Kerala is a land that is richly endowed with the best of nature. Be it its fine beaches, gorgeous hills, graceful lagoons or awe-inspiring art and culture, this southern state on the western coast of India has something for every kind of traveller. If you only have five days to spare, here is the ideal itinerary to get you started on your wanderlust-worthy trip to ‘God’s Own Country’.
Arrive in Kerala via Kochi by booking your tickets at the Cochin International Airport. Explore the city of Kochi and its most famous suburb, Fort Kochi, which is a treasure trove of art, culture and history. Begin by leaning all you can about Kerala through a visit to its museums, such as the Kerala Museum, the Kerala Folklore Theatre and Museum, the Hill Palace Museum and the Indo-Portuguese Museum. Move on to Fort Kochi and Mattancherry, where you can explore the Mattancherry Palace, the Paradesi Synagogue, the ancient curios and artifacts at Jew Town and waft through the Spice Bazaar, which is infused with the aromas of spices that have been traded across the world for centuries. Spend the evening watching the sunset at the Chinese Fishing Nets.
Travel to Munnar, the land of verdant hills and tea plantations. You can take an early morning bus at 5:20 am from Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus station in Kochi, which reaches Munnar by 9:30 am. Visit the Tea Museum, where you can learn all about the picking and processing of tea leaves. Move on to the actual tea plantations that surround the place. Take a trip to Eravikulam National Park to catch a sight of the indigenous Nilgiri Tahr. Head over to the Top Station for magnificent views of the surrounding hills and the villages far below. Don’t forget to buy different varieties of tea and original spices and honey.
Travel to the backwaters of Alappuzha, for which you will have to book a houseboat in advance. Take the 6:20 am bus from Munnar that reaches Alappuzha at 12:50 pm or drive down, which takes a little over five hours. Hop into your houseboat and cruise over the splendid lagoons. Known as the ‘Venice of the East’, the voyage via houseboat will take you through the sights and sounds of everyday village life. Relish in authentic delicacies, such as karimeen fry (pearl spot fish), and the local alcohol, toddy. To extend the experience, stay overnight on the houseboat. This is also an apt break that will give you some rest between your journeys.
Day 4: Saunter around at the enticing Varkala Beach
Take the 8:15 am KSRTC bus, which reaches Varkala, the hippie hangout, at noon. Alternatively, driving down will be faster at less than three hours. This is another destination to relax in as you can laze by the famous Varkala Beach, drinking in the superb sights of the admirable cliffs that line it. Indulge in watersports and adventure activities, such as paragliding. Hang out at the cafes on top of the cliffs and catch a beautiful sunset as you bid adieu to the day.
Day 5: Explore history and culture in Kerala’s capital, Thiruvananthapuram
At a distance of just 44 kilometres, there are constant buses from Varkala to Thiruvananthapuram that take about two hours to reach, so choose any bus in the morning, according to your convenience. Visit the richest temple in the world, the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Move on to the Kuthiramalika Palace (Mansion of Horses), a remnant of the rich royal history of Kerala. Spend the evening at Shankumugham Beach, marvelling at the beautiful sculpture of the mermaid, Sagarakanyaka. Conclude your trip in the capital of Kerala by booking your return flight from Trivandrum International Airport.