Glorious beaches, jungles filled with wildlife, teeming backwaters and exotic costumed temple dramas – Kerala ticks just about every box.
Its lush beauty is simply a complement to its rich traditions, legends and culture. ‘India-lite’ is how the state, in the far southwest of India, is often billed in tourist literature. Visibly more prosperous and better organised than most of the rest of the country, it boasts the highest rates of literacy and standards of living in the nation, with among the top GDP – a consequence of the remittance cheques sent home each month by emigrant workers in the Gulf states.
The appealing thing about Kerala from a visitor’s point of view is that if offers an enticing combination of beaches, backwaters and hills. When you tire of lounging on soft, surf-lashed sand, you can head off on backwater cruises in converted wooden rice barges, venture up into the cooler climes of the Western Ghat mountains for a stay on a tea plantation, or go elephant and tiger spotting in any number of remote national parks. Kerala’s rich tradition of elaborately costumed ritual theatre – notably the masked drama form, Kathakali – adds yet another dimension to travelling in the state, as do its vibrant temple festivals, featuring spectacular processions of caparisoned elephants, drum orchestras and firework displays.