God's own country
Kerala is a narrow, fertile strip of land wedged between the verdant hills and rain forests of the Western Ghats and the wide beaches of the Arabian Sea. In between is a labyrinth of backwaters lined with coconut palms and lush paddy fields.
The infinite shades of tropical green that one can see in Kerala, is the reason that Kerala has come to be known as `God's own country.'
The major cities of Kerala are in the north, Kochi in the centre, and Thiruvananthapuram in the south. They are smaller and more relaxing in comparison to most other Indian cities.
The beaches are never far away. Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, is a convenient gateway to the palm-fringed beaches of and . South of Kochi is a beautiful white stretch of beach at . Kozhikode has lovely beaches to the north such as at .
For visitors, the most popular city is undoubtedly the great port of . Traders from all over the world have left their mark on the architecture here, making Kochi one of the most unique and fascinating towns in India. Walking around the old atmospheric quarters of Matancherry and Fort Cochin is a great delight.
The greatest joy of travelling in Kerala is exploring the backwaters south of Kochi, a network of waterways which weave through villages set amidst lush vegetation. There are lots of interesting home-stays and small atmospheric hotels in and around and . Alternatively, you can cruise through the backwaters in a converted rice barge (the so-called "houseboats").
Roads leading further inland pass through spice, tea, coffee and rubber plantations, and natural forests, en route to wildlife reserves such as the Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary near , the Eravikulam National Park near , and the Periyar National Park near . The beauty of these green hills is unique to Kerala.
One of the most beautiful landscapes in Kerala is in Wayanad district, in the north of the state. Here you find an unbelievably beautiful combination of paddy fields, spice plantations and rain forests, creating a rich verdant atmosphere. There are some wonderful accommodation options in small places like , and .
There are special home-stays all over Kerala but some highlights are Ayisha Manzil in , a beautiful bungalow overlooking the sea, Kandath Tharavad, a 100-year old traditional Kerala house in , and Vanilla Country in , a wonderful home right at the heart of a working plantation of vanilla, coffee and rubber.