101 things that the Department of Tourism suggests that you could do in
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- Wake upto the
world’s best breakfast: Kerala’s spread of morning dishes – vellayappam,
Uppuma, iddli, puttu, masala dosa,appams etc. have been rated the best
breakfast in the world by Travel & Leisure magazine. A must-try is the crisp
lacy appam served with meat/vegetable stew.
- Walk-through paddy fields: Here’s different walking experience. Venture
in to the very heart of the paddy fields, on narrow dykes. Don’t lose
yourself completely in the dazzling green around you, as you’ll have to
watch out for the slushy water passages that run through your mud path.
- Tip toe across a coconut trunk bridge: In the interiors of Kerala,
you’ll come across plenty of small water bodies with these extremely narrow
Bridges. Watch the native folk cross them with case, but think twice before
you do. It isn't your cup of tea, don’t worry. Further down the water’s edge
you’ll find a more friendly bridge.
- Sip tender coconut: Refresh yourself with a sip of cool tender coconut-
nature’s rejuvenating nectar – and a scoop of its soft white flesh,
Nutrition at its natural best.
- Take a swig of toddy: Ask your tour guide to arrange for fresh madhura
kallu (sweet toddy extracted from the coconut palm) and have it the Kerala
way with exotic karimeen pollichathu (baked fresh water sh) or spicy
- Stay on an exotic houseboat: Embark on an enchanting journey across sun
– dappled backwaters on a kettuvallom-fully furnished traditional rice
boats. While your eyes explore the rustic life that floats by, treat your
palate to backwater delicacies prepared by your personal chef.
- Ride a Canoe: Drift along serene waterways in a country craft, Enjoy the
breeze, answer a cuckoo’s call. Wave back at the cheerful village folk on
the banks. Invite some of their chirpy children to hop in for a ride.
They’ll keep you well entertained.
- Workout on a treadmill: In Kerala, traditional treadmills are still used
to irrigate the paddy fields. Try your luck with the local farmer and see if
you can get to pedal one.
- See Chinese fishing nets: Watch fishermen tug at these huge nets with
their rich haul. These nets that billow from massive bamboo poles were
brought here by traders from the court of Kublai Khan, the Mongolian King.
Their silhouettes against the evening sky make for terrific pictures too.
- Choose your pick from the Fisherman’s net: Along the Malabar Coast and
at Vasco da Gama Square in Fort Kochi, you can select your favourite from an
inviting display of juicy sear fish, sardines, prawns, red snappers etc. Ask
the friendly fisherman to fry it for you the local way.
- Feast on kappa and meen curry: Try Kerala’s hot red fish curry with
steamed tapioca or boiled rice. It’ll make your mouth water. And your eyes
as well. But you’ll still enjoy it.
- Savour a Sadhya: Seat yourself on the floor, roll your sleeves up and
get started on this multi-course feast of rice, 12-15 vegetarian dishes,
spicy pickles, crunchy banana chips, crispy pappadams, plantains and
payasam- the dessert. Served on a plantain leaf, the meal is eaten with the
- Wear a Kerala saree: Stun your friends in Kerala saree - five metres of
fine off-white cotton edged with golden sari, that lends an extraordinary
elegance to the person wearing it. Each piece is specially woven on a
- Wear jasmine in your hair : Get yourself a string of jasmine-the natural
ornament for your hair. You could even pluck them fresh from a garden and
string them yourself.
- Spice up your life: Kerala is the Spice Coast of India. Take home a
chest full of exotic spices and win compliments for your aromatic cooking.
These are also available in special gift pouches.
- Ride on 8 tonner without wheels: At the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in
Thekkady, you and your friends can majestically into the scenic jungle on an
elephant. A mahout will guide you on your enchanting journey.
- Watch birds: Spot egrets, herons, Siberian stork, darters, teals and
hundreds of other migratory birds in Kerala’s enchanting bird sanctuaries.
Hear them sing. Take their Family photograph. Applaud their aerobatic
- Follow the tiger’s trail: Join the Thekkady tiger trail- a real
adventure trek into the dense forest with expert guides. Cook in the jungle.
Sleep in tents. Wake up to the sounds of the wilderness. Try and spot a
- Design a floral pattern: During Onam, the harvest festival in
August/September, you can see colourful, beautiful floral decorations in the
courtyards of Kerala’s homes. Try making one with family and friends.
- Cheer a snake boat race: Watch the backwaters of Kerala come alive. Feel
the excitement bubble in you as teams of 100 oarsmen row their snake boats,
their bodies swaying in unison to the fast rhythm of full throated singing,
in one of the most exhilarating water sports.
- Feel the rain on your body: Kerala’s invigorating monsoon will cleanse
you. Refresh you, rejuvenates you. Let it run down your body, and wash away
stress. So don’t just listen to the pitter-patter on the roof. Step out.
- Munch an uppumanga: You’ll simply relish a meal that is accompanied by
uppumanga, tender mangoes preserved in brine for months (the longer, the
- Get an Ayurvedic massage: Gift yourself new life. Surrender to the
magical fingers of specially trained masseurs. To medicated baths that will
refresh you. Herbal diets that will replenish you. Yoga that will revitalize
you. And meditation that will recharge you.
- Say hello to the Nilgiri Tahr: Half the world population of the
endangered Nilgiri Tahr live in the Eravikulam National Park at Munnar.
Friendly as they are, you can pat them or pose for pictures with them. So
meet them and have plenty to brag about when you get back home.
- Sip fine tea: Take a walk through the green carpeted tea hills of Kerala
and strong aromas will lead you in to the factories over a hundred years
old. Here you can taste and pick up the finest tea in the country.
- Marvel at elephant pageants: The spectacle of 30-60 caparisoned
elephants will enthrall you as they move in a majestic procession, while
trumpets and drum beats work up to a frenzy. The best of these spectacles is
seen at the Thrissur Pooram
- Listen to temple music: Panchavadyam is an orchestra of 5 native
instruments - suddha-maddalam, kombu, edakka, elathalam and timila. This
traditional temple music accompanying elephant pageants builds up the
festive spirit. And never fails to leave its listeners entranced. Audio
cassettes of panchavadyam are available.
- Visit the local markets: Small stalls with fresh vegetables, fruits,
fish, chicken… High pitched salesmen luring you with impossible bargains.
Visit these bustling markets or chandas for fresh buys.
- Go bananas: In Kerala, red, green and yellow are synonymous with various
types of plantains’. These digestives come in different shapes too — tall,
short, stout, sleek... And while you taste banana chips, raw banana dishes,
banana milk shake, banana ice cream, dried bananas, fried bananas… you’ll
wonder if there’s any other fruit more versatile.
- Try your hand at percussion: Kerala’s rich repertoire of percussion
music and instruments is world famous. So bring alive your taste for good
music and learn whatever your holiday allows.
- Cheer racing oxen: Entertain yourself at a Kumbala, the local
ritualistic bullock race of Kasaragod or a Kaalapoottu – the agrarian sport
- Shop for souvenirs: Kerala’s handicraft centers have an extraordinary
collection of wood, coir shell and sandalwood souvenirs, trinkets and
jewellery. Wood carved Kathakali masks, snake boats, elephants, jewellery
boxes etc. are perfect showpieces for your drawing rooms and ideal gifts for
- Stay in a tree house: Spend romantic nights in the tree houses of
Palakkad washed in the sweet scent of the forest flowers, and let the sounds
of the forest fill up your dreams.
- Have a mud bath: Go in for mud therapy and discover its healing
properties at the Kavil Bhavan Yoga and Cultural Centre at Nileswaram,
- Bask in sunshine : Serene, secluded and spellbinding. Kerala has some of
the best beaches in the world. Ride the surf. Get a tan. Build sand castles.
Or simply sift sand through your toes. Anything you do here will unwind and
- Watch a Malayalam movie: Malayalam movies have excellent story lines and
some of them are internationally acclaimed. If you visit the State during a
film festival, you’ll get to see good movies with English subtitles.
- Bathe in healing waters: Don’t miss your chance to take a dip in the
waters of the Nelliyampathy forests in Palakkad or the mineral springs at
Varkala. These waters are known for their medicinal properties. Take a
splash, heal yourself.
- Buy gold for all occasions: Kerala’s gold jewellery, intricately
designed and delicate, will steal any woman’s heart. Make sure you have
enough money on you before you step into a gold shop. Because whatever be
your taste, you’ll find patterns you’d wish to own.
- Mirror,mirror… : An Aranmula mirror is made of a finely polished alloy
of four metals – copper, silver, bronze and lead. Once a closely guarded
preserve of royalty, these ornamental mirrors are exceedingly rare-only two
master crafts men and their families still make them.
- Feel the presence of God at Maramon: Witness the largest Christian
convention of Asia at Maramon, near Kozhencherry, Interestingly, the waters
of the Pamba River dry up every year to reveal sands that serve as the venue
for the event.
- Ride in an autorickshaw: Explore the streets of Kerala in an
autorickshaw, a three wheeled taxi painted yellow and black. Don’t be
surprised if you meet a driver who has a degree in English literature or is
fairly fluent with the language.
- Peep into your future: The fortune teller on the street has your future
written on his cards – your career, your life, you life partner and more.
Just show him your palm and wait while his parrot picks your card from the
- Spin coir: See nimble fingers at work as they spin water treated coconut
fibre into long ropes with a traditional hand spindle in the suburbs of
Kollam. You can shop at a number of roadside stalls for brightly coloured
coir door mats, wall hangings and carpets.
- Learn exotic art forms: Watch kathakali, mohiniyattam, theyyam or
thiruvathira and pursue one that interests you most. Learn how a story
unveils through the eyes, fingers, feet and myriad expressions of the
- Rock about in a bullock cart: On a pleasant evening, traverse the scenic
mud roads of Kerala at the unhurried pace of a bullock cart. The tinkling
bells and roll-over-from-side-to-side motion of the cart will full you into
a lazy reverie.
- Walk the lanes of Fort Kochi: Put on your hat and sunglasses, wear
comfortable sandals and embark on a walking tour of Fort Kochi where
bastions, churches and mansions built by the British, Dutch and the
Portuguese, 500 years ago will greet you. Interestingly, Vasco da Gama, one
of the world’s greatest explorers, was buried here.
- Order a metre of tea: Stop by a thattukada, a roadside kiosk, for a
steaming cup of strong tea. Watch the expert stretch it to a metre while
pouring it from glass to glass, blending it well and building up a tempting
froth in the process.
- Climb rugged heights: Not all places to visit in Kerala are on well
travelled roads. Or on roads at all. Hike up rugged terrains at Munnar,
Wayanad and Kakkayam (Kozkikkod) for an exhilarating experience. If you
haven’t tried rock climbing before, our experts will teach you the tricks.
- Engage in water sports: An adventure sports lover will rarely find time
to stay idle in Kerala. Her beaches provide you with unlimited watersporting
options of wind surfing, rafting, sailing, power boating and even that of a
simple catamaran ride.
- Take a train through paradise: A train journey is an interesting way to
experience Kerala. Get a window seat and watch the landscape unfold like
pages of a colourful picture book, or acquaint yourself with your fellow
travellers who make interesting profiles.
- Treat your sweet tooth: The famous Mithai Street of Kozkikkod has
everything to make your mouth water – from heavenly haluvas, juicy jillebies
to creamy milk sweets, Relish them as they melt in your mouth.
- Study rare flora: Treat your eyes to exotic orchids, anthuria,
sandalwood trees etc. in the forests. One of these, the rare Neelakurinji,
bathes the mountains of Munnar in blue once every 12 years. It is expected
to bloom next in 2006.
- Romance the spice hills: Holiday amidst the sprawling tea plantations,
picture book towns and winding lanes of Kerala’s mist clad hill stations – a
world where tranquillity abounds. The dense tropical jungles in these hill
stations house some of the exotic bird and wildlife sanctuaries in the
- Watch the making of an Arabian dhow: Witness this 1500 year old
tradition at Beypore. It takes an expert team of 15-30 strongmen at least
two years to shape a vessel in wood. Locally called uru, this Arabian
trading vessel is fast fading from the shipping scene.
- Bathe in waterfalls: Nowhere else will you find water so playful, So
pure. So pacifying. Crystal clear waters cascade down the mountains of
Kerala, gurgling, whispering, laughing and cleansing everything in their
way. Watch them wake serene rivers with a magnificent splash.
- Go arty: You can browse in the art galleries for hours without track of
time. Among them are collections of the world famous works of Raja Ravi
Varma, Raja Raja Varma, Svetlova, Nicholas Roerich, rare murals and
masterpieces from China, Japan, Tibet, Bali and other parts of India.
- Visit scenic Kuttanad: Explore the lush paddy fields of Kuttanad, the
rice bow of Kerala – the only place in the world where farming is done 1.5
or 2 m below sea level. Kuttanad is in the interiors of the beautiful
backwater district of Alappuzha.
- Taste Payasam: The payasam, a rich milk delicacy prepared with
vermicili, gram or rice, is a delight for the plate. The most common dessert
of Kerala, the payasam is made in scores of flavours and garnished with
raisins and nuts fried in ghee. It is usually eaten with salty snacks.
- Feast your eyes on the largest mural: The palaces and museums of Kerala
have an exotic collection of ancient murals. The Krishnapuram Palace at
kayamkulam displays the largest of these masterpieces – gajendramoksham –
which belongs to the 18th century and depicts an event from mythology.
- Watch Theyyam: Theyyam is the oldest ritual art form of Kerala, Look on
in awe as Theyyam performers invoke the temple deity Bhagavathy with their
frenzied dancing and throbbing temple music in the courtyards of village
- Try coconut hair oil: The secret of a Malayali woman’s long, black,
lustrous hair could be yours too. Coconut oil is considered the best
nutrient for hair and a coolant for the head. In Kerala, both men and women
massage oil on their heads before a bath.
- Explore a tharavad: Relive the old times in the perfect settings of
antique furniture and exquisite woodwork in Kerala’s heritage holiday homes
and nalukettu (quandrangular mansions with a central countryard), each more
than 50 years old.
- Learn Malayalam: Malayalam, Kerala’s sweet toned language, has 56
letters in its alphabet. Try learning the basics and roll the words off your
- Star gaze: Steeped in astronomy, Kerala’s planetariums will show you
much more than Mercury, Venus and Mars. But a ticket to the evening star
gazing sessions and experience the wonders of the universe.
- Holiday on an island: Spend a weekend on Kerala’s islands or lagoons,
and experience special moments . Spectacular sunset, balmy backwaters
succulent seafood at Bolghatty, Pathiramanal, Poovar….These paradises can be
reached only by a ferry or boat.
- Picnic beside virgin lakes: Pack a picnic basket and spend a romantic
evening beside the crystal clear lakes near Munnar. Try your luck at fishing
and feast on your fresh catch. Go for a long walk hand-in-hand, undisturbed.
Lie down on the most comfortable of grass beds.
- Go paragliding: Sweep across the lush green hills of Munnar on a
paraglider and enjoy the vantage of an eagle. See the soothing blues and
greens of nature. Enjoy the wind beneath your wings. Feel on top of the
- Walk in to a palace: Besides exquisite wooden architecture, the palaces
of Kerala flaunt the finest floors in the world. Floors that, surprisingly,
need least maintenance – being made of crushed coconut charcoal, egg whites
and the sap of loan plants. You’ll also see collections of antique
sculptures, paintings and bronzes.
- Muse in a Museum: The museums of Kerala, especially the Pazhasiraja
Museum at Kozkikkod, pay full tribute to outstanding crafts-historical and
contemporary ornaments, temple carts and Ivory carvings of life sized
figures of Kathakali in full regalia.
- Watch Thullal: Thullal, an exotic art form, and the rhythmic sounds of
music accompanying it will keep you in a constant stage of merriment.
Humour, satire and social criticism are its hallmarks. This art form was
formulated overnight by the renowned poet, Kunjan Nambiar.
- Visit the zoo: The zoological parks in Kerala have plenty to excite the
animal lover in you. The Trivandrum zoo is one among the best designed in
Asia and is set amidst a woodland, lakes and lawns.
- Wash your sins away: According to a myth, sage Narada was approached by
mendicants who confessed to having sinned. The place he created for them to
pray for redemption is known as the Papanasham beach (papanasham meaning
redemption from sins). Take a dip and come out feeling clean in your heart
- Go nuts: You can get raw, fried, grilled, salted and spiced cashews at
surprisingly affordable rates from Kollam where cashew plantations and
- Chew into a juicy mussel: It is indeed fun watching mussel collectors
anchor their boats, dive down and bring up basket loads of these fresh water
delicacies. The shells are later burnt in kilns to make lime.
- See wildlife from a boat: Watch wildlife at close quarters from the
safety of a boat at the sanctuaries of Kumarakom, and Periyar. Herds of wild
elephants bathing in the lake, the Indian bison digging his horns into an
unaffected tree, the cormorant darting into the waters… a treat for an
- Learn yoga: Relax your mind with yoga at the special ashrams in
Trivandrum and Nileswaram – the cultural centre of Kasaragod. Sessions are
conducted by spiritual gurus and experts in the field.
- Walk the historic Kappad beach: This is where Vasco DA Gama landed in
1498 with his men in three vessels. Here, you’ll find an interesting
landscape of rocks that sprawl right into the sea. An 800 year old temple
- Munch on crispy snacks: Kerala has a wide range of crunchy snacks-
ethakka (banana) chips, chakka vattal (jackfruit chips), pappadam,
kuzhalappam, achappam, cheeda and churuttu. All worth every penny spend on
- Meet martial art experts: Kalaripayattu, the martial art form of Kerala,
is the oldest and most scientific in the world. Watch agile bodies gleaming
in oil and armed with weapons practise their feats-chattam (jumping), ottam
(running), marichil (somersault)-to stunning perfection. Explore the Bekal
- Explore the largest and the best-preserved fort of Kerala at Bekal,
Kasaragod: The imposing laterite structure rising 130 ft. above sea level,
stands on a 35 acre headland that runs right into the Arabian Sea.
- Behold the Queen of the Arabian Sea.: Kochi, also known as the Queen of
the Arabian Sea, is breathtakingly beautiful. Apart from being the
commercial capital and the most cosmopolitan city of Kerala, Kochi also
flaunts one of the finest natural harbours of the world.
- Discover prehistoric settlements: The Edakkal caves at Wayanad and the
caves at the mouth of the Shenduruny River have interesting pictorial
writings and cave drawings from the Stone Age. You’ll have to trek at least
a kilometer uphill to reach the Edakkal caves. Say a prayer at the old
- The 500 years old Synagogue in Kochi: The 500 years old Synagogue in
Kochi is adorned with mid 18th century hand painted Cantonese tiles. Hebrew
inscriptions on stone slabs, ancient scripts on copper plates and great
scrolls of the Old Testament are preserved here. An age-old clock tower
- Let a mohini enchant you: Mohiniyattam or the dance of the enchantress
reflects the graceful nature of the land. The sensuous, graceful movements
of the dancer, clad in gold and off white costumes, will remind you of palms
swaying in the gentle breeze and sweeping waves.
- Spend the night at a Kathakali concert: Kathakali, the four centuries
old classical art form, is usually staged at night. Elaborate costumes,
ornaments and multi-coloured facial make-up give the artistes a super human
appearance, which leaves you spellbound.
- Cook in earthenware: In most of the traditional homesteads of Kerala,
women cook their food in earthenware. For some time-tested reason renders a
special taste to the dish prepared.
- Collect antiques: Stroll up the Jew Street in Fort Kochi for interesting
finds like period furniture, ancient coins, elaborately carved pens,
ornamental brass latches, antique jewellery, grandfather clocks and
- Cruise the backwaters of Alappuzha: Alappuzha, embroidered with a
labyrinth of waterways, was extolled by travellers as the Venice of the
East. Visit this land where the skiff is the family vehicle, the ducks
outnumber chicken and children learn to swim perhaps even before the walk.
- Meet smart fishermen: It is indeed a spectacular sight to watch Kerala’
Smart fishermen outdo the crashing waves by pushing their boats into the sea
from a pier beyond the wave point, and simultaneously jumping into it in
- See mind-blowing fireworks: Make a wish under a thousand shooting starts
-brilliant firework displays that mark the end of a festival in Kerala. And
you’ll never miss them as every dawn in Kerala brings yet another festival.
- Watch a puppet show: Yakshagana Bombeyattu (puppetry) is the art form of
Kasaragod. Colourful puppets in huge headgears, elaborate facial make-up and
loud attires dancing to throbbing music will keep you entertained.
- Go for a flower show: Spend a colourful evening with pretty asters,
glowing anthuria, exotic orchids, beautiful roses, elegant lilies and a
bloom of soft cotton candy at a flower show.
- Smash the elusive pot: Uriyadi (smashing the pot) is a spirited sport
connected with some of festivals of Kerala. The festive pot colourfully
decorated will be hung from a tall pole. All you have to do is try and break
it with a stick as the crowd pulls it up and down.
- 94 Spot a dolphin: If you ‘re lucky, you’ll get to see the dolphins do
their grand act at the Cherai beach. Applaud them as they spring out of the
waters magnificent splash only to take a marvelous dive back into it.
- 95 Buy a Palmyra fan: In Kerala, you’ll find small, handy fans made of
medicinal herbal roots, palm fronds, bamboo splits and grass. Get yourself a
portable, compact, cute and colourful little fan that comes in handy anytime
of the day. When not in use, you could even put it up on the wall as a
- 96 Stay in exotic resorts: Kerala’s innovative hoteliers have amazing
experiences in store for you. Some even have Theme evenings when centuries
old art forms like Kathakali and Mohiniyattom are performed as well.
- Savour nectar: Beat the bees and butterflies to it in a banana
plantation. Hold the tip of a banana inflorescence (koombu) to your mouth
and suck the sweet nectar.
- Visit a Snake Park: The Snake Park at Parassinikadavu, Kannur, is the
only one of its kind in the whole of India. There are three snake pits and
fifteen glass cases full of various species of snakes, and two large glass
houses for King Cobras. The snake demonstration conducted every hour is a
major crowd puller.
- Watch thiruvathira: Thiruvathira, a traditional dance performed by
women, has simple steps and a single rule-performers should be clad in a
Kerala saree. Join them as they sing and move elegantly around a ceremonial
lamp (vilakku) or a floral decoration (pookalam).
- Bring swing to your life Onam is the season for fun and games.: Visit
Kerala during August /September and you’ll find in every house. The friendly
people here will be only too glad to let you join them.
- Try out new ways to fish: Dangle a rod and line into the flowing waters.
Sweep a towel through it. Feel for fish with your feet in the mud below. Or
simply try trapping small fish with your hands. Anyway, you’ll never return