Kerala is a vast state with much to see. One of the top tourist destinations in the world, it is thronged by visitors from across the globe. The state is thus highly tourist-friendly and affords easy transport options for travellers. Choose from numerous options such as road transport – bus, train, autorickshaw, taxi – to waterways such as ferry, jhankar, and boats. Here is a guide to how you can travel around God’s Own Country.
The invaluable KSRTC & KURTC
The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and Kerala Urban Road Transport Corporation (KURTC) are the lifeline of the state. These ubiquitous buses are the cheapest and sometimes fastest means of transit. They are present in every city, town, and village, and reach the most remote corners of the state. Sometimes rattling, but always sturdy, these buses have transferred the people of this land from one place to another since 1961. The trusted carriage of every Keralite, KSRTC has come a long way over the years as they are now available in comfortable low-floor AC buses on certain routes. The minimum charges range from ₹7 (£0.08) to ₹21 (£0.25) depending upon the travel time and comfort level of the bus.
Local and Passenger Trains
Local trains are the most convenient and comfortable form of travel between districts of Kerala. They also afford beautiful views of the gorgeous landscapes of the state. Schedule charts and details are available at all major railway stations.
Autorickshaws and City buses
Within city limits or for short distances, the best forms of travel are KSRTC ordinary buses and privately owned city buses which are available every minute at every stop in the state. Another option is the autorickshaw aka auto which can be opted for if you prefer to have the vehicle all for yourself and reach the doorstep of your destination. Autos are unmetered, so keep in mind the while choosing an auto, 1) seek advice regarding the price from local people, 2) agree upon the cost of journey with the driver before hiring, and last but not least 3) bargain.
The Kochi Metro started its services in 2017 and has been a reprieve for the inhabitants of the busy city. The first line of the Metro plies between Aluva and Maharajas College stations, and will soon extend further to Petta station. With a minimum fare of Rs 10 (£0.12), it is cheap and the most comfortable form of travel within Kochi. Built on overhead lines, the journey affords fine views of Kochi city.
Uber and Ola are available in big cities like Kochi, Trivandrum, and Calicut and are quickly spreading to lower tier cities like Thrissur etc. They are a good option to keep a check on your travel budget.
Cruise on ferries and jhankars
Kerala is a land of waterways and travelling its several backwaters, lakes, and rivers calls for transit through ferry services. Motor boats are the most prolific form of transport in these regions. The ferry service is most popular in Fort Kochi to travel to Willingdon Island and Vypin. You can also travel in barges called Jhankar. Charges begin at Rs 3 (£0.03). Houseboats and canoes are the staple mode of commute in Alappuzha district. They are priced at Rs 400 (£5) and onwards.
The following are the three international airports in Kerala, of which CIAL is the most connected airport with regular flights to all major cities in India and the world.
Cochin International Airport Limited, Nedumbassery – CIAL (IATA: COK)
Trivandrum International Airport, Vallakkadavu (IATA: TRV)
Calicut International Airport, Karipur (IATA: CCJ)
Kerala has an extensive railway network with frequent trains connecting the state well with the rest of the country. The state has 81 main railway stations spread across 14 districts. Almost all interstate to and fro trains in Kerala connect with any of the three railway junctions namely, Trivandrum Central (TVC), Ernakulam South/Junction (ERS), Shoranur Junction (SRR).
Long distance bus services are provided by the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and several privately owned companies on a daily basis. All main cities in Kerala are well connected to major cities and pilgrimage/tourist centres in South India like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, etc. Buses of varying comfort levels, from non-a/c buses to a/c sleeper buses are available.