Kerala. Planning a trip to India? If you fancy experiencing life in one of the country’s most traditional and laidback states, I think you should have a holiday in Kerala. Located in the south-west of India, Kerala has a great array of attractions, from amazing beaches and cities packed with historical sites to its spectacular backwaters and temple festivals. As I know, Emirates does flights to India, probably the best option to fly there. To help you prepare for your trip to Kerala, below are some top facts to be aware of before you hit the road.
To help you prepare for your trip to Kerala, below are some top facts to be aware of before you hit the road.
Language, currency and attitude to travellers.
These are some of the most basic elements to familiarise yourself with before you travel. Malayalam is the language spoken in Kerala, while the state’s currency is the Indian rupee.
In terms of the region’s attitude to travellers, it’s got a strong reputation for welcoming visitors with open arms – so much so that its hospitality is often regarded as one of its key characteristics.
When visiting anywhere in India, it’s a really good idea to check out the climate of your chosen destination before booking your plane tickets and making hotel reservations. After all, you don’t want to get soaked to the skin every day in monsoon season or swelter in unbearable heat.
In Kerala, the best time to visit is generally thought to be between December and March. Arrive then and you can expect to avoid the bulk of the rain (the monsoon season runs from June to October), while the average temperature will be about 30 degrees C. As such, it’s sensible to pack light cotton clothing so you don’t feel like you’re about to melt, while sturdy shoes are essential for exploring.
One of the most exciting things about visiting Kerala, in my opinion, is the chance to discover its rich culture. Religion is central to this (including Hinduism, Islam and Christianity), while it is also common to see people wearing traditional dress.
The traditional culture here can be observed in day-to-day life, but also in things like the prevalence of art forms such as kalarippayat – a martial art – and kathakali, which blends dance with the performance of religious plays. You can check these out in a lot of the state’s hotels, which stage special performances for tourists, but it’s well worth heading to a temple festival if you can to see them at their most authentic.
Also called utsavam, these festivals are held in every temple in Kerala, with each staging at least one a year. Ritual art forms like the above are staples, as are drums, fireworks and elephants – but the events can vary a lot in size.
An interesting thing to remember about Kerala is that, while it is in many ways a very traditional place, it’s also one of the most progressive in India. In fact, Kerala has the best literacy rates in the nation, as well as the longest average life expectancy.
There are loads of great destinations for travellers to explore in Kerala – below are a few I think really stand out:
• The Kuttanad backwater region: Kerala’s backwaters are one of its most famous features, so cruising along these in a converted rice barge (these are often pretty luxuriously decked out these days!) is an absolute must.
• Thiravananthapuram: This is both the name of the state’s capital and its southernmost region. Unsurprisingly, the capital is a key tourist hotspot. Some of the places you should make the time to visit are Kovalam Beach and Padmanabha Swarmy Temple, which is famous for its paintings and stone carvings.
• Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary: The most popular wildlife sanctuary in the state, this is home to elephants, bison and tigers.