By Sonia Mehta
Kerala has made it to CNN Travel’s list of top 19 places to visit in 2019. “This area of India has it all: sun, sea, sand, good food, houseboats, culture and wildlife,” reads the report. We bring you six attractions you shouldn’t miss out on when you take your child on a trip to God’s Own Country.
1. Beautiful tea and coffee plantations
As we come down the Western Ghats towards the sea, there are plenty of emerald-green slopes that have carpets of tea and coffee plantations. There is a tea museum in Munnar, where you can see how tea is made and taste many different kinds of tea.
2. The Silent Valley
The Silent Valley is a beautiful evergreen forest in Kerala. It’s home to some rare birds and animals. It almost got destroyed because a hydroelectric plant was going to be built in its place. But people protested so much that the forest and all the animals in it were saved. Now there is a lovely national park there.
3. The Venice of the East
The famous Kerala backwaters! The rivers that pop in and out of the sea have created many lagoons, lakes and canals, Fringed by coconut trees smiling down on these canals, these are the backwaters of Kerala, in which you will see many houseboats floating along lazily, with people enjoying the calm environment. The canals are so pretty that the place called Alappuzha, where many of these canals are, is called the Venice of the East.
Bekal Fort: This lovely fort is one of Kerala’s largest. It is shaped like a giant keyhole. It even has a Hanuman temple and a mosque inside it.
Thalassery Fort: This fort was built by the British to keep an eye on the Malabar coast. It has many carved doors, secret tunnels and underground rooms. It even has a pier that leads you right out to the sea.
Palakkad Fort: This fort was built by Hyder Ali, father of the famous warrior Tipu Sultan, when he ruled this part of Kerala for a short time. It was here that Tipu bravely fought a war against the British before losing to them.
The Dutch Palace: Also called Mattancherry Palace, this lovely building was built by the Portuguese. Later, the Dutch redesigned it. It has a temple inside it and lots of royal objects on display-like weapons, swings and furniture.
Krishnapuram Palace: This palace was built by a man called Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma. It is full of all kinds of objects from hundreds of years ago. There is even a museum here, which has sculptures, weapons, paintings, stone inscriptions, coins and a lot more.
The Hill Palace: This huge palace has its own deer park and horses you can ride, as well as a museum where you can see rare paintings, stone sculptures, ancient weapons, coins and a lot more.
6. Delicacies to savour
Avial: This dish is as healthy as it is tasty. It has got a lot of vegetables that are cooked in a delectable mix of coconut and spices. People eat it with sambar and rice.
Karikku payasam: Karikku payasam is a delicious pudding made with coconut water and soft coconut flesh-all mixed with milk, sugar and nuts.
Kootucurry: This dish is made by mixing a lot of pulses with different vegetables, banana, yam and winter melon. It tastes super with rice.
(Excerpted with permission from Off to Kerala: The Place, the People, the Food and lots of Awesome Activities, by Sonia Mehta, published by Puffin Books)