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  Kerala Travel Guide

Sandwiched between the Lakshwadeep Sea and the Western Ghats, Kerala is a bustling little green-and-silver, coconuts-and-water state on the west coast of India. It is bounded by Karnataka to the north, Tamil Nadu to the east, and the Arabian Sea to the west.

Thiruvananthapuram is its capital

Every district in Kerala has it's own unique culture and characteristics. Thiruvananthapuram is known for it's beach- Kovalam, the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple and various museums and palaces; Alappuzha for it's backwaters, Thrissur, the cultural capital, Kottayam for it's ancient churches, Kozhikode for it's old world charm and the entrancing Ponmudi or Golden valley.

Capital of Kerala:
Though a bit of a tongue-twister, Thiruvananthapuram - the present official name, is closer to it's mythological origins. The word ' Thiru ananthapuram' means the city of Anantha or the abode of the sacred thousand-headed serpent Anantha, who forms the couch on which reclines Lord Vishnu, the preserver in the Hindu trinity. Built on seven hills, it was the capital of the Venad chieftains. The city has grown as a tourist and commercial centre, with the International airport becoming the main gateway into Kerala. Being the state capital, it also throbs with political activity.

History of Kerala:
Original inhabitants were animists, followed by the Dravidians. After Alexander's triumphant sweep over Asia Minor, the ports of Kerala became a link between the Middle East, the Mediterranean and China.
In 1498, Vasco da Gama made his historic landing on the Malabar Coast. In 1723, the East India Company signed a strategic treaty with King Marthanda Varma. For a few decades, Hyder Ali and his son -Tipu sultan proved to be a thorn in the flesh of the British, sweeping down several times into Kerala. In 1947, it was the turn of the British to pack their bags.

People of Kerala:
Kerala also has considerable ethnic diversity. The Malayali majority belong to the Dravidian group (local race) of early Indian peoples.

There is a small population of descendants of Indo-European migrants from the north. Certain hill tribes exhibit affinities with the Negrito peoples of Southeast Asia. Most Keralites are Hindus, but there are also large Christian and Islamic, and lesser Jain and Jewish, minorities.

The official language is Malayalam. A long contact with the outside world has led to an intriguing blend of cultures and given Keralites a cosmopolitan outlook

Culture of Kerala:
One aspect of the state's rich cultural heritage is manifest in its varieties of religious architecture: ancient Hindu temples with copper-clad roofs, later Islamic mosques with "Malabar gables," and colonial Portuguese Baroque churches.

Splendid paintings, especially murals, exhibit distinct local traditions and styles. The land is a flourishing center of the Kathakali dance form. The state has also a rich theatre tradition: the only surviving Sanskrit drama, Koottiyattam, is still performed by the Chakkiars of Kerala. Some principles of the Natya-Shastra are evident in their presentations.

Kerala Occupation:
Agriculture is the state's main economic activity. Plantations of cardamom, cashew nut, coconuts, coffee, ginger, pepper, rubber, and tea account for 40 percent of the total land.
Commercial poultry farming is well developed. Cottage industries--for example, the processing of coconut fiber and cashews or weaving--employ about three-fifths of Kerala's industrial workers. Most of those employed by larger industrial enterprises are engaged in food and textile processing.

The climate is equable and varies little from season to season. The temperature normally ranges between 27º and 32º C in the plains but drops to about 21º C in the highlands.
Winter - 32 to 20 º C. Kerala is strongly buffeted by both the southwest and northeast monsoons. Rainfall in many parts of the state exceeds 118 inches. Best season: October to March.

Kerala Population: 33 million

10-day annual festival in January at Sreekandeswaram Temple, Thiruvananthapuram. In February, is the week-long Nishagandhi Dance festival; Pooram festival in Thrissur around April-May; Flavor Food Festival, at the Kanakakunnu Palace grounds, Thiruvananthapuram in May.

Chinese Fishing Nets, Kerala Travel Tourism Onam Week celebrations, the annual harvest festival of Kerala begins in August and lasts for 10 days. Another important festival is the annual Pongala Utsavam, to which only women are allowed at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram. Therayattam festival is held to propitiate the gods and demons recognized by the pantheon of the Malayalis.

And while hill stations are all over the country and palm-fringed beaches too, the Backwaters are unique to Kerala. These Backwaters are both the basis of a distinct lifestyle and a fascinating thoroughfare. traveling by boat along the Backwaters is one of the highlights of Kerala.

The boats cross shallow, palm-fringed lakes studded with cantilevered Chineses fishing nets and travel along narrow shady canals, where Coir, Copra, and Cashews are loaded into the boats. The largest backwater stretch in Kerala is the Vembanad Lake, which flows through three districts and opens out into the sea at the Kochi port.

The Ashtamudi Lake (literally, having eight arms), which covers a major portion of Kollam district in the south, is the second largest and is considered the gateway to the Backwaters. Each district of Kerala is marked by the presence of the inviting Backwaters, which form a prominent part of the panoramic
landscape of Kerala.

Veli Tourist Village
The Veli Tourist Village is sandwiched between the Veli Lagoon and the Arabian Sea. The lagoon here is separated from the sea by a narrow sand bar.

Facilities at the village include water sports in the lagoon and an 18-acre waterfront park with a floating bridge that connects the village to the beach.

Kerala Backwaters, Kerala Backwater Ride, Houseboat in Kerala, Kerala Backwaters Tour
The southernmost district of the State, Thiruvananthapuram is bounded by the wooded highlands of the Western Ghats on the east and northeast, and the Arabian Sea on the west.

A long shoreline, with secluded, internationally renowned beaches, historic monuments, backwater stretches and a rich cultural heritage give this district some of the most enchanting picnic spots. The main backwater areas of Thiruvananthapuram are Thiruvallam and Veli.

Thiruvallam Backwaters
This serene backwater stretch, en-route to Kovalam, is famous for its canoe rides. Thiruvallam is the meeting point of two rivers - Killi and Karamana. A temple dedicated to Parashurama, the legendary founder of Kerala, is located here.

Akkulam Boat Club
This is a very popular picnic spot with boating facilities on the lake and a children's park with a Swimming pool.

Backwaters of Kerala, Kerala Backwater Travel, Backwater Tours in Kerala
Located 71 km to the north of Thiruvananthapuram, this historic coastline district known for its marine and cashew industries was one of the oldest ports on the Malabar coast and a major international trading point in days gone by.

The district also has some interesting historic remnants and a number of temples built in the traditional ornate architectural style. Around 30% of this historic town is covered by the renowned Ashtamudi Lake, making it the gateway to the magnificent Backwaters of Kerala.

The eight hour trip between Kollam and Alappuzha is the longest backwater cruise in Kerala. The District Tourism Promotion Council here offers a wide range of backwaters tours and cruises.

Along the vast expanse of the Kayamkulam Lake is the picturesque little village of Alumkadavu. This village is the home of the skilled artisans who crafted the enormous Kettuvallams in yester years.

Alappuzha (Alleppey) Backwaters, Kerala Backwater Houseboat, Backwaters Tour in Kerala, Kerala Backwaters Travel With the Arabian Sea on the west and a vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers crisscrossing it, Alappuzha is a district of immense natural beauty. Referred to as the Venice of the East by travelers from across the world, this backwaters country is also home to diverse animal and bird life.

By virtue of its proximity to the sea, the town has always enjoyed a unique place in the maritime history of Kerala. Today, Alappuzha has grown in importance as a backwater tourist centre, attracting several thousands of foreign tourists each year.

Alappuzha is also famous for its boat races, houseboat holidays, beaches, marine products and coir industry. A singular characteristic of this land is the region called Kuttanad.

Pathiramanal Backwaters
According to mythology, a young Brahmin dived into the Vembanad Lake to perform his evening ablutions and the water made way for land to rise from below, thus creating the enchanting island of Pathiramanal (sands of midnight).

This little island on the Backwaters is a favorite haunt of hundreds of rare migratory birds from different parts of the world. The island lies between Thaneermukkom and Kumarakom, and is accessible only by boat. It takes 1½ hours by motorboat/30 min, by speedboat from Alappuzha.

Backwaters of Kottayam, Kerala Backwaters Travel, Kerala Backwater House Boat, Backwaters of Kerala. Bordered by the lofty Western Chats on the east, the Vembanad Lake and the paddy fields of Kuttanad on the west, Kottayam is a land of unique characteristics.

Panoramic backwater stretches, lush paddy fields, highlands, extensive rubber plantations and a totally literate people have given this district the title: the land of letters, latex and lakes.

Kumarakom slumbers on the banks of the famous Vembanad Lake, which is a part of Kuttanad ('granary' of Kerala). The Vembanad Lake with its majestic canals, streams and tributaries along its banks weave an intricate and enchantingly beautiful web.

The gorgeous green of the fringed palms ripple in the blue waters and blend into wavelets A boat ride in the countryside offers a close look into an engaging rustic life. Skilled-fishermen launching their cockshell boats.

Kuttanad Backwaters, Kerala Backwaters Travel, Backwater Tours in Kerala, Kerala Backwater Ride
Large flotillas of ducks waddling down to the water from thatched houses on the banks. Women, neck-deep in water, with their waist-length hair heaped in a crown, searching for fish with their feet.

And aimless cattle grazing in lush pastureland, where white lotuses lie here and there in small, low-lying pools.

More popular as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Kochi is a cluster of islands on the vast expanse of the Vembanad Lake. Some of these picturesque islands are Bolgatty, Vypeen, Gundu and Vallarpadam.
The lake opens out into the Arabian Sea here to form one of the finest natural harbours in the world. It is this natural advantage that has made Kochi a fascinating blend of the cultures and influences of the explorers and traders who visited this wealthy land.

The Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and the British have all left their mark here. The Jewish synagogue, the Dutch palace, the Chinese fishing nets, and other remnants of European and Asian architecture merge smoothly into the traditional fabric of the seaport city.

Half the fun of visiting Kochi is moving around on the local ferries. A conducted cruise through the winding waterways will take you to several quaint spots.

Enjoy Backwater Ride in Kerala, Kerala Backwaters Travel, Kerala Backwaters Tour
Once the capital of the powerful Zamorins, a prominent trade and commerce centre and the land of the Malabar Mahotsavam, Kozhikode was the most important region of Malabar in days past.

Today, ancient monuments, lush green countryside, serene beaches, historic sites, wildlife sanctuaries, rivers, hills, a unique culture and a warm, friendly ambience make this district a much sought after destination.

Unexplored, unspoiled, the backwaters of Kozhikode hold great promises of enchanting holiday options. Elathur, the Canoli Canal and the Kallai River are favorite places for boating.

Kadalundi, with its beautiful bird sanctuary is a charming site. Korapuzha, the venue of the Korapuzha Jalotsavam (water fiesta) is fast becoming a popular water sport destination.

The northernmost district of Kerala, Kasaragod is situated on the sea coast with the Western Chats on its east and northern borders. Backwater trips on the Chandragiri River and at Valiyaparamba are fascinating experiences.

Situated on the Chandragiri River, southeast of Kasaragod town, this town is known for the large 17th century Chandragiri Fort, one of a chain of forts.
It offers a breathtaking view of the river and the Arabian Sea. It is a vantage point to watch the sunset.

Chandragiri cruises:
Boat trips to nearby islands and palm groves are available.
Boarding point: Chandragiri bridge.

This is perhaps the most scenic backwater stretch in Kerala. Fed by four rivers and dotted with numerous little islands, Valiyaparamba is fast turning into a much favored backwater resort.

This is perhaps the most scenic backwater stretch in Kerala. Fed by four rivers and dotted with numerous little islands, Valiyaparamba is fast turning into a much favored backwater resort.

Kerala Backwater House Boat, House Boat in Kerala, Backwaters Kettuvallam, Houseboat Travel in

The most popular backwater cruise is the eight-hour trip between Kollam and Alappuzha and vice versa. The regular public ferry service on this route has been suspended but tourist boats are as popular as ever.

There are essentially identical daily cruises operated on alternate days by the Private Alleppy Tourist Development Co-Operative and the State Government's District Tourism Promotion Council.

Best Time : The time when one can enjoy the enchanting backwaters is from December through March. A visit around January15 provides the chance to see the Boat Race at Alleppey on January 19 and the Great Elephant March Jan 17 to 20.

(Kerala Travel Guide : Reservation Form)

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