats, situated in the Idukki district.
The name Munnar is believed to be derived from the Malayalam/Tamil words Munu (three) and aaru (river), referring to the town's strategic location at the confluence of the Muthirappuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly rivers.
The Munnar panchayat in the Devikulam block is the largest panchayat in the Idukki district having an area measuring nearly 557 km².
The nearest major railway stations are at Ernakulam and Aluva (approximately 110km by road). The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, which is 105km away.
Eravikulam National Park
Located about 15 km from Munnar, this park is famous for its endangered inhabitant - the Nilgiri Tahr. Spread over an area of 97 sq. km., this park is also home to several species of rare butterflies, animals and birds. A great place for trekking, the park offers a magnificent view of the tea plantations and also the rolling hills caressed by blankets of mists. The park becomes a hot destination when the hill slopes here get covered in a carpet of blue, resulting from the flowering of Neelakurinji.
Situated about 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) from Munnar town, Anamudi (2,695 metres (8,842 ft)) is Kerala's highest mountain and the highest Indian mountain south of the Himalayan range. Treks to the peak are allowed with permission from Forest and Wildlife authorities at Eravikulam.
Another place of interest, located about 13 km from Munnar Town, is Mattupetty. Lying at a height of 1700 m above sea level, Mattupetty is known for its storage masonry dam and the beautiful lake, which offers pleasurable boat rides, enabling one to enjoy the surrounding hills and landscape. Mattupetty's fame is also attributed to the dairy farm run by the Indo-Swiss Livestock Project, where one would come across different high yielding breeds of cows. Mattupetty with its lush green tea plantations, rolling grasslands and the Shola forests is also ideal for trekking and is home to a variety of birds.
Near the town of Munnar is Chinnakanal and the waterfalls here, popularly known as Power House Waterfalls, cascade down a steep rock 2000m above sea level. The spot is enriched with the scenic view of the Western Ghat ranges.
When you have traveled about seven kilometers from Chinnakanal, you reach Anayirangal. Anayirangal, 22 km from Munnar, is a lush green carpet of tea plants. A trip on the splendid reservoir is an unforgettable experience. The Anayirangal dam is surrounded by tea plantations and evergreen forests.
Top Station, which is about 27 km from Munnar is at a height of 1700 m above sea level. It is the highest point on the Munnar-Kodaikanal road. Travellers to Munnar make it a point to visit Top Station to enjoy the panoramic view it offers of the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu. It is one of the spots in Munnar to enjoy the Neelakurunji flowers blooming over a vast area.
Munnar has a legacy of its own when to comes to the origins and evolution of tea plantations. Taking account of this legacy and to preserve and showcase some of the exquisite and interesting aspects on the genesis and growth of tea plantations in Kerala's high ranges, a museum exclusively for tea was opened some years ago by Tata Tea in Munnar. This Tea Museum houses curios, photographs and machineries; all of which have a story to tell on the origins and growth of tea plantation in Munnar. The museum is located at the Nallathanni Estate of Tata Tea in Munnar and is worth a visit.
Kovalam is a beach town on the Arabian Sea in Kerala, a state in south India. It is located around 13 km from Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum).
Kovalam has three crescent shaped beaches separated by rocky outcroppings. Shallow waters stretching for hundreds of metres are ideal for swimming. The beaches have steep palm covered headlands and are lined with shops that offer all kinds of goods and services.
The larger of the beaches is called Light House Beach for its 35 metre high light house which towers over it atop Kurumkal hillock. The second largest one is Hawah Beach named thus for the topless European women who used to throng there. It was the first topless beach in India. However topless bathing is banned now except in private coves owned by resorts. Visitors frequent these two beaches. The northern part of the beach is known as Samudra Beach in tourism parlance. A large promontory separates this part from the southern side. Samudra Beach doesn't have tourists thronging there or hectic business. The local fishermen ply their trade on this part. The sands on the beaches in Kovalam are partially black in colour due to the presence of ilmenite and thorazite. The normal tourist season is from September to May. Ashoka beach is also the part of Kovalam beach.
There are a large number of beach resorts in and around Kovalam. The sea port of Vizhinjam is about 3 km away and famous for its special varieties of fish, old Hindu temples, big churches and a mosque. The Proposed International Trans shipment Terminal at Vizhinjam is also close to Kovalam.
Kovalam was among the most prominent tourist spots in India during the hippy era. It still has a high status among tourists, who arrive mostly from Europe and Israel. Kovalam is finding a new significance in the light of several Ayurvedic salons, and recuperation and regeneration resorts which provide a wide variety of Ayurvedic treatments for tourists.
Alappuzha , also known as Alleppey, is a town in Alappuzha District of Kerala state of southern India. A town with picturesque canals, backwaters, beaches, and lagoons, it was described as the one of the places known as "Venice of the East" by Marco Polo (1292). It is the administrative headquarters of Alappuzha District. Malayalam is the most spoken language. Hindi, English and Tamil are also widely understood in the town.
The name Alappuzha is derived from 'Aal(Sea)+ puzhai(River/Mouth)(The joint place of river and Sea)' (Malayalam/Tamil ). Alappuzha is one of the most important tourist centres in the state, with a large network of inland canals earning it the sobriquet "Venice of the east". These large network of canals provide Alleppey its lifeline. Alappuzha was one of the busiest centres of trade in the past with one of the best known ports along the Malabar coast. Even today it retains its charm as the centre for Coir carpet industries and prawn farming. Alappuzha the ideal headquarters for backwater tourism as well as for visits to the lovely church filled town of Kottayam, and the town of Aranmula, famous for its historic Aranmula Snake Boat Race which is an annual event. Chengannur in Alappuzha is the nearest railway station to Sabarimala. The Krishnapuram Palace is in Kayamkulam. The budha idol, Saradamandiram are the main attraction of Mavelikkara.The budha statue is in seated posture, resembling Padmasana. A feature common to the idols is that hair has not been engraved on the head. Studies by the Archaeology Department have not been able to explain the absence of hair which is common in Buddha statues of the Gandhara and Mathura tradition. The head has markings resembling a headgear. Though the department has made a pagoda-like structure for the statue, no information on the idol is available to tourists who visit the area. Local people in the area light lamps before the idol. The idol at Mavelikara is 4 feet (1.2 m) high and is perhaps, the biggest. The engravings on the head resemble a helmet of Greek statues. The mark of a sacred thread is visible on the body. Another feature is the marking of a shawl on one shoulder. Here the Archaeological Department has put up a board specifying the age of the statue. Saradamandiram was the residence of Keralapanini.
Alappuzha is also known for its spectacular snake - boat races held on the second Saturday of August, every year. This competition - the Nehru boat race takes its name from India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who inaugurated in 1952. It is excitement all around as snake - boats, each manned by over a hundred oarsmen, cut through the waters like wind. The event is a tremendous success with tourists and the local population alike.
The boat cruise along the backwaters of Alappuzha give one first hand experience of the life style; toddy tapping, fishing for small fry, Coir-making, prawn farming etc., which remains more or less unchanged over the years.
Latest addition to Alappuzha is the Revi Karunakaran Memorial Museum featuring countless arts and artefacts. Revi Karunakaran was the architect of modern Coir industry that still employs more than 500,000 people in the state of Kerala. The objects featured at the Museum were collected by his family over three generations and features unique artistic pieces from all parts of the world.
Kumarakom is a popular tourism destination located near the city of Kottayam (16 kilometres (10 mi)), in Kerala, India, famous for its backwater tourism. It is set in the backdrop of the Vembanad Lake which is the largest freshwater lake in the state of Kerala.
Tourism in Kumarakom largely revolves around the backwaters of the Vembanad Lake. Several luxury and budget resorts lined up on the shores of the lake provide tourists with facilities for boating, yachting and fishing, with panoramic views of the lake. The other major attraction is the Bird Sanctuary which can be visited by canoes arranged by local fishermen at the entrance to the sanctuary. A two-hour rowing canoe trip is quite cheap, and is best undertaken in the evening or early morning to avoid the afternoon sun.
Taj Garden Retreat the first modern tourist resort in Kumarakom is established in the Victorian two storied bungalow built by Alfred George Baker in the year 1881, on huge pieces of Teak wood rafters packed in mud as a base. This house on the lake at Kumarakom was the house of four generations of the Baker family, for over a hundred years. The bird Sanctuary and the two storied Bungalow built by Mr.A G Baker on the muddy land are places of interest for tourists from all over the world. The bungalow still remains grand but silent reminder of an age and people whose hard work cannot be erased by time.
A boatman propels a traditional kettuvallam on Vembanad Lake
Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things is set in Ayemenem or Aymanam village, which adjoins Kumarakom. The explosive success of this novel has given some added tourism impetus to this area. The Taj Garden Retreat hotel complex is centered around a building that is called "History House" in the novel; it was built by British missionary Alfred George Baker, whom the locals called "Kari Saipu" (possibly an elided form of "Baker Sahib"), as in the novel. Four generations of Bakers lived in the house until 1962, speaking Malayalam, and even wearing the mundu. The Baker Memorial School, Kottayam, was started by a daughter of this family in 1925. The Baker family's house is in ruins in the novel, as it was in reality before was developed into a hotel and has been restored by the Taj group. The Ayemenem house, where Arundhati Roy spent part of her childhood (like the twins in the story), can also be visited in the village, which can be reached by boat along the Meenachil river that figures prominently in the story.
Kumarakom has a wide variety of houseboats and is well known through out the world for housbeoat experience. They are used only for tourists these days. A separate boat known as Kettuvallam is used by the people to go fishing or to transport goods. Apart from these, there are elegant special boats like Kochu-odi Vallam, Odi-Vallam, Iruttukutthi Vallam, Churulan Vallam and Chundan Vallam(Snake Boat), which take part in the boat races around Onam time. The Kumarakom boat-race is conducted in the big canal in the centre near the market. There is a private sailing club in Kumarakom, located on the shore of the Vembanad lake.
Varkala is the only place in southern Kerala where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea.These tertiary sedimentary formation cliffs are a unique geological feature on the otherwise flat Kerala coast, and is known among geologists as Varkala Formation and a geological monument as declared by the Geological Survey of India. There are numerous water spouts and spas on the sides of these cliffs.
Varkala is also famous for the 2,000-year old Janardana Swami Temple which is an important Vaishnavaite shrine in India and is often referred to as Dakshin Kashi (Benares of the South). The temple is located close to the Papanasam beach, which is considered to have holy waters which wash away sins, and is also an important Ayurveda treatment centre. The temple has an ancient bell removed from a shipwreck, donated by the captain of the Dutch vessel which sank near Varkala without causing any casualties.
Another major landmark in Varkala is the Sivagiri Mutt, established by the social reformer Sree Narayana Guru. The hill-top mausoleum of Sree Narayana Guru is one of the most famous monuments in Kerala. The adjacent hills house the East-West University of Brahmavidya and Sree Narayana Gurukulam.