What is Kerala famous for? Kerala is famous for its unique geography, tranquil backwaters, unspoiled beaches, art forms and spices. It is also famous for its charming houseboats, sprawling tea plantations, unique eco-tourism, magnificent architecture, Ayurvedic treatments and unforgettable culinary experiences.
Kerala is correctly referred to as ‘God’s Own Country’. Its all-encompassing geography that comprises of serene hill stations and tranquil beaches will mesmerise you. It is a tropical paradise with an extremely pleasant climate. You can choose to paddle in the peaceful backwaters, go for a trek across the Western Ghats, or witness the calming mists of the hills. Its pristine nature will baffle you. Kerala has an endless list of festivals to catch up on; needless to say, it is a riot of experiences.
Here are all the things you’d want to know when you wonder, ‘What Kerala is famous for?’
1. Unique geography
Kerala falls in the Southern part of India and has a unique geography. It is home to luscious green hills, valleys, mesmerizing waterfalls, serene backwaters and beautiful beaches. You can have a relaxing time in the exotic hill stations or go for a safari in the wildlife sanctuaries. You can also have an unforgettable time in the pristine golden beaches.
Kochi has a rich history – it is believed that numerous Chinese, Arab, Portuguese and Dutch voyagers made their way here. It is undoubtedly one of the most photographer-friendly destinations in Kerala. It leans more towards the commercial side and is a large scale supplier of spices internationally!
That said, you certainly have to go on a shopping spree to carry back home the most authentic spices, sandalwood and perfumes from Kochi. Other than this, it has numerous scenic spots; the Dutch Palace and Wazhachal Falls being the most popular.
The houseboats were certainly one of my personal favorites in Kerala! These dot the frequently mentioned backwaters of the region. You will be surprised when you enter these slowly moving barges. They offer all the comforts of a hotel room, if not more!
Alappuzha is also known as the ‘Venice of the East’ and it offers the best houseboat experiences. I assure you that you will see nature from a different perspective when you are in a houseboat. It will give you a view of some of the inaccessible rural areas of Kerala as well.
Tip: Houseboats are available at Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kasaragod. For details on where and how you can book a houseboat, click here.
4. Art forms
Kerala is a culturally rich state. It is also the birthplace of one of the most popular dance forms from India, the ‘Kathakali’.
This is an intricate dance form, featuring exuberant makeup and delicate moves. Kerala is also known for the ‘mother of all martial arts’, ‘Kalaripayattu’. This martial art is considered to be the precursor to kungfu and is one of the oldest. Another mesmerizing dance form is the ‘Theyyam’, which is very popular in Northern Kerala. You should certainly see these wherever and whenever you get a chance because they are a visual treat.
If you have had too much of the valleys and hill stations (although I don’t believe in such a thing), don’t worry. Kerala has you covered! If someone asks me ‘What Kerala is famous for?’ I certainly never miss out on the beaches. The jaw-dropping beauty of the backwaters and hill stations might fall short for you (again, which is not possible). But, the beaches like Kovalam, Varkala and Kappad still will be the reasons to cherish your visit to Kerala!
Tip: Kovalam is popular for the best Ayurvedic retreats in Kerala. You should relax and rejuvenate by getting a treatment and subsequently enjoying the sunset from the beach!
6. Natural beauty
This has already been mentioned numerous times, but Kerala’s natural beauty can’t be emphasized enough.
If you want to embark on an adventurous trek, you can go to Thekkady. If you are looking for a slightly toned down, silent retreat, you can take up a nature trail. Kerala is known for several national parks, too. Periyar National Park is perhaps the most popular, with rare tigers and herds of elephants being a delight to be amongst. You can take a walk along the blissful Periyar Lake and view the elephants feeding on the water! Munnar is one of the offbeat locations, which is still untouched by tourist crowds and presents a thoroughly unsanitized version of nature.
Kerala is known for its unique architecture too. The style of architecture found in this state differs from the rest of Southern India. The architecture reflects Kerala’s rich cultural history and features medieval patterns.
Kannur was a famous trading center during the British rule and thus, comprises of several buildings of the colonial past. Kozhikode also called the ‘City of Sculptures’ has a rich past. Portuguese traveler Vasco Da Gama had landed here! One of Kerala’s perfect sunset-watching spot is located close to the central Kozhikode Beach. You can certainly not miss out on the Kowdiar Palace in Trivandrum, too. It was the official abode of Travancore’s royal family. The charming and intricately designed architecture is bound to mesmerize you.
Tip: Do visit the 14th century built St.Angelo Fort in Kannur, and take a relaxing walk in the Payyamabalam Beach.
8. Padmanabha Swamy Temple
This temple in Thiruvananthapuram is undoubtedly one of the most famous things that Kerala is famous for. A few years back, 1 trillion dollars worth of treasure was discovered in the Padmanabha Swamy Temple premises! Other than being probably the richest religious shrine across the world, the temple finds several mentions in religious Hindu Texts such as the epic Mahabharata. You should certainly visit it to witness a great fusion of authentic Chera and Dravidian styles of architecture.
9. Thrissur Pooram
If you feel like tapping into your spiritual side during your visit to Kerala, then you should attend the Thrissur Pooram. This is known as the ‘mother of all temple festivals’. It is a riot of vibrant processions marked by elephant parades and local music. The other remarkable things about this festival include a display of caparisons, firework shows and a farewell ceremony.
Remember: This festival is ordinarily observed in April or May. But, there is no exact date, as it depends on the rising of the ‘Pooram’ star in the sky. You can look up the exact date of the festival for the year you are planning to make your trip to Kerala!
Eco-tourism is perhaps one of the best initiatives ever for travelers!
The Kerala government has defined programs to take you to various offbeat places away from the tourist maps. These eco-tourism destinations are silent, serene, and slightly away from the regular hustle and bustle. These are your best bet when you have had enough of all that Kerala is famous for! You’ll be spoilt for destinations to choose from.
I highly recommend the nature trail through the woods of Aralam and the trip to Dhoni waterfalls. These trips will certainly allow you to have an up and close rendezvous with nature. What’s more, these planned trips start from as low a price as Rs.100 ($1.30) per person! You can find out more about the eco-tourism plans here.
11. Culinary experiences
Kerala is not called the ‘land of spices’ for no reason. One of the specialities of Kerala is the unique food varieties it boasts of. It is a one-stop destination for culinary enthusiasts and foodies!
If you ask the question, “Kerala is famous for which food?” the answer would be, other than the mouth-watering seafood, numerous authentic Indian dishes bursting with flavor, are ready to be hogged on by you!
You cannot miss ‘Sadya’ while you are here. Sadya is a feast comprising of almost everything that there is to cover in vegetarian cuisine. It can have a spread of up to 28 dishes in one go! It consists of everything from red rice, pickles, side dishes to desserts; all served on a plantain leaf!
12. Ayurvedic treatments
Ayurveda is considered to be the oldest health care system in the world. Kerala is probably the only place in the entire world where Ayurveda is used as a mainstream method of treatment. Moreover, Kerala is the place where the highest number of Ayurvedic practitioners in the whole wide world reside!
With that premise, I am sure you have gotten a wholesome picture of why you might want to sign up for an Ayurvedic treatment here. The ‘Panchakarma’ is a popular Ayurvedic treatment that uses medicated oil, milk and herbs.
13. Tea and coffee plantations
The sprawling tea and coffee plantations with a delicious fragrance wafting in the air are one of the highlights of Kerala. The regions of Munnar, Kochi and Periyar are replete with these plantations. You can take a mesmerising drive through these gardens and you will get a slice of peace and beauty. These gardens are extremely picturesque and have served as backdrops for various mainstream films!
Tip: If you are a tea connoisseur, you cannot miss the Kannan Devan Tea museum in Munnar. It records the history and evolution of tea around the region. You can also personally witness the various stages involved in tea processing!
14. S.M. Street
The S.M street or the ‘Sweetmeat Street’ is another thing that Kerala is known for. This street is a very busy shopping stretch and offers everything under the sun. Local sweets, spices, textiles, handicrafts, toy shops dot this street. It is one of the perfect places to do some shopping and take memorable souvenirs back home.
Bonus: Kerala has the highest literacy rate in India. So, don’t be stressed about any sort of communication difficulty with people of this state!
15. Rural Kerala
If you want to have a taste of life in its purest form, you have to go to Kerala’s rural parts. They lie exclusively decked with the backwaters, amidst paddy fields and beautiful coconut palms. You can have a meal at a farmer’s house or take a tour around a village to witness the creation of native handicrafts and art. This is an experience you are bound to cherish forever.
Kerala is a treat for both; peace and thrill-seekers. The best part about traveling to this state is the great connectivity between different destinations. I hope you have all the answers to the question, ‘What is Kerala famous for?’ after going through this list. Go, see it for yourself now!