Kerala is a southern state in the west coast of India. How does one describe Kerala…The most scenic place in the world… The most diverse… The most beautiful…Heaven on earth? Actually, the heading of this note probably describes it best. One has to experience Kerala, not just see it. It truly is ‘Gods own country’.
In this article I want to write about what according to me, just a normal travel enthusiast, may be the ideal sample itinerary for a Kerala holiday and I will also try to write briefly about the people, the culture, cuisine & important monuments to the best of my ability. I will try to incorporate all these topics within the itinerary itself.
It is a diverse land and one can find everything from beaches to back waters to mountains. It’s a place where flower children from across the world thrived in the 60’s & 70’s and on the other extreme, a place that is very conservative and deeply religious. It’s a very historic place and its people are very aware, literate, adaptive & industrious.
The article will be in two parts. Lets start from the north and work ourselves to central Kerala and in the next article we will cover central to southern Kerala. If you see the map of Kerala, its long and not very wide. Its not a very large state in terms of land area as compared to many of the other states of the country.
(Below image: District-wise tourist map of Kerala state)
The northern most district is ‘Kasargode’. There is a very beautiful beach here in a place called Bekal. There is a very large fort here as well called Bekal fort. There are beautiful & luxurious resorts in Bekal but if your not a big beach enthusiast then you can give this place a miss.
(Below image: Bekal fort & beach)
The next district that we will include in this note is ‘Kozhikode’ or ‘Calicut’ as it is popularly known. Calicut is a very important city. If you get to see a birds eye view of the city you will notice how green it really is. You can see a coconut tree canopy enveloping the city! There are beautiful temples, churches & mosques in and around the city.
The city is well connected to the rest of Kerala and also to other cities in the country by air, rail and road transport. There are beautiful backwaters & beaches in Calicut like Kappad & Calicut beaches, Beypore etc. There are many iconic eateries like ‘Paragon’, one must try the Nai Choru here, & ‘Zains’ serving traditional Malabari cuisine, which is a cuisine of the Muslim community from the coast of Malabar. Calicut is also famous for a sweet called ‘Calicut Halwa’ which is a must try. Calicut is also a gateway to our next district, Wayanad. To cover Calicut decently well you will need atleast 3 to 4 nights.
(Below image: Calicut Halwa in various flavours)
Wayanad district is very close to Calicut. It is just about 75 kms from Calicut and one can get many buses & taxis from Calicut bus stand to get to Wayanad. Wayanad district is a hilly region and is made of a few cities like Sultan Battery, Kalpetta, Vythri, Lakkidi & Chundale.
This region is famous for its tea, coffee & cardamom estates. It is also a forest region and has a few wild life reserves like Tholpety & Mathunga where one can hope to see Elephants, Leopards etc. There are famous prehistoric caves there called Edekkal caves.
There are also numerous waterfalls & lakes. The climate in Wayanad is cool all through the year. There are beautiful nature &luxury resorts here and also plenty of home stays where one can get a feel of the local life. A visit to Wayanad is highly recommended on a trip to Kerala.
(Below image: Wayanad mountain range)
Another district to the south of Calicut is Malappuram. Malappura has numerous places of religious importance like Kadampuzha, a devi temple said to have been started by the Jagatguru Shri Adi Shankara, & Angadipuram. It is also home to Biyyam Kayal backwaters & the Kadalundi bird sanctuary. The world famous Kottakkal Ayurvedashala is also located close by where people from all over the world come for Ayurvedic treatment. One would need atleast 2 nights here.
(Below image: Thirumannamkunnu Bhagavati Temple – Angadipuram)
(Above image: Kottakkal Ayurvedasala)
To the south east of Malappuram lies the district of Palakkad. Palakkad is on the Kerala – Tamil Nadu border. There is a huge settlement of Tamil Hindu Brahmins in Palakkad, some of these settlements are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India as Heritage sites and are called ‘Agraharams’. Palakkad is a temple city. It also has the famous Malampuzha dam & gardens and the Parambikulam wildlife sanchuary. Palakkad fort situated in the very heart of Palakkad town is one of the best preserved in Kerala. It was built by Hyder Ali of Mysore in 1766. The fort was taken over and modified by the British in 1790. It is now preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India. Palakkad is also very well known for its festivals. Some of the famous pure veg eateries here are T.N. Vihar & Kapilavastu. One would need atleast 2 to 3 nights here to be able to cover atleast the important places.
(Below image: Cattle race in Palakkad)
To the south west of Malappuram lies the district of Thrissur. It it adjacent to Palakkad. It is considered to be the cultural capital of Kerala. The main market area of Thrissur is the ‘ROUND’. All the major shops, eating places, temples are located in and around the round. The world famous ‘Lord Shiva’s Vadakkunnathan Temple’ is located within the round and is the site of the world famous ‘Thrissur Pooram’, where the deities of two temples are carried on elephants that form two groups and stand face to face. This is accompanied by traditional drums and fireworks. The whole of the Thrissur ‘Round’ and surrounding area is packed with people during the pooram. It is one of the most important festivals of Kerala and takes place in the month of April every year. Some of the other famous places of worship are the Parmakavu Bhagavati Temple, Thiruvambadi Krishnan Temple & Our Lady of Dolours Basilica. The very famous Lord Krishna temple (Gurvayoorappan), located at Gurvayoor, is also just an hours drive from Thrissur. Thrissur is also home to the famous Athirapilly waterfalls. Some of the old & famous eateries around the ‘Round’ in Thrissur are Bharat café, Pathans & Elite for pure vegetarian food and Luciya for non-veg. The Kerala Verma college is also a very famous educational institution in Thrissur and The Dhanalaxmi Bank has its origin here and its head office building is a landmark in Thrissur. You will need a minimum of 3 nights here.
(Below image: The Vadukkunnathan Temple during the Pooram, Thrissur)
The districts of Thrissur and Palakkad form the central part of Kerala and thus the end of the first part of this article. The second part will focus on the south central and southern part of Kerala.