Getting Oriented

The small state of Kerala is separated from the rest of the country by natural boundaries—the Arabian Sea to the west and the high Western Ghats to the east. The thickly forested and mountainous eastern edge can only be reached by road. Its hilly and fertile midlands are spotted with coconut farms and paddy (rice) fields; its coastal lowlands are famous for the beaches and backwaters. Although most people never venture beyond the central backwater resorts and the well-developed beach towns in the south, the north's long beaches are also worth a visit.

  • Kochi. This colonial port city is packed with historical homes, churches, mosques, and a centuries-old synagogue where the city's small remaining population of Jews still worship.
  • Central Kerala. This region is blessed with natural beauty: beaches, the backwaters, stunning tea and spice plantations, and cool mountain wildlife preserves. It's also a busy tourist destination with crowds in season.
  • Southern Kerala. The main attractions here are the beaches in and around Kovalam and the laid-back atmosphere. It also holds the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram (also known as Trivandrum).
  • Northern Kerala. In this quiet area, you'll find long stretches of pristine sand and very few tourists.

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Keralan Culture

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