Kerala: “Backwaters, Tea Plantations and Beaches”
Kerala is a state in South India at the Malabar Coast, as this part of the Indian West Coast at the Arabic Sea is called. This communist influenced state has got a lot to offer. Most tourists start their Kerala Journey in Kochi, which is one important intersection point for most of the areas in Kerala.
Mainly Kerala is well known for it`s Backwaters. Best tours to the waters start in Allapuzha.
The Hill Stations situated in the Western Ghats offer a welcoming refuge for everyone who wants to flee the South Indian heat. Tea plantations define the image of the landscape and make smooth, soft-focused formed hills. The best place to enter this emerald greend world is Munnar.
Certainly Kerala hides some jewels along it`s 600 km long coast line. There are various magic beaches, you just have to find them. Good places to look for are Varkalam and Kovalam, where you find some phantastic, endless beaches – for a low budget and for a very high budget.
This port has attracted merchants and sellers for the last half a millenium. Trading towns are well known for the union of many mulitcutlural influences. And so is Kochi: the big chinese fishing nets, the antique mosque, a 400 years old synagogue, portuguese housing architecture and the British influence make Kochi a manifold, multicultural conglomerate.
In Kochi you have good connections to Munnar and Allapuzha.
In Kochi you have the option to relax for a few days on a touristy level. Take a rest from being a backpacker and live in one of the many sweet lodgings, go to delicious fish restaurants and keep yourself busy with the colourful Keralan art. Off course as a backpacker you will also find enough occupation here. There are also some cheap and good accomodations and the city provides enough diversity. Just make long walks, along the coast, on the fish markets or in the streets with plenty of shops.
Alapuzzha, back then „Alleppey“ and today „The Venice of India“ is a port, which is crossed and structured by several canals. The streets are hectical, loud, the city is dirty, there are no noteworthy restaurants or noteworthy anything.
The further you leave the city on the backwaters, the calmer and the more beatiful it gets. There are various ways to discover the backwaters. The most expensive but very popular way is to spend some days on a house boat. It is the main attraction here. An option for budget travellers is to share the costs of such a boat with other travellers.
A more modest way to roam around is a canoe tour. Of course you cannot discover a big range of the backwaters this way. A compromise represent the „Shikaras“, which are motorized, roofed boats with origin in Kashmir. You can lay back on the comfortable couches and let the landscape pass by.
For budget travellers who want to see more of the backwaters without a high price tag, the eight hour tour to Kollam on a local ferry is perfect. For around 400 Rupees you can have a private seat, if you are fast enough. The ferry moves at a slow pace, you can chill on deck and see the impressive landscapes with it`s numberless palms, birds and greens.
I recommend to leave the city center and go near the beach where you find other backpackers, cheap accommodation, some nice bars and restaurants, and peace.
Munnar is surrounded by a hilly, emerald landscape: South India`s biggest tea region. The climate is fundamentally cooler than at the coast and thus invites for trekking tours through the mountains. You dive into a magical, green world and all the tea plants define the soft shape of the landscape so that you can wander around for hours mesmerized by colours and forms.
The city Munnar is quite small; there is a market, some local products like chocolate are popular. There are some decent restaurants and of course a tea museum, which is worth a visit. In this place, like in most of Kerala, life ends with the dawn. The communist party has set some strict rules in this state. If you want to get alcohol you have to go to the black market (30 minutes), of which every rikshaw driver knows.
Varkala is a beach town where all the touristy going-ons are set on „The Cliff“. All the bars, restaurants, jewelry and clothes shops, yoga and surf courses and so on are found here. This cliff is flanked by long beaches without a visible end.
Varkala is a place to take it easy, hang out in the raggae bars, do some beach activities and meet other travellers.