Built on a series of islands and peninsulas, it is the heart of Kerala and reflects the history and diverse cultures. Here you can see the oldest church in India, winding streets, mosques, and 500 years old Portuguese houses, cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, a Jewish community, 16th Century synagogue, and a Portuguese palace; latter renovated by the Dutch containing beautiful murals. The older parts of Fort Cochin and Matancherry are a unique blend of medieval Portugal, Holland and English country village put together on the tropical Malabar Coast.
It is also a good place to witness a performance of Kathakali dance drama, and “Kalaripattu” martial arts.
The essence of Kerala is its swaying palms and glistening waterways; which come together to create the magical web of the backwaters. They offer you both a large expanse of water and an intricate network of canals to explore by boat. Here time flows at a measured pace merging yesterday and tomorrow into an enchanting timeliness
The backwaters are connected to Cochin by boat, rail and car. You can spend 02 nights to a week enjoying the ambiance of the backwaters by taking a relaxed holiday at one of the backwaters resorts, or at a unique backwaters farm.
Kerala has many beaches. A beautiful, curving, palm fringed-beach of golden sands has made Kovalam a very popular destination in Kerala. It is located 15 km from Trivandrum and offers a variety of hotels & resorts. There is a vast variety of beach holidays to choose from – from plush resorts, to home-stays and private cottages.
Wildlife & Nature at Periyar
The Periyar National Park at Thekkady in Kerala, is one of the Project Tiger Reserves in India. The Periyar River was dammed in 1895, by a British engineer, working for the Maharajah of Travancore. The Maharajah granted protection to the adjoining forests and the 55 sq kms reservoir. Set high in the ranges of the Western ghats, the artificial picturesque lake is at the heart of the sanctuary. It meanders around the contours of the wooded hills, providing a perennial source of water for the local wild life.
The Park is 4 km from the nearest town, Kumily. It is approached only by road. The nearest railhead is 114 km, at Kottayam on the Ernakulam-Thiruvananthapuram line. The nearest airport in Kerala is Kochi, 190 km from the Park.The terrain is basically hilly, and the only flat areas of the sanctuary are the grasslands, at the edges of the lakes. Impregnable forests and open grasslands make for a sustaining environment, for both the carnivore and herbivore population of the reserve.
Periyar is famous for its Wild Elephants; which is around 800 in number. Herds of elephant and Sambar, gaur and wild pigs wander down to the lake-side and can be observed from the launches that cruise the lake. Other animals include the gaur, wild pigs, Sambar, barking deer, mouse deer, dhole (Indian wild dog) , the rare lion-tailed macaque, the Nilgiri Langur, bonnet macaque. And the Nilgiri Tahr. There are also over forty tigers. A variety of birds can also bee seen in numbers.
There are several ways of exploring the Periyar Sanctuary. Most people do it by boat. A two hours boat safari at dawn and dusk, is the best time to sight animals as they come out to drink water. Trekking can also be arranged to venture deep into the forest. Accompanied by a tribal guide you will be dropped off by boat at the far end of the lake, for a rare adventure – not for the faint hearted.
There are a few fascinating tribal villages around the Periyar, primarily the Manan and Oorali tribes. The Manans are ace fishermen, and a few of them still indulge in the traditional, if dangerous, practice of collecting the honey of large and deadly hill bees. The Ooralis build tree dwellings, though not as residences, but as watchtowers to keep wild pigs, and elephants from ruining their crops
The best time to visit Periyar is between October and April.
There is a choice of resorts around Thekkady , set in the heart of the Cardamom Hills, from where you can explore the sanctuary whilst staying in comfort surrounded by nature.
Back waters cruise by House boat
A backwaters cruise is a chance to glide through the backwaters in your own houseboat, and see the real Kerala pass by. Your single bedroom, 02 bedroom or even 03 bedroom boat with tiled shower and toilet will have a sun deck, with dining arrangements. Your own cook will accompany, and take you on shopping trips to village markets for fresh vegetables and fish. Taste authentic Kerala cusine and seafood. Stop as you like at un spoilt beaches, quaint villages and bazaars and even explore the countryside on bicycles or bullock carts.
When you step abroad a “Kettuvallum” you step back into history for these boats have been plying the inland waterways for untold centuries. In fact when Vasco da Gama dropped anchor off the Malabar coast in 1498, they were already a common sight, carrying their cargo of rice and spices. It is likely that they were there in 52 AD when St Thomas the Apostle first set foot in this region, bringing Christianity. The Kettuvallam is made out of seasoned Jackfruit planks, virtually stitched together with coir rope, with traditional vertical and diagonal stitches, using a large needle carved out of a palm frond. All holes are plugged using hand-rolled coir plugs, which are waterproofed by soaking in sardine and cashew oil. A similar process is followed for the lateral seams, using a combination of raw and ripe coir
Although your private houseboat is equipped with a quite outboard motor, the working Kettavellum is assailed or punted through these backwater by-ways under the control of two boatmen, one fore and one aft. Finding bottom with their long bamboo poles and leaning into the task, they propel the craft forward by walking precariously along the side of the boat, some ten steps towards the stern, as the boat glides gracefully beneath them.
Only natural materials have been used in furnishing. The idea is to use only local products. The decks are carpeted in coir matting. Local textile and simplicity of décor create a light, airy atmosphere. The furniture made from local timber and cane, with colorful cushions completes the interiors.
The arched canopy consists of, split bamboo lashed together with coir binding and covered with palm fronds. The sides of the canopy can be lifted to form winged awnings, thus ensuring both shade and cool breeze, whilst creating a wide opening to view life as it passes by on the waterway.
"Thank you very much for a wonderful experience. I have never has such a welcoming & excellent service. The food was exquisite - traditional Kerela cooking, lobsters, musells and fish cooked in such wonderful ways.
A very big thank you to the captain and his crew for making our cruise so memorable"
The climate is tropical. The season is from October to March. Gateway airports are at Cochin and Trivandrum
Train connections are available from all parts of India.
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