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Kerala Travel Guide
Kerala, a state in India is known as the tropical paradise of waving palms and wide sandy beaches. It is a narrow strip of coastal territory in Southern India that slopes down the Western Ghats in a cascade of lush green vegetation, and reaches up to the Arabian sea. Kerala borders the states of Tamil Nadu to the east and Karnataka to the north. It is also known for its backwaters, mountains, coconuts, spices and art forms like Kathakali and Mohini Attam. The most literate state in India, it is also a land of great religiosity, where you can find Hindu temples, mosques, churches and even synagogues. The tourism department of Kerala boasts that the state is God's Own Country.
Kerala was named as one of the "ten paradises of the world" and "50 places of a lifetime" by the National Geographic Traveler magazine.Once you visit, you will realize that this is not false advertising. The state really is blessed with great natural beauty. Abundant rainfall means that you can find lush greenery pretty much throughout the year. A vacation here is an opportunity for rejuvenation. You can get an Ayurvedic oil massage, spend a day or two on a houseboat with nothing to do but watch palm trees pass by, or just laze around on Kovalam or Varkala beaches.
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Major Tourist destinations
Kerala has three distinct seasons. The Summer, Monsoon and Winter. March to late May is summer. Late May to mid October is the Monsoon or Rainy Season. Mid October to late February counts as Kerala's rather mild winter.
The people of Kerala speak Malayalam (a palindrome when written in English). However, most educated people speak English and Hindi as well. As Malayalam is similar to Tamil, locals may understand spoken Tamil with some difficulty. Almost all bus routes and other important signs including name boards are written in Malayalam and some in English. Railways and other central government establishments also carry signs in English & Hindi.
By PlaneThere are three airports in Kerala, with flights to domestic and international destinations. The airports are at Kozhikode, Kochi(Nedumbasseri) and Thiruvananthapuram. The airports have several carriers operating international flights around the world. Most carriers offer connection flights to one of the airports in Kerala. Domestic destinations accessible by direct flights from these airports include Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Agatti, Hyderabad,Mangalore,Goa and Delhi.
By TrainIndian Railways operates several trains to and from (and within) Kerala. Trains into Kerala start from all the neighbouring states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, etc. Long-haul direct train services from cities like Delhi and Mumbai are also available.
Be aware that trains are the most popular method of transport and almost all trains in Kerala originate or terminate in Thiruvananthapuram or Ernakulam and are usually heavily booked. Buy your tickets as early as possible.
By BusInter-state private and government buses operates between neighboring states. Usually the journey is performed in the night so that you can escape the heat of the day.
It is recommended that you consider booking long distance bus tickets on "Air Conditioned Volvo buses" operated by all operators as the quality of the other buses vary significantly.
Trains, buses and taxis provide the easiest way to get around Kerala. Trains are good for long distance travel, say from the north to the south.
Taxis are good but expensive way to get around for short distances. Do negotiate the price before you get into the taxi.
Buses are good for very short travel. Both government and private buses travel between and within cities. Buses within cities are very crowded and if you travel on them, please take care of your belongings (wallet, passport) as pickpockets are not rare.
Auto-rickshaws (also called auto) are another convenient mode of transport for very short travel - not too expensive and fast. Most of the larger railway stations and all the airports have "pre-paid" auto-rickshaw and/or taxi stands. Just tell them where you want to go and you will get a slip of paper with the destination and amount written on it.
Kerala cuisine is distinctly different from food elsewhere in India. Rice is a staple here, unlike the wheat-eating north of India. Seafood is also a big part of the diet. Quite a large number of traditional dishes will have coconut paste in it. The oil used for cooking is also often coconut oil. Unlike much of India, beef is also popular in Kerala. Food in Kerala tends to include a variety of spices and there are a few fiery dishes.