Friday, September 19, 2008

51 Things to do in Kerala (Gods own country)

  1. Wake upto the world’s best breakfast Kerala’s spread of morning dishes vellayappam, Uppuma, iddli, puttu, masala dosa,appams etc. have 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.
  2. Walk-through paddy fields Here’s different walking experience. Venture in to 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.
  3. Tip toe across a coconut trunk bridge In the interiors of Kerala, you’ll come across plenty of small water bodies with these extremely narrow Bridges. Watch the native folk cross them with case, but think twice before you do. It isn't your cup of tea, don’t worry. Further down the water’s edge you’ll 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.
  5. Take a swig of toddy Ask your tour guide to arrange for fresh madhura kallu (sweet toddy extracted from the coconut palm) and have it the Kerala way with exotic karimeen pollichathu (baked fresh water fish) or spicy pickles.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 .
  8. 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.
  9. See 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 Kochi, you can select your favourite 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Savour 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 payasam- the dessert. Served on a plantain leaf, the meal is eaten with the fingers.
  13. Wear a Kerala saree Stun your friends in Kerala saree - five metres of fine off-white cotton edged with golden sari, that lends an extraordinary elegance to the person wearing it. Each piece is specially woven on a traditional handloom.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Ride on 8 tonner without wheels At the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady, you> and your friends can majestically into the scenic jungle on an elephant. A mahout will guide you on your enchanting journey.
  17. 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.
  18. Follow the tiger’s trail 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.
  19. Design a floral pattern during Onam, the harvest festival in August/September, you can see colourful, beautiful floral decorations in the courtyards of Kerala’s homes. Try making one with family and friends.
  20. 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.
  21. Feel the rain on your body Kerala’s invigorating monsoon will cleanse you. Refresh you, 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.
  22. 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).
  23. Get an Ayurvedic massage Gift yourself new life. Surrender to the magical fingers of specially trained masseurs. To medicated baths that will refresh you. Herbal diets that will replenish you. Yoga that will revitalize you. And meditation that will recharge 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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 Thrissur Pooram.
  27. 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.
  28. Visit the local markets Small stalls with fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken… High pitched salesmen luring you with impossible bargains. Visit these bustling markets or chandas for fresh buys.
  29. Go bananas In Kerala, red, green and yellow are synonymous with various types of plantains’. These digestives 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.
  30. 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.
  31. Cheer racing oxen Entertain yourself at a Kumbala, the local ritualistic bullock race of Kasargod or a Kaalapoottu – the agrarian sport of Palakkad.
  32. 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.
  33. Stay in a tree house. Spend romantic nights in the tree houses of Palakkad washed in the sea.
  34. Have a mud bath. Go in for mud therapy and discover its healing properties at the Kavil Bhavan Yoga and Cultural Centre at Nileswaram, Kasaragod. eet scent of the forest flowers, and let the sounds of the forest fill up your dreams.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. Bath 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, heal yourself.
  38. 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.
  39. “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.
  40. 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.
  41. Ride in an autorickshaw Explore the streets of Kerala in an autorickshaw, 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.
  42. Peep into your future The fortune teller on the street has your future written on his cards – your career, your life, you life partner and more. Just show him your palm and wait while his parrot picks your card from the pack.
  43. Spin coir See nimble fingers at work as they spin water treated coconut fibre into long ropes with a traditional hand spindle in the suburbs of Kollam. You can shop at a number of roadside stalls for brightly coloured coir door mats, wall hangings and carpets.
  44. Learn exotic art forms Watch kathakali, mohiniyattam, theyyam or thiruvathira and pursue one that interests you most. Learn how a story unveils through the eyes, fingers, feet and myriad expressions of the artist.
  45. 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.
  46. Walk the lanes of Fort Kochi Put on your hat and sunglasses, wear comfortable sandals and embark on a walking tour of Fort Kochi 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.
  47. 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 metre while pouring it from glass to glass, blending it well and building up a tempting froth in the process.
  48. Climb rugged heights. Not all places to visit in Kerala are on well travelled roads. Or on roads at all. Hike up rugged terrains at Munnar, Wayanad and Kakkayam (Kozhikode) for an exhilarating experience. If you haven’t tried rock climbing before, our experts will teach you the tricks.
  49. Engage in water sports An adventure sports lover will rarely find time to stay idle in Kerala. Her beaches provide you with unlimited watersporting options of wind surfing, rafting, sailing, power boating and even that of a simple catamaran ride.
  50. Take a train through paradise A train journey is an interesting way to experience Kerala. Get a window seat and watch the landscape unfold like pages of a colourful picture book, or acquaint yourself with your fellow travellers who make interesting profiles.
  51. Treat your sweet tooth. The famous Mithai Street of Kozkikkod has everything to make your mouth water – from heavenly haluvas, juicy jillebies to creamy milk sweets, Relish them as they melt in your mouth.

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