Nicknames are always given for a good reason. And if one holds the tag of being God’s Own Country, imagine how a place would look if God chose it as His home. It has to be divine and paradisiac in all senses, just like Kerala. This was approved by National Geographic Traveler positioning Kerala between 50 destinations of a lifetime in their special edition.
Kerala, located in southwest of India, is a little bit different than the rest of India (certainly, in a positive way). The region is number one in literacy rate, life expectancy, as well as Human Development Index among all Indian states. It is also said to be one of the least bribable regions in India. If your expectations of India are somehow similar to the experience of Jamal Malik in The Slumdog Millionaire, Kerala will be a place where you will change them.
So what is there that distinguishes Kerala from other Indian states and appeals to tourists? There are actually loads but one of the most important destinations is the Kerala backwaters. It consists of saltish lakes, lagoons and rivers which are interconnected into a huge network. Such an abundance of the bodies of water attracts a lot of marine fauna like turtles, crabs, frogs, as well irrigates the soil where palm trees and other tropical plants flourish. Vembanad Kayal is the biggest lake in the region and has a famous port called Kochi, nicknamed as the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’ (seems like people in the area actually enjoy nicknaming). From ancient times, it has been famed by all types of spices and the traditional cuisine still uses a heap of them, so if you are having a meal here, expect something extremely hot. In spite of it, you can also find a lot mild dishes from French or Italian cuisine due to a large number of international tourists.
If your leading direction is the beach, it will not be difficult to find, but complicated to choose in which one you want to stay. Some beaches offer not only sun and sea but some spiritual relief too! For example, Varkala Beach, also known as Papanasam Beach (Papanasam means destruction of sins in Tamil language). There is a belief that people who dunk in the water here will have all of their sins eliminated. Some believers are assisted by the priests who help to do the rituals. The hotels, food and all types of amusement are relatively cheap in this region and attract a lot of backpackers.
In many hotels and spas in Kerala and India overall, you can have Ayurvedic treatments. Due to rich flora and great weather conditions, there are plenty of resorts to choose from. For example, Kairali Ayurvedic Health Resort is situated on a verdant land in the Palakkad. It has a strict policy towards food and beverages – the only food you can find here is vegetarian and do not even think about alcohol. Swim in the swimming pool, take a stroll in the garden or join meditation and yoga sessions in between your therapies. Prices start at $1,200 per week. Try the Ayurvedic treatments if you want to come back home not just full of wonderful reminiscences from Kerala but with revitalized body as well.
Image Courtesy: By Lombardelli (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons