My 10 Best Spice-and-Jasmine Infused Memories of Kerala

I walked into my favorite boutique last week and was fervently welcomed by the owner. She’s an elegant lady and her choice collections are the sole reason why I have ever managed to look good at some functions in the past. She was curious where I had disappeared off to. I always knew that she was from India but what I didn’t know was that she was from Kerala. When I told her I had just spent 3 weeks in South India, she was ecstatic! She sat me down wanted to know all about my travels. Imagine her joy when she gleefully told me that the home-stay where I stayed in Ernakulum was just down the street from where she went to high school! And just like that the world became a tiny bit smaller. Suddenly I was connected to Kerala again and the spicy, jasmine infused memories has been cascading me since then. So much so that I just have to write about my 10 top Kerala experiences.

1.  Watching the Sunset at Kovalam Beach with Kingfisher Beer

As a rule on my solo travels, I don’t drink alcohol at night. But with my hostel a 2-minute walk from the beachfront cafes and the hoards of tourists, I felt it was okay to let my guard down in Kovalam. Beer never tasted better!

A family at sunset, Kovalam Beach
A family at sunset, Kovalam Beach

2.  Riding the Local KSRTC Buses

Best thing about riding the state KSRTC buses? A 2-hour bus ride (2 changes) costs you about 18 rupees on way. Worst thing about riding the state KSRTC buses? Having your face shoved in someone’s armpit for most part of the journey! I made the almost 2-hour journey with 3 exchanges from Ernakulum to visit the Hill Palace in Tripunithura.


3.  Watching a Peacock Dance

Watching a proud peacock dance in Trivandrum zoo.

Peacock at Trivandum Zoo.
Peacock at Trivandrum Zoo.

4.  Exploring Mattancherry and its History

I had not known prior to visiting Kerala about the Jewish influence on the Malabar coast. Actually I didn’t even know about the Dutch and the Portuguese either! So discovering Mattancherry’s history was like being handed a present with many layers of wrapping. And I took my time in slowly unwrapping, exploring Mattancherry and its surroundings like the Paradesi Synagogue in Jew Town, the Dutch Palace and the Indo-Portugese Mueseum.

Jew Town, Mattancherry

5.  Waking up on a House Boat on the Backwaters of Alappuzha

This cut into a week’s budget just for a night but worth it for waking up on your very own boat with a personal chef who’ll fix you breakfast (and lunch and dinner and afternoon coffee!)

Kerala breakfast on my personal boat!
Kerala breakfast on my personal boat!
The backwaters of Alleppey.
The backwaters of Alleppey.

6.  Making-up of the Kathakali Dancers

Kathakali is a traditional dance form in South India. The vibrant costumes is a large part of the act. Watching the artists get ready for the dance was far more fascinating for me than the actual performance!

Kathakali make-up
Kathakali makeup - The finished product!
Kathakali makeup – The finished product!

7.  Staying in a Kerala Village

“…During the last few decades people entering agriculture as an occupation in rural Kerala has reduced drastically. Only around 26% of the total rural population in the state now goes for agriculture as a line of work…” – The Shrinking Rice Paddies of Kerala.

Bicycle tracks through rice paddies in Kerela
Bicycle tracks through rice paddies in Kerela
Village in Kerala.
Village in Kerala. Man typing fishing nets in the evening for morning catch!

8.  Overdosing on Fish Curries!

Fish fry, Kerela fish curry, fish moli – I ate every one of them! With curd rice! #FoodOrgasm

Kerela Fish Curry! Photo: Google Image
Kerela Fish Curry!
Chef  (Dipu) and owners of Casa Linda Restaurant in Kochi. Exceptional food!
Chef (Dipu) and owners of Casa Linda eatery in Kochi. I ate here every single night for a week.

9.0  Women of Kerala

Nothing classier than a woman clad in a sari and the women of Kerala have tailored this to a T. I was envious to see professional women smart rocking their Kerela saris with jasmine strands in their hair. My biggest regret is not bringing one back for myself.

Photo: Google Image
Photo: Google Image

On the other hand, 75% of petrol pump attendants in Kerala are women! A rare sight in North India.

My rickshaw-wala and lady at petrol pump sharing local gossip!
My rickshaw-wala and lady at the petrol pump sharing local gossip!

10.  Chilling out in the back alleys of Fort Kochi

I spent hours chilling out in small tucked away cafes in Fort Kochi. It was off-tourist season and Fort Kochi was a joy to be around. It was just before peak season so everything was in top form minus the crowds. The place has a great vibe to it with lots of trinket shops  art galleries, cultural performance centers and historical sites. My intended 2-night stay easily extended into a week long one! Bliss.

Kashi Art Cafe, Fort Kochi. Best teas and coffees!
The delightful decor at The Teapot cafe. 

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