Sights & Attractions in Kerala
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Outside of the historic, spice-trading city of Kochi, attractions are rustic: quiet beaches spiked with palm trees line the west coast; the hilly eastern interior is heavily forested. Kochi is the anchor of low-lying central Kerala, a region dominated by lazy inland waterways, rice fields, and fishing boats; the backwater lifestyle is best experienced from the deck of a slow-moving boat. Farther inland, you'll find tranquil tea and spice plantations as well as two national parks. At Lake Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, near Thekkady, you can observe creatures in their native habitat from the comfort of a boat. Rajamala Wildlife Sanctuary, in the Evarikulam National Park near Munnar, is where you'll find the endangered nilgiri tahr, a shy but sweet-tempered mountain goat. The hills surrounding Thekkady and Munnar are lovely for trekking, rich in waterfalls and birdsong. Southern Kerala is best known for the beaches near Kovalam, which lie south of the stately capital city, Trivandrum (Thiruvanandapuram). Undeveloped, conservative northern Kerala is the state's cultural heartland; you can witness some of the region's most spectacular festivals here. Kerala's Muslim community is concentrated in the north, and Christians in the central and southern regions. Many of Kerala's low-slung, modest temples restrict entry to Hindus only.
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