Popular destinations are enticing enough for a visit, however, with the constant thronging of tourists, accompanied with all the usual revelries and merry-making, they tend to lose some of their charm. Amongst many factors, one which attracts people to places is the tranquillity of a place. Kerala has earned its fame for its beautiful backwaters, soothing massages steeped in Ayurvedic traditions and natural beauty, which extends to every nook and corner of the land. While many of these witness and attract a constant inflow of tourists the year round, there are many off beat destinations that remain to be explored and will work wonders to uplift sagging spirits and senses.
KUMBALANGI VILLAGE, COCHIN
Kumbalangi is a quiet little village seated on the outskirts of the city of Kochi, and is enveloped by the legendary Kerala backwaters. But, that is not what lends to its fascinating quality. The village contains a treasure of rich aquatic life, made possible by an array of mangroves which separate the land from the water, thus providing a breeding ground for crabs, prawns, oysters, and small fishes. Apart from tasting the delectable cuisine consumed in the village, it’s a delight walking on village roads surrounded by greenery, going on a fishing trip, or simply marvelling at the gently-flowing waters.
Kuttanad is a village that has earned the distinction of being a rice granary, and one where farming is carried out below sea level. The place is known as the rice granary of Kerala, one where enormous stretches of paddy fields interweave with the exciting backwaters to create a fabulous sight. It’s a privilege watching the typical village sights – men tilling the land and labouring and women carrying their lunch boxes to the fields. This village is also replete with a robust avian population, with flocks of parrots flying lazily above the paddy fields, creating a happy setting.
BANASURA SAGAR DAM, KALPETTA
The idea of Banasura Sagar Dam was conceived as part of the Indian Banasura Sagar Project, and it is now the largest dam in India and second largest in Asia. Located about 15km from Kalpetta, its spectacular beauty is derived from the chain of mountains standing majestically in the background. Legend has it that King Banasura performed severe penance on these hills, and thus, they were named in honour of him. During the monsoons in particular, this place becomes a photographer’s delight, as the small islands dotting the crystal clear water are visible during this time. Besides, the scenic background also serves as the starting point for trekking enthusiasts.
BEYPORE , KOZHIKODE
This place traces its history to ancient times, and as such, is a pilgrimage site for historians, who are quite enchanted by its defining beauty, and the history embedded in it. Beypore is greeted by the waters of the Chaliyar River, and served as a major port for trade and maritime centre in earlier times. Its historic value lies in its shipbuilding industry, which goes back to more than 1500 years. The construction of Uru, or the Arabian trading vessel as it is called, is pursued with an undying enthusiasm here, and watching the men at work, deftly crafting the intricate woodwork into perfection, is such a delight.
PONMUDI HILL STATION, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM
About 61km away from Thiruvananthapuram is the beautiful hill station of Ponmudi. It is characterised by the typical traits of a hill station, with its cool and quiet environs, undisturbed solitude and narrow winding roads disappearing into the distance. The eminence which Kerala has earned for its tea gardens can also be witnessed at their best here, along with the dancing mountain flowers and the mist-covered valleys. Besides, the feeling of losing yourself in the environs of the hills, or simply going on a trek is simply indescribable.