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Climate in Kerala

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Kerala, a state in India that lies close to the equator is bestowed with a pleasing and agreeable through the entire the year. Kerala owes this blessing with its nearness to the sea as well as the fort like Western Ghats on the east. Having a diverse geographical feature, the climate of Kerala is also diverse with mainly 4 seasons : Winter, Summer, South-West Monsoon and North-East Monsoon.

Winter Season

The receding north west monsoons in Kerala marks the onset of winter ranging from the month of November till the middle of February. Although the temperatures between seasons do not vary much in Kerala, this period often experiences a slightly lower temperature when compared to the others. The highlands of Kerala, where the climate is cool throughout the year, winter temperatures often fall below 10°C. Winter season in Kerala witnesses the lowest amount of rainfall.

Summer Season

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As the days fly by in the month of February, it is accompanied by an increasing temperature with low rainfall and slightly humid weather. Summers in Kerala are cool and pleasant, thanks to the Western Ghats which prevent the dry northern winds from entering the state and the Arabian sea for the cool breeze that blows towards the land providing it with a moderate temperature. Erratic rains accompanied by lightning and thunder is another feature of the season. Starting from March, summer season continues till the end of May or the beginning of June and is concluded with the outset of monsoons.

South West Monsoon in Kerala : Southwest monsoon is the main rainy season in Kerala. This season ( Edavappathi – as the rains starts by the middle of the Malayalam month Edavam ) begins by the end of May or early June with the outset of the southwest monsoon winds. The next few months are periods of torrential rain. Lying on the windward side of the Western Ghats and being the first state to be hit by the monsoon winds, Kerala receives copious rainfall. Almost 85% of the rains received in Kerala is contributed by the monsoons. The slopes of the Western Ghats are among the places in India which receives the highest amount of rain. Most of the rivers of Kerala are fed by the monsoons. The southwest monsoon in Kerala lasts till the end of September1010332_571740662876315_1456309974_n

North East Monsoon in Kerala: Also known as the Retreating Monsoon or the Reverse monsoons, northeast monsoon hits Kerala during the return of the southwest monsoon winds. These rains (Thulavarsham – as it rains during the Malayalam month of Thulam) are in the months of October and November and sometimes lasts till December. Heavy afternoon rains accompanied by thunder and lightening is the main characteristic of the season. Days are warm and humid but there is not much variation in temperature.

Climatic condition of the Earth has been changing over the past few year. This global change in weather have their effect on Kerala as well. The information provided here is based on the details available over the past 50 years.

Best Times to Visit Kerala

The pleasant and equable climate of Kerala makes it a favorable place to visit throughout the entire year. Winter and summer (November to May) are the peak tourist seasons. A cruise in the houseboats on the backwaters of Kerala, or experiencing the beauty of sunset over the Arabian sea from Kovalam beach during summer and boating in the Thekkady lake, or trekking the highlands of Kerala during winter,all are sure to be experiences worthy of being cherished throughout life. But for those, who really want to enjoy the day under the cloudy sky, and feel the bracing scent of the wet soil, revitalizing the body, mind and soul, monsoons are meant for you.

Monsoon tourism in Kerala is gaining more popularity year after year. Monsoon tourism allows tourists to explore the intrinsic beauty of Kerala with a feel of adventure. Government of Kerala and Kerala tourism department is promoting Monsoon Tourism in Kerala.

 

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10 Authentic, Must Try Kerala Dishes

Kerala, ‘The land of spices’, has no paucity when it comes to delectable varieties of authentic dishes. With copious amounts of spices and seasonings topped by the touch of coconut flavor, each dish vies for the attention of a traveller’s taste buds.  

Here are 10 of the must try dishes of the authentic Kerala Cuisine:

Appam with stew

9131600_origAppam is a Keralan staple made from fermented rice flour and coconut milk. It’s similar to a thin pancake with crispy edges. These crepe-like bowls are made from fermented rice flour, coconut milk, coconut water and a little sugar. Ishtu or stew is a derivative of the European stew and consists of coconut milk, cinnamon, cloves and shallots, eaten with appams. The stew may also feature mango pieces, vegetables, chicken or lamb. The addition of aromatic whole spices, ginger and fresh coconut milk enhance the natural flavor of the vegetables. The crucial ingredient is fresh coconut milk, which lends a sweet flavor.

Karimeen pollichathu (fish)

food0This is one of Kerala’s traditional delicacies. Karimeen or pearl spot fish is a speckled fish commonly found in the backwaters of this state. This is traditionally a Syrian Christian delicacy but has become part of Kerala’s rich cuisine. Pearl spot fish is marinated in a mixture of lemon juice, red chillies, and other ingredients, wrapped and baked in plantain leaves, giving it a unique flavour.

Puttu and kadala curry

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This is a breakfast staple eaten all over the state. Puttu is a cylindrical steamed rice cake cooked in a mould with grated coconut. It’s usually served with kadala curry, a dish of black chickpeas made with shallots, spices and coconut milk, that can also be served with ripe bananas and grated coconut.

Erissery or pumpkin and lentil curry

331_topThis is a popular curry in Kerala, made from either raw plantains or sliced yams. It also usually includes slightly sweet pumpkin that has been boiled in water with salt, chillies or pepper, dried lentils, grated coconut, turmeric powder, cumin seeds and garlic, served on a bed of rice. It appears on most menus at religious festivals like Onam.

Palada payasam (dessert)

A sweet rice kheer prepared with palada is a delicacy made in almost all Kerala households during the festival of Onam and many other special occasions. There are many variations of it, however, the traditional recipe uses only basic ingredients like rice ada, milk, sugar and ghee. Rice ada is easily available in Indian Kerala grocery stores.

Malabar Parotta with Kerala beef curry

parottaLayered flat bread that originated in the Malabar region called Parotta is made by kneading maida (plain flour), egg (in some recipes), oil or ghee and water. The dough is beaten and later shaped into a spiral with thin layers. The ball is rolled flat and roasted into a Parotta with ghee. This is then eaten with beef curry – pieces of beef simmered in a curry made with tomatoes, onions, garlic and spices like bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black peppercorns and star anise.

Kerala prawn curry (chemmeen curry)

This is a signature dish of the state – a prawn curry from the Malabar region made with a blend of fenugreek, black mustard and fennel seeds, coconut milk and green chilli. It also includes a special ingredient called kudampuli (also known as brindleberry) to give it a sour taste, plus it uses marinated prawns, drumsticks and raw mango to give it a spicy, tangy flavour.

Thalassery biriyani

imagesA rice biriyani is the most common dish of the Muslim community. Thalassery sea port was a centre for the export of spices where European, Arab and Malabar cultures came together and influenced the cuisine. Thalassery biriyani uses a unique, fragrant, small-grained, thin rice variety named kaima. The biriyani masala and cooked rice are arranged in layers inside the dish. Meat is cooked with the masala on a low heat and layered with rice before the lid of the container is sealed with dough. Hot coal or charcoal is then placed above the lid.

Fish moilee

FishA famous Keralan fish stew made with coconut milk, which is a typical Syrian Christian delicacy. The curry is usually prepared in a traditional manchatti (earthen vessel) and stews lightly fried fish in coconut milk, and spices like turmeric, pepper, cinnamon and cloves along with fresh green chillies to give it a tangy taste. The fish (usually kingfish or seer fish) is marinated with oil, turmeric, red chili powder, lemon juice and salt for 30 minutes before being used in the curry.

Banana fritters (dessert)

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or Ethakka appam are juicy banana fritters feature as a DSC_0734-Largetraditional tea time snack. They’re available throughout Kerala and are simply ripe bananas coated with plain flour and deep-fried in oil.

Festivals in Kerala

Kerala in addition to being endowed with profuse flora and myriad fauna, is also rich in culture and festivities. Every festival involves a multitude of art forms showcased with all pomp and show ranging from vibrant music and dance to elaborate elephant processions and amazing fireworks. Kerala is truly God’s own country in the respect to its secular celebration of all religious festivities as one unit. Some of the famous festivals celebrated with all splendor in Kerala is as follows:

Onam

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Onam is the biggest and the most important festival of the state of Kerala. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state by people of all communities.

Onam is celebrated in the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam Calendar (Kollavarsham). This corresponds with the month of August-September according to Gregorian Calendar.  It is a festival of flowers stretched over 10 days. It features traditional songs and dance performance like thiruvathira Kathakali, feasting, various indoor and outdoor games and boat races. According to a popular legend, on this day, the great, mighty and kind demon king of the region known as Mahabali returns to his people every year after he was condemned to live in abyss as a result of one of the deceitful ploys of God Vishnu, which he played to save the Kingdom of Gods from him but granted him an annual trip to his people. Onam celebrations ensure a colorful reception of the great King Mahabali. The legend is believed to have happened at Thrikkakara, the legendary capital of King Mahabali.

Vishu

vishu-kaniVishu Festival heralds the beginning of New Year in Kerala and is celebrated in a big way in the state of Kerala and the adjoining areas of Tamil Nadu. Vishu falls on the first day in the Malayalam month of Medam. When the sun enters into Sidereal Aries, Ashwini nakshatra—it is celebrated as Vishu. It is said that what one sees when one first opens one’s eyes on Vishu morning is an indication of what one can expect in the year to come. Thus on Vishu, effort is made to assure one opens one’s eyes before an auspicious image—the Vishukkani.

‘Kani-Kanal’ is prepared in big pots comprising of coconuts, fruits, cereals and Konna flower in the night before the festival and behind the pot, a mirror and the garlanded deity of Krishna are kept. It is the first thing that people see as a good omen when they get out of bed and ask for the blessings of the God. In Kerala, the Kani in the temples of Guruvayur, Ambalapuzha and Sabarimala are famous.

Eid Ul- Fitr

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One of Islam’s most important festivals, Eid ul Fitr is the culmination of the month-long period of fasting and austerity known as Ramzan or Ramadan. It is believed that the Holy Quran was revealed during the month of Ramzan, and in commemoration of that sacred revelation, Eid is celebrated on the day following the sighting of the new moon.

Family gatherings, fireworks and much feasting round off the festivities. People wear new clothes, houses are decorated, friends and relatives visit each other to exchange greetings. The highlight of banquet tables is the sweet milk-and-vermicelli pudding known as ‘seviyan’- because of which many people refer to Eid ul Fitr as ‘meethi’ or ‘sweet’ Eid.

Navaratri

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Durga Puja of Bengal, Dussehra of Bombay and the Saraswati Puja and the Ayudha Puja of the South, it is a 10-day long festival devoted to Saraswati, the goddess of learning. In Travancore especially, the Navaratri is a state ceremony celebrated with great magnificence since the times of Padmanabhapuram when the Maharaja of Trivandrum stood in the Verandah of the ‘Karivelappura Malika’ in front of the Trivandrum temple and threw money to the masses standing below.

Deepawali Or Diwali

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Deepavali is the festival of lights and crackers and sweets and is celebrated to commemorate the riddance of the world from the oppression of the Naraka by the god Krishna. The chief feature in the celebration of this festival is the oil bath early in the morning.

Trikartika

16TVPD-KARTHIKA_16_1686925fIt is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Goddess Bhagvati. The houses are illuminated and people flock to the temple of the goddess and make offerings. In the evening, women go out to worship the goddess.

Maha Siva Ratri

07-1457333023-maha-shivratri-festival-602-07-1457330439.jpg‘Maha Siva Ratri’ or the great night of Siva, is celebrated in the month of March. On this day, people fast. The celebration of this festival at Siva temple at Alwaye on the banks of the Periyar River is a splendid one. The Lingam of Siva is worshipped for the entire night. A fair is held on a very large scale featuring shows, dances and dramas.

Christmas

08ctaab01-Stars_09_1679354eKerala is known to be the best destination in South India and is famous for celebrating Christmas. Kerala is certainly famous for its celebration of Onam with all the glitz and similarly, Kerala also loves to celebrate Christmas.Everyone in Kerala irrespective of religion, imbibe the true spirit of christmas by decorating their homes, and taking part in all the festivities associated with the festival. Kerala is also known to have some of the most artistically constructed churches.

Thiruvathira

c_06.jpgThe festival of womenfolk of Kerala, it is celebrated to commemorate the death of Kamadevan, the cupid of Hindu mythology and then was granted an eternal spiritual life to him by Lord Siva. The maidens of the Nair families perform rituals since early morning and enjoy swings accompanied by songs and music. Special delicacies are prepared and a dance known as Thiruvathirakali or Kaikottikkali is performed by a group of women dancing in a circle around a lighted brass lamp wearing traditional dresses and singing exclusive Tiruvathira songs.

Thrissur Pooram

bnr04Touted by UNESCO as “the most spectacular festival event on the planet”, Thrissur Pooram, celebrated in the month of April/May, is literally a behemoth of festivities that surpass everything else. On the day of Pooram, the sight of beautifully clad fifty or more elephants passing through the streets of Thrissur on the sound of beating drums is simply otherworldly. But this glorifying sight of the creatures isn’t the only highlight of the Thrissur Pooram, for the 36 hour long celebrations of the festival are undertaken with utmost discipline, following a proper schedule that begins with routine puja and ends with grand display of fireworks that match the best in the world.

 

Things To Do in Kochi

The scenic city, Kochi is located on the southwest coast of India, Kerala. A port since the ancient times, the city has been touch of Arab, Chinese and European influence. The city reflects of these influence through its motley architecture, customs and so on. Some of the interesting things to do while on a trip to Kochi are as follows:

1. Visit the Kathakali Center

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The Kerala kathakali centre popularly known as school  of traditional arts established in Kochi since 1994 is the kerala’s foremost arts school and an authentic theatre where kathakali,music,martial arts and other dance forms are demonstrated in traditional style extolling the rich culture and experience of the Kerala’s art forms. They offer performances as well as classes for those interested.

2. Boat ride

houseboatThe state of Kerala is renowned for its backwaters and one among them is the backwaters of Kochi offering a pleasurable experience with the presence of water birds, wildflowers and lush greenery along its banks. The backwaters separating Ernakulam from Fort Kochi and Mattanchery are dotted with several small and mid-sized islands.

3. Exploring and Shopping in Fort Kochi

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The little picturesque Fort Kochi town is dotted with European heritage and a cosmopolitan temperament. The best way to explore is by walking through and discovering the Chinese fishing nets, the St Francis Church which once housed Vasco Da Gama’s grave, the trendy restaurants and little cafes and of course, some lovely boutique shopping. It’s a tourist friendly spot, with lots of foreigners as well as locals.

4. Pilgrimage

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Kerala has a variegated belief system influenced by its historical and cultural inheritance inclusive of a touch of the foreign influence. Worshipped religions include Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism and plenty more. Kochi provides a small glimpse into its diverse belief system with a plethora of places for pilgrimage and spiritual enlightenment.

Read more : https://blog.backwaterbreaks.com/2016/05/09/top-21-religious-places-to-visit-in-kerala/

 

5. Bike Tours

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One of the most trending ways to view this beautiful land is the adventurous biking and cycling tours of Kerala. There are many in the market offering a variety of bike and cycle tours all over Kochi.

Read More: https://blog.backwaterbreaks.com/2016/06/04/bike-and-cycle-tours-in-kerala/

 

6. Kochi Biennale

Kochi-biennale-boatThe Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an international exhibition of contemporary art held in Kochi, Kerala. It is the first Biennale being held in India. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an initiative of the Kochi-Biennale Foundation with support from the Government of Kerala . The exhibition is usually set in spaces across Kochi, Muziris and surrounding islands. The shows were held in existing galleries and halls, and site-specific installations in public spaces, heritage buildings and disused structures.

7. Kochi Carnival

3529510470_a799868d2d_bIf there is one festival the whole of Kochi impatiently awaits every year, then it’s the Cochin Carnival held in the last week of December. Fort Kochi is decked up like a bride and tourists, not only from within the country, but also outside, flock to this lovely port city to participate in the revelry. The inception of the Kochi carnival can be traced back to the Portuguese New Year revelry, held here during the colonial days. Gradually, it evolved to take the form of what is today popularly called the Cochin Carnival of Kerala.

Places to visit in Kochi

To obtain an eclectic flavor and perspective of Kerala , there could be nothing more exemplar than the city of Kochi to set your foot in first. Seasoned with all best ingredients of culture, progress, architecture, people and so on, Kochi is enriched with the cream of local and international history.

The following are some of the star attractions in the land of diversity and green:

Chinese Fishing Nets, Fort Kochi

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The chinese fishing nets (Cheenavala) are distinctly unique to Cochin. It is believed that traders from the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan introduced these nets here. Oddly, these nets are found only in Kochi, outside China! Many fishermen earn their livelihood by fishing using these massive nets. A whole stretch of the coast along Fort Kochi and Vypeen are dotted with these nets.

Fort Kochi beach

A stroll along the beach, particularly at sunset with the chinese fishing nets and sailing ships in the background, is a memorable experience. Many European style bungalows can be seen along the shoreline. The coastal stretch has loads of small stalls, which make on demand mouth-watering traditional cuisines using freshly caught fish.

St. Francis Church, Fort Kochi

It is the oldest church built by Europeans in India. On his 3rd visit to Kerala, Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese trader who reached India from Europe by sea, fell ill and died in Kochi. He was buried in the St. Francis Church. Later his remains were taken back to Portugal. In spite of that, his burial spot inside the church has been clearly marked out.

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Vasco House, Fort Kochi

Vasco house, located on Rose Street, is believed to be one of the oldest Portuguese houses in India. Vasco da Gama is believed to have lived here. This house features European glass paned windows and verandahs.

 

Santa Cruz Basilica, Fort Kochi

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The original church, situated in Fort Kochi, was built by the Portuguese in 1505 and named as a cathedral in 1558. The British colonists destroyed the cathedral in 1795. The current structure was built in 1905 and raised to the status of a basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1984.

Jewish Synagogue and Jew Town, Mattancherry

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The synagogue, built in 1568, is magnificently decorated by Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers. Giant scrolls of the Old Testament can be found here. It is located near the Dutch Palace in Mattancherry.

 

 

Dutch Palace (Mattancherry Palace), Mattancherry

The Dutch Palace was originally built by the Portuguese. Later, in 17th century, the Dutch modified it and presented it to the Raja of Kochi. Coronation of many Rajas of Kochi were held here. The palace has a fine collection of mural paintings depicting scenes from the Hindu epics Mahabharatha and Ramayana. The palace is located in Mattancherry.

Bolghatty Palace, Bolghatty Island

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This Dutch palace is situated on Bolghatty island which is just a short boat ride away from the mainland. The palace has been converted to a hotel run by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC). The island has a tiny golf course and the panoramic views of the port and the harbour, makes it an attractive picnic spot. Frequent boat service is available from the mainland.

Hill Palace, Tripunithura

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Built in the 19th century by the Raja of Kochi, this palace served as the seat of the Raja of the Kochi province. The palace has been converted into a museum displaying a fine collection of articles showing the wealth and splendour of the Rajas of Kochi, including the thone and the crown. The musuem also houses a large collection of archaeological findings. Hill Palace is located 16km east of Cochin in Tripunithura, a satellite town of Cochin.

Palliport (Pallipuram) Fort

It is the oldest surviving European fort in India, built by the Portuguese in 1503. Its situated in Pallipuram on Vypeen island.

Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary

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Mangalavanam is a protected bird sanctuary situated right in the heart of Kochi city. It is the home of many exotic and rare varieties of migratory and resident birds. Mangalavanam is located right next to the High Court of Kerala.

 

Museum of Kerala History, Kalamassery

The museum has on display spectacular audio-visual exhibits depicting the history and culture of Kerala along with many life size statues of many famous personalities and several paintings depicting Kerala history.

 

Parikshith Thampuran Museum

This Rajas of Cochin used to conduct their durbars in this impressive building located within the Durbar Hall grounds. It was later converted to a museum which has a treasure trove of archaeological findings and relics including old coins, sculptures, oil paintings and murals. The building has been taken over by the Kerala Lalitha Kala Academy and now houses the Gallery of Contemporary Art. All the exhibits of the museum have been moved to the Hill Palace museum.

Cherai Beach

This lovely beach ideal for swimming is located on the north end of Vypeen island, one of the many small islands just off the mainland. The beach is lined by gorgeous coconut groves and paddy fields. Vypeen can be reached by land or by boat.

Wonder La

Wonder La is South India’s largest amusement park situated 14kms from Cochin. The park includes a range of attractions including mini castles, water theme park, ferris wheel, rides, slides, shows and fountains. Kids and adults alike can enjoy the fun and activities.

Veega Land

 

Marine Drive

A stroll along the long tree-lined coastal pathway that lines the backwater is well worth the time spent, especially late afternoon or dusk. The bustling backwaters, dotted with fishing boats, speedboats, ships, tankers and passenger boats, can be observed from this walkway that lines the coast.

 

Willingdon Island

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This man-made island was created in 1933 by sand dredged while deepening the backwaters for the Cochin Port, under the direction of Sir Robert Bristow. A while back the Airport, Sea port and the railway terminus (Cochin Harbour Terminus) were situated on this island. Today, it is the home of the Cochin Port and the headquarters of the Sourthern Naval Command. The airport continues to be the naval air station, while the main airport has been moved to Nedumbassery, 30kms north-east of Cochin. Most of the trains now terminate at Ernakulam Junction instead of Cochin Harbour Terminus.

Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kaloor

The Nehru stadium in Kaloor, has a seating capacity of 60,000 in multiple tiers. It is the fourth largest stadium in India and the largest in Kerala. The ground is lit by a set of unique convex pylon floodlights that arch over the ground. The stadium is home to both the Kerala Ranji cricket team as well as FC Kochi football team.

 

Bike and Cycle Tours in Kerala

Kerala-ST.jpgKerala, one of the well known tourist destinations in the world has time and again stayed true to its title of “God’s Own Country” with its plush green sceneries and rejuvenating aura. There is no dearth of exhilarating experiences when it comes to tourism in this green splendor of a state tucked away in the south western corner of India.

One of the most trending ways to view this beautiful land is the adventurous biking and cycling tours of Kerala. There are many in the market offering a variety of bike and cycle tours all over South India currently, especially Kerala.

Not only do they take care of the travel but also the safety and the route.If you are a solo traveller, there is no dearth of rentals offering bikes for ride. 

Following are some of the people who offer cycling or biking tours in Kerala:

Kerala Bike Tours (http://www.keralabiketours.com/) was founded in 1999.

The owner and Tour Leader Daniel, with over 100,000 miles and 20 years experience of India and her roads has refused to compromise on his core objectives; Combining a love of India, her people, scenic beauty and culture with a strong passion for motorcycling, the corners, the character and longevity of the timeless Enfield Bullet to give you.

Responsible Travel (http://www.responsibletravel.com/holiday/3750/cycling-holidays-in-kerala)

This company was started in 1999 by two friends with a passion to introduce the great outdoors of India to global travellers to India. In a shift from normal run-of-the-mill tourism, they encouraged travellers to go out and ‘feel’ the place through people, experiences and local food. From a small repertoire of tours when they started out, the company now covers the whole country in a wide canvass of activities; like bird watching, wildlife safaris and experiential journeys that involve unusual adventures in the remotest parts of the country. In the bargain, they introduced kayaking in the fascinating backwaters of Kerala, great trekking & cycling challenges across the Western Ghats and youth travel to the remotest villages amidst these mountains’.

Spiceroads (http://www.spiceroads.com/tours/kerala)

The SpiceRoads family began back in the mid 1990s, when Hamish Keith was creating, operating and leading ground breaking cycle tours throughout Thailand and in emerging destinations such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar for well known companies such as Exodus Travels and World Expeditions and his own company the Wild Planet.

This well-planned eye-opening cycling tours provide an active immersion into local cultures, languages, scenery and, of course, the most delicious of foods. By combining legendary service and rare opportunities for cultural experiences, our travel philosophy continues to excite, enthuse, and positively impact every guest.

Mountain Bike Kerala (http://www.mountainbikekerala.com/home/our-destinations/kerala-singletrack)

The Mountain Bike Kerala began in the year 1996 and consists of a  small team of passionate MTB and cycle enthusiasts who ride and guide on the trails they love to ride. Since 2005 they have guided riders from World Champions to new enthusiasts on some of the most stunning trails on earth.

Top 21 Religious Places to Visit in Kerala

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Kerala is colored with a multitude of shades ranging from natural beauty to cultures and traditions. One highlight from amongst this being the revered places of worship. Not only is Kerala overrun with a plethora of floral grandeur but it is also packed with an assortment of religious splendor. Each of these places of religious pilgrimage breathe its own unique and mystic stories with roots entrenched over more than a 1000 years.

Some of the praiseworthy spiritual and  sacred places are as follows:

1.Sabarimala

7430_1416108040Sabarimala (in Pathanamthitta) – is an august Hindu site of worship, famous for its deity Lord Dharmasastha or Ayyappan  believed to son of Lord Shiva and Vishnu. The saintly god, is always in meditation, believed to give darshan only for 41 days in a year starting from 1st of Malayalam Month of Vrishickam (16 or 17th of Nov) till last week of December, which is known as Mandalam Pilgrimage. Mandalam Pilgrimage is reported to 2nd largest pilgrimage in the world, with nearly 300 million devotees from all over world reaching here. The appearance of celestial flame in skies on Makara Jyothi day (Mostly on mid of Jan), is one of the most auspicious day. This is one of the most crowded places in India during the pilgrimage season from November to January. Also, temple authorities do not allow women into the temple grounds, supposedly to avoid tempting the deity, as being the lord considered as a chronic bachelor. The temple is open only on 41 days during Mandalam (Pilgrimage) Season as well as on 1st day of each Malayalam Month. Ideally male tourists can choose the second option, as best time to visit. Ladies above 60 and girls below 12 are permitted in. The temple is well known for its secularist values. A visit to nearby mosque (Vavar Palli), considered to be tomb of Muslim warrior Vavar, believed to Lord Ayyappa’s friend, is a must before entering the main temple.

3. Guruvayur

anayottamThe Sree Krishna temple located in the Thrissur district of Kerala is one of the most important pilgrimage centres in India. The temple is one among the 108 Maha Vishnu temples of India and is is believed to constructed by Deva Guru (Guru of Gods) as well as Lord Vayu Deva (God of winds) on orders of Lord Krishna, during his death time. The temple also includes a deity worshiped by Lord Krishna during his lifetime in Dwaraka (Gujarat) and brought to Kerala, after Dwaraka was taken over by seas. The temple is lauded for its murals and sculptures. The temples follow stringent rules which prevents non-hindus from entering its premises

4. Sree Padmanabha Temple

The temple located in the heart of the Thiruvanathapuram city is one of the 108 Great Vishnu temples. The Lord, Sree Padmanabha is an unique form of Lord Vishnu, in a sleeping posture which is rarely seen else. This temple holds a very important position in Kerala History, as the Lord Sree Padmanabha was crowned as Emperor of Travancore in 17th century and all the later rulers of Travancore ruled the state in his name and with designation as Sree Padmanabhadasa(servant of lord padmanabha).

5. Ettumanoor-Vaikom-Kaduthurthy Temple:- The Trio of Temples located at Ettumanoor, Vaikom, Kaduthurthy temples (all located in same road with a distance of 20 to 30 Kms between each), in Kottayam district of Kerala, are popular Shiva temples, believed to have been established on the same day, its sacred to visit all the temples within a Day. Very famous for its large super imposing structures at Vaikom and Ettumanoor Templs. Ettumanoor Temple is also well known for its Seven and a Half Golden Elephants (Idols) which are taken out during festivals.

6. Kodungallor Temple

The temple situated in Kodungallor, Thrissur District on NH 17, is a very famous Devi temple, that highlights the historical relation between the Ancient Tamil Empires of Chera, Cholas and Pandyas. This temple is believed to have Kannakki (Heroine of Ancient Tamil epic-Silappadikaram) in a fiery form, after destroying Madurai. The temple was built in 1st century AD by Chera Emperors. Thus, many unique ancient tamil customs still adorn the temple culture. The Goddess is believed to be Goddess of Epidemic and worship helps to control it. The sacred red turmeric of the temple is said to be highly effective against diseases like chicken pox etc.

7. Churches

Some of the prominent churches are the follwing: 1. Syro malabar church (syrian catholics) 2. Latin Catholic Church 3. Syrian Orthodox Church(Jacobites) 4. Indian Orthodox Church 5. Syro malankara church 6. Marthoma syrian Church 7. Various Protestant Churches

8. Seven and Half Churches- Ezharapallikal

St Thomas the Apostle, after landing at Kodungallur in AD 52, established seven and half churches for Christian communities. These churches are known as Seven and Half Churches or Ezharappallikal.

The seven churches are located in different parts of Kerala. The church established at Thiruvithamkode (Thiruvamkode) in Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu is accorded the status of a half church.

  • Paliankara- (Kodungallur – Azhikode), 40 km from Trichur: Diocese of Irinjalakuda
  • Palayoor (Near Chavakkadu & Guruvayoor), 28 km from Trichur: (Arch) Diocese of Trichur
  • Kottakavu (North Paravur): (Arch) Diocese of Ernakulam – Angamaly
  • Kokkamangalam (Alappuzha Dt, 5 km from Cherthala) St Thomas Church, This is also headquarters of Archdiocese of Ernakulam – Angamaly
  • Niranam, Nr Thiruvalla: St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church, Niranam (Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church)
  • Kollam: The Headquarters of Diocese of Kollam
  • Chayal (Nilackal), Nr Sabarimala, Pathanamthitta Dt: Ecumenical Church, Kerala
  • Thiruvithamkode, Kanyakumari Dt, Tamilnadu (Half church): Orthodox Syrian Church, Tamilnadu

9. Malayattoor Kurisumudi church

This is an important Christian pilgrimage centre near Angamaly. It is believed that St. Thomas held his prayer at the top of this mountain after being attacked by some tribes when he landed in Kerala. Due to his meditation, the rock where he sat started bleeding and a golden cross appeared. Due to this belief, a pilgrimage to this mountain is considered one of the most holiest among Indian Christians. The most important pilgrimage season is the days just before Easter, when hundreds of thousands of devotees climb the rocky mountain by foot, with a heavy cross on back, recreating the painful Last Journey of Christ. A kiss on the holy rock is considered as most divine moment. The hilltop church is located 10 km away from the town of Kalady.

10. Korattymuthy

The name of the church means Hail Mary of Koratty. It is also known as the Lourdes of South India and Vailankanni of Kerala. Korattymuthy shrine is also known as ‘Our Lady with Poovan Bananas’. This Marian Apparition is situated in Central Part of Kerala. Offering of ‘Poovan Bananas’– a special variety of plantain and ‘Muttilizhayal’ are major offerings in this pilgrim centre. In the month of October, during the Feast of Korattymuthy, major pilgrimage travel is seen on this Holy Place.

11. Cheraman Palli (Cherman Juma Masjid), Kodungallor

India’s oldest mosque and World’s 2nd mosque built in 629 AD soon after Medina Mosque in Saudi Arabia. This Mosque was built converting Kerala’s Chera Emeperor’s Palace into a mosque on his orders, after Cherman Perumal’s (The Great Chera Emperor) conversion to Islam. Due to traditional relations with Arabia, soon after formation of Islam, champions of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) came to Chera Capital of Kodunagallor (Muziris)and demonstrate Prophet’s miracle. This made Chera Emperor to convert into Islam and expressed his desire to meet Prophet. He met the Prophet, married sister of Nejd King and settled at Muscat, where he died and his tomb exists there today. As per his last wish, his royal palace was asked to convert to mosque, which resulted in formation Cheraman Palli. The original mosque was destroyed during Great Periyar floods in 1341, and several later mosques on its same site were destroyed during various wars and raids. However the current mosque was recently rebuilt. The important legacy of this mosque, is its effective harmony with Hinduism and adoption of several Hindu customs into its system. The Royal Lamp used by Cheras are still used inside the mosque and one of the most important highlight. The Mosque is built in traditional Hindu Kerala architecture with lot of murals, hindu motifs etc and several traditional Hindu lamps is used. A white block of Marble blessed by Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) brought here from Makkah. Unlike other mosques which normally faces westwards towards Makkah, this mosque faces towards East (as Makkah mosque was not built, at time of Cherman Mosque as well as following Kerala Hindu system of facing eastwards). Most of Muslim festivals as well as Hindu festivals particularly nearby Thiruvanchikulam Temple festival.

12. Kanjiramattom Mosque

The mosque is situated at Kaniramattom, 20 Kms from Kochi. This mosque is the right example of antique beauty of mazhars and dargahs. This was an official temple classified by Kochi Maharajas and most of the Imams (Priests) are chief scholars at Kochi Raja’s court. The annual Chandanakudam in January attracts many pilgrims. During the festival, pilgrims carry pots smeared with sandalwood paste in a procession to the mosque, with caparisoned elephants and percussion musics – both found in temples – form essential parts of the Chandanakudam festival.

13. Palayam Pally, located in heart of Trivandrum, is the principal mosque of Trivandrum. It is a Juma Masjid (Friday Mosque). The Mosque is one of the largest in Kerala and famous for its regular sermons. The mosque was established with patronage of Travancore Kings.

14. Thazhathangady Juma Masjid,Kottayam:- is a mosque situated in Thazhathangady, one of the Heritage Zones of Kerala near the town of Kummanam. It is one of the oldest mosques in India and is more than 1000 years old. It is famous for its richness of architecture, wood carvings and the beauty. This mosque is situated on the banks of the Meenachil river. Thazhathangady Juma Masjid is also called as the “Taj Juma Masjid”. The ancestors of this Masjid came and settled in Kottayam, from different parts of Kerala.The Muslims who lived here played an active role in Freedom Struggle and other National Movements. This mosque is known for its intricate wooden carvings and architecture and looks similar to Kerala Architecture.

15. Chempittapally;West Kochi

The name “Chempittapally” is derived from the Malayalam word “chemp” (means bronze) and “palli” (means mosque). The roof of this famous mosque was decorated with bronze tiles, hence chempitta pally. The compound has 3 gates; one in west which opens way to Panayapilly, second in south which opens way to Goldenmukku and Kochangadi, and the main gate in the eastern side of compound, which opens way to Angadi, which in turn leads the way to Jew Street and Mattancherry Bazaar towards the north and to Chullickal towards south.

16. Odathil Palli(Odathil Mosque) Thalassery; is a famous 300 year old Mosque. This land originally belonged to Dutch, who had started a sugar cane farm and a Garden (Odam in Dutch means Garden), which was transfered to East India Company who gifted this land to a Muslim contractor. He built a small mosque, using Sugarcane stem to make a Dome and Minaret. This was the first mosque to have a Dome and Minaret, which was laid by Hindu Zamorin Ruler, marking the great tolerance. This is famous among tourists to visit, as its historic tradition and a mosque in pure typical Kerala Hindu style and a golden dome covering over its original sugarcane dome.

17. Jain Derasar in Mattancherry(Kochi) – This derasar is dedicated to Theerthankara Shree Dharmnath Swamy. It has completed 100 years and has become a Theerth. A sthanak is also there inside the big temple complex. There is a big Jain Community in Kochi. It was built by Gujarathi Community who have settled here for past 200 years for trading. Its more popularly known as Gujarathi Temple. A must visit for any tourist in Kochi, due to its towering North Indian Architecture.

18. Jain Derasarin Alleppey – This temple is located in Allepey (Allappuzha) which is also known as the Venice of the east. It is very calm and quiet temple. Allepey has a very small Jain population.

19. Jain Derasarin Kozhikode city – There are 2 temples inside the temple complex of which one is over 2500 years old and has 1000 pillars.

20. Karumadi-Kuttannear Ambalapuzha, which has a small shrine dedicated to Lord Budhha, worshipped by locals as Karumadi Kuttan.

21. The Statue of Buddha at Mavelikara, in Alleppy district has the largest statute of Buddha, nearly 4 four feet sized. This is the most preserved statute of Buddha in Padmasana posture. A small shrine is constructed around it, though no rites are performed.

 

Top 10 Ayurvedic Centers in Kerala

Kerala’s ideal climate and unparalleled herbal wealth makes it perfect for the Ayurvedic Treatment. Monsoon is determined to be the best season for Ayurvedic rejuvenating therapies. During Monsoon, the atmosphere is cool and dust free. Body is said to absorb the herbal oils and medications better during this season since body pores open up at this time.

Read More about Ayurveda at : https://blog.backwaterbreaks.com/2014/10/31/ayurveda-the-ancient-medicine-system-that-heals/

1.Carnoustie Ayurveda & Wellness Resort

thumbThe Carnoustie Ayurveda and wellness Resort is nestled among the palm groves alongside the stunning backwaters of Kerala. The resort  not only prides itself on its scintillating location but also its calm and peaceful aura and the facilities.  It has a lavishly appointed spa, outfitted with traditional architectural touches and lovely fountains where guests have access to experts in yoga, Ayurveda, and naturopathy, and treatments that seek to assist with everything from purification and detox to anti-stress and relaxation techniques.

  1. Kairali Ayurvedic Healing Village Health Resort

downloadThe Kairali Ayurvedic center is not only well known for its impeccable treatment and facilities but also its characteristic blend with nature.  The resort is set amongst 50 acres of lush land in the Palakkad district of Kerala. The highlight of the resort are the streams running alongside each cottage. According to the treatment rules, only vegetarian food is served, and no alcohol. Guests are encouraged to participate in early morning meditation and yoga . The resort has its own organic garden, and swimming pool.

  1. Kalari Kovilakom

kovilakonKalari Kovilam is a palace belonging to the ancient Vengunad Kingdom in Kerala that has been converted into a palace for Ayurveda by CGH Group. It takes its treatments quiet seriously with strict diet rules  excluding meat, leather footwear, or alcohol. There’s no TV, or any entertainment for that matter. Hymns are chanted in the evenings. Every therapy is personal and customized, often combined with yoga and other methods to provide deep healing from within and without. Even the food is served according to individual requirements. The aim, according to the resort, is to give guests a chance to start their lives over again and be reborn.

  1. Somatheeram Ayurvedic Health Resort

somatheeram-ayurvedic-health-resortSomatheeram Ayurvedic Health Resort which offers a wide range of Yoga, Ayurveda and Meditation is located in Kovalam. The resort offers complete mind and body revitalization. The resort also offers soothing and peaceful cultural trysts in the Guests can enjoy cultural performances in the tranquil evenings. Its close location to the beach proves it even more attractive.

  1. Beach and Lake Ayurvedic Resort

7479508The serene and exclusive Beach and Lake Ayurvedic Resort is hidden away on an island between the Arabian Sea and the Karamana river near Trivandrum is a scenic splendor with backwaters on one side and the beach on the other. The rooms have a majestic view and the resort is bursting forth with the beauty of Yoga, Kalaripayattu martial arts, and Ayurveda

  1. Shin Shiva Ayurvedic Resort

imagesShin Shiva is a budget resort with a cosy yet professional service. The resort was birthed by a doctor with the lineage of 400 years in Ayurvedic treatment. Located atop a cliff at Chowara, overlooking the ocean and close to Kovalam beach, the resort offers a spectacular view worth seeing.  It’s around 30 minutes drive from Trivandrum airport. A wide variety of packages are offered.

  1. Sarovaram Ayurvedic Health Center

sarovaram-ayurvedic-backwaterLooking for a budget ayurveda resort, then this is one of the resort worth trying. The resort is located along the backwaters of Kerala providing a serene picturesque view. The resort is spread over three acres of garden, right on the water’s edge near Kollam. Family owned, it’s run by third generation Ayurvedic doctors. While there you can enjoy activities such as a houseboat ride along the backwaters, evening dance performance, or visit nearby villages.

  1. Ideal Ayurvedic Resort

5Another affordable option for Ayurvedic treatment in Kerala, the Ideal Ayurvedic Resort is located in Kovalam. It’s situated on the edge of a small village within a canopy of coconut palms, five minutes’ walk from Chowara Beach. Although not as luxurious as other Ayurvedic resorts, treatment is still of a high standard and is administered by doctors. Yoga and meditation complement the wide range of packages available.

  1. Ayurveda Yoga Villa

images (1)Located in the lush Wayanad district of Kerala, where nature abounds, the Ayurveda Yoga Villa offers a unique blend of Ayurveda treatment, yoga practice, and training in Kalari martial arts. The comprehensive Seven Days to Inner Peace package is worth trying. Shorter three day packages for those who want a rejuvenating escape are available. Treatments can also be tailored to your needs. Guests tend to find the atmosphere really special at this place. There’s a herbal garden and shop on the premises.

 

5 Interesting Things to do in Kerala

Kerala, one of the well known tourist destinations in the world has time and again stayed true to its title of “God’s Own Country” with its plush green sceneries and rejuvenating aura. There is no dearth of exhilarating experiences when it comes to tourism in this green splendor of a state tucked away in the south western corner of India.

In addition to some of the widespread tourist pursuits of the place, Kerala has a seen a rise in some unique but less common things of tourism interest which are given below.

Stay in Tree Houses

filename-vanya-treehouse.jpg

Tree Houses have recently reared its head among the popular pass times in Kerala. Although a little lesser known, it is an extremely fun way to spend time enjoying the grandeur of Kerala from the lavishly constructed tree houses atop the grand trees of Kerala.

The tree houses will not fail to surprises you with its airy expanse, not to mention the amenities at hand. So you can lounge in luxury even as you indulge the child in you. The tree houses are an exceptional example of the fusion of nature with modern architecture.

Relish the company of the Majestic elephants of Kerala, Kodanad

KodanadA rural riverside village located in the Ernakulam district of Kerala, Kodanad is not only famous for its picturesque location alongside the Periyar river but also because of the famous elephant training centre. Elephants are an integral part of Indian mythology and culture. In God’s Own Country, elephants are often referred to as the sons of the ‘Sahya’ (the Western Ghats).

Kodanad  is one of the largest elephant training centres in Kerala. Earlier elephants captured from the Malayatoor forests (the forests in the East and North of Kodanad) were trained here. Since the introduction of a ban on elephant capture Kodanad has been reduced to a training centre. The famous Malayatoor Church is near Kodanad. Various activities are open to wide eyed tourists here such as elephant safari, elephant bathing etc.

Revivify your Soul on a Houseboat Journey on the Backwaters of Alleppey

IMG_9331Sit back and take in the scenic beauty of the grandiose backwaters of Kerala flanked by plush flora on the traditional Houseboats tailored to the house the necessities and luxuries of the modern world.

Read More about Houseboats at: https://blog.backwaterbreaks.com/2014/11/24/kerala-houseboats/

Read about booking Houseboats with backwaterbreaks.com : https://blog.backwaterbreaks.com/2015/03/03/booking-houseboats-with-backwaterbreakscom/

Neelakurinji Blooming on the Hillside

If you have a weakness for beauty in the form of blooming flowers, then Eravikulam neelakurinjiNational Park is a must visit. Watching the blooming of the “ Neelakurinji” (Strobilanthes kunthiana) which happens once in 12 years is a fascinating experience in itself. Another treat that you get on your trek up to the peak of the hill is the Nigiri Thar, an endangered mountain goat. The park remains closed in February and March.

 

Watch Theyyam in Northern Kerala

IMG_2145Theyyam is a form of worship where man dons the guise of God and propitiates the Gods through possessed dancing; Theyyam is also known by the name Kaliyaattom. The performance of Theyyam is supposed to make life prosperous and remove all hazards. Theyyam has its etymological origin from Daivam,  i.e., god in vernacular. Theyyam is performed in mainly in the North Malabar districts of Kannur and Kasargod in Kerala State, India.  If you are a big lover of art forms, then this is one that should not be missed.

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