10 best places in Kerala to visit this summer
This beautiful hill station is noted for its cool climate and tea plantation. This little town boasts of many colonial bungalows, tea factories, wildlife sanctuaries and lakes. Literally meaning 3 rivers, Munnar is situated on the confluence of three rivers - Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. 1600 m above sea level, this hill station was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in South India.
Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands here is the Neelakurinji (Strobilantus kuntianus ). This flower bathes the hills in blue every twelve years. Munnar also has the highest peak in South India, Anamudi, which towers over 2695 m. Accommodation facilities are excellent. The altitude is 4000 feet.
The very sound of the word Thekkady conjures up images of elephants, unending chains of hills and spice scented plantations. In the Periyar forest of Thekkady is one of the finest wildlife reserves in India, and spread across the entire district are picturesque plantations and hill towns that hold great opportunities for treks and mountain walks. It is situated at an altitude of 2950 – 56900 feet above sea level.
Periyar wildlife sanctuary offers night trekking that allows visitors to trek deep into the forest, accompanied by trained tribal guards.
Kovalam, the beachfront that has made into the international tourism map, is 16 km off the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram. The Arabian Sea that lines Kerala along its west all along turns into a meek and placid waterscape at Kovalam. Its major attraction is the sandy seaside naturally divided by rocky mounds into three separate curved beaches. Clear water with shallow bottom up to a hundred metres has made Kovalam a swimmers' haven. Kovalam is the first place in Kerala to be featured on the International tourism map in a big way.
Kovalam is also a major destination of health tourism with many of the hotels offering Ayurvedic treatment. Sun bathing and swimming are two options too tempting to refuse. Surfing boards, beach umbrellas, beach benches etc are available on rent. There are lifeguards on the beach. Local fishermen offer a ride on their catamaran for a small fee. The Lighthouse on a rocky promontory at the southern end is open to visitors. Vizhinjam, a natural port and site of the proposed Transhipment Container Terminal, is a few kilometres away. A rock cut cave temple at Vizhinjam, which is a protected historical monument, is also worth a visit.
After Kovalam, Varkala is the most popular seaside resort in Kerala. It is also a major Hindu pilgrimage destination. Varkala lies 50 km north of Thiruvananthapuram. The ancient temple of Lord Janardhana (Vishnu), believed to be 2000 years old, is the main attraction. The small beach called Papanasham attracts the devout as well as tourists. Overlooking the beach is a headland that stretches several kilometres. Most hotels and shops along the headland face the sea. The business here is largely seasonal and the tourist season is from October to April. A walkway along the edge of the cliff goes up several kilometres. The headland provides a panoramic view of the beach and sea. The place preserves an atmosphere of quiet away from the bustle of the town. The laterite cliff walling the beach oozes water that is believed to be salubrious. For this reason, the place serves as a spa as well.
Accommodation options are available here to suit all ranges. Most hotels cluster on the headland facing the sea. Attractions in the neighbouring areas include Shivagiri Mutt, Kappil lake (also referred to as a backwater) and estuary, Ponnumthuruthu island and Anjengo Fort (Anchuthengu).
Wayanad district is situated in the north-east of Kerala. There are many indigeneous tribals in this area. It is set lofty on the majestic Western Ghats with altitudes ranging from 2300 to 7000 metres above mean sea level.
A major portion of the district is covered by coffee. One can still see the bonnet monkeys, loris, mongoose, jungle cats, squirrels, jackals, hares, etc. in the limited forest areas. Elephant, bear and other wild animals from the neighbouring wild life sanctuaries of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, stray into the Begur forest range and the forests around Muthanga, which is 20 kilometres away from the town of Sulthan Bathery.
Places to visit: Chembra Peak, Edakkal Caves, Kuruva Island, Lakkidi, Muthanga Wild Life Sanctuary, Pakshipathalam, Pazhassi Raja Tomb, Pookode Lake, Sentinel Rock Waterfalls, Kanthanpara Waterfalls, Soochippara Waterfalls, Banasura Sagar Dam.
Alappuzha, the Venice of the East, is a landmark between the broad Arabian sea and a network of rivers flowing into it. Boat rides, houseboat stays, churches, mosques and temples having architectural grandeur, Alappuzha is worth experiencing in summer with a cool climate. The whole of Kuttanadu, the Netherland of the East presents another picturesque sight.
The beach is also a popular leisure spot here. Vijaya Beach Park offers a variety of entertainment especially for children. This beach has the first light house ever to be built on the western coast.
Kumarakom is famous for its backwaters. Set against the Vembanad lake, backwater cruises and houseboats are a wonderful experience. The tropical climate of the region is perfect in summer. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary which is a habitat for many rare species of birds is another attraction. The place offers boat trip around the islands giving you a breathtaking experience of watching the birds and the nature’s beauty. The sanctuary is open for public daily from 6AM to 6PM.
Known as the Niagara Falls, Athirappilly is a place of chilling scenes and memories. As the summer rain falls, the largest waterfall in Kerala, Athrappilly becomes more beautiful.
The area nearby the falls offers spectacular views of the Sholayar hills and the Western Ghats. The trip to Athirappally waterfalls can be started from Vazhachal falls through the dense forest watching the wide variety of endangered vegetation. Jungle Safari rides are also offered here. Trekking and swimming can be enjoyed here.
With grassy hills, velvet lawns and cool mountain air, Vagamon is a perfect spot to visit in summer. It is an exciting blend of religious mysticism and European legacy.
You can trek across the chain of three hills - the Thangal hill, the Murugan hill and the Kurisumala. And don't miss the nice, little dairy farm of the Kurisumala monks.
One of the most surreal and mesmerising hill stations of Kerala, Gavi is an island decorated by evergreen forests and is an adventure hub. It is 28 km south west of Vandiperiyar, 14 km from Kumily, near Thekkady. In the 9 km stretch to Vallakkadavu check post the traveller will spot houses and shops and after check post, its wild forest ahead, the forest abundant with wildlife including the Tiger and elephants. Situated in Pathanamthitta district, it is an eco-tourism centre. Deep in the Ranni Reserve Forest, Gavi offers trekking, off-roading, boating, and much more. The two-hour jeep ride will take you past hills and valleys, tropical forests, sprawling grasslands, cascading waterfalls and cardamom plantations. Also, it houses wide varieties of wildlife species. Wildlife safaris, bird watching, jungle camping, tree house stay etc can be enjoyed here.
With more than 260 species of birds, Gavi is a haven for birdwatchers. En route are the Pamba Reservoir and a large tract of reserve forests, so chances of wildlife encounters with endangered species like the Nilgiri tahr and lion tailed macaque are big. Developed into an exclusive ecotourism project, Gavi is listed as one of the must-see places in India.