Kerala is located on the tropical southwestern coast of India nearly 600km of Arabian Sea shoreline. It’s known for its palm-lined beaches and backwaters, a network of canals. Inland are the Western Ghats, mountains whose slopes support tea, coffee and spice plantations as well as wildlife. National parks like Eravikulam and Periyar, plus Wayanad and other sanctuaries, are home to elephants, langur monkeys, tigers, Kerala’s art and architecture, Ayurveda and spa, verdant hill stations, palm-fringed backwaters, breathtakingly beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife, world class hotels and gracious hospitality.
The most popular tourist attraction in Kerala is undoubtedly the port of Kochi (Cochin), where the state’s long history of peaceful foreign contact is evocatively evident in the atmospheric old quarters of Mattancherry and Fort Cochin. In Kerala’s far south, the capital, Thiruvananthapuram, is gateway to the nearby palm-fringed beaches of Kovalam and Varkala, and provides visitors with varied opportunities to sample Kerala’s rich cultural and artistic life.
One of the best aspects of exploring Kerala, though, is the actual travelling – especially by boat, in the spellbinding Kuttanad region, around historic Kollam and Alleppey. Cruisers and beautiful wooden barges known as kettuvallams (“traditional rice barge”) ply the backwaters, offering tourists a window on village life in India’s most densely populated state.
Furthermore, it’s easy to escape the heat of the lowlands by heading for the hills, which rise to 2695m. Roads pass through landscapes dotted with churches and temples, tea, coffee, spice and rubber plantations, and natural forests, en route to wildlife reserves such as Periyar, where herds of mud-caked elephants roam freely in vast tracts of jungle. Some of the top attractions and tourist places in Kerala are the Varkala Beach, Munnar Hill Station, Lighthouse Beach in Kovalam, Chinese Fising Net in Fort Kochi, Periyar National Park in Thekaddy and Vembanad Lake in Kumarakom, Mattancherry Palace in Chettinadu, Cherai Beach, Athirapally Falls and Guruvayor Temple. Explore all things to do in Kerala with this comprehensive list of tourist attractions in Kerala.