KERALA

The GODS OWN COUNTRY
KERALA, in the GODS OWN COUNTRY

This is a personally printed tourist guide, not meant to be sold in open market. Courtesy SHUBHYATRA.COM & KERALATRAVEL.COM

The beauty of Kerala cannot be just written or explained, it has to be experienced. Fringed with coconut palms that carpet the land from hills to shores, Kerala, the south-western state of India, is a land of many enchantments. Emerald green backwaters drench every pockets of this leaf-shaped country. Sun-kissed golden sands sprawled on the pristine Kerala beaches snatch every emotion of a solitary traveller. Dark, deep forest reserves carrying spicy aroma houses many exotic species in their sleeves. And above all, it is the magic of Ayurveda, that refreshes you again and again for a more exhilarating journey and you continue to do so in this God's Own Country

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A Holiday At The Sensational Beaches
Alappuzha Beach - In Tune With The Times Popular As : Backwater Destination Highlight : Nehru Trophy Boat Race Best time To Visit : After the monsoons (July- September) Plan a holiday tour to the exotic Alappuzha beach where you can even enjoy the fine art of doing nothing. Far from the pressures of the outer world, this fine excerpt, fringed with rows of palms, surely help tourists to wash away all negative thoughts and return with a clean soul. Engage yourself in the merriment of sand art, stretch yourself under the sun and get a cool tan on your skin, or you can just jog around, sinking your footmarks into the heart of the pristine white sands, that dot the landscape. Try this. Get up on an elevated pad and look down upon what surely be the best view of famous Alappuzha beach. From up there you would see kites circle above the dense plantations in the foothills. And you'd see wave upon wave of surf pound the beaches, each enticing layer filled with a promise of different experiences in Indian shores. And you'd see a paradise for the adventurous. Take up beach tours of Kerala to see the major attractions of the poular Alappuzha beach.

Nehru Trophy Boat Race In Alappuzha – Kerala

FACT FILE Beach Attractions : Lakes, Lagoons Open Sea, Beaches. To Shop : Sea Shells, Handicraft Items made from Seashells. Getting There
: Nearest Airport - Kochi International Airport - 85 km. Nearest Rail - Alapuzzha – 5 km. Don't Miss : Meeting the Sailors of Allapuzha and watch them catch Fish. Activities : Sunbath on Beaches, Boat Cruise, Fishing, Backwater Destination Cruise. Must Watch : Nehru Trophy Boat Race. Where to Eat : Hotel Green Corner, Hotel Aaryas, Gujarathi Street, Kalpakavadi Inn. Staying Options : Marari Beach Resort, Alleppey Beach Resort, Alleppey Prince Hotel, Marari Beach Home, Anamika The Villa, GowriHeritage Home. KERALA, in the GODS OWN COUNTRY | 3

Kovalam Beach - Making Waves In Water, Ripples In Your Heart Popular For : The Most Popular Beach in Kerala Highlights : Yoga and Other Health Related Activities Best Time To Visit : September-April Looking around this sun-and-sand paradise, it's difficult to imagine that Kovalam was once just a pretty fishing village with a prettier beach. In Kovalam, as the hippies discovered this hidden jewel long ago, the tourists - and the locales - inhabit different universes. The day-trippers from Thiruvananthapuram almost always climb the rocky promontory to Halcyon Castle, striding carefully for spectacular views of the sea, whereas trotters prefer to jaunt around the crescents, looking for an opportunity to cheer up a romantic evening. An added advantage for them are the seaside eating joints serving Italian food and signboards in German. Unfortunately, the rustic charm of the yore is missing, but there is no ways to complain. The sunny beaches will see to that.

FACT FILE Novelty Factor : One of the cleanest and safest beaches in the country, Kovalam is just 16 km away from the capital city of
Kerala. Beach Attractions : Open Sea, Beaches, Vast Stretch of Land, Vizhinjam Village. Around Kovalam : Poovar – 18 km, 15 kms from Mahabalipuram, 36 kms from Mahabalipuram. To Shop : Sea Shells, Handicraft Items made from Seashells, Paintings, Carpets, Metal Work, Woodwork Articles. Getting There : Nearest Airport - Trivendrum International Airport, Thiruvananthapuram – 16 km. Rail – Nearest Station – Trivendrum Central – 13 km. Road – Kovalam is off the N-H-47 Bypass. Don't Miss : Stay in the Ashrams and Experiencing Ayurvedic Treatments. Inside Tip : While Staying in the Ashrams do abide by the rules and regulations of the Ashram. Activities : Ideal for Kayaking, Swimming, Surfing and Skiing. Must Watch : The Palm Trees and Ebullient Waves of the Arabian Sea. Where to Eat : Sea Face Dosa Camp, Lonely Planet, Garcia, Swiss Cafe, German Bakery. Staying Options : Le Meridien, Raja Hotel, Hotel Samundra, Uday Samundra Leisurew Beach, Hotel Sea Face, Kadaloram Beach Resort, The Ttravancore Heritage, Somatheeram Ayurvedic Beach Resort. KERALA, in the GODS OWN COUNTRY | 4

Kappad Beach - History On the Shores Known For : A historic beach, Vasco da Gama landed here in 1498 Highlights : A Sprawling Rock that Protrudes into the Sea Best Time To Visit : September to February Kappad beach attractions include the sprawling rock that extends into the sea - like a portuguese hooligan - is an interesting feature of the landscape at Kappad. It was here that da Gama's envoy was astonished to be addressed in Castilian by a man from Seville, who had become a Kozhikodan Muslim. When asked what the Portuguese doing here, then came the historic reply " We seek Christians and spices". Try to touch the serenity by your heart, or rather let it touch you. Enjoy the pleasure of making sand castles, fight with the waves to save your foot prints, enjoy a few sips of coconut water..what else could make a leisure vacation more dramatic? Tourists can also pay a visit to the temple nearby, located on the rock. The shrine is believed to be 800 years old, and is visited by devoutees from all over the state. The ideas of holidays on the famous Kappad beach is ceaseless. Listen To The Fishermen Tales Visit to the famous Kappad Beach and you will be overwhelmed to experience many interesting and uncanny and uncanny folklores from the local fishermen. Savour a fresh coconut under the swaying palm trees and listen to their day to day activities. Take up beach tour of Kerala in India to see more.

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Kochi Fort - An Impeccable Blend of Fine European Culture Popular For : Fort Kochi Highlights : Fort Kochi Beach, Beach Carnival Best time To Visit : After the monsoons (July- September) As you will walk through the sinewy streets of the town towards the beach, you will simply wonder about the eternal sonance of the ebullient sea, always within your earshot but perpetually imperceptible to the eye. You can see stamps of silver sands, carelessly scattered on the grounds, ratifying a sea nearby, but where? And now when you are so close to the parapet, a visit to the first European fort built on Indian soil is a fine idea, isn't it? Perched regally on petrified time, Fort Kochi is not just a quaint township or a traveller's delight. It is a perfect poetry of folklore handed down the ages, a melting pot of culture that has emerged from three invasions, and a lifestyle that prides itself on its natural ardour to savour life, much the same way you would do about your holiday vacation in Kerala. The Portuguese made it in 1530, the Dutch played with it from 1663 and ultimately the British East India Company wrested the grand creation away in 1795. Housing the first European township and anchored on one of the finest natural harbours of the State, Fort Kochi over the chapters of history played the fascinating roles of a major military base, shipbuilding centre, a cultural hub, and a centre for Christianity, all in one. Want to enjoy beach vacations in Kerala? Cochin beach holidays on Kerala beaches along with the desire to see the famous attractions can anly be basked on Fort Kochi in Kerala.
FACT FILE Fascinations : The Beach of Kochiites, Sun Kissed Sands, being with Portugal, Judiasm Culture. Speciality : The architectural style of the buildings and lay-out of the Town mark out Fort Cochin from other Cities and Towns of Kerala.. Don't Miss : Plan a holiday to Fort Kochi Beach to experience building Sand Castles on the Beach. Inside Tip : Listen to the uncanny Folklores of Local Fishermen and seek the help of tour guides to translate the language for you. Activities : Build Sandcastles, Sunbath on Beaches, Boat Cruise, Fishing. Must Watch : The Fort Kochi. Other Attractions : St. Francis Church, Santa Cruz Church, Beautiful paintings in Roman Catholic Church. Staying Options : Fort Cochin Houseboat, Heritage Hotels, Bolgatty Palace. KERALA, in the GODS OWN COUNTRY |

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Varkala Beach - Even The Religion Takes A Dip Here Location : 46 km from Thiruvananthapuram City, Kerala Popularly Known as : Papanasham Beach Tourist Attractions : Black Sand Beach, Kapila Beach Take a bath in the bubbling waters of the hot springs, the sulphurous waters of which bring relief to a multitude of ailments related to the skin and musculo-skeletal structures. You might feel an empty syomach after a good bath, only because bathing in thermal water increases body's metabolism, thus aiding digestion. No doubt, bathing in hot sulpher spring increases body temperature, thus killing germs and viruses. These waters also rejuvenate and revitalise tired ageing bodies, providing a respite (though ephemeral) from the ageing process. All this comes as a gift of nature and requires no more than a refreshing shower under one of the cascades that spew the magic waters at the spas in the town. Far from boasting about modern amenities, the spas at Varkala are modest in appearance and basic in facilities, but still the magic of Balneotherapy (process of healing that uses hot spring water) is no less potent and those who have tested their potency always wish to return.
FACT FILE Around Varkala : Thiruvananthapuram – 54 km, Kollam – 37 km. Best Time to Visit : September to May. Significance of Beach : A 2000 Year Old Shrine of Lord Vishnu, the Janardana Swamy Temple. Getting There : Nearest Airport - Thiruvananthapuram International Airport - 46 km from Varkala is nearest International Airport. Rail – Nearest Station – Varkala. Road – Just 11 km off N – H - 47, which runs from Salem to Kanyakumari. Don't Miss : The mineral springs in Varkala as they are known to have curative properties. Inside Tip : The water of the beach is known to be holy. So, take a dip in-order to purge the body and soul of all impurities. Activities : Water Skiing, Back Water Cruises, Water Scooters, Motor Boats, Sunbath on Beaches. Special Attractions : Watch special Kathakali dance performed in the beaches of Varkala by renowned artists. Staying Options : Taj Garden Retreat, Green Palace Hotel, Palm Beach Resort, Panchavadi Beach Resort.

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BEYPORE BEACH Popular For : Ship building industry. Highlights : Beach, bridge built of stone and backwaters Best Time To Visit : After the monsoons (July-Sepetember) If you are bored with the mundane attitude of life and even more, can't find a place to relax, then no doubt Beypore beach is the right holiday destination for you. For centuries, the coastal strip of Beypore has been a famous ship-building centre. Its 'uru', the country craft built by traditional shipbuilders, locally known as 'khalasis', still has a swelling market and continues to pull Middle Eastern buyers from across the Arabian Sea. Beside being an economic focal point, Beypore is also famous as a maritime

destination, thanks to a voluminous fishing harbour, located nearby. See the world from the western banks of India, and you will see how the life revolves on the podium that is made up of naivete and moistened by drops of marine culture. If you have taken up a bech tour in Kerala, then Bypore beach is the hottest place. Enjoy a backwater cruise to reach the picturesque Kappad beach, still young to speak of its great historic importance. Wander around the little stone monument and visit the temple believed to be 800 years old. The ancient relics truly speaks of the bygone glory of this little patch of land, situated south of Kozhikode. Unspoilt and uncrowded, apparantly, the alluring backwaters of Kozhikode offers a bewitching experience.

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Leisure At Backwater Destinations
Alleppy (Alappuzha) - Looking Back With Waters Known As : Alappuzha Best Time to Visit : Monsoon deals are Expensive. Visit anytime during rest of year While on Alleppey holidays, enjoy the pleasure of feeling the shimmering waters pass between your fingers while on a boat ride, as you pass through the slender corridors amidst deep, dense vegetation. Touch the virgin green leaves of the paddy plants grown on the slant land beside. Wave back at the cheerful village children sitting on the banks. One can even invite some of them to hop in for a ride. In the evening, enjoy a walk along the banks of the Kerala backwaters. Get a pack of hand-made flour-balls from the local stalls and climb on one of the lanky coconut palms to feed the fishes racing underneath. It is a wonderful experience to see them cluster around in all sizes and colours, a staunch competition of survival going on beneath your feet. The canals throw up another study in contrasts. You will find boatmen rowing past the weeds with amazing grace even as the traffic hurtles above their heads on modern bridges.
FACT FILE To See : Backwaters, Alleppey Houseboats, Sree Krishna Temple, Ambalapuzha. Most Famous For : Backwaters, Houseboat Stay. Don't Miss : Snake Boat Race held on Second Saturday of August. Must Experience : Backwaters of Alleppey. Getting Around : Karumadi Kuttan - 4kms, Thakazhi's Village, St. George Forane Church, Chakkalathukavu Bhagavati Temple, Haripad Subrahmanya Temple, Mannarsala Nagaraja, Chettikulangara Bhagavathy. . What to Eat : Pal Payasam (Milk Kheer) Staying Options : Punnamada Backwater Resort, Palmgrove Lake Resort, Lake Palace Resort, Kovilakam Lakeside Villa.

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Kollam - You Will Lake It Location : Between the Eight-Cornered Ashtamudi Lake and the Lakshadweep Sea Known As : Cashew Country Best Time to Visit : August to April "Once you have seen Kollam you would no more need your illam (home)" - Local Proverb A houseboat trip is must in your Kollam itinerary. Get to the jetty near the bus station and you can see hundreds of colourful house boats resting by the canal, only when a tourist is seen do the picture spring up to life competing for business. If you are staying at one of the lakeside hotels, you can board the boat from there itself. The Kayal Pradakshina Cruise would take you to the Munroe Island, formed by the backwaters of Astamudi and Kallada River. However, the backwater tour from Kollam to Alappuzha is the longest cruise in Kerala and takes around 8 hours to culminate. It is a delightful ride, and you can see lotuses and water lilies growing in the water, water birds calling from the banks and otters splashing their hearts out. Take up a nice sunbathing spot on the roof of the boat and sit back, relaxed and enjoy the views. As the boat will continue its journey through the backwaters, you will pass through myriad rural settlements sited on narrow strips of land amid labyrinthine waterways. You can see the folks engaged in routine activities; boat men taking goods and materials from one village to the next, children swimming, women washing clothes, and fishermen winding up their fishing nets in traditional wooden boats.
FACT FILE To See : Colonial Relics, Dutch Quilon, Thirumullavaram Beach, Thevaly Palace, Ashtamudi Backwaters, Neendakara. Most Famous For : Cashew and Marine Industries. Don't Miss : Fishing with Chinese Fishing Nets. Must Experience : Stay in a Houseboat during a Trip to Ashtamudi Backwaters. Inside Tip : Kollam, is also blessed with backwaters. When you are into the waters always prefer a boat that is sailed by local sailors as they have better knowledge of backwaters. Where to Eat : Supreme Bakery – Cashew Biscuits, Green Pepper Pickle, Hotel Sudarsan – Chemmeen (Prawns), Erachi (Beef). Staying Options : Ashtamudi Resort, Hotel Sudarsan, Shantigiri, Ayurveda Centre, Aquaserene, Sarovarom, Valiyavila, Family Estate. KERALA, in the GODS OWN COUNTRY | 10

Kottayam - Trendsetter of Kerala Location : In South-Central Kerala, on Vembanad Lake and Meenachil River Famous As : Shopper's Destination Best Time to Visit : October to February Kottayam may be known for its backwaters and houseboats, but its religious monuments and heritage structures should not be missed by a tourist. Take a short walk to the south of the station and you are on the arterial Shastri road, which leads west to Seematti Circle at the heart of Kottayam, and there stands majestically the Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple. An edifice of immense grace and beauty, there is nothing ostentatious about this shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. Built by a Thekkumkur raja, this 500 year old temple is appropriately described as the epitome of classic Kerala temple architecture. Don't forget to visit the low-roofed stage, or the 'koothambalam', where the traditional Kathakali dance form is performed as a homage to the Lord.
FACT FILE To See : Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple, St Mary's Knanaya Church – Valiapally, St Mary's Orthodox Church – Cheriapally, Thazathangadi Juma Masjid, Backwater Escapes. Most Famous For : Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple, St Mary's Church. Don't Miss : Kottayam Experience is not Complete unless you test the Waters of Vembanad Lake. Must Experience : Shopping for Jeweleries in Kottayam. To Shop : Kasavukada – Travancore Saris. Allapatt, Alukka's and Bhima Jewellers – Jewelleries. Getting There : Air - Nearest Airport : Cochin International Airport. Rail - Kottayam Station connected to New Delhi by Kerala Express, Mumbai by Kanyakumari Express. Road - An hour's drive from Alleppey on N-H-47. N-H-49 to Thripunithura, S- H-15 to Ettumanur. Inside Tip : While exploring the backwaters of Kodoor river use the boat Jetty for Backwater Tours. Important Distances : 75 km S of Kochi, 153 km NW of Thiruvananthapuram. Kollam - 106 km, Alappuzha - 48 km, Bangalore - 616 km. Where to Eat : Karumpumkala – Hot and Spicy, Vyshali Restaurant – Fried Frog Legs, Anne's Bakery - Wheat Halwa, Best Bakery – Syrian Christian treats. Staying Options : Akkara House, Anjali Park, Pearl Regency, Paradise Resorts, The Windsor Castle. KERALA, in the GODS OWN COUNTRY | 11

The Witching Wildlife
PERIYAR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY Location : Thekkady - Kumily, Kerala Famous For : Tigers, Elephants Coverage Area : 777 Sq kms India is the land of tigers and one can't expect a return without seeing the king of the jungle in its natural habitat. Irrefutable pug marks of this ingenious animals is present everywhere, dotting the moist grounds of the terrain. But reading the forest, unlike reading a book, requires all the senses, and much can be said about the cannibal. Try this. Pick up a handful of mud from the pugmarks and rub it in your palms. Bring it closer to your nose and try to smell the fragrance. You will invariably know how the brute smells! Even if you don't spot a tiger in a single safari, seeing a herd of elephants at close quarters and a bewildering variety of birds are more than enough to satiate your appetite for the wild. The Periyar tiger trail comprises of two tour programmes (1N/2D and 2N/3D) and only medically fit travellers in the 15-65 age group can take part in. Conducted by poacher-turned-protectors of the area, the memorable itinerary covers around 25-30 km of the greens, depending on the route chosen. English speaking armed guards accompany the groups, which consist generally of five tourists and five guides.
FACT FILE Major Wildlife Attractions : Elephants, Lion-Tailed Macaques, Tigers, Great Indian Hornbill, Nilgiri Laughing Trush, Ceylon Frog Moth. Major Safaris : Elephant, Jeep Safari, Boat Safari. Other Attractions : Birdwatching, Sighting Tigers, Jungle Photography, Jungle Tours, Staying in Bamboo Groves and Huts, Connemara Tea Factory - 15 km from the Sanctuary. Best Time To Visit : September to March. Don't Miss : Sighting Birds like the Great Indian Hornbill. Getting There : Nearest Airport - Coimbatore - 55 km. Nearest Railhead - Palakkad – 75 km. Road - Bus from Palakkad to Mukkali – 80 km. Inside Tip : Do not forget to carry your Cameras, Binoculars, Caps, Goggles whenever you undertake a Safari in the Sanctuary. Where to Eat : Ashok Bhawan – unniappams, spicy bajjis, Noorjehan Hotel – Biryanis, Pathiris, Motton Curries, Curry House – Crisp Dosas, Appams. Staying Options : Sri Chakra International, Hotel Indraprastra, Hotel KPM International, Kanoos East Fort Resort, The Fort Palace Hotel, Rest House – Mukkali. KERALA, in the GODS OWN COUNTRY | 12

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary - All About High Nests
Location : Banks of Vembanad Lake, 15 km W of Kottayam Known As : Queen of Vembanad Best Time To Visit : Water Fowls, Siberian Cranes

If you are a bird lover then this is a place which will definitely satiate your avian appetite. It is really fascinating to walk over the leaf-carpeted lanes of the forest - a path you can trust on - and watching numerous alluring creatures in their nests on the green acme, chirping and taking flight every now and then. Look at those snow-white egrets, bedecked with delicate panache, amidst the dancing black and white storks - a natural chessboard with a single player to enjoy, time. Grey herons, with their black head plumes, poise as they interact with their neighbours. it is indeed a memorable experience to see blackheaded ibis, perching high on the uppermost branches and raising their wings to unveil crimson armpits. The cacophony of painted storks, with their yellow bills and pink tail ends, has to be heard to be believed. In addition, one can also see the native kingfishers painting the ecosphere in psychedelic colours, experience a walk under rookeries of egrets and lone golden-backed woodpeckers and even enjoy the twists and turns of the paradise fly-catchers
FACT FILE Major Wildlife Attractions : Waterfowl, Cuckoo, Owls, Egrets, Herons Water Ducks, Parrots, Teal, Larks, Flycatchers, Wood Beetle, Mangrove Forests, Green Paddy Fields and Coconut Groves. What to Do : Bird Watching, Exploring the Forest on Foot, Feeding the Birds of the Forest. Other Attractions : Houseboat and Motorboat Cruise, Tasting Delicious Kottanad Cuisine. Best Time To Visit : November to February. Don't Miss : To see the migratory Siberian Cranes. Getting Around : Kottayam, Alleppey, Cradomom Hills, Boat Cruises, Madurai, Kochi, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Munnar. Getting There : Nearest Airport - Kochi Airport Nedumbassery -106 km. Nearest Rail - Kottayam Junction – 15 km. Road - 15 km from Kottayam. S-H-1 links Kumarakom to Cochin and Trivendrum. Inside Tip : Take a Boat Cruise on the Emerald Green Backwaters of the Vembanad Lake. Important Distances : Kottayam – 15 km, Nedumbassery - 106 km , Periyar – 185 km. Where to Eat : Vembanad Seaood Bar, Restaurants - Ettukettu, Thattukada, Tharavadu, Fort Kochi, Pearlspot. Staying Options : Kumarakom Lake Resort, Coconut Lagoon, Taj Garden Retreat, Backwater Ripples, Illikkalam Lake Resort, Golden Waters.. KERALA, in the GODS OWN COUNTRY | 13

Idukki (Eravikulam) National Park - The Silence of The Tahrs

The famous wildlife attractions in Idukki national park is colassal. From the main road, a smaller estate road leads you 5 km to the Rajamallay Checkpost, gateway to the Eravikulam National Park. After getting an entry ticket, one can walk along the road, keeping an eye open for the famous Tahr. The whole route is bedecked with wild flowers and green creepers, that provide a grand vista to the beholder. At one time, the tahr would be baited in the reserve with salt, but fortunately, they have now became so ubiquitous that their fearlessness has become a cause of concern for the forest department. The mere sight of terrestial orchids by the road and a couple of green imperial pigeon and emarald doves playing with them, is enough to transform a weary soul into an alcove of imagination. You might have to murmer "Paadasparsham kshsmaswa may" (forgive me for stepping on you) which is even better than to be attacked by blood-thirsty leeches that infest the dark and deep patches of the forest. Don't forget to visit the Interpretation Centre, which houses a small collection of wildlife exhibits, hundreds of photos and books of wild animals and plants. Take up Eravikulam National Park safari to see the most popular wildlife attractions of Kerala.
FACT FILE Major Wildlife Attractions : Egrets, Herons, Darters, Drongoes, Teals and Hundreds of Other Birds. Major Safaris : Safaris in Wildlife Sanctuary, Temple Visit, Tour of Spice Gardens. Other Attractions : Malankara Dam, Kurasha Para, Thomankuttu Water Falls, Annamalai Temple, KariKodu Bhagawathy, Sri Krishnaswamy Temple. Best Time To Visit : September to October. Don't Miss : The view from the National Park that is situated 7000 ft above sea level is absolutely breathtaking. To Shop : East Fort Compound – Mundus, Gold Jewellery, Brass Lamps, Kairali Handicrafts near Statue Junction – Straw Bags, Mats. Inside Tip : Try to record the melody of birds using your Binoculars. Important Distances : Kochi – 65 km, Ernakulam – 57 km, Thekkady - 60 km, Munnar - 50 km, Thodupuzha - 60 km, Neriyamangalam - 22 km, Vellathooval - 33 km. Where to Eat : Gopuram, Hotel Aarathi, Hotel Woodlands, Pappen's Restaurant, Maurya Monarch. Staying Options : River Banks, Greenberg Resort, Pimenta, Maurya Monarch, Hotel Stoneage.

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Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary - "When There Is a Wild, There Is a Way" The best way to know the jungle more closely is to take a jeep safari, in the early hours or in the evening just before sunset. It is amazing to see dainty deer strolling gingerly through the bushes or caring gaur licking the forehead of their loved ones. In the course of a day's drive, one can expect to see herds of spotted deer, jackals, wild pigs in significant number, may be a leopard or the much celebrated great Indian king cobra. As darkness engulfs the forests and moon emerges from behind the tall bamboos, one can expect to see dark shapes looming out of the thick curtain of the night. As you hear some infuriating stories related to a tiger seen 'yesterday' or 'last week' or 'a couple of days ago', you think if you have that traveller's luck and out of that sense of self-pity, you see a pair of glowing bulbs amidst the creepers. Petrifying, isn't it? A single visit to the interiors of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is enough to give you a lifetime experience to boast of. In the morning, hire a friendly guide and set out to explore the forest on foot. Enjoy the grand vista of the fluttering avians perched on tree tops. Look at the crested serpent eagle on its perch making a marvellous picture of sovereignty and refinement. Gaze at those alluring red-wattled lapwings, busy in practicing a variety of aerial acrobatics, or the tiger butterflies flying just above your head, all for your fun.
FACT FILE Major Wildlife Attractions : Elephant , Bison, Spotted Deer, Tiger, Leopard, Bear and Wild Boar. What to Do : Visit to the worldfamous Edakkal Caves, Enjoy staying in ethnic styles in bamboo huts and tree houses. Best Time To Visit : June to October. Don't Miss : Paddle on the traditional treadmills that are used to irrigate the paddy fields in Wayanad. Inside Tip : Learn about the Traditional Lifestyle of the Tribes residing in the Region. Important Distances : Calicut -110 km, Kasargod- 216 km, Trivandrum- 502 km and Cochin- 286 km. Where to Eat : Hotel Pankaj and Haritagiri – for decent Malabar Food, Green Gates, New Form Restaurant – Malabar-style Biryani, Kuruva Restaurant – Traditional Malabar Food, plus Muglai, Tandoori and Chinese Dishes, Rain County – Authentic Keralite Cuisine. Staying Options : Rain Country Resort, Vythiri Resort, Jungle Park Resorts, Wynberg Resorts, Greeshman Resorts, Steam Valley Cottages, Green Gates, Hotel Haritagiri, The Woodlands , Royal Palm Holiday Home.

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Silent Valley National Park - Where Silence Is The Only Sound You Can Listen As you drive up the road with its hairpin curves of the Kundali Hills to Mukkali, you will experience a swift shift in the mood of the atmosphere. As you will reach Mukkali, the boisterous winds will request you to slow down, and let your eyes roll over the picturesque terrain, like a hungry sparrow hunting over tiny grains of wheat. Silent Valley, eulogized as a scientist's dream and a researcher's paradise, is situated at about 50 km north-west of Mannarkkad. Ecologists describe this area as the sole surviving pad of evergreen rain forests, that were once a signature of the Sahya Ranges. Climb the giant steel watchtower (60 mt) of the Silent Valley National Park, and look at the 'Kunthipuzha' river - popularly known as Kunthi - flowing like a diaphanous silver ribbon down the Western Ghats. The geographical isolation of the plateau, cut off on all sides with steep ridges and escarpments, has kept this pad with 'the richest expression of life on Earth' unsullied by man until the middle of 19th century. This fine sense of seclusion has also allowed the valley to endure as an ecological paradise, espousing diverse species of flora and fauna over 50 million years, that is said to be the evolutionary age of the Silent Valley. A testimony to the above belief was discovered in the year 2003, when a new frog genus, supposed to be of the Jurassic era, was found in the woods.
FACT FILE Major Wildlife Attractions : Elephants, Lion-Tailed Macaques, Tigers, Great Indian Hornbill, Nilgiri Laughing Trush, Ceylon Frog Moth. Major Safaris : Elephant, Jeep Safari. Other Attractions : Birdwatching, Photography of beautiful Butterflies. Best Time To Visit : September to March. Don't Miss : Sighting Birds like the Great Indian Hornbill. Getting There : Nearest Airport – Coimbatore - 55 km. Nearest Railhead – Palakkad – 75 km. Inside Tip : Do not forget to carry your Cameras whenever you undertake a Safari in the Sanctuary. Important Distances : 40 km NW of Mannarkkad, Coimbatore – 55 km, Palakkad – 65 km, Mukkali – 23 km. Where to Eat : Ashok Bhawan – Unniappams, Spicy Bajjis, Noorjehan Hotel – Biryanis, Pathiris, Motton Curries, Curry House – Crisp Dosas, Appams. Staying Options : Sri Chakra International, Hotel Indraprastra, Hotel KPM International, Kanoos East Fort Resort, The Fort Palace Hotel, Rest House – Mukkali. KERALA, in the GODS OWN COUNTRY | 16

Secular Gods In God's Own Country
Sabarimala - Abode of the Country's Own God, Ayyappa ! Located : 210 km SE of Kochi and 235 km NE of Trivandrum Dedicated To : Lord Ayyappa Major Festival : Thiruvabharanam When To Go : November 15-January 15 Mandalapooja (Nov.15th) and Makaravilakku (Jan.14th) are the two main events of the pilgrim season that attract thousands of devotees from all over the country. Legends prevail about Ayyappa's identities, 16 in all including the one in which he is believed to be incarnated as Buddha. The most common belief praises his birth as the union of Shiva and Vishnu, when the former was struck by the beauty of Vishnu and asks him to take the female form. Unlike certain Hindu temples, Sabarimala temple has no restrictions of caste or creed, and the pride of the place at the shrine is given to a Muslim deity to be heeded in God's secular vision. True individual action is called for as opposed to religious rites. The austerities include 41 days of vegetarianism, abstinence from sex and dressing in the sacred colours of blue (the celestial colour), ochre (of the renunciate) and black (of one who is dead to the world). Interestingly, on the day of 'Thiruvabharanam' (journey to the sacred site), every year two kites appear in the sky above the Pandalam Palace (the starting point) and are belived to be auspicious for the journey. Starting the journey on January 14th, the 'Thiruvabharanam' procession takes two days to reach the Sabarimala temple. You can plan your visit so as to coincide with this day that marks the appearance of a celestial light, called 'Makarajyothi'. Rationalists correlate the phenomenon to a sleight of hand by the Kerala Forest Department, but devotees believe the lights are 'aartis' performed by 'devas' and 'rishis' residing in heaven.

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Jewish Synagogue – The Ancient House of Beauty Location : Mattanchfascinating-india-tourerry, Kerala Made In : 1568 A.D. Famous As : Oldest Synagogue In Asia Best Time To Visit : Post monsoon (September-April) The Jewish Synagogue at Mattancherry in Kerala, built in 1568 AD, is said to be the oldest synagogue present in the common wealth countries. The exquisite construction still houses the scrolls of the original Old Testament and the copper plates, which recorded the grants of privilege, bequeathed by the Kochi rulers. The Jewish synagogues of Kerala have a great sense of religious tolerence in them. Unfortunately, the synagogue was partially destroyed during the wars of 1662 AD, but was later rebuilt by the Dutch. As time darted by the windows of mind, more segments were added. Don’t forget to see the 18th century clock tower, standing within the premises like a solitary sentinal, eager to move but coalesced with the responsibility to see the far. Walk along the corridors and you will be amazed to see the , the exquisite hand painted blue Chinese tiles, that provide an impressive sight. Interestingly, none of the two hundred year old tile resembles one another. This famous synagogue in Kerala India, also houses many finely wrought gold and silver crowns gifted by the various patrons of the state. When in Kerala, plan a visit to few of these places – as the Jewish Synagogue in Kochi – and see how they have blended tradition with architecture with loopholes from where the rich culture of India can seep in. Take up Jewish synagogues tour of Kerala to see the famous synagogue in India.

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Pathanamthitta - Town of Gods Location : Thiruvalla is 95 km SE of Kochi and 125 km NW of Trivandrum Popular As : Pilgrimage Centre Major Attraction : Sree Vallabha Temple, Religious convention at Maramon Shop For : Metal mirror works at Aranmula Every year for centuries, thousands of pilgrims have made their way up the sacred slopes of the Sabari Hills to the abode of Ayyappa in Pathanamthitta. But beyond its religious reputation, Pathanamthitta also has something that very few people know. It is the only place on earth where metal-mirrors are still painstakingly handcrafted and where a heritage village practises the 'vaastu shastra' (ancient Indian occult way of home designing) in its purest form. It is the place that affords Asia's largest Christian gathering, upon a river bed, that dry up every February to stage the venue. Pathanamthitta is surely a place which needs to be discovered, explored and known. One cannot just believe what is so special about this trivial town of Kerala. For one, it is home to the only temple in Kerala where Kathakali is performed as an offering to God. Then there is a pillar made of a single block of granite, dating back to 57 BC...a church that looks like a temple..the 'Mannara Kinnam', a rust resistant hour glass made of a special alloy. Surely the list is endless, but you can make a trip to Pathanamthitta to tick, atleast, beside a few points. Surely you cannot bypass the event which commences with the grand offering of 12,000 bunches of 'padatti pazham' (a variety of yellow bananas) at the 4000-year old Sri Vallabha Temple in Pathanamthitta. The ceremony is also marked with a grand elephant parade along with an awe-inspiring Kathakali Dance performance, which is more of like a religious offering than a form of art. Visit the sweet stalls of Pathanamthitta that has everything to make your mouth water - from heavenly halwas, juicy jalebis to creamy milk sweets. Relish them as they melt in your mouth.
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Guruvayoor Temple - Temple That Heals Location : 80 km from Kochi Famous As : Healing Temple, Bhoolokavaikunta (heaven on Earth) Major Attraction : 23-ft high 'deepastambham' (pillar of lamps), Koothambalam Best Time To Go : October-April On your temple tours of Kerala, do not miss visiting the famous Guruvayanoor temple in Kerala. Also praised as the Bhoolokavaikunta (heaven on Earth), the Guruvayur temple is renowned for its healing powers. One can find devotees making an amazing range of offerings here to the Lord; like 'thulabaranam' where a person is weighed against offerings of bananas, sugar, jaggery or coconuts. The temple is also a favoured spot for solemnising marriage ceremonies, and you can catch beautifullly adorned brides orbiting the sacred fire along with their grooms seven times - a commitment that they will be together for seven incarnations henceforth. Elaborate pujas all throughout the day and evening. As night falls and a thousand oil lamps illuminate the temple, you will be mesmerised to see a perfect ambiance created to stage 'Krishnattam', a dance form, dedicated to Krishna, that was once performed only in Guruvayur. One can experience how a Zamorin king only had a divine vision of the peacock feather that trims the crown of the Lord, when an artist enact Krishna's birth with the shimmering lights creating a magical ambiance at the backdrop. Devotees can take a bath and purify themselves at the temple pond (Rudratheertham), situated on the northern side of the premises and thereafter can enter the temple preferably in wet clothes. Remember not to enter the temple in shirt, banyan, pyjama, lungi, chequered clothes, footwear etc. There are facilities to keep them outside the temple. One can also get miniature human figures, replicas of hands, legs, eyes, abnormal body eruptions etc. made of gold and silver from the temple office near the Kodimaram (Flag-staff). Offer prayers to heal or refresh yourself as your need may be. The 23-feet high 'deepstambham' or the pilar of lamps when illuminated in the evening casts a magical spell on the eyes of beholder. Also remember to see the beautiful murals embellishing the walls of the sanctum, bringing the life of Lord Krishna to life.
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Churches of Kerala - Old Postcards of Christianity Major Churches : Malayattoor Church, St. Francis Church, St. Mary's Forance Church Malayattoor Church : Bearing the footprints of St. Thomas St. Mary's Forance Church : The oldest church in Kerala Enjoy Kerala tourism to see the churches of Kerala. If you look back from the pages of history and ask yourself what is the most important and far reaching change that Indian society has experienced during the last thousand years, one of the unequivocal answers that you will face would be in relation to the formation of several communities based on a perceived religious identity. Christianity in Kerala is believed to be as old as the Christian era itself, thus giving some ancient churches in Kerala. It is a land which still reverberates with the dictums of the Apostle who said he would not believe in Christ's death and resurrection unless he saw the wounds of the risen Christ. It is he, who is believed to be the father of Christianity in India. Yes, it is no other than St. Thomas, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ. In Kerala, 'Marthoma' is a popular Christian denomination, 'Mar' for saint and 'Thoma' for Thomas. It is said that He established seven and a half churches in Kerala - Kodungallur, Palayur, Paravur, Kokomangalam, Niranam, Chayal, and Kollam. Each of these churches are unique in its own way. Visit the Malayattoor Church, located 52 kms from Kochi on Malayattoor Hill, is believed to be one of the ancient catholic shrines built by St. Thomas. The sacred site has footprints and a life-size statue of St. Thomas which is a must see for every tourist. Plan to visit the church on second Sundays, after the Vernal Equinox (March 21) and you can see pilgrims climbing the 2000 feet high hill to reach the church, affording a magnificent vista from the sprawling landscape. Originally named as Santo Antonio and presently owned by the Church of South India (CSI), the church presents a exquisite facade with multi curved sides; an indeed impressive marvel to behold. The St. Mary's Forance Church. Dedicated to the Holy Mother, this is a famous church in Kerala, that attracts thousands of pilgrims from every pockets of the country. Visit during November-January, and you can rejoice the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Feast of St. Sebastian, held during this time. Take up Kerala tours to see he famous churches of Kerala.
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Rejuvenating Regimens of Ayurveda
Kalari Kovilakam - Life In A New Light
FACT FILE Surrounded By : Paddy Fields, Hills. Facilities : Room service (24hr), Foreign Currency Exchange, Secretarial Services, Airport/Bus/Train/Ferry Transfer (Paid), Hotel Safe, Newspapers / Magazines, Travel Booking/Confirmation, Doctor/Nurse (Resident), Photo Processing, Driver's Accommodation, Postal/Courier Service, Sauna/Steamroom/Spa, Library/Reading Room/Area, Car Parking. Holistic Healing Experience : Yoga and Meditation, Rhythmic Massages, Medicated Baths, Herbal Diets, Ayurvedic Regimens Based on your Physician's Recommendation. Other Assurances : Anti Aging, Weight Reduction, Detoxification, Stress Management or Curing Specific Ailments. Clothes to be Worn : Dhoti, Kurta, Wooden 'Padukas'. Inside Tip : Whenever you visit Kalari Kovilakam be on a long Vacation so as to utilize the time in getting yourself healed of all diseases at this Ayurveda Resort. You need to spend 14, 21 or 28 days to experience Holistic, Traditional Ayurveda. Getting There : Tourists who are travelling by air, can disembark at Kochi (100 km) or Coimbatore (75 km) and can hire a Taxi to reach Kovilakom.

Sree Sankara Ayurveda Vaidyasala - With An Aim To Heal
FACT FILE Ayurvedic Programs : Based on Samana and Sodhana. Treatments Offered : Ayurvedic Massage , Essential Ayurveda, Yoga, Spiritual Energy Massage. Assurances : Several chronic and severe ailments such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Paralysis, Facial Palsy, Motor Neuron Diseases, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Multiple Sclerosis, Various Spine and Brain Diseases, Hepatitis, Gastric and Peptic Ulcers respond to very specialized Therapies. Don't Miss : A Medicated Bath and trying out Herbal Diets that will Rejuvenate you. Inside Tip : Maintain the discipline of the Ayurvedic Centre. Must follow the Schedule. Getting There : A 154 km drive from Thiruvananthapuram or one can catch a K.S.R.T.C bus to reach the desired destination. KERALA, in the GODS OWN COUNTRY | 22

Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Shala - Home of Ayurveda
FACT FILE Accommodation : Family Blocks, Double Rooms, Single Rooms and Suits. Treatments Offered : Dhara (Oordhwanga Dhara & Sarvanga Dhara), Pizhichil, Navarakkizhi, Sirovasti and Sirolepa. Other Assurances : Herbal Body Care, Body Slimming, Hair Care, Skin Care. Don't Miss : To Experience an Ayurvedic Rejuvenation Program, based on Vedic Science, that helps to eliminate the excessively accumulated toxins and to boost up the body's Internal Immunity System. Inside Tip : Here, in Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Shala, Kerala, Treatment is based on Panchakarma. So, try to learn about the Panchakarma Principles. Getting There : If one is coming by Air, it is easier to travel the 36 km by Road from Karipur International Airport, Kozhikode to Kottakkal.

Shayadri Ayurvedic Centre - Curing In The Laps of Nature
FACT FILE Surrounded By : Organic Tea Gardens and Herbal Plantations. Attractions : Accommodation available from Budget to Luxury accommodation, Herbal Museum, Sahyadri Organic Tea Factory and Plantation. Explore 400 varieties of herbs planted on 35 acres inside Center Premises. Holistic Healing Experience : Medicated Baths, Rejuvenation with Herbal Diets, Meditation, Herbal Therapy. Other Assurances : Treatments of diseases like Migraines, Fractures, Arthritis, Heart Diseases, Sinus and Cancer. About Sahyadri Tea Factory : Location – Near Valanjanganam, Kuttikanam. Timings – 9am – 4 pm. Inside Tip : Purchase Organic Tea from the Sahyadri Organic products outlet at Kuttikkanam. Getting There : Nearest Airport - Cochin International Airport, Nedumbassery - 190 km. Nearest Railhead - Kottayam – 119 km. Road - On N-H–220.

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Cochin City
A cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas, Cochin or Kochi is perhaps the second best poet on the Western Ghats. Known as 'Queen of the Arabian Sea', it reflects the best of all that Kerala has to offer. A rich past and a vibrant present, Kochi gained the status of the business hub of the region long back. Comprising of mainland of Ernakulam, the islands of Willington, Bolgatty and Gundu in the harbor, Fort Cochin and Mattancherry on the southern peninsula, and Vypeen Island north of Fort Cochin, all the parts of Kochi are well-linked by ferries. Being a seaport, many foreigners came to the place and one can clearly see the influence of Chinese, Jews, Arabs and Europeans in its culture and lifestyles of the natives. It boasts of the oldest church in India, the famous old-traditioned Chinese fishing nets, 500-year-old Portuguese houses, old tiled houses built in the Chinese pagoda style, synagogues, a Jewish community whose roots go back to the Diaspora and mosques. The harbor is still hale and hearty and the main exports of the region are pepper, seafood, rubber and coir. However, it attracts tourists because of its serene backwaters, beautiful lagoons fringed by swaying coconut palms and picturesque islands. The older parts of Fort Cochin and Mattanchery look more like a fusion of medieval Portugal, Holland and an English country village into one and are situated on the tropical Malabar Coast. Today, Cochin is one of India's largest ports and a major naval base.

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Prime Attractions

Dutch Palace, Mattancherry
As one may surmise from the name, the Dutch were not the original builders of the Mattancherry Palace. It was built by the Portuguese in 1557 as a gift to the Raja of Cochin, Veera Kerala Varma, partly as a compensation for a temple they'd destroyed and partly as a bribe to gain favors from the ruler. It was only in 1663, when the Dutch won over from the Portuguese, that they renovated the palace and thus, it is known as the 'Dutch palace' too. The exteriors of the Mattancherry Palace are barren with stark white walls and sloping brown roofs. A two-storied quadrangular building with a small temple dedicated to the deity Palayannur Bhagwati in the central courtyard, the interiors of the Palace are in sharp contrast with their beautiful ceilings and painted walls. The Central Hall on the upper storey, once used for the coronation ceremony of Cochin's Rajas, has a beautifully carved wooden ceiling. The Dining Hall's ceiling is ornamented with a series of brass cups but the ceiling of the Assembly Hall is perhaps the best of all. A series of beautifully executed and well-preserved murals decorate the walls of the rooms depicting scenes from Hindu mythology such as those from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Puranic legends. The murals are extensive and among the best in India. They cover approximately 300 sq ft of wall. Among the more erotic paintings is a mural in the Ladies' Bedchamber that depicts Krishna making love to all of eight gopis simultaneously! The museum housed in the Palace exhibits a rich collection of regal memorabilia including costumes, palanquins, turbans and weaponry from the days of the Cochin rajas.
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Fort Kochi Of Ernakulam
Fort Kochi or Fort Cochin was the first European fort built on the Indian soil in 1530 by Portuguese with the permission of its then ruler. It was then known as 'Manuel Kotta'. Dutch gained its possession in 1663 until British wrested it from them in 1795. Situated on one of the finest natural harbors of the state, it houses first European township that soon became an important commercial centre and trade centre that flourished under the British. It soon became a major military base, cultural hub, shipbuilding centre and centre for Christianity, all in one. The highlights of this fort are VOC Gate, Bastion Bungalow, Jewish Synagogue, Bolgatty Palace and Chinese Fishing nets. While the tourists throng to Vasco da Gama Square, where now-obsolete Chinese fishing nets are still in use, the stalls surrounding it coin the opportunity by making fresh delicious seafood and tender coconut available to them. The Portuguese originally built Dutch Palace within the fort. It later passed on to Raja of Kochi through the hands of Dutch, who placed high value on it and it was here that many coronations of the ruler of the region took place. Leslie Bungalow from the 19th century belonged to the coffee merchants who traded off in the name of Pierce Leslie & Co. and enchants one with its beauty that has distinct Portuguese, Dutch and native influences on it. Typical wood panels and waterfront verandahs make it all the more endearing to the visitors. The church of Santa Cruz Basilica, the Hill Palace museum, the Jew Town, Museum of Kerala History, Cherai Beach and St Francis Church, the oldest European church of India are other architectural delights of the region.

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Jewish Synagogue, Mattancherry
The prosperous Jewish trading community built the Jewish Synagogue in 1568 whose links with Kerala begin in Kodungallor (Cranganore) in the north of the state. The oldest synagogue in India, it was partially destroyed in the war of 1662 and was rebuilt by the Dutch. In the mid-18th century the clock tower was added and the floors paved with exquisite hand-painted blue willow tiles from China. Two hundred years old, no two tiles are alike. The interior offers more beautiful surprises: a Belgian chandelier, the great scrolls of the Old Testament, and the copper plates on which were recorded the grants of privilege made by the Cochin rulers to the Jewish community in the 4th century. There are also five finely wrought gold and silver crowns gifted to the synagogue by various patrons. The rabbi will normally give visitors a full account of the synagogue and the history of the Jews in Kerala. Although this ancient community of Cochin has now dwindled to a few families, strong elements of their culture and tradition as well as the Hebrew language remain in Jew Town, which is what the area surrounding the Mattancherry Synagogue has come to be called. The by-lanes that wind around Jew Town offer charming sights of houses built in Dutch, Portuguese and British styles.

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Kathakali Centres
It is Kerala's very own, much celebrated dance drama. Kathakali evolved in the 8th century from 'Ramanattam' a dance drama created by Kottarakkara Thampuran, a great admirer and promoter of traditional art forms. Kathakali draws its theme from the wealth of Indian mythology and folklore. The performer is assisted by vocal and percussion accompaniments while the dancer through 'hasta mudras' or hand gestures expounds the theme. Expressions of face and eyes hold the key to perfection. Unique among the Indian dance forms, Kathakali ranks high among the Indian dance forms. Noted for its archaic costumes, weird make up, the elaborately painted faces often mistaken for masks and grand headgears, Kathakali is perhaps the only dance form in India in which the masculine aspect of the dance is preserved in its elemental vigor. Some of the noted Kathakali centres in Kochi are India Foundation located at Kalathiparambil Road, near the Ernakulam Junction Railway station where the daily show begins at 6.45 p.m., the Cochin Cultural Centre situated at Manikath Road, behind Medical Trust Hospital where the daily show begins at 7 pm, Art Kerala situated at Kannanthodathu lane, Valanjambalam and one may also catch the exotic shows of the dance at Kerala Kathakali Centre functions at Fort Cochin near the Chinese Fishing Nets.

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Kodanad
Kodanad lies on the southern bank of Periyar cradled amidst the scenic beauty of the high ranges. 45 km to the north east of the city of Cochin and 12 km to the east of Perumbavoor town, it was once one of the largest elephant-capturing centres of South India. In 1977 the elephant capturing was illegalized and hence came to an end, but the elephant kraal and training centre are still there intact. Now there are six elephants in the Kodanad elephant camp out of which three are available for riding by tourists. These three elephants have been specially trained for safari and are provided with saddles that have been carefully designed to make the riding comfortable. Elders as well as kids can enjoy riding them without any discomfort. The regal experience is certainly one, which nobody would like to miss. A five-minute country boat ride across the Periyar can take one to the famous Malayattoor Church. There is also a mini zoo at Kodanad sheltering wild animals which have become unfit for survival in the forest.

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Mangalavanam
Known for its small bird sanctuary, Mangalavanam mangroves is situated in the Ernakulam District of Kerala State. Bharath Petroleum Company borders the northern and eastern portion of the area, South by Emakulam Railway goods station, West by Salim Ali Road 16 and Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute. This small mangrove area comprising of a shallow tidal lake in the centre with its edges covered with thick mangrove vegetation, the lake here is connected with backwaters by a canal. Mangalavanam gained importance because of the mangrove vegetation and also due to the congregation of communally breeding birds. Apart from these, it is considered a 'green lung' of Ernakularn City, which is polluted by many industries and motor vehicles. A timber yard was located in the area in the yester years, exporting timber to various countries. At present, no such activity is being carried out. The guesthouse was renovated in the year 1986 and regular staff was appointed to protect the birds. Exotic species like Eucalyptus and teak was planted in the area in previous years. Forty-one species of birds were recorded in Mangalavanam mangroves representing 25 families. The most common bird species found at Mangalavanarn were Little Cormorant and Black-crowned Night Heron. Highest species richness of birds was found in the months of May and July. House Crow is however the villain here, the main predator of the eggs and nestlings of other bird species.

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St. Francis Church, Fort Cochin
Fort Cochin is believed to be the oldest European Settlement in India and St. Francis Church was the first European Church to be built in India. The history of this Church reflects the colonial struggle of European powers in India, from the 15th to 20th Centuries. The Portuguese Vasco da Gama was the first European to discover the sea route to India. In 1503 Alphonso Alburquerque was given permission by the Rajah of Cochin to build a fort at the mouth of the river. Within the Fort they erected a church of wood, which was dedicated to St. Bartholomew. A new Church was completed in 1516 and dedicated to St. Antony. The Church remained in the Order of St. Francis until the arrival of the Dutch in 1663. They demolished all the convents and churches of the place, except the Church of the Franciscans, which they reconditioned and converted into their Government Church. The change of name of the patron saint was presumably during the time of to the Anglicans. On the northern side can be seen Portuguese gravestones. The Dutch gravestones are on the southern wall. The Vasco da Gama stone is on the ground at the southern side. The Church became a protected monument in April 1923 under the Protected Monuments Act of 1904. The Cenotaph in memory of the residents of Cochin who fell in the First Great War was erected in 1920.

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Thattekad Bird Sanctuary
Though recently established Thattekkad is one of the most important bird sanctuaries in South India. A boat cruise from Bhoothathankettu to Thattekkad is an unforgettable experience through the evergreen forests nesting migratory and indigenous birds. Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, also known as the Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in honor of the pre-eminent birder of all times in India, is located two hours drive from the port city of Kochi, near Kothamanagalam in Ernakulam district, on the northern bank of the Periyar river. The sanctuary was notified in 1983 based on a recommendation made by Dr. Salim Ali many years previously. He described Thattekad in the 1930's as the richest bird habitat in peninsular India, comparable only with the Eastern Himalayas. Much of the forest has now been converted to agricultural and plantation areas, but the surviving areas certainly give glimpses of the rich bird diversity of the once widespread lowland forests of Kerala. A trip through this sanctuary would certainly be a bonanza for any birder with its over 270 species in a relatively small area of 25 sq km area. One should se the rare Mottled Wood Owl, Spot-bellied Eagle Owl, Malayan Night Heron, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Rusty-tailed Flycatcher, Grey-headed Bulbul and the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon.

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The Pareekshit Thampuran Museum
An archeological museum situated adjacent to the Shiva temple in Durbar Hall Road, Ernakulam, the museum features a rich collection of the 19th century paintings, Pre-historic monuments, Old coins in a numismatic gallery, Scriptures in stone and Plaster of Paris, Copies of mural paintings and the collection from the Cochin royal family. The museum figures as one of the most notable ones in the whole country. The erstwhile guest room or the Durbar Hall of Kochi Rajas is a sprawling, traditional Kerala style building. The museum was once a place to greet the guests of the royalty and a venue for the official ceremonies and meetings organized by the royal family. Now, under the patronage of State Archaeological Department, it has been aptly named after Rama Varma Parikshith Thampuran, the Family's last ruler.

Willington Island
Named after the former Viceroy of India, lord Willington, Willington Island is connected to the mainland Ernakulam by road-cum-railway Venduruthy Bridge. An artificial lake that was made by the dumping of the materials that were dug out while Cochin Port was being deepened. Willington Island today plays an important role in the city of Kochi and houses some of the district's best hotels, commercial and industrial offices. Apart from these, it is here that the airport is positioned along with the shipbuilding yard, wharf, the Southern Naval Command Head Quarters and the customs house. Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industries has been strategically placed here, as is the Government of India Tourist Information Office in the vicinity of the airport. This island is a hub of activity with a number of offices, branches of national and international banks, travel agencies and souvenir shops warehouses and one cannot possibly miss visiting the place while being in the city of Kochi, if just for some necessity.

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Fairs & Festivals of Cochin

Attachamayam
Celebrated to commemorate the legendary victory of the Raja of Kochi, the festival of Attachamayam is held on the eighth day of the Malayalam month of Chingam, which usually falls in August or September at the historical town of Tripunithura, near Kochi. A grand procession is taken out on this occasion, which is full of pomp and show, colors abound the pageantry, replete with caparisoned elephants, varieties of folk art forms, floats and other musical ensemble. Some believe that this spectacular procession is to mark the beginning of the Onam Festival, the festival of peace and equity. However, ther are others who believe that the Maharaja of Kochi took the Athachamayam march from Tripunithura, once capital of the Cochin estate to the Vamana temple of Thrikkakara as a military adventure or at least to show off his royal splendor and glory. With the end of the era of kings and monarchs, the tradition had died out, only to be revived again in the 1960's. Also known as Athagosham, this weeklong festival now attracts many tourists from India and abroad to Tripunithuta with its highlights being ancient and modern art forms such as folk dances, competitions and other entertainment programs.

Onam
The Harvest Festival of Kerala, is one of the most popular one too. The harvest festival is the most popular festival of Kerala. The legend behind the festival goes back to the golden reign of the great, kind and mighty demon king Mahabali. This demon won over the kingdom of gods in war and Vishnu came to their aid. Lord Vishnu then disguised himself as a small Brahmin boy, Vamanan, and asked for three steps of land. The wish was granted and Vamanan then assumed the huge size and covered the
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whole land with his two steps and then asked the King for the place where he could put his third step. The king to honor his word offered his head as the third step and Vamanan pushed Mahabali into the abyss. However, he granted him a wish that he could he could visit his kingdom and people on a particular day once a year, the day which usually falls in the ten-day festivity of this harvest season. A floral carpet called "Athappookkalam" in front of houses, Carnivals, Boat Races, Dance, Music and Feast consisting of a the traditional sweet dish of Kerala 'Payasam' on plantain leaf characterize Onam.

Cochin Carnival
Held annually in the last week of the year in Fort Kochi, this merry making feast is observed to welcome the New Year. Dating back to the times of Portuguese during the colonial days, it has evolved with time as a party time for the young hearts with its unique games, competitions and illumination. However, the highlight of the Carnival remains the huge procession on the New Year Day, complete with a caparisoned elephant leading it, drums and music, spectacular floats, myriad folk art forms, Panchavadyam and even North Indian dances. Starting since Solidarity Day on December 22, it is a ten-day long festival and is usually ended by a flag-off in dignified silence to pay tribute to the brave martyrs who died while fighting for their motherland. It was revived in 1984, and has now gained immense popularity and all the activities organized during the Carnival are centred around its five main slogans, namely, Participation, Peace, Progress, Adventure and Environment. Besides the adventure sports like Beach Bike Race and Sea Swimming, there are Beach Football, Beach Volleyball, Shuttle Badminton and Ball Badminton Tournaments are organized during the course of the festival.

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Indira Gandhi Boat Race
The boat races of Kerala are very famous. Many boat races are organized throughout the year in the state of Kerala. Kuttanad and the upper Kuttanad area are just one of the most famous boat racing spots. Since most of the natives of Kerala are agriculturists and fishermen by profession, boat races help to unwind them and show off their graceful and muscular physique as they work with each other as a team to win the race. Both the oarsmen and boats are selected carefully irrespective of their caste, creed or classes, merely, on the basis of their performances. Thus, a communal harmony is promoted through such events and a bond of union binds all the classes as one. The rolling backwaters of Kochi are very invitiong and thus a grand gala is held here in the last week of December as a final touch to its spectacular Tourism Fair. Cheering crowds, zest and festivity abound when the sixteen majestic snake boats race neck to neck in gaiety, each vying for the coveted trophy of the race, which was instituted in memory of Indira Gandhi, the late Prime Minister of India.

Jewish Festivals
It is believed that the Jews of Kerala migrated here in the 1st after the second temple of Jerusalem was destroyed in 72 AD. The Jewish community settled mainly in and around Mattancherry, Kochi and brought with them the Jewish customs and festivals. The Passover Festival is celebrated annually to commemorate the liberation of Jews from Egyptian slavery followed by the Pentecost Festival and the feast of the Tabernacles. Then, there are their New Year celebration in September or October and Hanukkah, the 'festival of lights' too. Passover or Pesach festival is celebrated by the Jews in March or April as possibly sprung up as a Spring festival
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originally until it became related with the escape of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Pentecost is usually celebrated on the fiftieth day of the Passover ans was originally an Old Testament festival related to agriculture and was celebrated in order to welcome the Spring. However, in the early New Testament period, it somehow became associated with the celebration of God's creation of His people and his gracious gift of the law on Mount Sinai. Feast of Tabernacles is one of the oldest festivals of the Jews. It is known as the Feast of Ingathering in the Bible and in Hebrew, it is known as Sukkoth. Similarly, Hanukkah is the jewish Feast of Dedication.

Malayatoor Perunal
A feast is held at the famous Catholic Church at Malayatoor on the Sunday after Easter to commemorate the visit of the great apostle, St. Thomas. About 52 km from Kochi, atop the hill, the church is dedicated to him and it is believed that he came to India in the first century A.D and visited Malayattoor twice. Pilgrims of all faiths visit the place chanting the name of the Apostle. The church is set about 2000 feet high and the grand feast that is organized on this day as a part of the celebration is called the 'Perunnal'. This feast is usually organized in March or April. One can safelt say that the name of the festival is a combination of the name of the place, where it is held and the word 'feast' itself in the native language.

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Chinese Fishing Nets/Vasco da Gama Square :

Places to Visit: Cochin

These huge cantilevered fishing nets are the legacy of one of the first visitors to the Malabar Coast. Erected here between 1350 and 1450 AD by traders from the court of Kublai Khan, these nets are set up on teak wood and bamboo poles.

Vasco House:
Believed to have been the residence of Vasco da Gama, this is one of the oldest Portuguese residences in Fort Kochi. Built in the early sixteenth century, Vasco House sports the typical European glass paned windows and balcony cum verandahs characteristic of the times.

Old Harbour House:
This elegant old bungalow built in 1808 is in the possession of Carrit Moran & Co., renowned tea brokers, who now use it as their residence. The house was once a boat club.

VOC Gate:
The large wooden gate facing the Parade Ground, with the monogram (VOC) of the once mighty Dutch East India Company carved on it, was built in 1740.

Pierce Leslie Bungalow:
This charming mansion was the office of Pierce Leslie & Co., coffee merchants, founded in 1862. A representative of the Fort Kochi colonial bungalow, this building reflects Portuguese, Dutch and local influences.

Loafer’s Corner/Princess Street:
One of the earliest streets to be constructed in Fort Kochi, Princess Street with its European style residences still retains its old world charm. The best view of this quaint street can be had from Loafer’s Corner, the traditional meeting place and hangout of the jovial funloving people of the area.
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Cherai Beach:
This lovely beach bordering Vypeen island is ideal for swimming. Dolphins are occasionally seen here. A typical Kerala village with paddy fields and coconut groves nearby is an added attraction.

Bolghatty Island:
This island is famous for its palace of the same name. The Bolghatty Palace was built in 1744 by the Dutch and later taken over by the British. Today it is a hotel run by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, with a small golf course and special honeymoon cottages.

Willingdon Island:
Named after Lord Willingdon, a former British Viceroy of India, this man-made island is surrounded by beautiful backwaters. The island is the site of the city's best hotels and trading centres, the Port Trust and the headquarters of the southern naval command.

The Hill Palace Museum, Thripunithura (Open 0900 -1230 hrs; 1400 - 1630 hrs. Closed on Mondays):
10 km from Kochi, Hill Palace, the official residence of the erstwhile Kochi royal family, was built in 1865. The palace complex consists of 49 buildings in the traditional architectural style of Kerala and is surrounded by 52 acres of terraced land with a deer park and facilities for horse riding.

Parikshith Thampuran Museum:
This museum houses a collection of coins, bronzes, copies of murals and megalithic relics of Kerala.

Vamanamoorthy Temple:
Inscriptions from the 10th to the 13th century are found in this temple in Thrikakkara, near Ernakulam.

Santhanagopala-Krishnaswamy Temple:
The original foundation of this temple was laid in 947 AD according to the inscriptions found here.
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