Thanks to its tropical charms, hypnotic waters, and mouth-watering cuisine, Kerala has evolved to be one of the most popular locations in India for tourists. This area is blessed with a combination of rivers, lakes, canals, and there is nothing better than hopping on a houseboat and cruising through the narrow canals lined with palm trees. As you gaze at the small villages and green paddy fields, the sun plays a naughty game of hide and seek peeking through the clouds.
Sounds surreal, right?
However, from scenic hill stations to temple towns, Kerala has got a lot to offer other than the backwaters and houseboats. Here are some other sights you might want to make the effort to see on your trip there.
A magnificent valley located in the border of Kottayam district, Ilaveezha Poonchira is nestled between hypnotic hills and some of them range up to 3200 feet above sea level. With its vast, green expanse and rocky hills void of trees, it’s easy to see how this place lives up to its meaning in the local dialect: in Malayalam, it means “a flowery lake where no leaves fall.”
Ilaveezha Poonchira is considered Kerala’s hidden treasure because of its serene atmosphere and charming beauty. Like a lot many places in Kerala, there is a legend associated with Ilaveezha Poonchira, as well. According to the Hindu mythology, Draupadi, the goddess of femininity, used to bathe in the lake at Ilaveezha Poonchira when the Pandavas (the powerful sons of Pandu) were sent into exile. Draupadi’s unrivaled beauty attracted countless Devas who watched her secretly as she bathed. The lord of the Devas, Devendra, created three hillocks: Kudayathurmala, Mankunnu, and Thonippara to hide her from peeping eyes.
Ilaveezha Poonchira is nothing short of a paradise and gives you an enchanting view of both the sunrise and sunset over the mountains. The best time to visit is during the monsoon season when Kerala is at its best.
Located in the Pathanamthitta district, Gavi is a gorgeous, but relatively unexplored tourist destination in Kerala. As part of the Ranni Reserve Forest, this spot was specifically created for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Gavi is also a part of the popular Periyar Tiger Reserve.
You can take a jeep ride through the rich forest in order to reach Gavi. You might also get a chance to see some rare animal species like Sambars, Nilgiri martens, Indian Gaurs, and more. The only two Gopher trees in India can also be found in Gavi.
Once you have arrived, you should stay at the local guesthouses to get a feel for the typical village life. Walk to a seller’s stall to grab some homemade breakfast and a cup of aromatic coffee, or take a walk around the village and meet locals for a meal. You can also set up a tent in the forest, which can be an exciting way to experience the wildlife that emerges in this area at night. Additionally, the forest department of Kerala organizes additional activities for travelers, including boating, spice-garden visits, and bird-watching.
The tropical forests and the unique array of flora and fauna are the top attraction of the Kuruva Islands, or as the locals call them, Kuruvadweep. The Kabani River forms a delta surrounded by over 950 acres of isolated land which is a home for rare species of herbs, birds, and orchids. This destination in Wayanad is perfect for those who want to unplug from the world and get away from modern life.
The island is especially known for being a one-of-a-kind spot surrounded by naturally-filtered water. Kuruvadweep is comprised of three islands, each with different foliage and types of animals. Rare wildflowers and orchids can be found on the island alongside a number of avian species. You can also take a dip in the two small lakes running through one of the three islands or ride a bamboo raft down the Kabani River.
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Header photo by Nidheesh Kavalan.