Kerala, a state on India’s tropical Malabar Coast, has nearly 600km of Arabian Sea shoreline. It’s known for its palm-lined beaches and backwaters, a network of canals. Inland are the Western Ghats, mountains whose slopes support tea, coffee and spice plantations as well as wildlife. National parks like Eravikulam and Periyar, plus Wayanad and other sanctuaries, are home to elephants, langur monkeys and tigers.
Notable bird sanctuaries include forested Thattekkad, and Kumarakom, which encompasses a lake. Near the coast, visitors can rent canoes, motorboats and houseboats to explore the weblike network of jungle backwaters. Beaches dot the seaside, from cliff-lined Varkala to bustling spots like Kovalam. Kerala’s many upscale seaside resorts include specialists in Ayurvedic treatments. Architectural highlights include Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple, the site of elephant races that occur during a religious festival.
Cochin Airport/Railway Station
The dry season, Dec–Apr, is a popular travel period. It’s rainy May–Oct, with torrential monsoon downpours Jun–Aug. Statewide Onam (Aug/Sep, dates vary), is a Hindu harvest festival, with flower carpets, local foods and traditional dances. The Nehru Trophy Boat Race (Aug), on Punnamada Lake, is an action-packed competition featuring long wooden snake boats paddled by dozens of oarsmen. The Cochin Carnival (Dec), held in Fort Kochi old town, has colorful street parades, music and dancing.