It’s that time of year again here in the UK. People have settled into the efforts and promise of a new year, the rain is pouring, the winds are howling and biting cold all causing innumerable ‘sick days’. The minds of many will already be focusing on getaways to warmer and more pleasant climes. What better place for a great winter holiday than Kerala, God’s Own Country in South India?
I am aware that I have discussed the pleasures of holidaying in Kerala before on this blog. Yet a key part of the philosophy of My Wise Owl is discovering and employing the most efficient business methods, and one of the best is repetition. Repetition is the key to practise which is, needless to say, at the core of all success. It doesn’t hurt to go over and think about something pleasant, and I imagine that thinking of the warmth, smells and people of Kerala will go a long way to lift the gloomy winter mood (winter has its positive aspects though – there are few things better than the sharp bite of a winter wind in the morning; and of course snow and Christmas are great fun!).
Kerala is frequently mentioned as ‘God’s Own Country’, an entirely apt nickname. A lush, fertile green landscape awaits you almost as soon as you get off the plane. That is not all. If you are lucky enough to be landing in the South Indian state early in the morning, then you will get an awesome treat. A radiant sunrise over the sea, the rays of the Sun gently reaching out to the coconut trees. This is a great experience and well worth getting a window seat on the plane when you fly in. In fact when the flights into Kerala bank (turn) before coming in for landing, you also get a great view of the little fishing boats going out for the day’s catch, as well as the sandy beaches around the capital of the state, Thiruvananthapuram.
Last time My Wise Owl talked about the houseboats and waterways in Kerala. These are fantastic experiences, certainly to be recommended regardless of whether you are an experienced tourist or just a casual holidaymaker. However the great thing about this Indian state is the sheer diversity of experiences to be had. Kerala has long been known as a land of ancient Temples, as a key centre of Hinduism. Many of these temples are architectural wonders, such as Shree Padhmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram. They are several hundred years old, at least, and offer stunning aesthetics. A veritable window into an ancient and wise world.
There is also a booming traditional health industry in Kerala which is also a centre of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medical discipline. Ayurveda massages are commendable, relaxing for mind and body, great for helping to relax and destress. There are great Ayurvedic retreats and centres in places like Varkala in Kerala, which is about 50 minutes away from Thiruvananthapuram airport. If alternative or traditional medicine is your thing, then Kerala is the place for you.
It is not only tradition and relaxation which Kerala state offers. Foodies will appreciate the spices and smells of the eateries. If you are a seafood lover, then the fried fish and crab and curries which you can try will certainly whet your appetite. Proper spicy, authentic Indian cuisine. Moreover it is fresh and healthy, not excessively oil based cooking but more dependent on spice and curry leaves, which a perfect combination for people is looking to watch their diets for health. Kerala has long been known as the ‘Land of Spices’, as an ancient spice trading power. Try the sadhya, the traditional Kerala meal which is served on a banana leaf rather than a plate. This can be veg or non-veg, with rice, curries and pickles rounding off a balanced and delicious offering. It is certainly something almost unique in the world, well worth checking out.
The state of Kerala is fast developing, as is much of India. It has reasonably well developed infrastructure, with three international airports, a metro in Kochi – lauded for its extensive use of solar power- all operational, and a semi-high speed rail line coming soon. Travelling across the state is a simple affair. If you really wanted an enjoyable journey, take an auto rickshaw to different tourist destinations. The feeling of wind on your face as you ride on is great! There are big malls selling everything from modern goods to arts and crafts and textiles. In many ways Kerala now blends a modern tourist experience with tradition, in every sense.
If you are wondering where to make your winter (or summer) getaways, look no further than the amazing south Indian state of Kerala. Lush, green, and with something for everyone, it may be just the thing for you!