Touted as one of the world's fifty destinations of a lifetime by the National Geographic, Kerala has certainly earned its position on the holiday travel bandwagon.
Located on the southernmost tip of the Indian peninsula, Kerala has a lot going for it in terms of its potential as a holiday destination... not the least its bounteous natural wealth. Its name meaning "land of coconuts", Kerala's luxuriant fronds provide the state with welcome shade from the tropical sun. And blessed with ample rainfall, Kerala's equable climate and fertile soil have clothed this state in the finest of iridescent greens - all ingredients for a perfect tropical holiday.
Kerala's lush plantations have remained an irresistible temptation for visitors from foreign lands since times immemorial. For earlier it was traders rather than holidaymakers who flocked to Kerala, lured by her spices. Today, visits to plantations growing cardamom, pepper and other exotic spices are on the holiday itineraries of most packages to Kerala.
Which brings us to Kerala's culinary enticements. Kerala has its own unique delectable cooking, quite distinct even amongst South Indian cuisine. Drawing largely on the local produce: rice, coconuts, bananas, fish and a range of spices, the culinary achievement of Kerala lies in the variations that attend the packaging of these staple ingredients to create an endless range of dishes for the gastronomically adventurous tourist: pulaos and biryanis, appams, pootu - rice dough and grated coconut steamed in hollow bamboo, thoran - chopped vegetables, avial - stew topped with payasam - the delicious sweet milk desert.
Kerala's extensive 900 km long coastline also means that it has some of the best beaches in India. Known for their gentle surf and clear blue waters, Kerala's tranquil beaches are eagerly sought out by holiday tourists, Indian and foreign. Kovalam, Varkala, Shankhumugam, Vizhinjam, Kappad and Bekal are some of the famous beaches of Kerala.
However, the cream of a Kerala holiday package, for most tourists, would undoubtedly be the backwaters. Tranquil and laid-back, these backwaters are a relic of Kerala's ancient network of floating highways. Indispensable in the past for trade and commerce, Kerala's backwaters continue to rake in revenue from the leisure holiday industry in return for the inimitable experience of a lazy boat cruise, as Kerala unplugged floats languidly by. Kuttanad, Alappuzha, Kottavam and Kochi are the most interesting for the perfect Kerala backwaters holidays.
And then there are the hills. The Western Ghats, extending from Maharashtra southwards, terminate in Kerala with the gently rolling hills and valleys that are home to the unique shola forests and tea, coffee and spice plantations - yet another holiday attraction in Kerala. Distinct in appeal from either the beaches or the backwaters, Kerala's hill stations with their mist filled valleys and cloud covered mountains offer perfect holiday bliss in the form of the invigorating mountain air, laden with the aroma of freshly picked spices. Nelliyampathy, Munnar, Devikulam, Peermade, and Malampuzha are some of the hill stations on the Kerala holiday circuit.
Kerala's hilly regions are also home to lush forests and streams, making them home to some of the most spectacular wildlife reserves in India. Besides the elephant, gaur, deer, leopard and tiger, Kerala is home to rare wildlife including Nilgiri tahr and lion tailed macaque, and most holiday packages to Kerala offer a date with this raw, untamed face of Kerala. Eranakulam, Silent Valley, Parambikulam, Peppara, Nagarhole and Periyar are especially famous for wildlife holidays in Kerala.
Besides, Kerala literally brims over with history and culture, amply visible all over during a holiday here, whether in its fantastic ancient temples, its unique art forms including Kathakali and Kalaripattu and festivals such as Pooram and Onam.
Blessed with a wealth of beauty and natural resources, it is not surprising that Kerala is home to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian Science of Health. Supported by a salubrious climate, Kerala is home to a number of health spas and Wellness centres where tourists experience a rejuvenating holiday in God's own country.
Kerala truly is a holiday paradise in India