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15 Top Kerala Attractions and Things to Do

What to See and Do in Kerala

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The unique variety of attractions in Kerala ensures that this tropical south Indian state is high on the list of people's places to see in India. Its unique culture and extremely picturesque setting, which contrasts with the fast-paced modern world, make Kerala the perfect destination for relaxing and rejuvenating! Don't miss these top Kerala attractions and things to do.

Looking for things to do around Kochi? Check out these Top Kochi Tours as well.

Visiting Kerala during the Onam Festival? Don't miss these Top 5 Onam Attractions.

1. Cruise the Backwaters on a Houseboat

South India, Kerala, Backwaters, Kettuvalum (houseboat)
Pierre Cheuva/Photononstop/Getty Images

At trip to Kerala wouldn't be complete without a trip along the Kerala backwaters on a houseboat. The lush green palm-fringed landscape, diverse wildlife, and houses and villages that line the backwaters make a journey along these waterways seem like a journey through another world. It's one of the most tranquil things you can do. The Kerala backwaters are a memorable backdrop for a romantic Kerala getaway as well.

2. Experience Traditional Village Life

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Mark Daffey/Getty Images

Kerala's famous backwaters are dotted with small villages where it feels like time has stood still. Visiting them is a very different way of experiencing the backwaters and the life that exists along them. You can even have a meal with a local family there and hear their stories.

3. Get an Ayurvedic Treatment

Getty Images/Lisa Romerein.

Ayurveda is the medical side of yoga. It's India's traditional natural healing system, which has been practiced for over 5,000 years. Most places that offer Ayurvedic treatment are located in Kerala, due to the climate and abundant supply of medicinal plants and herbs there. Whether it's a simple massage that you're after, or a treatment for a medical problem, Kerala is the place to get it.

4. Attend a Temple Festival

Image: Kerala Tourism.
Kerala temple festivals are elaborate and exotic, with the highlight being the elephants. The festivals feature large processions of bejeweled elephants, drummers and other musicians, colorful floats carrying gods and goddesses, and fireworks.

5. Spend a Day with Temple Elephants

Getty Images/Martin Child.
Love Kerala's elephants? There are around 650 of them in captivity, and nearly half participate in temple processions. It's possible to have a relaxed and intimate encounter with a temple elephant. You can visit one of the places that houses them, and help their caretakers ride and bathe them. Travspire offers day tours, departing from Kochi and Thrissur.

6. Get a Cooking Lesson or Take a Food Tour

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Kerala is renowned for its cuisine, featuring delicious seafood and coconut flavors. If you're not content to simply feast on it and would also like to learn how to cook Kerala style, you'll be pleased to know that there's a wide range of options available. They range from proper residential culinary holidays to casual cooking lessons. You'll find many of the popular ones listed in this article.

7. Catch a Kathakali Performance

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Image: Kerala Tourism

Kathakali is a very unusual and ancient form of dance-drama that's traditional to Kerala. You won't get to see performers dressed up like this every day, that's for sure! The look, with its red bloodshot eyes, borders on grotesque. The movements of the dance are subtle, yet they tell a meaningful mythological story. Performers are required to undergo intense training, including hours of eye exercises, when learning the art of Kathakali. Try the Cochin Cultural Center or the Kerala Kathakali Center to see a performance. Classes are also offered in Kathakali and other art forms.

8. Catch a Theyyam Performance

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Image: Kerala Tourism.
The small town of Kannur, in northern Kerala, is known for its secluded beaches, mysterious masked spirit-possession theyyam rituals, and hand loom weaving. The theyyam season runs from October until May and Kerala Tourism has a comprehensive calendar of theyyam events.

 

9. Explore Historic Fort Kochi

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Chris Caldicott/Getty Images

Known as the "Gateway to Kerala", Kochi is an enchanting city that's had an eclectic influence. Arabs, British, Dutch, Chinese, and Portuguese have all left their mark there. The architecture and historical sites in Fort Kochi draw most of the visitors to the area. Fort Kochi is an excellent place to explore on foot or bicycle.

10. Watch a Snake Boat Race

Image: Kerala Tourism

For a few months every year during the monsoon season, Kerala comes alive with colorful snake boat races. Typical snake boats are 100 to 120 feet long, and hold around 100 rowers. Each of the villages in the region has its own snake boat, which they take great pride in. Every year the villagers get together and race the boats along the lakes and rivers.

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