Idukki is an unspoiled nature lover's paradise. With high ranges, forests, abundant wildlife, ridges, valleys and streaming rivers, it indeed is the queen of Kerala tourism. Painavu is the district headquarters. The nearest railhead is Kottayam, about 133km. Idukki can be reached via road from most parts of the state.
Located around Idukki and Cheruthoni dams, near Painavu, Cheruthoni is at a height of 3900 feet from the sea level. On a clear sunny day one can see the far away Kochi from here. Boats can be rented for cruises between Cheruthoni and Kulamavu.
Situated at about 3000 feet from the sea level, Peerumedu is on the way to Thekkady. The Travancore Rajas used to spend their summer in this small hill station. Peerumadu is full of plantations, waterfalls and open grass fields.
The Indo-Swiss dairy farm is located here. Mattupetty is 13km from Munnar and has a rose garden that attracts many tourists.
Munnar literarily means three streams. Munnar has Muthirapuzha, Nallathani and Kundala flowing through and meeting the water demand of the town. It is a hill station at a height of 5300-6000 feet from the sea level. 135km from Kochi, it was the summer retreat of the European settlers. Different types of accommodation are available to suit one's whims and budget.
Devikulam is another small hill station in Idukki. It is located at 16km from Munnar. According to legend Sita, the consort of Sri Ram, once had a dip in the lake and the name Devikulam originated from that. Devikulam has a number of tea plantations.
Malankara Dam And Reservoir
It is an artificial lake formed as part of Muvattupuzha valley irrigation project. The dam is 6km from Thodupuzha and easily accessed by road. Boating facilities in the reservoir is available.
Periyar National Park
The most renowned destination in Idukki is the Periyar National Park at Thekkady. The wildlife can be observed from boat-ride or by trekking. Though a tiger reserve, it is the best sanctuary to observe elephants. More Information
There are other wildlife sanctuaries in Idukki. They are Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary covering an area of 70sq.km, Eravikulam-Rajamalai sanctuary known for the largest population of Nilgiri Tahr, Chinnar wildlife sanctuary and Thattekad Bird sanctuary home to Malabar grey hornbills, Sri Lankan frog mouth and rose billed roller.
Situated at 28km from Thodupuzha, this place is renowned for its numerous waterfalls. A 12km trekking brings one to the top of the hill from where one can experience the breadth-taking panoramic view of the valley.
The cosmopolitan city of Kochi is the commercial capital of Kerala. The harbour around which Kochi grew to be known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea is one of the finest natural harbours in the world. Ernakulam is the district headquarters that is located on the mainland where most of Kochi's commercial centres are located.
Kochi consists of Ernakulam, Mattancherry, Fort Kochi and islands of Willingdon, Bolgatty, Gundu and Vypin. All these areas are linked with ferry services. Bridges also link Ernakulam to Willingdon and Mattancherry. Ernakulam can be accessed by rail, road or air. Kochi domestic and international airports are about 30km north from the city centre. From Kochi harbour, periodic scheduled passenger services are organised to Lakshadweep.
Almost all historical sites in Kochi are situated in Fort Kochi or Mattancherry. It is a blend of medieval Portugal, Holland and England.
The Portuguese built the palace in 1555 and presented to Veera Kerala Varma, the erstwhile ruler of Kochi. The Dutch renovated it in 1663. Hence the palace is also known as the Dutch Palace. The two-storey structure surrounds a courtyard containing a temple. The murals in the palace depicting scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata are some of the best in India. The palace is open for visits from Saturday through Thursday. Entry is free.
The synagogue was built in 1568. The Portuguese destroyed it in 1662. When the Dutch took-over Kochi, it was rebuilt. The Chinese hand-painted willow pattern tiles of the 18th century and the scrolls of the Old Testament are of interest to the visitors.
A stone slab inscribed in Hebrew from an earlier synagogue, built in 1344 at Kochangadi, can be seen in the Mattancherry synagogue. The synagogue can be visited from Sunday to Friday.
St. Francis Church
Built in 1503 by the Portuguese this church said to be the oldest European-built church in India. The original wooden structure was rebuilt in stone during the middle of 16th century. The Dutch restored the church in 1779. In 1795 when British occupied Kochi, it became an Anglican church. In 1524 Vasco de Gama was buried here for 14 years before his mortal remains were moved to Lisbon.
Chinese Fishing Nets
The entrance to the harbour is dotted with fixed and cantilevered Chinese fishing nets. Traders from the court of Kublai Khan introduced these to Kochi. Each net requires three men to operate.
This is the island where the Dutch built the Bolgatty palace in 1744. When British occupied Kochi, this palace became the seat of the British resident of Kochi. Today KTDC has converted it into a three star hotel. The hotel ground has a small golf course.
Named after Lord Willington, the British Viceroy of India, it is a man-made island created with material dredged up to deepen the harbour. Two of the top hotels (Taj Malabar & Casino Hotel) are located in Willingdon Island. The headquarters of the South Naval Command and the Govt. of India Tourist Office are also located here.
Parikshath Tampuran Museum
It is an archaeological museum next to the Siva Temple on Darbar Hall Road. The museum has collections of prehistoric monuments, old coins, oil paintings from the 19th century, stone sculptures etc.
Hill Palace Museum
Located at Thripunithura, 13km from Ernakulam, the museum displays artefacts and belongings including the king's throne and crown of the royal family of Kochi.
21km from Ernakulam, Aluva is a pilgrim centre. The town is located on the banks of River Periyar. The annual Sivaratri festival is colourfully celebrated on the banks of the river.
45km from Kochi and situated on the banks of river Periyar, Kalady is a pilgrim centre and the birth place of Adi Shankara, of the 8th century, the advocate of Adwaita in Hinduism.
Ferries shuttle across the narrow strait from Fort Kochi to Vypin Island. The island has a lighthouse. The Pallipuram Fort (Azhikode Fort) built in 1403 by the Portuguese is in hexagonal shape. It is considered as one of the oldest European monuments in India.
It is a spectacular procession accompanied by caparisoned elephants and floats making the beginning of Onam Festival. Conducted at Thripunithura and Piravam, it displays folk and temple arts of Kerala.
The origin of the carnival is traced to the New Year celebration of the Portuguese during the colonial days. Noted for the unique games and competitions, the feast is observed during the last week of December with a grand procession on the New Year day.
Indira Gandhi Boat race
The race is conducted during the last week of December to coincide with the tourism fair. Several snake boats representing different villages participate in this race.