Kerala – God’s Own Country
Towards the southern most part of India lies a strip of coastal land, that stays green throughout the year. Azure beaches with golden sands run along its side, parallel to serene backwaters dotted with coconut trees. The people of this land are humble and welcoming, earning for themselves a well deserved title – God’s Own Country. Kerala has landed on the bucket list of nature enthusiasts and is every traveler’s dream destination. Therefore, the question ‘Why should you visit Kerala for your next holiday?’ is inapplicable, rather the question should be: What are the top unique things to do in Kerala that you will probably not get to experience anywhere else?
1. Unique Things to do in Kerala – Bathe an Elephant in Thekkady
What is it about elephants that brings out the child in each of us?
Humans have been in contact with these gentle giants for thousands of years. Yet, everytime we see one at close quarters they have commanded our respect and taken our breath away.
Kerala has a unique association with elephants due to their presence in major religious occasions. This has led to formation of many elephant camps, where domesticated elephants are given a habitat. These camps are strictly regulated to ensure that the elephants are treated well by their caretakers. Visitors to the camp can engage in bathing sessions with the elephant or feed them their favorite meals.
2. Unique Things to do in Kerala – Trek to Agasthyakoodam
The mountainous terrain in Kerala provides for some of the most rewarding treks in Kerala. One trek in particular has been earmarked for the raw adventure that it has to offer. Agasthyakoodam is named after the sage Agasthya and the trek starts from Bonacaud (Nearest city is Trivandrum). The trek to Agasthyakoodam or Agasthyamala covers a total trekking distance of 56kms through dense forests and the peak is part of the western ghats rising to a height of 1868 m above sea level. The trek can be covered in 2 to 3 days based on your speed and experience in trekking. The forest department of Kerala organises and controls the entire trek operation, passes are sold online for treks organised during the peak season. The trek is also well known for the rare species of medicinal plants and herbs available on the route.
3. Unique Things to do in Kerala – Ayurvedic Massage
Kerala has become a hot-spot for wellness tourism with many Ayurveda and Yoga centers available to its visitors. A relaxing Ayurvedic massage is a must when you are in Kerala. After a consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor, you can choose from one of the many options available. Getting massaged with aromatic oils after a tiring day of sightseeing is definitely something your body will thank you for.
4. Unique Things to do in Kerala – Learn to Weave Coir Ropes in Vaikom
True Kerala is found in its villages. It is amazing how the villagers are self sufficient by producing most of their requirements in the village itself. You can learn skills such as Rope weaving and basket making on one of our village tours.
5. Unique Things to do in Kerala – Pulikkali in Thrissur
Pulikkali literally translates to ‘Tiger Play’ and is a local recreational folk art form in Kerala. The tradition of being painted in Tiger stripes during the auspicious festival ‘Onam’ dates back to about 200 years back. The tradition has been preserved and continued today by various groups across Kerala who compete with each other to be voted as the best. Thrissur is the ideal place to witness Pulikkali having the largest number of troupes participating in this fun tradition.
6. Unique Things to do in Kerala – Fishing at Fort Kochi
The iconic Chinese fishing nets have become the symbol of tourism in Kochi or Cochin in Kerala. A Fort Kochi cycle tour would be the ideal way to start your introduction to the history of Kerala. The huge cantilevered fishing nets stretch out into the rivers to get you the fresh catch of the day. It is a sight to watch the fishermen work on the nets and for a small fee they will let you try your hands at fishing too.
7. Unique Things to do in Kerala – Shop at Cochin Spice Market
Ancient Kerala was an important trading post on the sea routes because of the Spice Trade that was in high demand in the western countries. The spice market in Fort Kochi still retains the charm of the bygone era with rows of shops displaying spices and herbs that are used in cuisines around the world.
8. Unique Things to do in Kerala – Enjoy a Sadhya Meal
The Keralan cuisine has been influenced by its long association with other countries through trade, however, ask any Malayali about their favorite meal and the answer would probably be ‘Sadhya’. A typical Sadhya is a festive meal served on a Banana leaf and can consist upto 26 dishes (sometimes even more depending on the grandeur of the occasion). The meal is always vegetarian and comes with a big portion of steaming rice, vegetables, letils, pickles, pappadams, chips and payasams.
9. Unique Things to do in Kerala – Experience the Backwaters
The backwaters of Kerala can be best explored on a canoe ride or a stay in the houseboats. These backwaters create a unique canvas of natural beauty and form an important part of the natural ecosystem. Why not try your hand at local fishing methods with a fisher man on this Night fishing tour of Kumarakom?
10. Unique Things to do in Kerala – Tholpavakoothu Puppet Show
‘Tholpavakoothu’ which loosely translates to ‘Play of Leather Dolls’ is a religious puppet show in Kerala portraying the stories from Ramayana.
Legend has it that Goddess Bhadrakali missed the epic battle between Rama and Ravana while she was busy in her fight with Dharika, a demon. At her request, the Rama-Ravana war was recreated and staged in front of her in the form of Tholpavakoothu and hence you will witness these spectacular puppet shows only in a ‘Koothumadam’ built in front of temples.
We would love to add your suggestions to this list ! Share your ideas in the comment section below.
Author: Jovial Anthony Fernandes