Kerala Vacation Magic in India
The power of nature is the main ingredient for Kerala vacation magic. This unique part of India is unlike any other I have visited during my 20 years of traveling to the country. A place so green, a melting pot of cultures so peaceful, all tied together by the incredible surrounding environment. This is the magic of a Kerala holiday.
Located on the southwestern Malabar coast of India, the state has a unique history of a seafaring trade dating back possibly as far as the 3rd century BC. As the first port in the country of major importance, influence and ideologies have been felt from around the globe. More recently, visitors will feel the heritage of the French, Portuguese Dutch and British. Just like the mariners who passed through this coastal town centuries ago, it is impossible to visit and not be affected by the unique coexistence of cultures here.
When I first decided I must visit Kerala, I was drawn to the area by a photo I had seen in an Anthropologie catalog. Imagine traveling halfway around the globe, inspired by a clothing collection. It wouldn’t be the first time, nor was it the last. I wasn’t interested in the fashion, but had a deep case of wanderlust and desire to visit this magical bit of India. So yes, I tucked that image away in a file and several years later had the opportunity to actually visit the breathtaking backwaters of what is often called God’s Own Country. Little did I know the depth of riches this southern state had in store for me.
Aside from the stunning scenery, visitors will immediately notice the inclusive and friendly nature of the residents. The universal language of smile is spoken here; a welcoming vibe that is impossible to ignore. As someone who has made many trips to India, this was a new experience. I am in love with this country’s chaos, the bright colors, frenetic pace and impossibly seductive assault of the senses. Kerala is India light, a perfect introduction for those who are a bit nervous about all that chaos I have talked about so frequently. The senses are still assaulted with delight, but in a kinder, gentler fashion.
Like myself, most tourists are drawn to a Kerala vacation by the highly photogenic and romantic backwaters. Unbeknownst to me, the area not only offers the highlight of this scenic region of the coastline, but mountains, tea plantations, the western ghats, temples and fantastic cuisine. A Kerala vacation package can offer many different highlight options.
Kathakali Dance on a Kerala Vacation
My travel partner had studied dance in southern India while abroad in college. Seeing a Kathakali performance in the living history destination of Fort Kochi was definitely on our to do list. The genre of dance merges the dance styles of two political rivals and originated in the 17th century. It is believed to be based on the life of Lord Krishna with mythical characters representing heaven and hell. Traditionally it is performed by men who also take on the roles of women.
The spell of the Kathakali is quite mesmerizing, leading the audience on a rich cultural journey preserving the past in a phenomenal way. The music is rhythmic, the monkey chieftains loud and grotesque, and the 120 minutes of performance were over so quickly I was left wanting for more.
Taste in Travel a Traditional Sadhya
Seafood is abundant, the tastes a bit less spicy, but no less complicated and layered like the cuisine of the rest of the country. The abundance of coconuts plays an important role in taste as well as a staple in local eco-friendly products for the body. Similar to Peru and the Cusco region, farmers here cultivated crops at different elevations. Make sure not to miss the traditional meal–sadhya–consisting of a variety of vegetarian dishes served on a banana leaf.
Stay on a Traditional Houseboat on a Kerala Vacation
My final morning, I awake with the sun. My hotel for the night was a traditional houseboat or kettuvallam which now is gliding across the water through lily pads. A mystical fog envelopes the landscape and I can just barely make out the shapes of migratory birds searching for breakfast amongst the mangroves. Unsure whether I am even moving, I rise to the top deck to take in the astonishing setting. We drift, palm trees slowly sway, there is barely a breath of air as the community begins their day.
The silence of the awe-inspiring scene is broken by the mellow echo of nets landing in the water, thrown by the traditional fishermen nearby. Sounds increase, the thwack of women beating their wash on the nearby rocks and uniformed schoolchildren singing as they go off to school, followed by women in colorful dress carrying impossibly high piles of textiles and fruit baskets carefully balanced on their heads.
I try to mentally rearrange my itinerary, just a few more days in this dreamland; I’m ready to make a deal with the devil. But alas, it is not to be and we arrive at the dock ready to disembark and hit the road.
I have always believed in the power of travel and learning from other cultures. Today I find the significance of Kerala’s impact more important than ever. Education, inclusiveness, the power of nature, appreciation of the simple things in life. Has there ever been a more relevant time to highlight a destination that embodies that message?
The magic of a Kerala vacation casts its spell on all who are privileged to visit. The beauty of the land will play a role, but it is the warm and generous people who are human by nature that will leave their mark. A Kerala vacation captivatingly weaves together an enchanting humanscape with a breathtaking landscape. The result is a cultural fabric visitors will not soon be able to forget.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored as part of Kerala Tourism’s new campaign ‘Human by nature’. Opinions on this blog, as you know, always reflect that of the author.