Wednesday, December 17, 2008

101 things that you MUST do while in Kerala:”the God’s Own Country”

I found this in Govt Engg College ,Trichur ,alumini group mailing,is posted here as it is. Hats off the one who gathered these facts. 1. Wake upto the world’s best breakfast Kerala’sspread of morning dishes – vellayappam, Uppuma,iddli, puttu, masala dosa,appams etc. have been ratedthe best breakfast in the world by Travel & Leisuremagazine. A must-try is the crisp lacy appam servedwith meat/vegetable stew.
2. Walk-through paddy fields: Here’s differentwalking experience. Venture in to the very heart ofthe paddy fields, on narrow dykes. Don’t loseyourself completely in the dazzling green around you,as you’ll have to watch out for the slushy waterpassages that run through your mud path.
3. Tip toe across a coconut trunk bridge: In theinteriors of Kerala, you’ll come across plenty ofsmall water bodies with these extremely narrowBridges. Watch the native folk cross them with case,but think twice before you do. It isn't your cup oftea, don’t worry. Further down the water’s edgeyou’ll find a more friendly bridge.
4. Sip tender coconut: Refresh yourself with a sip ofcool tender coconut- nature’s rejuvenating nectar– and a scoop of its soft white flesh, Nutrition atits natural best.
5. Take a swig of toddy: Ask your tour guide to arrangefor fresh madhura kallu (sweet toddy extracted from thecoconut palm) and have it the Kerala way with exotickarimeen pollichathu or spicy pickles.
6. Stay on an exotic houseboat: Embark on an enchantingjourney across sun – dappled backwaters on akettuvallom- fully furnished traditional rice boats.While your eyes explore the rustic life that floatsby, treat your palate to backwater delicacies preparedby your personal chef.
7. Ride a Canoe: Drift along serene waterways in acountry craft, Enjoy the breeze, answer a cuckoo’scall. Wave back at the cheerful village folk on thebanks. Invite some of their chirpy children to hop infor a ride. They’ll keep you well entertained
8. Workout on a treadmill: In Kerala, traditional treadmills are still used to irrigate the paddyfields. Try your luck with the local farmer and see ifyou can get to pedal one.
9. See Chinese fishing nets: Watch fishermen tug atthese huge nets with their rich haul. These nets thatbillow from massive bamboo poles were brought here bytraders from the court of Kublai Khan, the MongolianKing. Their silhouettes against the evening sky makefor terrific pictures too.
10. Choose your pick from the Fisherman’s net: Alongthe Malabar Coast and at Vasco da Gama Square in FortKochi, you can select your favourite from an invitingdisplay of juicy sear fish, sardines, prawns, redsnappers etc. Ask the friendly fisherman to fry it foryou the local way.
11. Feast on kappa and meen curry: Try Kerala’s hotred fish curry with steamed tapioca or boiled rice.It’ll make your mouth water. And your eyes as well.But you’ll still enjoy it.
12. Savour a Sadhya: Seat yourself on the floor, rollyour sleeves up and get started on this multi-coursefeast of rice, 12-15 vegetarian dishes, spicy pickles,crunchy banana chips, crispy pappadams, plantains andpayasam- the dessert. Served on a plantain leaf, themeal is eaten with the fingers.
13. Wear a Kerala saree: Stun your friends in Keralasaree - five metres of fine off-white cotton edgedwith golden sari, that lends an extraordinary eleganceto the person wearing it. Each piece is specially wovenon a traditional handloom.
14. Wear jasmine in your hair : Get yourself a stringof jasmine-the natural ornament for your hair. Youcould even pluck them fresh from a garden and stringthem yourself.
15. Spice up your life: Kerala is the Spice Coast ofIndia. Take home a chest full of exotic spices and wincompliments for your aromatic cooking. These are alsoavailable in special gift pouches.
16. Ride on 8 tonner without wheels: At the PeriyarWildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady, you and your friendscan majestically into the scenic jungle on an elephant. A mahout will guide you on your enchantingjourney.
17. Watch birds: Spot egrets, herons, Siberian stork,darters, teals and hundreds of other migratory birdsin Kerala’s enchanting bird sanctuaries. Hear themsing. Take their Family photograph. Applaud theiraerobatic skills.
18. Follow the tiger’s trail: Join the Thekkady tigertrail- a real adventure trek into the dense forest withexpert guides. Cook in the jungle. Sleep in tents. Wakeup to the sounds of the wilderness. Try and spot atiger.
19. Design a floral pattern: During Onam, the harvestfestival in August/September, you can see colourful,beautiful floral decorations in the courtyards ofKerala’s homes. Try making one with family andfriends.
20. Cheer a snake boat race: Watch the backwaters ofKerala come alive. Feel the excitement bubble in youas teams of 100 oarsmen row their snake boats, theirbodies swaying in unison to the fast rhythm of fullthroated singing, in one of the most exhilaratingwater sports.
21. Feel the rain on your body: Kerala’s invigoratingmonsoon will cleanse you. Refresh you, rejuvenates you.Let it run down your body, and wash away stress. Sodon’t just listen to the pitter-patter on the roof.Step out.
22. Munch an uppumanga: You’ll simply relish a mealthat is accompanied by uppumanga, tender mangoespreserved in brine for months (the longer, thebetter).
23. Get an Ayurvedic massage: Gift yourself new life.Surrender to the magical fingers of specially trainedmasseurs. To medicated baths that will refresh you.Herbal diets that will replenish you. Yoga that willrevitalize you. And meditation that will rechargeyou.
24. Say hello to the Nilgiri Tahr: Half the worldpopulation of the endangered Nilgiri Tahr live in theEravikulam National Park at Munnar. Friendly as theyare, you can pat them or pose for pictures with them.So meet them and have plenty to brag about when youget back home.
25. Sip fine tea: Take a walk through the greencarpeted tea hills of Kerala and strong aromas willlead you in to the factories over a hundred years old.Here you can taste and pick up the finest tea in thecountry.
26. Marvel at elephant pageants: The spectacle of 30-60caparisoned elephants will enthrall you as they move ina majestic procession, while trumpets and drum beatswork up to a frenzy. The best of these spectacles isseen at the Thrissur Pooram
27. Listen to temple music: Panchavadyam is anorchestra of 5 native instruments - suddha-maddalam,kombu, edakka, elathalam and timila. This traditionaltemple music accompanying elephant pageants builds upthe festive spirit. And never fails to leave itslisteners entranced. Audio cassettes of panchavadyamare available.
28. Visit the local markets: Small stalls with freshvegetables, fruits, fish, chicken… High pitchedsalesmen luring you with impossible bargains. Visitthese bustling markets or chandas for fresh buys.
29. Go bananas: In Kerala, red, green and yellow aresynonymous with various types of plantains’. Thesedigestives come in different shapes too — tall,short, stout, sleek... And while you taste bananachips, raw banana dishes, banana milk shake, bananaice cream, dried bananas, fried bananas… you’llwonder if there’s any other fruit more versatile.
30. Try your hand at percussion: Kerala’s richrepertoire of percussion music and instruments isworld famous. So bring alive your taste for good musicand learn whatever your holiday allows.
31. Cheer racing oxen: Entertain yourself at a Kumbala,the local ritualistic bullock race of Kasaragod or aKaalapoottu – the agrarian sport of Palakkad.
32. Shop for souvenirs: Kerala’s handicraft centershave an extraordinary collection of wood, coir shelland sandalwood souvenirs, trinkets and jewellery. Woodcarved Kathakali masks, snake boats, elephants,jewellery boxes etc. are perfect showpieces for yourdrawing rooms and ideal gifts for friends.
33. Stay in a tree house: Spend romantic nights in thetree houses of Palakkad washed in the sweet scent ofthe forest flowers, and let the sounds of the forestfill up your dreams.
34. Have a mud bath: Go in for mud therapy and discoverits healing properties at the Kavil Bhavan Yoga andCultural Centre at Nileswaram, Kasaragod.
35. Bask in sunshine : Serene, secluded andspellbinding. Kerala has some of the best beaches inthe world. Ride the surf. Get a tan. Build sandcastles. Or simply sift sand through your toes.Anything you do here will unwind and relax you.
36. Watch a Malayalam movie: Malayalam movies haveexcellent story lines and some of them areinternationally acclaimed. If you visit the Stateduring a film festival, you’ll get to see goodmovies with English subtitles.
37. Bathe in healing waters: Don’t miss your chanceto take a dip in the waters of the Nelliyampathyforests in Palakkad or the mineral springs at Varkala.These waters are known for their medicinal properties.Take a splash, heal yourself.
38. Buy gold for all occasions: Kerala’s goldjewellery, intricately designed and delicate, willsteal any woman’s heart. Make sure you have enoughmoney on you before you step into a gold shop. Becausewhatever be your taste, you’ll find patterns you’dwish to own.
39. Mirror,mirror… : An Aranmula mirror is made of afinely polished alloy of four metals – copper,silver, bronze and lead. Once a closely guardedpreserve of royalty, these ornamental mirrors areexceedingly rare-only two master crafts men and theirfamilies still make them.
40. Feel the presence of God at Maramon: Witness thelargest Christian convention of Asia at Maramon, nearKozhencherry, Interestingly, the waters of the PambaRiver dry up every year to reveal sands that serve asthe venue for the event.
41. Ride in an autorickshaw: Explore the streets ofKerala in an autorickshaw, a three wheeled taxipainted yellow and black. Don’t be surprised if youmeet a driver who has a degree in English literatureor is fairly fluent with the language.
42. Peep into your future: The fortune teller on thestreet has your future written on his cards – yourcareer, your life, you life partner and more. Justshow him your palm and wait while his parrot picksyour card from the pack.
43. Spin coir: See nimble fingers at work as they spinwater treated coconut fibre into long ropes with atraditional hand spindle in the suburbs of Kollam. Youcan shop at a number of roadside stalls for brightlycoloured coir door mats, wall hangings and carpets.
44. Learn exotic art forms: Watch kathakali,mohiniyattam, theyyam or thiruvathira and pursue onethat interests you most. Learn how a story unveilsthrough the eyes, fingers, feet and myriad expressionsof the artist.
45. Rock about in a bullock cart: On a pleasantevening, traverse the scenic mud roads of Kerala atthe unhurried pace of a bullock cart. The tinklingbells and roll-over-from- side-to-side motion of thecart will full you into a lazy reverie.
46. Walk the lanes of Fort Kochi: Put on your hat andsunglasses, wear comfortable sandals and embark on awalking tour of Fort Kochi where bastions, churchesand mansions built by the British, Dutch and thePortuguese, 500 years ago will greet you.Interestingly, Vasco da Gama, one of the world’sgreatest explorers, was buried here.
47. Order a metre of tea: Stop by a thattukada, aroadside kiosk, for a steaming cup of strong tea.Watch the expert stretch it to a metre while pouringit from glass to glass, blending it well and buildingup a tempting froth in the process.
48. Climb rugged heights: Not all places to visit inKerala are on well travelled roads. Or on roads atall. Hike up rugged terrains at Munnar, Wayanad andKakkayam (Kozkikkod) for an exhilarating experience.If you haven’t tried rock climbing before, ourexperts will teach you the tricks.
49. Engage in water sports: An adventure sports loverwill rarely find time to stay idle in Kerala. Herbeaches provide you with unlimited watersportingoptions of wind surfing, rafting, sailing, powerboating and even that of a simple catamaran ride.
50. Take a train through paradise: A train journey isan interesting way to experience Kerala. Get a windowseat and watch the landscape unfold like pages of acolourful picture book, or acquaint yourself with yourfellow travellers who make interesting profiles.
51. Treat your sweet tooth: The famous Mithai Street ofKozkikkod has everything to make your mouth water –from heavenly haluvas, juicy jillebies to creamy milksweets, Relish them as they melt in your mouth.
52. Study rare flora: Treat your eyes to exoticorchids, anthuria, sandalwood trees etc. in theforests. One of these, the rare Neelakurinji, bathesthe mountains of Munnar in blue once every 12 years.It is expected to bloom next in 2006.
53. Romance the spice hills: Holiday amidst thesprawling tea plantations, picture book towns andwinding lanes of Kerala’s mist clad hill stations– a world where tranquillity abounds. The densetropical jungles in these hill stations house some ofthe exotic bird and wildlife sanctuaries in thecountry.
54. Watch the making of an Arabian dhow: Witness this1500 year old tradition at Beypore. It takes an expert team of 15-30 strongmen at least two years to shape avessel in wood. Locally called uru, this Arabiantrading vessel is fast fading from the shipping scene.
55. Bathe in waterfalls: Nowhere else will you findwater so playful, So pure. So pacifying. Crystal clearwaters cascade down the mountains of Kerala, gurgling,whispering, laughing and cleansing everything in theirway. Watch them wake serene rivers with a magnificentsplash.
56. Go arty: You can browse in the art galleries forhours without track of time. Among them arecollections of the world famous works of Raja RaviVarma, Raja Raja Varma, Svetlova, Nicholas Roerich,rare murals and masterpieces from China, Japan, Tibet,Bali and other parts of India.
57. Visit scenic Kuttanad: Explore the lush paddyfields of Kuttanad, the rice bow of Kerala – theonly place in the world where farming is done 1.5 or 2m below sea level. Kuttanad is in the interiors of thebeautiful backwater district of Alappuzha.
58. Taste Payasam: The payasam, a rich milk delicacyprepared with vermicili, gram or rice, is a delightfor the plate. The most common dessert of Kerala, thepayasam is made in scores of flavours and garnishedwith raisins and nuts fried in ghee. It is usuallyeaten with salty snacks.
59. Feast your eyes on the largest mural: The palacesand museums of Kerala have an exotic collection ofancient murals. The Krishnapuram Palace at kayamkulamdisplays the largest of these masterpieces –gajendramoksham – which belongs to the 18th centuryand depicts an event from mythology.
60. Watch Theyyam: Theyyam is the oldest ritual artform of Kerala, Look on in awe as Theyyam performersinvoke the temple deity Bhagavathy with their frenzieddancing and throbbing temple music in the courtyards ofvillage temples.
61. Try coconut hair oil: The secret of a Malayaliwoman’s long, black, lustrous hair could be yourstoo. Coconut oil is considered the best nutrient forhair and a coolant for the head. In Kerala, both menand women massage oil on their heads before a bath.
62. Explore a tharavad: Relive the old times in theperfect settings of antique furniture and exquisitewoodwork in Kerala’s heritage holiday homes andnalukettu (quandrangular mansions with a centralcountryard), each more than 50 years old.
63. Learn Malayalam: Malayalam, Kerala’s sweet tonedlanguage, has 56 letters in its alphabet. Try learningthe basics and roll the words off your tongue.
64. Star gaze: Steeped in astronomy, Kerala’splanetariums will show you much more than Mercury,Venus and Mars. But a ticket to the evening stargazing sessions and experience the wonders of theuniverse.
65. Holiday on an island: Spend a weekend on Kerala’sislands or lagoons, and experience special moments .Spectacular sunset, balmy backwaters succulent seafoodat Bolghatty, Pathiramanal, Poovar….These paradisescan be reached only by a ferry or boat.
66. Picnic beside virgin lakes: Pack a picnic basketand spend a romantic evening beside the crystal clearlakes near Munnar. Try your luck at fishing and feaston your fresh catch. Go for a long walk hand-in-hand,undisturbed. Lie down on the most comfortable of grassbeds.
67. Go paragliding: Sweep across the lush green hillsof Munnar on a paraglider and enjoy the vantage of aneagle. See the soothing blues and greens of nature.Enjoy the wind beneath your wings. Feel on top of theworld.
68. Walk in to a palace: Besides exquisite woodenarchitecture, the palaces of Kerala flaunt the finestfloors in the world. Floors that, surprisingly, needleast maintenance – being made of crushed coconutcharcoal, egg whites and the sap of loan plants.You’ll also see collections of antique sculptures,paintings and bronzes.
69. Muse in a Museum: The museums of Kerala, especiallythe Pazhasiraja Museum at Kozkikkod, pay full tributeto outstanding crafts-historical and contemporaryornaments, temple carts and Ivory carvings of lifesized figures of Kathakali in full regalia.
70. Watch Thullal: Thullal, an exotic art form, and therhythmic sounds of music accompanying it will keep youin a constant stage of merriment. Humour, satire andsocial criticism are its hallmarks. This art form wasformulated overnight by the renowned poet, KunjanNambiar.
71. Visit the zoo: The zoological parks in Kerala haveplenty to excite the animal lover in you. TheTrivandrum zoo is one among the best designed in Asiaand is set amidst a woodland, lakes and lawns.
72. Wash your sins away: According to a myth, sageNarada was approached by mendicants who confessed tohaving sinned. The place he created for them to prayfor redemption is known as the Papanasham beach(papanasham meaning redemption from sins). Take a dipand come out feeling clean in your heart too.
73. Go nuts: You can get raw, fried, grilled, saltedand spiced cashews at surprisingly affordable ratesfrom Kollam where cashew plantations and industriesabound.
74. Chew into a juicy mussel: It is indeed fun watchingmussel collectors anchor their boats, dive down andbring up basket loads of these fresh water delicacies.The shells are later burnt in kilns to make lime.
75. See wildlife from a boat: Watch wildlife at closequarters from the safety of a boat at the sanctuariesof Kumarakom, and Periyar. Herds of wild elephantsbathing in the lake, the Indian bison digging hishorns into an unaffected tree, the cormorant dartinginto the waters… a treat for an amateurphotographer.
76. Learn yoga: Relax your mind with yoga at thespecial ashrams in Trivandrum and Nileswaram – thecultural centre of Kasaragod. Sessions are conductedby spiritual gurus and experts in the field.
77. Walk the historic Kappad beach: This is where VascoDA Gama landed in 1498 with his men in three vessels.Here, you’ll find an interesting landscape of rocksthat sprawl right into the sea. An 800 year old templestands nearby.
78. Munch on crispy snacks: Kerala has a wide range ofcrunchy snacks- ethakka (banana) chips, chakka vattal(jackfruit chips), pappadam, kuzhalappam, achappam,cheeda and churuttu. All worth every penny spend onthem.
79. Meet martial art experts: Kalaripayattu, themartial art form of Kerala, is the oldest and mostscientific in the world. Watch agile bodies gleamingin oil and armed with weapons practise theirfeats-chattam (jumping), ottam (running), marichil(somersault) -to stunning perfection. Explore the BekalFort
80. Explore the largest and the best-preserved fort ofKerala at Bekal, Kasaragod: The imposing lateritestructure rising 130 ft. above sea level, stands on a35 acre headland that runs right into the Arabian Sea.
81. Behold the Queen of the Arabian Sea.: Kochi, alsoknown as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, isbreathtakingly beautiful. Apart from being thecommercial capital and the most cosmopolitan city ofKerala, Kochi also flaunts one of the finest naturalharbours of the world.
82. Discover prehistoric settlements: The Edakkal cavesat Wayanad and the caves at the mouth of the ShendurunyRiver have interesting pictorial writings and cavedrawings from the Stone Age. You’ll have to trek atleast a kilometer uphill to reach the Edakkal caves.Say a prayer at the old Synagogue
83. The 500 years old Synagogue in Kochi: The 500 yearsold Synagogue in Kochi is adorned with mid 18th centuryhand painted Cantonese tiles. Hebrew inscriptions onstone slabs, ancient scripts on copper plates andgreat scrolls of the Old Testament are preserved here.An age-old clock tower stands nearby.
84. Let a mohini enchant you: Mohiniyattam or the danceof the enchantress reflects the graceful nature of the land. The sensuous, graceful movements of the dancer,clad in gold and off white costumes, will remind youof palms swaying in the gentle breeze and sweepingwaves.
85. Spend the night at a Kathakali concert: Kathakali,the four centuries old classical art form, is usuallystaged at night. Elaborate costumes, ornaments andmulti-coloured facial make-up give the artistes asuper human appearance, which leaves you spellbound.
86. Cook in earthenware: In most of the traditionalhomesteads of Kerala, women cook their food inearthenware. For some time-tested reason renders aspecial taste to the dish prepared.
87. Collect antiques: Stroll up the Jew Street in FortKochi for interesting finds like period furniture,ancient coins, elaborately carved pens, ornamentalbrass latches, antique jewellery, grandfather clocksand timepieces etc.
88. Cruise the backwaters of Alappuzha: Alappuzha,embroidered with a labyrinth of waterways, wasextolled by travellers as the Venice of the East.Visit this land where the skiff is the family vehicle,the ducks outnumber chicken and children learn to swimperhaps even before the walk.
89. Meet smart fishermen: It is indeed a spectacularsight to watch Kerala’ Smart fishermen outdo thecrashing waves by pushing their boats into the seafrom a pier beyond the wave point, and simultaneouslyjumping into it in perfect coordination.
90. See mind-blowing fireworks: Make a wish under athousand shooting starts -brilliant firework displaysthat mark the end of a festival in Kerala. Andyou’ll never miss them as every dawn in Keralabrings yet another festival.
91. Watch a puppet show: Yakshagana Bombeyattu(puppetry) is the art form of Kasaragod. Colourfulpuppets in huge headgears, elaborate facial make-upand loud attires dancing to throbbing music will keepyou entertained.
92. Go for a flower show: Spend a colourful eveningwith pretty asters, glowing anthuria, exotic orchids,beautiful roses, elegant lilies and a bloom of softcotton candy at a flower show.
93. Smash the elusive pot: Uriyadi (smashing the pot)is a spirited sport connected with some of festivalsof Kerala. The festive pot colourfully decorated willbe hung from a tall pole. All you have to do is tryand break it with a stick as the crowd pulls it up anddown.
94. Spot a dolphin: If you ‘re lucky, you’ll get tosee the dolphins do their grand act at the Cheraibeach. Applaud them as they spring out of the watersmagnificent splash only to take a marvelous dive backinto it.
95. Buy a Palmyra fan: In Kerala, you’ll find small,handy fans made of medicinal herbal roots, palmfronds, bamboo splits and grass. Get yourself aportable, compact, cute and colourful little fan thatcomes in handy anytime of the day. When not in use,you could even put it up on the wall as a showpiece.
96. Stay in exotic resorts: Kerala’s innovativehoteliers have amazing experiences in store for you.Some even have Theme evenings when centuries old artforms like Kathakali and Mohiniyattom are performed aswell.
97. Savour nectar: Beat the bees and butterflies to itin a banana plantation. Hold the tip of a bananainflorescence (koombu) to your mouth and suck thesweet nectar.
98. Visit a Snake Park: The Snake Park atParassinikadavu, Kannur, is the only one of its kindin the whole of India. There are three snake pits andfifteen glass cases full of various species of snakes,and two large glass houses for King Cobras. The snakedemonstration conducted every hour is a major crowdpuller.
99. Watch thiruvathira: Thiruvathira, a traditionaldance performed by women, has simple steps and asingle rule-performers should be clad in a Keralasaree. Join them as they sing and move elegantlyaround a ceremonial lamp (vilakku) or a floraldecoration (pookalam)
100. Bring swing to your life Onam is the season forfun and games.: Visit Kerala during August /Septemberand you’ll find in every house. The friendly peoplehere will be only too glad to let you join them.
101. Try out new ways to fish: Dangle a rod and line into the flowing waters. Sweep a towel through it.Feel for fish with your feet in the mud below. Orsimply try trapping small fish with your hands.Anyway, you’ll never return disappointed.

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