“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
When God created the entire universe and was very tired of his work, he wanted some peace and rest, therefore he created Kerala, and often people call it God’s own country. It might sound over-exaggeration of the place but to experience the euphoria of being in a place where all you do is rest and time literally stops there, nothing to worry about, just roam from one place to another, and easy commute system with most of the people being friendly. Travelling to a place which is unique in all the right senses is just an ecstasy of eternal happiness. In 2012 I got the opportunity to visit this amazing place.
How to reach there?
There were two options to go there either I take the flight till Trivendram or a two days long train journey. As I am fond of Indian Railways I took the latter one. Travelling in trains specially the long journey has its own boons and banes. To reach the capital, Trivandrum, you can choose between two routes, both are Kerala Express, one goes cutting across the beautiful plains of Madhya Pradesh, Tamilnadu, and conjoining border of Karnataka and Kerala, While on the other side, the route goes through Rajasthan, Maharashtra and beautiful Ratnagiri valley, towards the end it takes a turn in Goa and then through Karnataka and then enter in Kerala. After the journey of almost 2 days you reach Trivandrum, the city is not just any other city, it has chaos with peace.
Best months to visit
When I went there it was July, and this is the offseason as monsoon is on the peak. I always suggest that if you really want to explore any tourist destination then visit the place during the offseason it has many perks such as cheap stay and food, travelling will be less costly, especially with very less crowd. There is a very beautiful thing about Kerala’s monsoon, which is that it rains heavily during the day but streets never lodge with water due to amazing drainage system, and when the rain stops which is very often you can roam around the streets and with no heat you can have a great time. But if you are not a fan of rainy days then December is the month for you, as the weather in Kerala in summers is unbearable due to the high level of humidity.
Where to Stay
To stay, Trivendram city is the best place as it is the focal point of all places where you have to go, but there are other options are available as well as such as staying at Kovalam beach is beautiful or nearby striking Velli beach can be an alternative. There is no dearth of places to live, so according to your pocket you can choose any place. I would recommend that always do research before arriving in the city. It will help you to make your trip less stressful. People in Kerala are familiar with English and to some extent, they understand Hindi as well as so you won’t face a problem in communicating with the residents and hotel owners.
How to Travel
The transportation is moderately good in South Kerala as you will easily find buses and travelling them at least for once is a must. You can also book an auto by making a deal with them for the day, so you have to decide how you are going to explore the city.
Places to see
There are few essential things to see in South Kerala such as Padmnabhanswami Temple, Parshurama Temple, Trivandrum Zoo, all beaches, Raja Ravi Verma Art Gallery, Munnar, Kollam’s water backs, famous spice market etc. Padmanabhanswami Temple is one of the richest temples and was in news due to the excessive amount of gold it has stored in the temple’s seven storage rooms. It is very near to the railway station. So to enter the temple there are several rules,
- If you are a male then you have to wear a Dhoti and upper cloth if you want.
- If you are a female then a Sari is a must for the entry, but this rule can be moulded by folding the Sari cloth on your Suit, but jeans and skirts are not allowed in the temple.
- Either you can buy the Dhoti/Sari nearby from the temple or you can carry your own.
- No mobile phones, cameras, electronic items or shoes allowed in the temple premises.
- Wallets or purses are allowed.
- All your belongings have to be submitted at the storage desk outside the temple with a minimum charge.
- For the ‘Darshan’ (seeing the God) you have to buy a ticket once you are inside the temple.
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Upon entering the temple the first thing you see is the huge gates made by stone. The entire temple is built by heavy stones, the temple is so huge that it will take more than an hour to explore the fine-looking temple properly.
Zoo and Raja Verma Art Gallery are located just next to each other, first, the Trivndram zoo is a site which is filled with exotic animals and some amazing looking structures. After visiting the zoo you can visit the art gallery, it has some of the beautiful paintings by Raja Ravi Verma, Japanese, Chinese, Russian artists’ ancient artwork.
Beaches, all beaches such as Kovalam, Velli etc. are beautiful and a must see site as the sand at all of these beaches is different from one another. There are a few lighthouses which can be visited.
Parshurama Temple is also another site to see, it is a pure Brahmin temple so you have to be very careful before entering it and follow the instructions.
Water backs are perhaps the most famous site in Kerala, in Kerala either you can book an entire boat for yourself if you are in a large group or you can take the ferries.
Kerala has some of the most famous spices in India or perhaps the world, the main spice market is around four kilometres from the main railway station. It has beautiful spices and walking in the market is itself an experience to do.
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Ayurveda treatments such as Kerala massages or very famous Shiv-Ganga treatment can be taken at various places, you need to do some research on this and choose a place in advance because since there are many places who claimed to offer the authentic Ayurveda treatment but not all of they are effective. You need at least a full fledge day to explore the Trivendram city by your own as many times you may come across many astonishments. After seeing all the places you can take a bus to Kanyakumari which is the southern tip of India, watching the sunset from there is a thing which will always be in your heart.
When you are in Trevendram then you should also have lunch at Annapoorna restaurant they serve may be one of the finest and authentic Malayali cuisine and while at Kovalam beach you can eat famous protégées cuisine at Palm Beach café. Like these there is no scarcity of good food points, I would suggest to explore the local cuisine as much as you can as it is not very heavy and will make you very comfortable with the aromatic flavours of Malayali cuisine.
Thus if you really want to enjoy the beauty of Kerala then leave all your worries at your home and be a free bird, roam around the city, enjoy the tasty food, learn Malayali as local people loves when someone non-Malayali speak few sentences in Malayali, also if you want to enjoy the homestay in Kerala there are dozens of companies which provide this service here you will be staying with a family and learn about the true face of culture in Kerala. Travelling in Kerala like any other city or state is expensive if you are not familiar with the local transport options. My experience in Kerala was stunning and a memory which will be cherished throughout my life. I explored the distinct culture of South Kerala and I am also planning to visit Kerala again but this time other parts of this beautiful state where literally the Gods live in peace and harmony.