One of the most exotic and culturally rich experiences you can have in India lies in the South, in the beautiful province of Kerala. You will discover here a world of picture-perfect sites andsceneries, with a rich mixture of excitement and relaxation in the most unique and fresh way possible to make for a well-rounded vacation for both families and couples. While Kerala has a diverse range of treats to offer to its heavy share of tourists, I have taken the time to round up some of the most interesting and exclusive experiences you can enjoy in South India. 1. Watch a Kathakali Performance When visiting such a location as Kerala, I feel one must indulge in a once-in-a-lifetime experience that cannot be found anywhere else. The unusual Kathakali performances are just that. This dance-in-drama consists of elaborate colorful costumes and make-up and subtle, classical dance moves which relate ancient mythological stories to the audience. This is a tradition unique to Kerala which dates back to the 17th century, and is an experience you have to experience personally to truly enjoy.
You can catch these performances in tourist areas throughout Kerala, but the most are found in Cochin which has daily performances. The most popular here are the Cochin Cultural Center and the Kerala Kathakali Center.2. Experience the local cuisine South Indian cuisine is known for its sharp, aromatic flavors, coconut infused curries and delectable seafood. Delicious vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes served with rice and cassava and generously spiced to tantalize your taste buds will make for an exotic culinary experience you won’t soon forget. The most popular main course dish in Kerala, Sadya, consists of a combination of various side dishes including Sambhar, Papadum, Kichadi and bananas, served with boiled rice atop a large banana leaf; now that’s a meal you don’t see every day. If your interests don’t stop at eating but extend into cooking as well, there are various cooking classes offered by local families, and even entire residential culinary holidays available. If you’re a foodie, you will definitely find love at Kerala! 3. Meet the exotic wildlife at Periyar You can’t say India without thinking of Elephants! There are various chances to pet, bathe, feed, and ride these magnificent beasts in Kerala and I would definitely not miss this chance. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady is well known for its elephants and tigers accompanied by various other exotic animal species. You should definitely try a thrilling Safari through the deliciously green forest, preferably on Elephant-back! Also worth a visit are the Periyar Tiger Reserves which offer some 50 of the South India’s legendary Royal Bengali Tigers.
[ Further Read: Top 10 wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala ]4. Cruise the Backwaters Alleppey, with its picturesque waterways, has been dubbed “the Venice of the East”. You cannot visit Kerala and not take a trip down the Alleppey Backwaters on one of the local houseboats or canoes. The banks dotted with houses and villages, the vibrant green landscape and the chance to spot scampering wildlife as you cruise along offer a magical experience which is sure to make you forget the world and put your mind at peace! 5. Get an Ayurveda Treatment To maximize your holiday get-away experience, it is a must to get India’s very own version of the perfect spa experience with an Ayurvedic treatment. This perfect blend of spices and herbs was medically concocted some 5,000 years ago, and helps detoxify the skin, muscles and organs and relax and rejuvenate the mind, body and soul. Kerala offers some of the best Ayurveda spas and resorts, and even a chance to get your treatment while sailing the Backwaters! 6. Experience a Theyyam Performance Theyyam is an Indian religious festival with various rituals, Gods and Goddesses, dances and music, grotesque costumes and colorful make-up. It is believed to bring prosperity and eliminate hindrances, and Theyyam itself is even believed to be a God which the locals pay homage to. If you visit Kannur between October and May on your next Kerala vacation, do not miss the chance to view this spectacular event. 7. Watch and Learn Kalaripayattu Kalaripayattu is Kerala’s version of ancient martial arts and watching it being performed by the local professionals is a sight to behold. These professionals are trained to synchronize the mind and body in a unique blend of the scientific and the spiritual. It is an ancient practice which consists of running, jumping, grappling, somersaults and the use of weaponry which combines elements of acrobatics and combat. Kadathanadan Kalari Center in Thekkady is one of the most popular places to witness this martial art form in action, and there are even various Kalaripayat schools that can teach you a few moves to take back home! 8. Visit the Spice Markets of Mattancherry One of the reasons why the Ayurveda treatments and the cuisine of the Kerala are so well known is that the area has such an abundance of exotic spices and herbs which are difficult to come across elsewhere. Cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, coriander, tamarind, saffron and poppy are just a few of the spices and herbs found in the spice markets of Mattancherry in Kochi, and if you are into cooking or would just love to improve your general spice knowledge, this is an experience you should not let pass! 9. Relax, Unwind, and Sip Some Tea at Munnar Munnar is one of the picturesque hill stations of India and offers a chance for vacationers to relax in the scenic rolling green hills. The tea plantations of this area carpet the hills in brilliant shades of emerald, and offer a tranquil setting to forget all your worries. You can lodge on the mountain tops way above the misty clouds, and learn about the tea harvesting and processing and even try a few samples. 10. Go to the Beach! No holiday getaway is complete without a beautiful sunny beach and some brilliant waves to relax beside, and Kerala has this area covered as well! The beaches of Kerala are secluded and untouched, which offers a great relief from all the crowded tourist destinations of the world. Varkala Beach is a perfect spot for some peace and quiet, while Kovalam Beach on the Trivandrum coastline offer a happening holiday experience with a charmingly old-fashioned town center and beaches lined with lovely coconut trees. Kerala is one of those rare places that offer all kinds of holiday experiences ranging from cultural and historical, to adventurous or relaxing, offered in a range of landscape from beaches to hillsides. Whether you’re a family with kids, a couple on a romantic honeymoon get-away, or a loner looking for some soul-searching, Kerala will have something special for you.