98 Things To Do In Kerala!

coconut trees

1. Take a train through paradise: A train journey is THE most comfortable, efficient, inexpensive, enchanting way to experience Kerala. Gset a window seat and watch the landscape unfold like pages of a colorful picture book, or acquaint yourself with your fellow travelers who make interesting profiles. Or stand at the door like (me and) many do, and enjoy the scenery or capture Heaven on Earth with your camcorder!

2. Walk-through paddy fields: Here's a different walking experience! Venture into the very heart of the paddy fields, on narrow dykes. Don't lose yourself completely in the dazzling green around you, as you'll have to watch out for the slushy water passages that run through your mud path.

Tip toe across a coconut trunk bridge: In interior Kerala, you'll come across plenty of small water bodies with these extremely narrow bridges. Watch the native folk cross them with ease, but think twice before you do! If it isn't your cup of tea, don't worry. Further down the water's edge you are apt to find a more friendly bridge.

4. Sip tender coconut: Refresh yourself with a sip of cool tender coconut - nature's rejuvenating nectar, and a scoop of its soft white flesh. Nutrition at its natural best!

Take a swig of toddy: Ask your tour guide to arrange for a swig of fresh sweet toddy extracted from the coconut palm and have it the Kerala way with exotic karimeen policchathu (baked fresh water fish) or spicy pickles.

Stay on an exotic houseboat: Embark on an enchanting journey across sun-dappled backwaters on a kettuvallom - fully furnished traditional rice boats. While your eyes explore the rustic life that floats by, treat your palate to backwater delicacies prepared by your personal chef.

Ride a Canoe: Drift along serene waterways in a country craft. Enjoy the breeze, answer a cuckoo's call. Wave back at the cheerful village folk on the banks. Invite some of their chirpy children to hop in for a ride. They'll keep you well entertained!

Workout on a treadmill: In Kerala, traditional treadmills are still used to irrigate the paddy fields. Try your luck with the local farmer and see if you can get to pedal one.

Observe Chinese fishing nets: Watch fishermen tug at these huge nets with their rich haul. These nets that billow from massive bamboo poles were brought here by traders from the court of Kublai Khan, the Mongolian King. Their silhouettes against the evening sky make for terrific pictures too.

10. Choose your pick from the Fisherman's net: Along the Malabar Coast and at Vasco da Gama Square in Fort Cochin, you can select your favorites from an inviting display of juicy sear fish, sardines, prawns, red snappers etc. Ask the friendly fisherman to fry it for you the local way.

Feast on kappa and meen curry: Try Kerala's hot red fish curry with steamed tapioca or boiled rice. It'll make your mouth water. And your eyes as well! But you'll still enjoy it.

Savor a Sadhya: Seat yourself on the floor, roll your sleeves up and get started on this multi-course feast of rice, 12-15 vegetarian dishes, spicy pickles, crunchy banana chips, crispy pappadams, plantains, and the dessert, paayasam. Served on a plantain leaf, the meal is eaten with the fingers.

Wear a Kerala sari: Stun your friends in a Kerala sari - five meters of fine off-white cotton, edged with golden embroidery, that lends an extraordinary elegance to the person wearing it. Each piece is specially woven on a traditional handloom.

Wear jasmine in your hair: Get yourself a string of jasmine, the natural ornament for your hair. You could even pluck them fresh from a garden and string them yourself.

Spice up your life: Kerala is the Spice Coast of India. Take home a chest full of exotic spices and win compliments for your aromatic cooking. These are also available in special gift pouches.

Ride on  an 8-tonner without wheels: At the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady, you and your friends can travel majestically into the scenic jungle on an elephant. A mahout will guide you on your enchanting journey.

Watch birds: Spot egrets, herons, Siberian stork, darters, teals and hundreds of other migratory birds in Kerala's enchanting bird sanctuaries. Hear them sing. Take their Family photograph. Applaud their aerobatic skills.

Follow the tiger's tail: Join the Thekkady tiger trail- a real adventure trek into the dense forest with expert guides. Cook in the jungle. Sleep in tents. Wake up to the sounds of the wilderness. Try and spot a tiger.

Design a floral pattern: During Onam, the harvest festival in August/September, you can see colorful, beautiful floral decorations in the courtyards of Kerala's homes. Try making one with family and friends.

Cheer a snake boat race: Watch the backwaters of Kerala come alive. Feel the excitement bubble in you as teams of 100 oarsmen row their snake boats, their bodies swaying in unison to the fast rhythm of full throated singing, in one of the most exhilarating water sports.

Feel the rain on your BODY: Kerala's invigorating monsoon will cleanse, refresh, and rejuvenate you. Let it run down your BODY and wash away stress. So don't just listen to the pitter-patter on the roof. Step out!

Munch an uppumanga: You'll simply relish a meal that is accompanied by uppumanga, tender mangoes preserved in brine for months (the longer, the better).

Get an Ayurvedic massage: Gift yourself new life. Surrender to the magical fingers of specially trained masseurs and to medicated baths that will refresh you. Herbal diets will replenish you. 

24. Say hello to the Nilgiri Tahr: Half the world population of the endangered Nilgiri Tahr live in the Eravikulam National Park at Munnar. Friendly as they are, you can pat them or pose for pictures with them. So meet them and have plenty to brag about when you get back home.

Sip fine tea: Take a walk through the green carpeted tea hills of Kerala and strong aromas will lead you in to the factories over a hundred years old. Here you can taste and pick up the finest tea in the country.

Marvel at elephant pageants: The spectacle of 30-60 caparisoned elephants will enthrall you as they move in a majestic procession, while trumpets and drum beats work up to a frenzy. The best of these spectacles is seen at the Trichur Pooram.

Listen to temple music: Panchavadyam is an orchestra of 5 native instruments - suddha-maddalam, kombu, edakka, elathalam and timila. This traditional temple music, accompanying elephant pageants, builds up the festive spirit. and never fails to leave its listeners entranced. Audio cassettes of panchavadyam are available.

Visit the local markets: Small stalls with fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken, etc.? High pitched salesmen luring you with impossible bargains. Visit these bustling markets or chandas for fresh buys.

Go bananas In Kerala:  Red, green and yellow are synonymous with various types of plantains. These digestive diets come in different shapes too - tall, short, stout, sleek... And while you taste banana chips, raw banana dishes, banana milk shake, banana ice cream, dried bananas, fried bananas, you'll wonder if there's any other fruit more versatile!

Try your hand at percussion:  Kerala's rich repertoire of percussion music and instruments is world famous. So bring alive your taste for good music and learn whatever your holiday allows.

Cheer racing oxen: Entertain yourself at a Kumbala, the local dualistic bullock race of Kasaragod or a Kaalapoottu, the agrarian sport of Palakkad.

Shop for souvenirs: Kerala's handicraft centers have an extraordinary collection of wood, coir shell and sandalwood souvenirs, trinkets, and jewellery. Wood carved Kathakali masks, snake boats, elephants, jewellery boxes etc. are perfect showpieces for your drawing rooms and ideal gifts for friends.

Stay in a tree house: Spend romantic nights in the tree houses of Palakkad, washed in the sweet scent of the forest flowers, and let the sounds of the forest fill up your dreams.

Have a mud bath: Go in for mud therapy and discover its healing properties at the Kavil Bhavan Yoga and Cultural Center at Nileswaram, Kasaragod.

Bask in sunshine: Serene, secluded and spellbinding, Kerala has some of the best beaches in the world. Ride the surf. Get a tan. Build sand castles. Or simply sift sand through your toes. Anything you do here will unwind and relax you.

Watch a Malayalam movie: Malayalam movies have excellent story lines and some of them are internationally acclaimed. If you visit the State during a film festival, you'll get to see good movies with English subtitles.

Bathe in healing waters: Don't miss your chance to take a dip in the waters of the Nelliyampathy forests in Palakkad or the mineral springs at Varkala. These waters are known for their medicinal properties. Take a splash and heal yourself.

Buy gold for all occasions Kerala's gold jewellery, intricately designed and delicate, will steal any woman's heart. Make sure you have enough money on you before you step into a gold shop. Because whatever be your taste, you'll find patterns you'd wish to own.

"Mirror,mirror?":  An Aranmula mirror is made of a finely polished alloy of four metals. Copper, silver, bronze and lead. Once a closely guarded preserve of royalty, these ornamental mirrors are exceedingly rare. Only two master crafts men and their families still make them.

Feel the presence of God at Maramon:  Witness the largest Christian convention of Asia at Maramon, near Kozhencherry, Interestingly, the waters of the Pamba River dry up every year to reveal sands that serve as the venue for the event.

Ride in an auto rickshaw: Explore the streets of Kerala in an auto rickshaw, a three wheeled taxi painted yellow and black. Don't be surprised if you meet a driver who has a degree in English literature or is fairly fluent with the language.

Try out new ways to fish: Dangle a rod and line into the flowing waters. Sweep a towel through it. Feel for fish with your feet in the mud below. Or simply try trapping small fish with your hands. Anyway, you'll never return disappointed. Talk about a stress-buster!

43. Spin coir: See nimble fingers at work as they spin water-treated coconut fiber into long ropes with a traditional hand spindle in the suburbs of Quilon. You can shop at a number of roadside stalls for brightly colored coir door mats, wall hangings, and carpets.

Learn exotic art forms: Watchkathakali, mohiniyattam, theyyam or thiruvathira and pursue the one that interests you most. Learn how a story unveils through the eyes, fingers, feet and myriad expressions of the artist.

Rock about in a bullock cart: On a pleasant evening, traverse the scenic mud roads of Kerala at the unhurried pace of a bullock cart. The tinkling bells and roll-over-from-side-to-side motion of the cart will full you into a lazy reverie. 

Walk the lanes of Fort Quilon: Put on your hat and sunglasses, wear comfortable sandals and embark on a walking tour of Fort Cochin where bastions, churches and mansions built by the British, Dutch and the Portuguese, 500 years ago will greet you. Interestingly, Vasco da Gama, one of the world's greatest explorers, was buried here.

Order a metre of tea: Stop by a thattukada, a roadside kiosk, for a steaming cup of strong tea. Watch the expert stretch it to a meter while pouring it from glass to glass, blending it well and building up a tempting froth in the process.

Climb rugged heights: Not all places to visit in Kerala are on well-traveled roads. Or on roads at all. Hike up rugged terrains at Munnar, Wayanad and Kakkayam (Kozhikkode) for an exhilarating experience. If you haven't tried rock climbing before, our experts will teach you the tricks.

Engage in water sports: An adventure sports lover will rarely find time to stay idle in Kerala. Her beaches provide you with unlimited water sporting options such as wind surfing, rafting, sailing, power boating and even that of a simple catamaran ride.

Wake up to the world's best breakfast: Kerala's spread of morning dishes, vellayappam, uppuma, iddli, puttu, masala dosa, appams etc. have all been rated the best breakfast in the world by Travel &  Leisure magazine. A must-try is the crisp lacy appam served with meat/vegetable stew.

Treat your sweet tooth: The famous Mithai Street of Kozkikkode has everything to make your mouth water - from heavenly halvas to juicy jilebies to creamy milk sweets. Relish them as they melt in your mouth!

Study rare flora: Treat your eyes to exotic orchids, anthuria, sandalwood trees etc. in the forests. One of these, the rare Neelakurinji, bathes the mountains of Munnar in blue once every 12 years. It is expected to bloom next in 2006.

Romance the spice hills: Holiday amidst the sprawling tea plantations, picture book towns and winding lanes of Kerala's mist clad hill stations - a world where tranquility abounds. The dense tropical jungles in these hill stations house some of the exotic bird and wildlife sanctuaries in the country.

Watch the making of an Arabian dhow: Witness this 1500-year old tradition at Beypore. It takes an expert team of 15-30 strongmen at least two years to shape a vessel in wood. Locally called uru, this Arabian trading vessel is fast fading from the shipping scene.

Bathe in waterfalls: Nowhere else will you find water so playful, So pure! So pacifying! Crystal clear waters cascade down the mountains of Kerala, gurgling, whispering, laughing and cleansing everything in their way. Watch them wake serene rivers with a magnificent splash.

Go artsy: You can browse in the art galleries for hours without keeping track of time. Among them are collections of the world famous works of Raja Ravi Varma, Raja Raja Varma, Svetlova, Nicholas Roerich, rare murals and masterpieces from China, Japan, Tibet, Bali and other parts of India.

Visit scenic Kuttanad: Explore the lush paddy fields of Kuttanad, the rice bow of Kerala - the only place in the world where farming is done 1.5 or 2 meters below sea level. Kuttanad is in the interior of the beautiful backwater district of Alleppey.

Taste Payasam: Payasam, a rich milk delicacy prepared with vermicelli, gram or rice, is a delight for the palate. The most common dessert of Kerala, it is made in scores of flavors and garnished with raisins and nuts fried in ghee, and usually eaten with salty snacks.

Feast your eyes on exotic murals: The palaces and museums of Kerala have an exotic collection of ancient murals. The Krishnapuram Palace at Kayamkulam displays the largest of these masterpieces, Gajendramoksham, which belongs in the 18th century and depicts an event from mythology.

Watch Theyyam: Theyyam is the oldest ritual art form of Kerala. Look on in awe as Theyyam performers invoke the temple diety, Bhagavathy, with their frenzied dancing and throbbing temple music in the courtyards of village temples.

Try coconut hair oil: The secret of a Malayali woman's long, black, lustrous hair could be yours too. Coconut oil is considered the best nutrient for hair and a coolant for the head. In Kerala, both men and women massage oil on their heads before a bath.

Explore a Tharavad: Relive the old times in the perfect settings of antique furniture and exquisite woodwork in Kerala's heritage holiday homes and Nalukettu (quadrangular mansions with a central courtyard), each more than 50 years old.

Learn Malayalam: Kerala's sweet-toned language, has 56 letters in its alphabet. Try learning the basics and roll the words off your tongue!

Star gaze: Steeped in astronomy, Kerala's planetariums will show you much more than Mercury, Venus and Mars. Get a ticket to the evening star-gazing sessions and experience the wonders of the universe.

Holiday on an island: Spend a weekend on Kerala's islands or lagoons, and experience special moments such as spectacular sunsets, balmy backwaters, and  succulent seafood at Bolghatty, Pathiramanal, Poovar, etc. These paradises can be reached only by a ferry or boat.

Picnic beside virgin lakes: Pack a picnic basket and spend a romantic evening beside the crystal clear lakes near Munnar. Try your luck at fishing and feast on your fresh catch. Go for a long walk hand-in-hand, undisturbed. Lie down on the most comfortable of grass beds.

Go paragliding: Sweep across the lush green hills of Munnar on a paraglider and enjoy the vantage of an eagle. See the soothing blues and greens of nature. Enjoy the wind beneath your wings. Feel on top of the world.

Walk into a palace: Besides exquisite wooden architecture, the palaces of Kerala flaunt the finest floors in the world. Floors that, surprisingly, need minimum maintenance, being made of crushed coconut charcoal, egg whites and the sap of loan plants. You'll also see collections of antique sculptures, paintings and bronzes.

Muse in a Museum: The museums of Kerala, especially the Pazhasiraja Museum at Kozkikkode, pay full tribute to outstanding crafts-historical and contemporary ornaments, temple carts and ivory carvings of life- sized figures of Kathakali in full regalia.

Watch Thullal: Thullal, an exotic art form, and the rhythmic sounds of music accompanying it, will keep you in a constant state of merriment. Humor, satire and social criticism are its hallmarks. This art form was formulated overnight by the renowned poet, Kunjan Nambiar.

Visit the zoo: The zoological parks in Kerala have plenty to excite the animal lover in you. The Trivandrum zoo is among the best designed in Asia and is set amidst a woodland, lakes and lawns.

Bring swing to your life: Onam is the season for fun and games. Visit Kerala during August and September and you'll find it celebrated in almost every house. The friendly people here will be only too glad to let you join them.

73. Go nuts: You can get raw, fried, grilled, salted and spiced cashews at surprisingly affordable prices at Quilon, where cashew plantations and industries abound.

Chew into a juicy mussel: It is indeed fun watching mussel collectors anchor their boats, dive down and bring up basket- loads of these fresh water delicacies. The shells are later burnt in kilns to make lime.

See wildlife from a boat: Watch wildlife at close quarters from the safety of a boat at the sanctuaries of Kumarakom, and Periyar. Herds of wild elephants bathing in the lake, the Indian bison digging his horns into an unaffected tree, the cormorant darting into the waters -  a treat for an amateur photographer.

Learn yoga: Relax your mind with yoga at the special ashrams in Trivandrum and the cultural center of Kasaragod, Nileswaram, Sessions are conducted by spiritual gurus and experts in the field.

Walk the historic Kappad beach: This is where Vasco da Gama landed in 1498 with his men in three vessels. Here, you'll find an interesting landscape of rocks that sprawl right into the sea. An 800 year old temple stands nearby.

Munch on crispy snacks: Kerala has a wide range of crunchy snacks - ethakka (banana) chips, chakka vattal (jack fruit chips), pappadam, kuzhalappam, achappam, cheeda and churuttu. All worth every paisa!

Meet martial art experts: Kalaripayattu, the martial art form of Kerala, is the oldest and most scientific in the world. Watch agile bodies gleaming in oil and armed with weapons, practicing their feats - chattam (jumping), ottam (running), marichil (somersault) - to stunning perfection. 

80. Explore the Bekal Fort: Explore the largest and the best-preserved fort of Kerala at Bekal, Kasaragod. The imposing structure rising 130 ft. above sea level, stands on a 35 acre headland that runs right into the Arabian Sea.

Behold the Queen of the Arabian Sea: Cochin, also known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, is breathtakingly beautiful. Apart from being the commercial capital and the most cosmopolitan city of Kerala, Cochin also flaunts one of the finest natural harbors of the world.

Discover prehistoric settlements: The Edakkal caves at Wayanad and the caves at the mouth of the Shenduruny River have interesting pictorial writings and cave drawings from the Stone Age. You'll have to trek at least a kilometer uphill to reach the Edakkal caves. Say a prayer at the old Synagogue.

The 500-year old Synagogue in Cochin: is adorned with mid 18th century hand painted Cantonese tiles. Hebrew inscriptions on stone slabs, ancient scripts on copper plates and great scrolls of the Old Testament are preserved here. An age-old clock tower stands nearby.

Let a mohini enchant you: Mohiniyattam or the dance of the enchantress reflects the graceful nature of the land. The sensuous, graceful movements of the dancer, clad in gold and off white costumes, will remind you of palms swaying in the gentle breeze and sweeping waves.

Spend the night at a Kathakali concert: Kathakali, the four centuries old classical art form, is usually staged at night. Elaborate costumes, ornaments and multi-colored facial make-up give the artistes a super human appearance, which leaves you spellbound.

Cook in earthenware: In most of the traditional homesteads of Kerala, women cook their food in earthenware. For some time-tested reason, doing so renders a special taste to the dish prepared.

Collect antiques: Stroll up Jew Street in Fort Cochin for interesting finds such as period furniture, ancient coins, elaborately carved pens, ornamental brass latches, antique jewellery, grandfather clocks, and timepieces etc.

Cruise the backwaters of Alleppey: Alleppey, embroidered with a labyrinth of waterways, was extolled by travelers as the Venice of the East. Visit this land where the skiff is the family vehicle, ducks outnumber chickens, and children learn to swim perhaps even before they walk!

Meet smart fishermen: It is indeed a spectacular sight to watch Kerala's Smart fishermen outdo the crashing waves by pushing their boats into the sea from a pier beyond the wave point, and simultaneously jumping into it in perfect coordination.

90. See mind-blowing fireworks: Make a wish under a thousand shooting stars - brilliant firework displays that mark the end of a festival in Kerala. And you'll never miss them as every dawn in Kerala brings yet another festival!

91. Watch a puppet show: Yakshagana Bombeyattu (puppetry) is the art form of Kasaragod. Colorful puppets in huge headgears, elaborate facial make-up, and loud attires, dancing to throbbing music, will keep you entertained.

92. Go for a flower show: Spend a colorful evening with pretty asters, glowing anthuria, exotic orchids, beautiful roses, elegant lilies and a bloom of soft cotton candy at a flower show.

93. Smash the elusive pot: Uriyadi (smashing the pot) is a spirited sport connected with some of festivals of Kerala. The festive pot, colorfully decorated, will be hung from a tall pole. All you have to do is try and break it with a stick as the crowd pulls it up and down.

94. Spot a dolphin: If you 're lucky, you'll get to see the dolphins do their grand act at Cherai beach. Applaud them as they spring out of the waters with a tremendous splash, only to take a dive back in.

95. Buy a Palmyra fan: In Kerala, you'll find small, handy fans made of medicinal herbal roots, palm fronds, bamboo splits and grass. Get yourself a portable, compact, cute and colorful little fan that comes in handy anytime of the day. When not in use, you could even put it up on the wall as a showpiece.

96. Stay in exotic resorts: Kerala's innovative hoteliers have amazing experiences in store for you. Some even have Theme evenings when centuries-old art forms like Kathakali and Mohiniyattom are performed as well.

97. Savor nectar: Beat the bees and butterflies to it in a banana plantation. Hold the tip of a banana flower (koombu ) to your mouth and suck the sweet nectar.

98. Watch thiruvathira: Thiruvathira, a traditional dance performed by women, has simple steps and a single rule - performers should be clad in a Kerala sari. Join them as they sing and move elegantly around a ceremonial lamp (vilakku) or a floral decoration (pookalam)