Starting one's journey from the southern district, Thiruvananthapuram, is an ideal choice.
The city of Thiruvananthapuram, built on seven hills and named after the sacred serpent god Anantha on whom Lord Vishnu reclines, is the capital of Kerala and district headquarters. Thiruvananthapuram can be reached by air rail and road. More About Thiruvananthapuram
Situated on the banks of Astamudi Lake, Kollam (Quilon) is the district headquarters. The town is situated about 71km from Thiruvananthapuram and is a major railway junction. National highway NH47 passed through it. The nearest airport is Thiruvananthapuram. Kollam was an ancient seaport where spices with Chinese, Arabs and Europeans were traded. It is still one of the important commercial centres in Kerala.
This is one of the largest lakes in Kerala. The District Tourism Promotion Council organises backwater boating on the traditional boats of Kerala. The boating from Kollam to Alappuzha (approx. 9 hours) through the canals, lakes and backwaters will be a remarkably memorable experience.
The DTPC also conducts guided tours to Manroe isle in Ashtamudi Lake. From Dec. 26 to Jan. 10, the annual Ashtamudi Craft and Art Festival of India is held at the Asramam Maidan.
Located about 5km from Kollam, Thankassery has an 18th century church and ruins of an 18th century Portuguese fort. It also has a 44m tall lighthouse.
About 65km from Kollam and 5km from Ariyankavu near the Tamil Nadu border, is this unspoiled picnic spot. The Palaruvi falls from a height of 300 feet into a shallow pool that is ideal for a swim.
Krishnapuram Palace Museum
The museum is situated at Kayamkulam, 35km from Kollam towards Alappuzha. The Krishnapuram Palace, a fine example of Kerala style architecture, is fully restored and converted into a museum. The museum houses murals, antiques, sculptures and bronzes. One of the largest murals in Kerala is among the collections named "Gajendra Moksham" that is 14ft X 11 feet in size.
Situated closer to the Western Ghats and hedged by hills, forests and rivers, Pathanamthitta is a treat for the nature lover. Pathanamthitta town is the district headquarters. The nearest airport is Kochi about 175km away. The nearest railhead is Chengannur, 30km from Pathanamthitta and the town can be accessed by roads from other towns of Kerala.
Famous for the hand-made mirrors of polished metal, known as the "Aranmula Kannadi", Aranmula is an important pilgrim centre. The Parthasarathy temple is situated on the banks of River Pamba. The major tourist attraction is the Aranmula snake boat race held during the Onam season (Aug.-Sept.)
Aboard of Lord Ayyappa, Sabarimala is a very well known pilgrim centre. During the pilgrimage season in Nov. - Jan., millions of people from different places of India pay homage to Lord Ayyappa.
Located 13km from Pathanamthitta on the banks of River Pamba, Kozhencherry is famous for the Maramon Convention held in Feb-March. This is the biggest religious gathering of Christians in Asia and the second biggest in the world.
The Vijnana Kalavedi Cultural Centre
Founded by Louba Schild, a French scholar, the centre is supported by UNESCO. The centre offers residential training courses in traditional arts and crafts of Kerala. Training under expert supervision is given in Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Carnatic music, Kalaripayattu, woodcarving, painting, Ayurvedic medicine, religion, astrology and cooking.
Alappuzha (Alleppy) District
Alappuzha is an easy-going pleasant market town. Built around canals, backwaters and surrounded by coconut palms Alappuzha town is the headquarters of the district. There are several canals and lakes in the district those are fit for boating. Houseboats with all amenities are available for hire. Alappuzha is accessible by rail and road. The nearest airport is Kochi, about 75km north.
Mullakkal Rajarajeswary Temple
The temple is in the heart of the town. Two festivals are celebrated every year. The Navaratri festival held in Sept. - Oct. is more important. Colourful processions with nine caparisoned elephants are held during the last two days of the celebration. India's finest artists conduct several cultural programs including Thullal and Carnatic music.
It is a small but beautiful island in the Vembanad Lake. Regular boat services are organised from Kumarakam and Muhamma.
The Sri Krishna temple in Ambalapuzha is a classical example of Kerala style temple architecture. Situated 14km from Alappuzha, it is a very famous pilgrim centre. The temple festival is celebrated in March-April. Kunjan Nambyar, the creator of Thullal, an original performing art of Kerala, enacted his first performance in this temple courtyard in the 16th century.
Close to Ambalpuzha is Karumadi, known for the 9th century black granite sculpture of Buddha.
Arthunkal St. Andrews Basilica
Arthunkal is located 22km from Alappuzha. The Portuguese built the St. Andrews Basilica that is a popular Christian pilgrim centre.
Nehru Trophy Boat Race
The most popular tourist attraction in Alappuzha is the Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race that began in 1952 when the erstwhile Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, visited Alappuzha. The race is held every year on the second Saturday of August. Many gigantic snake boats with 100 rowers in each representing different villages take part in the race. Another Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held in mid-January to promote tourism
Situated between the palm-fringed backwaters on the west and Western Ghats on the east, Kottayam presents some of the most beautiful natural scenes of Kerala. Kottayam town is the district headquarters. The town can be accessed by rail or road from other places of the state. The nearest airport is Kochi 100km north of Kottayam.
Not far from the city centre, this St. Mary's Church was built in 1550 for the Knanaya Orthodox Syrians. The church is known for the 8th century Persian cross with the Pahlavi inscription on it.
Located about 100m from Valiyapalli (Big Church), this smaller St. Mary's Church built in 1579 has an elegant façade with an interior noted for its 400 years old paintings depicting biblical and other themes.
An important Christian pilgrim centre where the mortal remains of Sister Alphonsa (1916-1946) are interned in a chapel next to the 1000 years old St. Mary's Church. The church has an attractive grotto of Virgin Mary.
Kumarakam Bird Sanctuary
On the banks of Vembanad Lake, 12km from Kottayam, Kumarakam is a bird watcher's haven known for local and migratory birds. Cormorants, teals, ducks, owls and water fouls are seen from October to February. Feb.-July is the time for the snakebirds, night herons, egrets, and Siberian storks. The ideal time to watch the birds is around 0630 hrs. Kumarakam tourist village is a 101 acre wooded complex with many luxury resorts and houseboats. Boats are available on hire for backwater cruises in the lake.
Famous for the Shiva temple, Vikom is 40km from Kottayam. It is believed that Parasurama, the mythological creator of Kerala, built the temple. The Ashtami festival in Nov-Dec is popular for elephant processions as well as dance and music performances.
Famous for the Shiva Temple, Ettumanur is 17km from Kottayam. The temple has inscriptions dating back to 16th century or older. The temple is admired for the superb woodcarvings and murals. The temple festival is held in Feb-Mar. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple.
Situated 3km from Ettumanur towards Kottayam, St. Mary's Fiona Church is famous for its annual feast known as "Athirampuzha Nercha". The grand feast is an eight days event.