Sightseeing in Kerala offers plenty of variety. Natural beauty or manmade structures, wildlife or waterfalls, beaches or backwaters, lakes or rivers.. There are many sights to take in. A good idea will be to decide what you would like to visit before planning your trip to Kerala. This article tries to point out a few worth seeing places while you are here. No way is this a complete list. Better, treat it as a starting point.
Kerala is made up of fourteen districts starting from Kasaragod in North to Trivandrum or Thiruvananthapuram in south. We are listing out places district wise starting from North end.
Kasaragod offers you Kappil, clean relatively unexplored beach and Kodi hills, an ideal site for a trekking trip. Close by is Bekal beach, a more popular tourist spot with the remnants of an ancient fort. The Bekal fort in its heydays used to be a very important maritime centre for the rulers of the region. The shallow beaches around offers a panoramic view of the long winding outer walls and watchtowers of the fort, which in the past may have witnessed many a battle, fought via sea.
5 kms from Bekal fort is Chithari, a small island on Chithari river accessible by canoes. It is making its way up on the tourism map, so what you get now is virtually untouched natural beauty.
Next District is Kannur. It has Payyambalam beach with its well laid out gardens, arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in Kerala and then a drive in beach at Muzhappilangad, where you can drive through the whole 4 kms of lovely sea shore. During low tide, a private island in the sea called Dharmadam becomes accessible by foot.
Kannur’s historical sites include, St. Angelo’s fort constructed by the Portuguese in 1505 and Thalasseri fort constructed by the British East India Company in 1708. Wildlife is also present in the form of Aaralam Wildlife sanctuary, a tropical, semi evergreen forest, situated on the Western Ghats slope with a highest peak of 1155 ft.
From Kannur you can take the highway to either Kozhikode or Wayanad.
Kozhikode is where the first foreign explorer landed on Indian soil, the Portuguese navigator Vasco de Gama, in 1498. Kappad beach is the exact spot where he set foot and thus has a historic value in addition to being a beautiful stretch of seashore. Then there is Beypore port, where ancient artisans used to build large wooden ships, called ‘Uru’, an industry that remains until this day. Thusharagiri, which is the biggest waterfall, falls right on an exciting trekking trail, which can take you to Vythiri, in Wayanad.
Wayanad is a hilly terrain ranging from 700 to 2100 above sea level. Chembra is the highest peak in Wayanad and Meenmutty is the largest waterfall. . Muthanga wildlife sanctuary in wayanad is formed as a part of Bandipur National Park in Karnataka and Mudumalai sanctuary in Tamilnadu. This vast expanse of rainforest is home to a large number of elephants as well as Tigers, Leopards, Cheetah, Indian Bison, Sambar and Barking deer, Gray Langur and Slender loris. The forests are also a treasure trove of rare medicinal plants and herbs. In addition to Muthanga , Wayand boasts of yet another wildlife sanctuary in Tholpetty.
Edakkal caves in wayanad is an fascinating historical site with many distinct sets of petroglyphs on its walls, some dating back to as early as 3000 years ago. Wayand has a strong presence of tribal people also and tribal tourism is being explored in the ‘En Uru’ tribal village project set up by Govt. highlighting tribal way of life, food and artforms.
Neighbouring district Malappuram hosts Kadalundi bird sanctuary, which is home for hundreds of varieties of native birds plus a destination for sixty odd kinds of migratory ones. Vallikkunnu beach and Nilambur, a forest area with a number of teak plantations, waterfalls, and an elephant camp at Nedunmkayam, are the other attractions. The headquarters of Kerala Arya Vaidya Sala, the leading Ayurveda treatment house is also located here, at Kottakkal.
Tourist destinations in Palakkad include Silent Valley National Park and Malambuzha dam. Nelliyampathy is a hillstation set on Western Ghats, road to which offers many scenic spots. Parambikulam, a 285 square kms tiger reserve is an extension of the Nelliyampathy forest area.
Thrissur known as the cultural capital of Kerala boasts of a few cultural landmarks, like Kerala Kalamandalam, where the traditional art-dance forms are taught. Thrissur Vadakkunnatha Temple and Guruvayoor Temple are two most visited temples of Keralites. Thrissur Pooram, an annual festival, with its festivities and fireworks is a sight to behold.
Athirapally waterfall, which is the largest in Kerala, is in Thrissur district, located in the Sholayar ranges in Vazhachal forest region.
Ernakulam or Kochi
Next we move on to Kochi or Ernakulam, the busiest metropolitan city of Kerala. The tourist spots in Kochi include Cherai beach, Fort Kochi with its Chinese fishing nets, Jewish synagogue and Dutch Palace in Mattancherry, Hill Palace museum and Kodanad Wildlife Reserve which includes the largest elephant training camp. Kumbalangi, a tiny island surrounded by backwaters, being developed into a model fishing village is another place worth visiting.
Idukki district is one of the richest in the number of tourist attractions it offers. One of the main landmarks is the Idukki Dam, worlds second and Asia’s first arch dam, which is constructed between two hills. Idukki wildlife sanctuary, Eravikulam National Park, Periyaar Tiger reserve, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary..the area is rich in wildlife. Thekkady Lake offers a facility of watching wildlife while on a boat cruise which takes you deep into the Periyaar sanctuary. Hillstations at Munnar, Wagamon, Peermedu, Ramakkalmedu, picnic spots including nadukani, mattupetti, marayoor, waterfalls like Cheeyappara, Thommankuthu all make Idukki a favourite destination of tourists visiting Kerala.
Kumarakom is the main attraction of Kottayam district, a picturesque village set in the Vembanadu Lake. The place is known for its lush green landscapes and intricate waterways lending itself to luxurious houseboat cruises. The abundant fish stock adds to the rich cuisine in the area. There is also bird sanctuary at Kumarakom where many migratory birds flock. Kumarakom is the award winning ‘responsible tourism’ model by Kerala Govt, which is effectively linking the local population with tourism industry and thus maintaining eco balance of the place.
Alappuzha is named the ‘Venice of the east’. The whole similarity of the geographical pattern, the port, the pier, network of canals and a succession of bridges across them, may have influenced these words by the tenth viceroy to India, Lord Curzon. Alappuzha the name itself means broad river, and it is the intermittent land between the unbroken seashore and a lattice of rivers flowing out to the sea, Kuttanadu, the land of low-lying paddy fields and multitude of waterways passing in between presents a picturesque sight. It’s not often you find places where the most common mode of transport is canoes. These fertile lands of Kuttanadu account for the majority of rice production in Kerala.
Alappuzha offers plenty of options for boat cruises across the fascinating waterways for the tourists. Pathiramanal, an island surrounded by backwaters is another destination known for its population of migratory birds.
Pathanamthitta the smallest district of kerala, is well-known for its pilgrim centres including temples and churches dating back to centuries ago. The temple of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala (Sabari hills) is the most celebrated of them all, bringing in devotees from all over the India. Pamba river flows close to Sabarimala temple and a dip in it on the way to the temple is supposed to cleanse you of all sins. Another noted place is Aranmula known for its metal mirrors, a craft unique to the place. Aaranmula is famous for its Parthasarathi temple as well as the race of 100 ft long snake boats held yearly during August-September.
Kollam is a major centre for fishing and cashewnut industry in Kerala. Shasthamkotta in Kollam is the largest freshwater lake in Kerala and there is an extensive network of backwaters Ashtamudi, named so because it consists of eight channels. Thenmala eco-tourism project, Palaruvi waterfalls and Thirumullavaram beach are the other places in Kollam worth visiting
Finally we reach the capital of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. The name comes from the presence of the ancient Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple here, which was in news recently because of the discovery of largest known accumulation of riches kept in underground chambers of the temple.