Referred to as the Venice of the East, Alappuzha has always enjoyed an important place in the maritime history of Kerala. Today, it is famous for its boat races, backwater holidays, beaches, marine products and coir industry. Alappuzha beach is a popular picnic spot. The pier, which extends into the sea here, is over 137 years old. There is also an old lighthouse nearby which is greatly fascinating to visitors.
Another delightful experience while in Alappuzha is a houseboat cruise. The ones you find in the backwaters of Alappuzha are in fact reworked version of Kettuvallams of olden times. The original Kettuvallams or rice barges used to carry tons of rice and spices. The Kettuvallam or 'boat with knots' was so called because the entire boat was held together with coir knots only.
Kasaragod, the Northern most district of Kerala is renowned as the land of gods, forts, rivers, hills and beautiful beaches. The imposing fort at Bekal is one of the largest and best preserved forts in Kerala. The beautiful expanse of the shallow beach near the Bekal fort known as Bekal Fort Beach has been developed as an exotic beach location by the Bekal Resorts Development Corporation (BRDC).
Beautification of the site includes installation of two sculptures of Theyyam created using laterite on the beach and a shed the walls of which are adorned with murals created by artisans from Nilambur. Apart from these a rock garden at the parking area has been developed where laterite boulders of various sizes have been utilised. Under the social forestry scheme, trees have been planted in the beach area.
To explore the historic town of Fort Kochi, there is no better choice than setting out on foot. Fort Immanuel once belonged to the Portuguese and is a symbol of the strategic alliance which existed between the Maharaja of Cochin and the Monarch of Portugal, after whom the fort is named. This fort was built in 1503 and reinforced in 1538.
One of Kerala’s leading trade hubs, Kollam is the centre of the country’s cashew trading and processing industry. Extolled by Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta in glowing terms, this famous port on the Malabar Coast was once part of the international spice trade. Thirty percent of this historic town is covered by the renowned Ashtamudi Lake, making it the gateway to the magnificent backwaters of Kerala. The eight-hour boat trip between Kollam and Alappuzha is the longest and most enchanting experience on the backwaters of Kerala. Located 71 km to the north of Thiruvananthapuram, old name of Kollam was Quilon.
Kovalam is an internationally renowned beach with three adjacent crescent beaches. It has been a favourite haunt of tourists, especially Europeans, since the 1930s. A massive rocky promontory on the beach has created a beautiful bay of calm waters ideal for sea bathing.
The leisure options at this beach are plenty and diverse. Sunbathing, swimming, herbal body toning massages, special cultural programmes and catamaran cruising are some of them.
The village of Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake, and is part of the Kuttanad region. The bird sanctuary here, which is spread across 14 acres is a favourite haunt of migratory birds and an ornithologist's paradise. Egrets, darters, herons, teals, waterfowls, cuckoo, wild duck and migratory birds like the Siberian Stork visit here in flocks and are a fascinate the visitors.
Munnar is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams - Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. 1,600 m above sea level, this hill station was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in South India. Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands here is the Neelakurinji. This flower which bathes the hills in blue once in every twelve years, will bloom next in 2018. Munnar also has the highest peak in South India, Anamudi, which towers over 2,695 m. Anamudi is an ideal spot for trekking.
Kerala’s only drive-in beach, the Muzhappilangad beach which stretches across four kilometres of sand where one can drive down the entire length. The drive is ideal for sampling the famed Malabar cuisine from the many eateries in the immediate hinterland. Black rocks protect this long, clean beach from the currents of the deep, making its shallow waters a swimmer’s paradise.
The Periyar forests of Thekkady is one of the finest wildlife reserves in India. Spread across the entire district are picturesque plantations and hill towns that hold great opportunities for treks and mountain walks. Over 1965 flowering plants including 171 grass species and 143 species of orchids. The only south Indian conifer, scientifically known as Podocarpus wallichianus, grows in the forests of Periyar Tiger Reserve. It is located 51 km north of Thiruvananthapuram city in Thiruvananthapuram district and 37 km south of Kollam, south Kerala.
Varkala, a calm and quiet hamlet, lies on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram district. It has several places of tourist interests like a beautiful beach, a 2000-year-old Vishnu Temple and the Ashramam - Sivagiri Mutt a little distance from the beach. The Papanasam beach (also called as Varkala beach), which is ten kilometers away from Varkala, is renowned for the natural spring. It is considered to have medicinal and curative properties.
Part of the Sahyadri ranges (Western Ghats) of mountains, Agasthyakoodam, at a height of 1,890 m above sea level, is the second highest peak in Kerala. Teeming with wildlife, the forests of Agasthyakoodam abound in rare medicinal herbs and plants, and brilliantly hued orchids. A bird watcher’s paradise, this legendary mountain is accessible by foot from Kotoor, near Neyyar Dam and also from Bonakkad. Trekking to Agasthyakoodam is believed to be healthy, the very air here is supposed to have healing properties. It is believed that sage Agasthya, the mythological character lived here.
Amrithamedu, popularly known as Kurisumala is a pilgrim centre as well as a trekker's delight. During Easter, pilgrims climb the 'Stations of the Cross', which would require a pilgrim to cover 14 points, with each point having a cross denoting various phases of Jesus Christ's last journey. During the course of the trek, when one reaches the third cross, a good stretch of Peerumedu becomes visible, which is indeed an enjoyable sight. One can also see tea estates in the distance and also the rolling Kokkad hills.
Charalkunnu is a picturesque hill station near Ranni in Pathanamthitta offers a panoramic view of the nearby valleys. A camp house on the hill provides comfortable lodging.
The rugged terrains of the Chembra Peak is located 2,100 metres above sea level on the southern part of Wayanad. Chembra is the tallest peak in Wayanad and is an ideal area for trekking. There is a heart shaped lake on the way to the top of the peak, which is believed to have never dried up, is a major tourist attraction here.
This idyllic hill station, situated about 8 km from Munnar, with its velvet lawns, exotic flora and fauna and the cool mountain air is a rare experience. The Sita Devi Lake, here, with its mineral waters and picturesque surroundings is a good picnic spot. The lake is also ideal for trout fishing.
Dhoni hills in Palakkad is popular picnic spot with a small and beautiful waterfall. It takes a three hours trek from the base of the Dhoni hills to reach this reserve forest area.
This scenic place gets its name from the natural echo phenomenon here. Echo Point, situated on the way to Top Station from Munnar is a stop over for tourists visiting Top Station - the highest point in Munnar and the rare Neelakurinji (Strobilanthus) blooms here.
The Edakkal caves is situated in the Ambukuthi Hills in North Kerala, considered to be one of the earliest centres of human habitation. Inside the cave you will find ancient stone scripts, pictorial wall inscriptions of human and animal figures with peculiar headdresses, the swastik form, symbols and cave drawings of human figures, wheels, bows, knives, trees and so on.
Grampi, situated near Peerumedu, is also known as Parunthupara (eagle rock) because of the panoramic view from its high peaks. Rocky plains, lush hillsides, forests, trekking trails and picturesque views lend charm to this destination. The road to Grampi is flanked by unending stretches of cardamom, tea and coffee plantations.Grampi is located about 5 km from Peermedu; about 10 km from Vandiperiyar.
The biological phenomenon of the mass blooming of the Neelakurinji (Strobilanthus) flower takes place once in twelve years. Neela means blue in Malayalam language and Kurinji the local name of the flower. It is a rare sight of the Kurinji flowers covering the slopes and ravines of Munnar in a blanket of blue.
Skirting Kottayam district are the beautiful valleys of Ilaveezhapoonchira, spread over thousands of acres. This delightful picnic spot located in the midst of beautiful hillocks near Kanjar, is also ideal for trekking.
The Ambalavayal Heritage Museum, the archaeological museum in Wayanad, has one of Kerala's largest collections of the remnants of an era dating back to the 2nd century A.D. The exhibits here are evidences of an advanced civilisation that existed in the mountains of Wayanad. The articles on display are a fascination for the historian, the archaeologist and the ordinary man alike. At the museum you can see articles as varied as clay sculptures, ancient hunting equipments like bows and arrows, stone weapons and other curios. The museum is situated about 12 km away from Sultan Bathery in Wayanad.
Arakkal Kettu was the residence of the former Arakkal Ali Rajas, the only Muslim royal family of Kerala. Protected by the Archaeological and Tourism Department, this palace complex is today a museum. The Arakkal Kettu Museum houses a splendid display of numerous artefacts and heirlooms belonging to the Rajas.
The Archaeological Museum was until recently accommodated in the Kollengode Palace building. Now it has been shifted to the Shakthan Thampuran Palace, a landmark in the annals of the Perumpadappu Swaroopam, the former ruling dynasty of Kochi. The majestic building houses a gallery of murals from all over Kerala and preserves a rare treasure of Veerakallu, temple models, olagrandhangal (manuscripts on dry palm leaves), megaliths etc.
The art museum, situated at Thirssur, displays collections of wood carvings, metal sculptures, ancient jewellery, stone figurines and some Chinese and Japanese artefacts. A sample of kodakallu (umbrella stone), or prehistoric dolmen spotted around many places in Thirssur, can also be seen in the museum. The kodakallu was a secondary burial site.
Bay Island Driftwood Museum at Kumarakom displays large collection of superior quality driftwood articles of very high artistic value, prepared through a rare and innovative modern art form.
The Chacha Nehru Children's Museum is situated at Thiruvananthapuram district in Kerala. Children of all age groups will enjoy the vast collection of nearly 2000 dolls, stamps and masks displayed here.
The Hill Palace, Kerala's first heritage museum noted for royal collections of the erstwhile Maharaja of Kochi, is today the largest archaeological museum in Kerala. Built in 1865, the palace complex consists of 49 buildings in the trational architectural style of Kerala, sprawled over 52 acres of beautifully landscaped terraced land which houses a deer park and facilities for horse riding. Numerous species of flora including rare medicinal plants grow here. On display in the full-fledged Ethno-archaeological museum are oil-paintings, murals, sculptures in stone and manuscripts, inscriptions, coins, belongings of the Kochi royal family and royal furniture including the simhasana (throne).
The Indo-Portuguese Museum situated in Fort Kochi throws light on the strong Portuguese influence in both the art and the architecture of the region.
The museum today is an important center for understanding the Indo-Portuguese Christian Art heritage, which is still surviving. The museum is the outcome of the untiring efforts of the late Dr. Joseph Kureethra, Bishop of Kochi. Driven by sheer commitment to protect the rich heritage of his Diocese, the bishop established the Indo-Portuguese Museum to preserve some of the invaluable collections for posterity.
Kerala has a fascinating history that blends with the myths and legends of this land and possesses the alluring aroma of spices. The state has an assortment of exhibits that take you into the world of yesteryears.
The exhibits include the archeological evidences of Neolithic age, burial accompaniments belonging to the Iron Age, sculptures of gods and goddesses in bronze, wood and stone, coins, murals and many more. These tokens of days gone by will familiarize one with the very many facets of this land like its rituals, cults, customs, tradition, trade, art, people and their lifestyle.
The Koyikkal Palace, situated far of away from the city, was actually built for Umayamma Rani of the Venad Royal Family who ruled the land between 1677 and 1684. The palace is a double stroreyed traditional nalukettu with slanting gabled roofs and an inner courtyard.
The Krishnapuram Palace is a rare specimen of the Kerala style of architecture, complete with gabled roofs, narrow corridors and dormer windows. Residence of the rulers of Kayamkulam Kingdom, the age of the palace is unknown. Renovated some time in the 18th century, the palace is today a protected monument under the Archaeology Department. Recently it has been again renovated according to the scientific techniques prescribed for the protection of heritage buildings.
Kuthiramalika Palace Museum or Puthenmalika Palace Museum is a beautiful two-storeyed palace situated near the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Also known as horse palace it houses numerous artefacts. The unique Navarathri Mandapam in front of the palace, a venue for concerts, uses traditional sound reflectors comprising of 50 clay pots hung upside down from the ceiling, creating an effect that outdoes even modern acoustic systems.
For more places, visit Kerala Tourism
Source: Portal Content team
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