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4.32 

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Kerala kandoh ? ( Have you seen Kerala ?)
May 31, 2006 01:06 PM 3299 Views
(Updated May 31, 2006 01:06 PM)

Accessibility:

Local Sightseeing:

Hotels / Accommodation:

Safety:

There's nothing like having to write about a place and taking in some culture credits as well!Kerala,all through the year,provides one with endless and mesmerising sites and sounds - between sunrise and sunset.What makes it easy is- you dont seek it out - it's all around.Some places have so much of it - some..well,you've got to have an eye and a ear for it !! :)))


Hotels :


Depending on your purse strings - there is a wide range of hospitality services that you can pick and chose from.Personal favourites are always the TAJ GROUP of Hotels that offer reasonable rack rates (that dip marginally close to the monsoons) and have properties at Kumarakom,Varkala,Kovalam,Thekaddy and Cochin ( tajhotels.com/ ). Backwater delights are at Kumarakom and Cochin.


Seasoned tourists can take the liberties of checking out more hotels.


For those not familiar with the roads,language and the food - advisable to check into established or referred hotels and use their traveldesk tips to move around and see the location.


The Kerala State tourism ( keralastatetourism.com/ ) offers very good packages all year round.Online services are helpful and the services provided are value for money.


Time to Travel :


Unless you like to wade through knee deep gushing water - avoid the monsoons that begin in the state around mid June.Prior to this - you will have to contend with sultry summers right before the outbreak of the rains.I would best advise people to be in the state starting September-January.There's nothing like free movement,a breeze to egg you on,calm backwaters,a spread of sea food and electricity !!!


Budget:


Personally - the kerala toursim offers the best rates and services for the average economically minded family man.For those in the mood to splurge - the sky is the limit for you in the god's own country.


Culture :


Foreigners,though a regular site in the state can be subject to varied levels of discomfort.Those who dont follow the language can also be taken for a ride since local taxi drivers and autorickshaw drivers are almost always in for a quick buck.There is no concept of a fixed meter on the autos and one has to agree on a price before getting into an auto.Taxis are better but the same rule applies.Best to use the traveldesk services of the hotel one checks into - or refer to travel agents of repute.Again - this information can be got at the airport or the railway station where there are State Tourism Information Booths set up.


Food:


You defenitely need to dip your fingers into the pickles and sea food that the state is famous for.There are also authentic breakfast spreads like uppuma , appam and puttu that's a big favourite.Broken rice,sambar,aviyal,fish fry or chilli beef dry - with some curd in a banana leaf is the staple diet and way respectively to be at the table.


If you have a strong stomach lining - do check out the thattu kadas ( small tea shops ) that serve excellent coffee/tea during the day and bring out the tables in the evening to serve some mouth wathering home cooked dishes.Most of these shops are either on the state highway or close to a pan shop !!


Most environments here may not be clinically clean but as long as you're careful there should be no damage.Carry your own water every where you go.And keep paper napkins with you at all times,that will avoid having to go to the common wash area.You can always rinse off your hands lightly at the table,in the plate after you are done.This is acceptable in kerala :))


In General :


Kerala is a must see one time around


Places to visit would be Cochin,the kovalam beach in trivandrum,guruvayoor-simply to see the temple(restricted entry),the palaces etc.


This information is best collated at the kerala tourism site mentioned above


Avoid visiting in the summers and monsoons unless you are prepared to sweat and wade in not very clean water.


Dont miss an elephant ride or an opportunity to visit a local temple - there is a fabulous one in Trivandrum !!


Women must certainly take a look at the gold shops since they can bedazzle you with the worksmanship,weight and extend of gold used.(Assuming you like to check out gold jewellery)


Sarees - the kerala ONAM saree is an all time big sell.You can get it either in a two piece or 6 yards - in all kinds of material.Best to shop in Cochin or Trivandrum for these.Check out the Jayalakshmi,Parthas,Khadi Bandar chain of stores.


Best to look up places you would like to visit before you plan the trip and double check with friends/colleagues from kerala about the same.If they can give you contacts of someone to assist you while in the state - nothing like it.


Carry your own water and if you are heading out towards water bodies - and intend to spend evenings outside - watch out for the mosquitoes.


While at the hotel - look up the local new papers for dance or musical recitals ( kacheris ) It's a treat to watch the Kathakali dance ( local art form ) and hear out some carnatic musicans ( this is where the local contact comes in handy ).


Trains are frequent between towns and if you're travelling peak hours,watch out for the crowds and avoidable lavatories.Advisable to book in the A/C or travel by the air-conditioned state bus services.Taxis can be expensive - but again - your budget call


Check the Kerala state tourism site for details on what all the state has to offer.


Medical facilities are very good in the state - if you must know.


The average man can speak english so asking for directions is not a problem


Avoid travelling by night on the highways - you risk having to contend with some rash driving from heavy vehicles who ply mostly by night.


Donot purchase goods from the roads.The only thing that you may want to pick up is some interesting jewellery but always bargain and start at the lowest possible rate.Also is good to get into the 'act' of walking away from the vendor and coming back when he's lost the battle and agrees to your price


Donot contain yourself to visiting known towns - again - knowing a local contact who can put you up with a local family ( malayalees are hospitable as long as they know who it is that's coming home !!! )


Take a backwater cruise and stay/take a meal on a boat if you can


There's a time in the year for the Kerala Annual Boat Race - if you intend to be there - hold on very dearly to your belongings.The crowds can be crazy but the spirit in the air is infectious !!!!


All in all - a must see...and if my mom permits - you can drop by my home in Mavelikara as well.This is equidistant between Cochin and trivandrum and is on the NH47.Let me know if your interested.


The pluses of the place are - we're on an acre of land,surrounded by mango groves,coconut trees,two tamarind trees,pepper plants etc.There are four dogs - two pairs of labs and golden retrievers to receive you - there are four bedrooms and an inhouse cook who is also my mom :)))) She's good and her services run on the lines of the TAJ..if I may say so.


As many of us Mallus like to say...''vaa,istam agum !'' ( Come..you'll like it!!!)


Enjoy Kerala - it's a delicious dish.


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