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Kerala: A vacation in paradise

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Kerala: A vacation in paradise
Kerala: A vacation in paradise

A vacation to the south of India ensures more than just a magnificent visual treat and the skipping of a heartbeat. Kerala’s breathtaking views and natural splendors pull aside their green curtains to greet every traveller. The friendly locals are helpful and join their hands together to welcome all avid travelers with platters of appam and puttu and a shy namaskaram. Away from all strains and burdens of a city life, this year, do take the time to visit the surreal state of Kerala.

Kerala is a place resplendent with natural beauty. Named as one of the ‘ten paradises of the world’ by the National Geographic Traveler, Kerala is famous especially for its ecotourism initiatives. The states name, in fact, originates from two words- ‘kera’ and ‘alam’, where ‘kera’ means coconut and ‘alam’ means land or location. Apart from the food, pristine rain forests, beguiling beaches, the one feature that’s exclusive to Kerala are the backwaters. These waters are marked by a unique ecosystem wherein lagoons, lakes, canals, estuaries and deltas of several rivers meet the Arabian Sea. If you are looking for a quiet, rejuvenating and peaceful getaway, then look around no more. The quaint and peaceful backwaters prove to be the perfect dose for your restless soul. Here’s a look at some of the prime spots where one can visit the backwaters.

The village of Kumarakom is situated 16 km away from Kottayam town, Central Kerala. One can reach this place either by the train – 16 kms from Kottayam; or by air – 76 kms from Cochin International Airport. As one enters Kumarakom, the environment seems almost freshly-laundered and the serenity of the place takes one by surprise. The chirping of wild birds peeking from an unknown distance helps break the mysteriously silent ambience of the backwaters. A bed of clay sand and a slippery inlet leads one towards a colony of the most exquisite and extremely beautiful houseboats. Some houseboats have an open wide front, designed for some lazy bachelors who want to lounge around with a small TV, food and drinks and watch the calm water. Some house boats have the capacity to carry almost 5 families. The land on both sides is dotted with gangling palm trees. As one looks ahead, one sees a vast stretch of nothingness; only the silent water.

The friendly, popular and crowded Thiruvallam is 10 kms from Thiruvananthapuram. One can reach this place by road or rail. This specific location is famous for its canoe rides, kayaking and cruises in kettuvalloms (house boats). The Boat Club here organises tours to the nearby islands of Pozhikara and Edayar as well as visits to coir manufacturing units. While sailing, hear the peaceful chorus of the rippling water alongside your houseboat cruise as you float on the breathtaking Kerala backwaters with palm fringed golden beaches on both sides.
What is also truly magical about a houseboat ride is the breathtaking view of the untouched and inaccessible rural Kerala while you float! Seeing bobbing heads of locals swimming alongside your boat isn’t uncommon. Nor is it rare to see small thatch-roofed huts on the banks of the waters with locals watching you sail by.

Located in Kollam district of Kerala in southern India, Ashtamudi is one of the major centres of backwater tourism. One can reach this place by rail; Kollam being the nearest rail head. One can also reach this place by bus. Both luxury as well as semi deluxe buses are available from Kollam to Ashtamundi. Ashtamudi means ‘eight coned’. This name is indicative of the lake’s topography. Thevally lake, Kandachira lake, Kureepuzha lake, Kallada lake, Perumon lake, Kumbalath lake, Kanjirottu lake and Thekkumbhagam lake form the eight branchs of Ashtamudi lake.

Apart from enjoying a peaceful backwater ride, one can also truly witness the culture and traditions of Kerala here. One can participate in the festivals at the Sreekrishna Swamy Temple, Asramam, Thrikkadavoor Mahadeva Temple and Kottamkulangara temple.

The various islands that make a semi-circular cover around the backwaters are converted into the most breath-taking and luxurious resorts. Long, comfortable benches are spread along the banks of these islands where happy and relaxed bones find peace and tranquility. At night, the backwaters light up and look like a picture post card. Emerald green hills and mists slip over the hills in the aqueous light, passing through the ululating hills.

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