Top Attractions In Kerala

Kerala is the top most sought after travel and tour destination. It is the ideal gateway, where vacationers from across the globe come to spend ultimate holidays to explore the beauty and charm of the scintillating tourist places in Kerala. It is amazingly gifted by the nature and no wonder the state experience peaceful ambiance that make the tour more enjoyable and delightful.

On your trip or visit to Kerala, you have wonderful opportunity to experience the glory of the nature, unique culture and traditions, wonderful art and craft and more importantly explore the scintillating charm of the amazing tourist places that engross visitors in a delightful holiday.

Kerala is an established destination for both domestic as well as foreign tourists. Kerala is well known for her beaches, backwaters, mountain ranges and wildlife sanctuaries. Other popular attractions in the state include the beaches at Kovalam, Kappad, Cherai and Varkala; backwater tourism and lake resorts around Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom and Alapuzha; hill stations and resorts at Munnar, Wayanad, Nelliampathi, Vagamon and Ponmudi; and national parks and wildlife sanctuaries at Periyar and Eravikulam National Park. here we list out the top tourist attractions in Kerala for you .

Beaches in Kerala

1 Kovalam Beach

As a commercially valued beach in Kerala, life never stops here in Kovalam. The activities here run deep into the night and the beach is highly acclaimed for water sports. It is situated 16 km from the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram and has been an ideal one for sun bathing and massaging. You can also view a beautiful bay of calm waters created by a huge rock promontory.

Read more: Kovalam Beach

2Cherai Beach

Cherai Beach lies at a distance of 45 km from the Ernakulam city and forms the border of the popular Vypeen Island. It is highly popular amongst tourists because of Dolphins. Dolphins, of course exude an infinite beauty and perhaps even make the hearts of visitors leap out in delight. Swimming is also quiet a good option in the Cherai beach.Beach is generally reckoned as one of the must visit spots in southern parts of India. It is also known by the name of “Princess of Arabian Sea” due to its proximity to the city of Cochin, which in turn, is called as the “Queen of Arabian Sea.” It has all the components which would make a beach a world class beach. The coconut palms, the paddy fields, the backwaters – and everything else makes it one beach which you cannot afford to miss.

Read more: Cherai Beach

3 Varkala Beach

Varkala beach, also known as Papanasham beach, is found between Alleppey and Kovalam. Being an epitome of picturesque beauty, it feeds the photographers with varieties of stills thereby satiating their desire of capturing exquisite things. It is said that one dip – if made in the waters of this beach removes the sins committed for a life time.

Read more: Varkala Beach

Varkala Beachflickr/ Maxime

4 Ezhimala Beach

Located in the Kannur district, the Moppila Bay shot into limelight during the reigns of Kolathiri. However, the bay is presently recognized as a fishing harbour. For a bit of sightseeing, there are ruins of an old fort (St Angelo's) and a temple.

Read more: Ezhimala Beach

Ezhimala Beachflickr/ Neo Light

5 Bekal Beach

Bekal is a very famous beach in Kerala.This beach is merely 14 km away from the city of Kasodgarh in the district by the same name in the northernmost part of Kerala. The beach boasts of a 3 century old fort in its background which lends its a historic significance. The panoramic beauty here is breathtaking. Adjacent to it is a giant keyhole shaped fort which is supposed to be the biggest in Kerala which adds to its popularity. It is a very cleanly maintained beach and therefore it entices more people to visit. The highlights of the beach are the splashy waves and remarkable views of the sunset. Almost all the people in India who are movie buffs might have seen this beach without knowing it’s name. There was a song shot in this place featuring the hero in a sober mood in Maniratnam’s “Bombay.” No prizes for guessing which song it was.

Read more: Bekal Beach

Bekal Beachflickr/ Joseph

6 Marari Beach

Undeveloped and quiet Marari Beach is situated very close to Alleppey. It is not a very recognized beach and more often than not, it gets overlooked. Though not very popular as a beach, it is a perfect place for those who love to explore backwaters of Kerala. Marari got its name from a small and sleepy fisherman’s village called Mararikulam.

Read more: Marari Beach

7Fort Kochi Beach

Cochin or Kochi is a very popular tourist destination and the beauty of the place seems to coming from the numerous backwaters and scintillating beauty of the beaches found here. Fort Kochi Beach Kerala is one such fascinating beach located in Kochi and this place has been a huge crowd puller for its sheer beauty.

Read more: Fort Kochi Beach

8Kozhikode Beach

There is no better place to view a sunset in Kerala than the Kozhikode beach. The beguiling ebullience of this beach makes it a much sought after tourist spot. A very old lighthouse, a marine aquarium and a lions’ park are other attractions of this most celebrated beach. It is just 1 km away from the railway station of Kozhikode which makes it easily accessible.

Read more: Kozhikode Beach

9Kappad Beach

Kappad beach is known for the visit of Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama who landed here on May 20 1498 in an endeavor to establish a sea route to India. To honor the day of historical significance, associated with this beach, a monument has also been erected, proving the presence of Portuguese explorer in this part of the world. Thanks to the deliberations of tourism ministry in cleaning the beach, it has now become one of the most visited places in Kerala.

Read more: Kappad Beach

Kappad Beach flickr/ Manoj

10Beypore Beach

This one is in the Kozikode district of Kerala and also an erstwhile significant port city of the state. Right from the very beginning, Beypore has been renowned for its excellent construction of Urs, the Arabian trading vessel. These ships were in huge demand earlier and even today, shipbuilders, known as Khalasis, have big customer line up from Middle East as well as across Arabian Sea. On your visit to the Beypore beach, you can still find experienced Khalasis at their work (which surprisingly is completely manual).

Read more: Beypore Beach

Beypore Beach flickr/ Kamaljith

11Dharmadam Beach

This beach is the pride of an island known by the same name. Spread in an area of five acres, this island is not a public property which means that permission has to be sought before you can actually step on the sands of this beach. The beautiful island with coconut palms and green bushes is located at a distance of 17 km from the Kannur town (in the district of same name) in the northern part of Kerala.

Read more: Dharmadam Beach

12Alappuzha Beach

Alappuzha beach is one of the most popular spots in the district of Alappuzha. The pier, which extends into the sea here, is around 140 years old.With the Arabian Sea on the west and a vast network of lakes, lagoons and several freshwater rivers criss-crossing it, Alappuzha is a district of immense natural beauty.

Read more: Alappuzha Beach

13Moppila Bay

Located in the Kannur district, the Moppila Bay shot into limelight during the reigns of Kolathiri. However, the bay is presently recognized as a fishing harbour. For a bit of sightseeing, there are ruins of an old fort (St Angelo's) and a temple.

Read more: Moppila Bay

Moppila Bay flickr/Srikanth

14Muzhappilangad Beach

This beach is widely known for its length which is perhaps the largest in entire Kerala. The beach which is located in the Kannur district is pleasantly clean and allows safe waters for swimming. The particular feature of this beach that sets it apart from the other beaches is that it is the only drive in beach in entire Kerala.

Read more: Muzhappilangad Beach

15Payyambalam beach

Situated close to the Kannur town, the Payyambalam beach is counted amongst the best beaches of Kerala because of its serene beauty. Opportunities to relax and sunbathe is plenty. The beach has also a historical significance attached to it in the form of mortal remains of famous personalities like Swadeshabimani Ramakrishna Pillai, A.K. Gopalan, Pamban Madavan and K.G. Marar are buried here.

Read more: Payyambalam Beach

16Shankhumugham Beach

This is beach is quiet favourite amongst the lovers of nature. Pretty close to the Thiruvananthapuram Airport and Veli Tourist Village, this beach provides easy access for visitors. There is also a 35 m large sculptural image of a mermaid known as 'Matsya Kanyaka'.

Read more: Shankhumugham Beach

17Thangassery Beach

This beach and its little village has a historical significance to make them popular. There is a lighthouse that welcomes visitors desirous of paying a visit. The village also has the remnants of an old Portuguese fort.

Read more: Thangassery Beach

18Thirumullavaram Beach

With fresh air flowing all around, the Thirumullavaram beach is just perfect to enjoy a walk early in the morning. The swaying coconut palm trees contribute to the tranquil beauty as you watch fishermen setting out to the sea in search of catch. Bathing is quiet a good option in this beach.

Read more: Thirumullavaram Beach

thirumullavaram beachflickr/Anurag

19Kappil Beach

Kappil beach is a pristine holiday spot along the Malabar shore line, located about 15 kilometres south of Kasaragod town.The beach has captivating beauty that attracts tourists who are looking for a serene location, to spend an evening, or even to settle for a few days of relaxing beach holidays.

Read more: Kappil Beach

wildlife Attractions in Kerala

1Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

The most famous sanctaury of Kerala, Periyar is where the large herds of elephants, over 300 species of birds and around 120 species of butterflies greet visitors. The park also has a tiger population which you can look out for during your trip.

Read more: Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

2Wayanad Wildlife

Wayanad is most prettiest part of their state. Encompassing part of a remote forest reserve that spills into Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Wayanad’s landscape combines epic mountain scenery, rice paddies of ludicrous green, skinny betel nut trees, bamboo, red earth, spiky ginger fields, and rubber, cardamom and coffee plantations. Foreign travellers are making it here in increasing numbers, partly because it provides easy access between Mysore or Bangalore and Kerala, but it’s still fantastically unspoilt and satisfyingly remote. Importantly, it's also one of the few places you’re almost guaranteed to spot wild elephants.

3Thattekad Bird Sanctuary

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, popularly known as Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, is situated at the foot of Western Ghats. The sanctuary expands over a staggering 25 km on the North side of Periyar River. The forest was raised to its current status of a sanctuary in the year 1983, as this was done in line on the recommendation of Dr. Salim Ali. Hence, the sanctuary was named after Dr. Salim Ali, as Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. Dr. Ali used to be a scientist and ornithologist at this place. In his report on the avifauna life in the region, he described this place as the richest bird habitat in peninsular India. Later after that report in 1930, most parts of the forest diverted to be used for the planned cultivation and Teak and Mahogany Plantation. Whatever is left in the forest is now a preserved bird sanctuary, which is phenomenally the biggest bio diverse habitat in Kerala. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is now home to a large number of resident and migratory birds.

Read more: Thattekad Bird Sanctuary

4Eravikulam National Park

A sanctuary for the endangered mountain goat of South India, the Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrious), the Eravikulam National Park stands out for the stark beauty of its rolling grasslands and sholas, spread over 97 sq km in the Rajamalai hills. Anamudi, the highest peak (2695 m) south of the Himalayas, towers over the sanctuary in majestic pride. The slopes of the hills abound in all kinds of rare flora and fauna. The Atlas moth, the largest of its kind in the world, is a unique inhabitant of the park. Other rare species of fauna found here are the Nilgiri Langur, the lion-tailed macaque, leopards, tigers, etc.

Read more: Eravikulam National Park

Historical Places in Kerala

1 Krishnapuram Palace

The Krishnapuram Palace is a rare specimen of the Kerala style of architecture, complete with gabled roofs, narrow corridors and dormer windows. Residence of the rulers of Kayamkulam Kingdom, the age of the palace is unknown.

Read more: Krishnapuram Palace

2 Koyikkal Palace

The Koyikkal Palace, situated far of away from the city, was actually built for Umayamma Rani of the Venad Royal Family who ruled the land between 1677 and 1684. The palace is a double stroreyed traditional nalukettu with slanting gabled roofs and an inner courtyard.

Read more: Koyikkal Palace

3 Padmanabhapuram Palace

A magnificent wooden palace of the 16th century, Padmanabhapuram Palace lies at the land's end of mainland India - Kanyakumari. An enticing ediffice to any lover of art and architecture this old palace of the Rajas of the erstwhile Travancore (1550 to 1750 AD) is a fine specimen of Kerala's indigenous style of architecture. The antique interiors are replete with intricate rosewood carvings and sculptured decor. The palace also contains 17th and 18th century murals. One can see: the musical bow in mahogany, windows with coloured mica, royal chairs with Chinese carvings, 'Thaikkottaram' or the Queen Mother's palace with painted ceilings, rose wood and teak carved ceilings with 90 different floral designs.

Read more: Padmanabhapuram Palace

4Archaeological Museum & Hill Palace

The Hill Palace is one of the major palaces of Kerala built by the erstwhile rulers of the state. It was the residence of the kings of the state of Cochin from the last decade of the 19th century till the middle of the 20th century.

Read more: Hill Palace

5Pazhassi Raja Archaeological Museum

The Pazhassi Raja Archaeological Museum, Kozhikode is one of the most renowned museums in Kerala. It is formed in 1975 in the old Malabar Collector’s Bungalow at East Hill. Various types of objects collected from entire Malabar region are preserved in this museum.

Read more: Pazhassi Raja Museum

6Thrissur Archaeological Museum

The Government of Cochin started the Archaeological Museum, Thrissur as Sree Mulam Chithrasala (picture Gallery) in 1938. Mainly the collections of the museums are one year’s work of crafting of exact copies of mural paintings housed in Mattancherry palace and other temples of the former Cochin state

Read more: Thrissur Archaeological Museum

7 Nilambur Kovilakam

Nilambur Kovilakam is is located 30 km from Malappuram district in Kerala. It is the erstwhile residence of local rulers and is famous for its beautiful frescoes and artwork in wood. On the grounds of this dismantled ancestral home of the Nilambur Royal Family is the Vettakkorumakan Temple.

8 Mattancherry Dutch Palace

Built by the Portuguese in 1557 and presented to Raja Veera Kerala Varma of Kochi, the Palace was renovated in 1663 by the Dutch. The palace with a Bhagavathi Temple in the central courtyard is built like the typical Kerala style mansion - the Nalukettu - the home of the aristocracy, nobility and upper classes, with four separate wings opening out to a central courtyard.

9 Kilimanoor Palace

A palace dedicated to a prince responsible for fetching Kerala a prominent place among the wizards of painting. He is of royal birth, but his deeds fetched him fame in a vocation, which had few takers among his peer group. Raja Ravi Varma the renowned painter from Kerala and his birth palace, the Kilimanoor Palace holds a very special place in the hearts of those who love the fine art of painting. His fame and his style of painting transcended the borders of Kerala and Ravi Varma soon got reckoned as a master painter of international repute.

10 Anjengo Fort

Located about 36 km North of Thiruvananthapuram, near the famed beach of Varkala, and lying on the seacoast is Anjengo or Anjuthengu, meaning five coconut trees. A place of historic importance as well as beautiful natural setting, Anjengo is an ideal destination for those who don't mind walking around and explore what is in store.

11 Bastion Bungalow

Built in the Indo-European style way back in 1667, the Bastion Bungalow gets its name from its location on the site of the Stromberg Bastion of the old Dutch fort. The bungalow is situated on River Road in Fort Kochi, Ernakulam. The building blends beautifully into the circular structure of the bastion, has a tiled roof and a typical first floor verandah in wood along its front portion. Though it has been said that a network of secret tunnels runs beneath the bungalow, none have been found. Today, the Bungalow is the official residence of the Sub Collector.

12 Bekal Fort in Kerala

Kasaragod is a beautiful town poised at the Northern extreme of Kerala State.16 km south of the town on the National Highway, is the largest and best preserved fort in the whole of Kerala, bordered by a splendid beach. Shaped like a giant keyhole, the historic Bekal Fort- built in 17th century - offers a superb view of the Arabian Sea from its tall observation towers, which were occupied by huge cannons, couple of centuries ago

13 Chandragiri Fort & River

Situated near the confluence of the Payaswini River and the Arabian Sea, the Chandragiri Village is known for its large 17th century fort built by Sivappa Naik of Bedanore. The Chandragiri Fort, one among a chain of forts built by the same ruler, perched atop a hill is in ruins now. But the location offers a breathtaking view of the convergence of the river and the Arabian Sea. The place is a vantage point to watch the sunset from the ancient Kizhur State Temple at Chandragiri, which celebrates the annual festival called Pattu Utsavam. Chandragiri is situated 4 km from Bekal.

14 Pierce Leslie Bungalow, Fort

15 Poonjar Palace

The Poonjar Palace is a glorious testimony to the regal opulence of a bygone era. Within the palace walls is an extraordinary royal collection of antiques and exquisite furniture including a palanquin, a droni (treatment bed) carved out of a single piece of wood for Ayurvedic massages, huge chandeliers, palm leaf engravings, jewel boxes, varieties of lamps, sculptures of Nataraja (the dancing Siva), grain measures, statues and weapons. A unique conch preserved here is taken out once a year for ritualistic purposes.

16 Shakthan Thampuran Palace

The Palace of Shakthan Thampuran located in the district of Thrissur is a landmark in the annals of the Perumpadappu Swaroopam, the former ruling dynasty of Kochi. The palace located in the heart of Thrissur town is a major attraction, especially for those with a special interest on rulers and dynasties. At the Shakthan Thampuran Palace, one can come across and understand several interesting and remarkable aspects of the erstwhile rulers of Kochi.

17St. Angelo Fort

A massive triangular laterite fort, replete with a moat and flanking bastions, the St. Angelo's Fort also called Kannur Fort was constructed by the first Portuguese Viceroy, Don Francesco de Almeida in 1505.In 1663, the Dutch captured the fort from the Portuguese and sold it to Ali Raja of Kannur. In 1790 the British who seized control over the fort, renovated and equipped it to be their most important military station in Malabar.

18 Thalassery Fort

22 km from the land of the exotic art form of theyyam in the Northern district of Kannur is the small town of Thalassery. In this town stands an imposing historical monument - the Thalassery Fort.The East India Company which had established its settlement on the Malabar Coast in 1683 built the monument as a testimonial of their colonial imperialism in 1703. The fort was once the nucleus of Thalassery's development.

19 Thangasseri

hangasseri or ‘Dutch Quilon’ as it was called, was once a British enclave. Meaning ‘gold village’ in local parlance, this was the hub of a flourishing trade that used gold as currency. This seaside village of historic importance shelters the ruins of an old Portuguese fort and churches built during the 18th century. It is situated 5 km away from Kottayam town in the state of Kerala.

20 Tipu's Fort,

The Tipu's Fort, also known as Palakkad Fort, stands in the heart of Palakkad town. Palakkad is a small town on the lower edges of the Sahyadri ranges of the Western Ghats, with patches of dense forests and crisscrossed with rivers.

Hill Stations in Kerala

1 Munnar

Munnar, located in Kerala, is one place known for its well-preserved natural beauty of the virgin forests.Munnar is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams namely Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. The environment and climate of Munnar are very salubrious that compels you to just chill and relax. There are waterfalls, coffee gardens and scenic valleys where you can stroll and have the ultimate time of your life. The tea gardens of this particular place are the most famed among all other places of interest. This place is the perfect getaway to beat the heat of the sweltering south.

2 Devikulam

Devikulam is located in Kerala, just 16km (approx) form Munnar, this gorgeous hill station symbolises nature in her pristine glory. It is mostly visited by the tourists to enjoy the picturesque landscapes and the mineral water springs. It has many legends associated with Devikulam Lake, which gives the hill station its name.

3Idukki

A landlocked district, idukki is one of the most nature rich areas of kerala . The high ranges and wooded valleys are girded by three main rivers- periyar, thalayar and thodupuzhayar- and their tributaries. The river pamba also has its origin here. As a tourist destination, idukki offers diverse attractions like wildlife sanctuaries, hill stations, spice plantation tours, mountain treks, elephant rides etc. Idukki has a large population of tribals who have unique customs and beliefs and maintain an ethos which is distinctly different from that of the mainstream culture.

4Ponmudi

Ponmudi- for a quick getaway from the scorching heat that envelopes the capital city of the state, Thiruvananthapuram there is no better place than Ponmudi.The salubrious hill station of Ponmudi is at a distance of 61 kms from Thiruvananthapuram. The knoll regions of Ponmudi is just about 61 kilometers away from the city and is located at an elevation of 3609 feet above sea level. The journey to this wonderful location is a treat in itself for the winding roads filled with scenic views are breathtaking. The lush green forest, rivers and rivulets that you come across while journeying to this place fills your heart with rapture and beauty.

5 Vythiri

Vythiri is a picturesque place located in the sylvan Northern High Ranges of Kerala in Wayanad District.

6Wayanad

Wayanad, One of the fourteen districts in Kerala (India) is situated in an elevated picturesque mountainous plateau in Western Ghats.

7 Peermade

Peermade gets its name from the famous Sufi saint Peer Mohammad who is said to have visited the hills. It is known throughout the world for its marvelous medical treatments. The scenic vista is over-awed by the fragrance of Cardamom that trails throughout the hills.

8 Chembra Peak

14 km west of kalpeta, at 2100 m above mean sea level, chembra is the highest Peak in wayanad and is an ideal area for trekking.

9 Chithirapuram

10 kms from munnar, with its sleepy little cottages bungalows, old playgrounds and courts, chithirapuram still exudes an old world charm. Home of the pallyvasal hydel power project, this hill town is also famous for its picturesque tea plantation.

10 Lakkidi

55 km east of kozhikode / 5 km south of vythiri, lakkidi the gateway to wayanad, is situated 700 m above mean sea level. At the crest of the thamarasseri ghat pass. Lofty peaks, gurgling streams and luzuriant forests add magic to the journey up the winding roads to this hill station.

11 Pythal Mala

65 kms from kannur town, this enchanting hill station, situated 4,500 ft. Above sea level near the kerala - karnataka border, is rich in flora and fauna. It is a six kilometre trek to the top of the hills.

12 Wagamon

Vagamon- this is located in the Kottayam-Idukki border and is a really pleasant place to visit.65 km from idukki town, situated at an elevation of 110 m above sea level, this hill station is a trekker's delight. Wagamon is surrounded by beautiful meadows, valleys and tea gardens. The place is also lovingly called as the “Scotland of Asia” due to its beauty and weather conditions. The place still remains tranquil and quaint which adds to the charm of the place. The place is unscathed by the vicious claws of the modernizing world and is intact with lush green vegetation. The weather here is extremely pleasant and sometimes a veil of mist and fog covers the place giving it an entirely different charm. This is a must visit place for those looking for peace, quiet, beauty and a cool place to relax in. 

13 Mattupetty

Situated at a height of 1700 m. Mattupetty is famous for its highly specialised dairy farm - the indo swiss live stock project. Over a 100 varieties of high yielding cattles are reared here. The mattupetty lake and dam, just a short distance from the farm, is a very beautiful picnic spot.

14 Nellyampathy

Nelliampathi- this wonderful destination of Kerala is at a distance of 60 kilometers from Palakkad and 52 km south of nemmara, this fascinating hill station is at a height of 467 to 1572 m above sea level.and is known to be one of the most pleasant places to visit. The journey to this particular location leads you through dams, paddy fields, forests brimming with wild life thus making it an exciting and beautiful. At least 10 hairpin bends have to be negotiated on the ghat road that passes through the breathtaking evergreen forests of the sahya ranges. Seethakundu at nellyampathy offers a panoramic view of about one third the are of palakkad district.

15 Peruvannamuzhi

60 km from kozhikode, the peruvannamuzhi dam site set amid hills is a beautiful picnic spot. The reservoir here provides facilities for speedboat and row boat cruises. Uninhabited island, a bird sanctuary and a crocodile farm add to the charm of the place.

16Gavi

Gavi Eco-Tourism a project of the Kerala Forest Development Corporation has caught the attention of tourists, mostly from European countries. The project is exclusive in many respects and the majority who visited was nature lovers and adventure tourists. Over a short period of time visitors to Gavi gradually increased, especially after 'Alistair International' the world acclaimed tourism major listed it among the leading eco-tourism centres and one of the must-see places in India.

17Ilaveezhapoonchira

Skirting Kottayam district are the beautiful valleys of Ilaveezhapoonchira, spread over thousands of acres. This delightful picnic spot located in the midst of beautiful hillocks near Kanjar, is also ideal for trekking.

18Agasthyakoodam

Part of the Sahyadri ranges (Western Ghats) of mountains, Agasthyakoodam, at a height of 1,890 m above sea level, is the second highest peak in Kerala. Teeming with wildlife, the forests of Agasthyakoodam abound in rare medicinal herbs and plants, and brilliantly hued orchids. A bird watcher’s paradise, this legendary mountain is accessible by foot from Kotoor, near Neyyar Dam and also from Bonakkad. Trekking to Agasthyakoodam is believed to be healthy, the very air here is supposed to have healing properties. It is believed that sage Agasthya, the mythological character lived here.

Backwaters in Kerala

1Alappuzha

Alappuzha Backwaters In Keralaflickr/icultist

If you are cherishing the idea of spending some good time amidst the sights and sounds of the hydrosphere, then step into a country boat and wind through the labyrinth of canals in Alappuzha. While cruising through these canals, one would come across the many interesting aspects of day-to-day life on land and water.A wide range of cruise options are available here - from small country boats to luxury houseboats and small speedboats to big passenger motorboats. Small boats are preferred for cruise through the canals.

2Kuttanad

It is the major rice granary of Kerala, where vast stretches of verdant paddy fields are interlaced with enchanting backwaters create some of the unforgettable sights.Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala is all about an agrarian community, striking a chord of harmony with its physical setting. Noted for its farming below sea level (about 4 to 10 feet) the land of Kuttanad possesses a socio-cultural fabric of its own. Four major rivers in Kerala viz. Pampa, Meenachil, Achankovil and Manimala flow into the region.

3Kumarakom

The village of Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake, and is part of the Kuttanad region. The bird sanctuary here, which is spread across 14 acres is a favourite haunt of migratory birds and an ornithologist's paradise. Egrets, darters, herons, teals, waterfowls, cuckoo, wild duck and migratory birds like the Siberian Stork visit here in flocks and are a fascinate the visitors.

4 Alumkadavu

Alumkadavu is where the first houseboats in India were built. Located north of Kollam district, the waft of coir and wood is always in the air of this village. And the reason: It is a major centre for the construction of kettuvalloms (traditional rice barges) which are later modified into houseboats for travellers.

5Ashtamudi

So called because of its 8 arms or channels, Ashtamudi Lake is the gateway to the backwaters. This 16 km long lake is the second largest in Kerala, finding its way into the sea through the Neendakara estuary. The District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) Kollam provides boat rides as well as houseboat cruises. The trip between Kollam and Alappuzha is one of the most popular and longest backwater cruises in Kerala. The eight-hour journey will give you an intimate experience of the famed waterways. Catch a glimpse of one of the many splendours of Ashtamudi backwaters. As the boatman gently dips his paddle, without disturbing the prevailing calm, the ripples spread out gently in the shimmering golden hue of the sun.

6Chandragiri Fort & River

Situated near the confluence of the Payaswini River and the Arabian Sea, the Chandragiri Village is known for its large 17th century fort built by Sivappa Naik of Bedanore. The Chandragiri Fort, one among a chain of forts built by the same ruler, perched atop a hill is in ruins now. But the location offers a breathtaking view of the convergence of the river and the Arabian Sea. The place is a vantage point to watch the sunset from the ancient Kizhur State Temple at Chandragiri, which celebrates the annual festival called Pattu Utsavam. Chandragiri is situated 4 km from Bekal.

7Chithari - a small tropical island

Green and beautiful, a little effaced by the historic Bekal Fort and beach, Chithari is still a virgin destination. The island is accessible only by boat, often wooden canoes that belong to the locals. A part of the Bekal Tourism Project, this backwater area has all it takes to ome a mega tourist destination. Chithari is located 7 km from Kanhangad.

8Kavvayi Backwater at Payyanur

In Kannur, an inspiring stretch of water body Kavvayi Kayal could perhaps be your next, most fascinating destination among the backwaters in Kerala. The backwaters down the south of Kerala; like those in and around Kollam and Alappuzha have their own unique attractions, surroundings and ways of life. Kavvayi Kayal too has its own unique elements that could easily make you fall in love with it.

9Kumbalangi , Kochi

Essentially a fishing hamlet, this tiny village facing the Kochi backwaters in the western part of the city is India’s first designated ecotourism village and the first rural tourism village of the state. Kumbalangi Integrated Tourism Village project is a unique initiative to transform the tiny island as a model fishing village and tourism spot. Here at the Kumbalangi Tourism Village one can fully savour a variety of natural splendours, and ecological balance of the location. The model village, the first of its kind in the country is located near the port city of Kochi in Ernakulam District. It is a veritable treat to its visitors with the famous Chinese fishing nets and many other sights to savour.

10Marine Drive

Marine Drive in Kochi, is a popular hangout and this scenic stretch offers a spectacular view of the backwaters and the Kochi Harbour.Shopping malls, cinema halls, restaurants, cafés and supermarkets line the drive. The Rainbow Bridge and the International Tourism Boat Jetty Complex are other attractions here.

11Padanna Backwaters, Kasaragod

Much of the popular backwater attractions of Kerala are located in the southern and central parts of the State. Contrary to this belief, Footnotes, this month takes you to a serene backwater network in the northern most district of Kerala - Kasaragod. Here adjoining the backwaters of Valliyaparampu lies a beautiful backwater village of Thekkekadu, which has an inspiring story to share with its visitors. It is all about Padanna's crusader in self-employment, Mr. Gul Mohammed and his backwater retreat - Oyster Opera at Padanna.

12Pathiramanal

Pathiramanal, a small island on the backwaters of Alappuzha, is a haven for hundreds of rare birds migrating from different parts of the world. You can reach there after 1 1/2 hours drive by motor boat or 30 minutes by speed boat from Alappuzha in south Kerala. Surrounded by the Vembanad Lake, stretching from Alappuzha to Kochi and the Kayamkulam lake, Pathiramanal is accessible only by boat.The green island thus forms an ideal place for a break in the journey while on a backwater cruise.The mainland Alappuzha has a vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers criss crossing it and is a district of immense natural beauty.

13Picnic Village in Kollam

Located in the sprawling 200-year-old Guest House campus where Lord Munroe once stayed, this tourist village at Ashramam along the backwater front, is the main centre for recreational activities in Kollam. The place has a boat club, a children's traffic park and Tamarind Hotel in addition to an adventure park. The Paaramparya Museum in the same premises has on display paintings from different parts of the country including Warli, Kalamkari and Madhubani as well as Kerala mural art. It is located 1 km from Kollam city.

14Placid backwater stretch of Ashtamudi, Kollam

If one opts for the 'Round-the-trip Cruise' this full day cruise will cover all islands in the Ashtamudi backwater and the 'See & Sleep Cruise' option offers day cruise with overnight stay on the backwater. The third option 'Star Night Cruise' will take one for a fascinating sunset cruise and a night's stay on the backwater.

15Ponnumthuruthu Island near Varkala

A delightful getaway surrounded by the Anjengo backwaters, this uninhabited isle is accessible by boat from the makeshift jetty at the nearby Nedunganda Village. A 100-year-old Shiva-Parvathi Temple, rebuilt a decade ago, is also situated here. Ponnumthuruthu Island is just 10 km away from Varkala, the famous tourist destination in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

16Q S T and R Block Kayal, Alappuzha

Situated in Kuttanad popularly known as the rice bowl of Kerala, QST & R Block Kayals (backwaters) remind the visitor of the famous dikes of Holland. A striking example of the indigenous agricultural engineering know-how, here cultivation and habitation are made possible at four to ten feet below the sea level. For this purpose extensive land has been reclaimed from the backwaters and is protected by dikes built around it. A leisurely cruise along the canals here is a memorable experience.

17Sasthamkotta: Queen of Lakes, Kollam

Sasthamkotta, situated about 29 km from Kollam town, can be rightly called the 'Queen of Lakes'. This vast fresh water lake flanked by hills on three sides is the largest of its kind in Kerala. The ancient Sastha Temple, which lends its name to the town, is an important pilgrim centre. This temple dedicated to both Lord Ganesha and Lord Ayyappa is surrounded by hills and forests, and the monkeys inhabiting the premises are considered holy. The monkeys of Sasthamkotta are believed to be the faithful entourage of the ruling deity, the Dharmasastha and therefore they have a spiritual ambience about them. The monkeys are devotee-friendly, and the thousands of devotees visiting the temple take pleasure in feeding these monkeys with nuts and fruits.

18Valapattanam, Kannur

Kannur is that part of the legendary Malabar Coast where King Solomon's ships anchored to collect timber to build the 'Temple of the Lord' and to secure most needed spices. Here in the little hamlet on the banks of the river Valapattanam, is a giant of the modern timber industry - Western India Plywood Ltd., the largest wood-based industry in South East Asia.

19Valiyaparamba backwaters, Kasaragod

Located 30 km from Bekal, Valiyaparamba in Kasaragod district of Kerala, is perhaps the most scenic backwater stretch in the state. Fed by four rivers and dotted with numerous little islands, Valiyaparamba is fast turning into a much favoured backwater resort that offers enchanting boat cruises.

20Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom

Kottayam is a vast network of rivers and canals which empty into the great expanse of water called the Vembanad Lake. The lake, an enchanting picnic spot and a fast developing backwater tourism destination, provides boating, fishing and sightseeing experiences that are truly exhilarating. The Kumarakom Tourist Village offers houseboat cruises and holiday packages. The serene lake comes alive during Onam with a spectacular water regatta - the snake boat races. It is indeed amazing to watch oarsmen, at least a hundred in one boat, slice their way through the waters to the fast rhythm of their own full throated singing.

21Willingdon Island, Kochi

Named after Lord Willingdon, a former British Viceroy of India, this man-made island is surrounded by beautiful backwaters. The island is the site of the city's best hotels and trading centres, the Port Trust and the headquarters of the southern naval command.

22Houseboat Cruise

The southwestern Indian state of Kerala is well known for the extensive emerald backwaters that it possesses. Due to these extensive backwaters that adorn the state of Kerala, it has often been called as “Venice of the East”. These wonders of nature that make their winding way inward from the vast deserts of water add charm and charisma to the place that can hardly be made up any other state of the country. The beauty however lies not only on watching these backwaters but cruising along the emerald backwaters on houseboats (Kettuvallam) too.

Read more: Houseboat

More great destinations can be found in the Explore India page.

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