Welcome back to my article series on Exploring Kerala India,last time I took you to some of the best places to visit In Kerala on this Kerala Sightseeing Adventures tour series,today we will continue to some must see locations across Kerala:
Oldest Basilica- Fort Kochi
The Santa Cruz Basilica is one of the oldest Cathedrals in Cochin and in India. Built in 1505 by the first Portuguese viceroy, it carries a blend of Indo- European and Gothic styles of architecture. The interiors are in stark contrast to its plain exteriors. Wooden pulpits, colorful statues of the saints and Italian paintings depicting scenes from the New Testament may appear too loud to a man with simple tastes but they all add to the oldest basilica’s magnificent and imposing structure.
St Francis Church is the first church bearing a European architecture and style. The original wooden building of 1510 was replaced by the present building in 1546. In 1524, Vasco da Gama was buried here in the church until his body was moved back to Portugal in 1538.
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There are many home-stays, cafes and restaurants scattered through the Fort Kochi town. If you do manage to reach here early in the morning, you would witness the auction of fish and the fresh catch of seafood being brought in by the fisher folk. Set up between 1350-1450AD by the Chinese explorer Zheng He, the Chinese fishing nets lining the waterside look like giant sea hammocks forming a magnificent silhouette against the setting sun. Catch them at work before you head back to the main city.
This beautiful and quiet hill station, 5000 feet above the sea offers you some amazing picture postcard scenes of its valleys, sprawling tea gardens, picturesque cottages and mornings draped in mist. Located 3.5 hours from Kochi, Munnar is a place of indulgence for trekkers, wild life and photography enthusiasts, and nature lovers. The Eravikulam National Park is the home to an exotic array of flora and fauna including the Neelakurinji flower that blooms once in 12 years.
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Munnar’s aromatic tea gardens spread like soft green carpets for miles and miles. Its mountains and rolling hills are a treat for trekkers and adventure lovers. Lockhart Gap and Pothanmedu are two such ideal scenic locations. Cycle rentals are available for those who want to cruise along the narrow roads laced with tea gardens. Marayoor marks the only sandalwood forest in Kerala. Tea Museum- Run by the Tata Company, this is the only unique museum of its kind in India tracing the evolution of the two leaves and a bud since the 1880’s!
There are many breathtaking waterfalls located in the towns of Nyayamakad and Thommankuthu where camping, trekking and bathing in the waterfalls are common.
If the enchanting hills tempt you to stay on, you can spend a night amidst the cottages in the hills, light a bonfire under the star studded sky and wake up the next morning to the scent of a fresh infusion of mountain tea drunk sitting by a brook across the road, before heading back to the noisy chatter of city life.
Set amidst the hills of the Western Ghats, Thekkady is a 3-hour drive from Kochi. Referred to as Thekkady, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is an elephant and the only tiger reserve in Kerala. Thekkady offers the beauty of wildlife set against the background of plantations, hills and lakes.
Perch yourself on the watch towers in the Sanctuary to get a sneak peek of an elephant family gathering at the lake early in the morning or a solitary tiger wading through the water and sometimes if you are lucky, the elusive Nilgiri Tahr as well! An elephant safari, a walk through spice and coffee plantations at Anakkara and Murikkady, visits to tea factories, a village tour of the tribal settlements on a bullock cart and eating a traditionally cooked meal are some of the experiences to gather while visiting here. Besides these, boating, river rafting, trekking and hiking are also available for you to participate in.
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Best Season To Visit Kerala
Located 42 kilometers from Kochi, on the southern banks of the Periyar Lake, Kodanad is a rural riverside village having one of the largest elephant training centers in South India. It also is the home and care centre for many rescued elephants. Visitors can participate in bathing elephants, feeding them and watch many active little baby elephants in their various growth stages.
Join me on my next stop at Athirappilly Waterfalls as I continue the Kerala holidays series