Every part of Kerala has something unique and mind blowing to offer tourists. A long holiday here would etch some distinctly colourful impressions on the visitor's memory.
Some of the must see are:
Trivandrum is the capital city. It is a complete holiday location with forts, temples, beaches, antique sculptures, libraries, art galleries, museums, and even science and technology institutions including the renowned IT Park and the Indian Space Research Organization Museum. A well-preserved fort that dates back to the period of Maharajah Marthanda Varma (early 1700s) with an array of old palaces inside, gives the visitor a feel of the history of the splendid land. The world famous Kovalam beach is just 20kms from the city. There are several reputed Ayurveda centres giving rejuvenation and curative treatments based on the ancient Indian system of medicine.
The small town also known as Kodungalloor has a special place in history. India's first mosque was erected here. There is also a famous temple of Devi Bhagavathi; a church dedicated to St. Thomas the Apostle, and a Portuguese built port.
This 'crown of Kerala' has been throughout history, the port of call of the world's maritime powers. The military headquarters of the alien rulers until 1887, it went on to become the capital of the Kolathiri Rajas.
This is the former capital of the Cochin State. The Zamorins of Malabar once seized it. Later Tippu Sultan of the Mysore Kingdom invaded it. Today Trichur is known as the cultural capital of Kerala. It is the venue of the colourful Pooram festival, which is marked by the gathering of Hindu deities on caparisoned elephants, change of multicoloured parasols and a breathtaking display of fireworks.
This is the spot where the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama landed in 1498 after having successfully found a new sea route to India. There is a pillar in Kappad (in Kozhikode) to commemorate this event.
This peaceful coastal village near Kollam is of historic significance. One of its attractions is the remains of an ancient Portuguese fort that was erected here in the early 18th century. Old churches belonging to the same era and also the popular Thangasseri lighthouse a 144 feet high huge structure are the other attractions here.
This village near Kannur is famous for its mosque that was built by Malik Iban Dinar in the 12th Century AD. The magnificent structure that was built using white marble brought in especially from Arabia stands as an example that speaks about the trade relations Kerala had with foreign nations like Arabia at such an early age.
The centre for cashew trade, tiles and ceramic products, Quilon had during early years attracted many European powers. A visit to the place is hence a chance to learn and observe the influence of Portuguese, the Dutch and the English.
This pilgrim town on the banks of the river Periyar is the birthplace of Adi Sankara. Visits to the place and especially the two shrines there would be a chance to know more about the great religious reformer of the 8th century, his thoughts and work.
Founded in 1930 by the celebrated poet Vallathol Narayana Menon, this is a centre for training in the art forms of Kerala. It is situated on the banks of the river Bharathapuzha near Trissur. Kalamandalam attracts great many people from different parts of the world. They not only observe the performances, but also enroll to be trained in performing arts like Kathakali, Ottanthullal, Mohiniyattom etc.
This strong old fort set in the most picturesque of backdrops in Kasargode district had great military significance. The 300-year-old site is also an interesting excavation site. The Bekal fort is the largest and the best preserved of its kind in Kerala. The magnificent fort built by Tipu Sultan is now maintained by the Archaeological Department of the state.
St. Angelo's Fort
This is a massive triangular structure that has more or less become one of the landmarks of Kannur. Within the compound is a moat and strong flanking bastions that were built by the first Portuguese Viceroy. The structure dates back to 1505. It later became the major military base of the British in Malabar.
The well-preserved fort in the heart of the town is a site of historical importance. Built by the Mysore Rajah Hyder Ali in the 1700s, the fort was later captured by the British in 1790. The fort, now preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India, is also noted for its peculiar architecture.
This ancient edifice in Kochi, built by the Portuguese in 1500s and later renovated by the Dutch, is an excellent example of European architecture.
Built in 1865, the huge palace complex has 49 buildings. It is a perfect place to relish traditional Kerala architecture and flawless landscaping. The deer park and medicinal garden are other attractions. The Hill Palace was once the official residence of the Kochi royal family. Taken over by the government, today it is the largest archaeological museum of the state with full-fledged ethno-archaeological items belonging to ancient Kerala on display. The royal furniture including the simhasana (throne), and many precious artifacts and collections from all over the world (and that were once possessions of the royal family) are also there for visitors to see.
Padmanabhapuram Palace and Krishnapuram palace
These magnificent structures that were once the abodes of royal personages today stand as brilliant displays of royal architecture of Kerala. The illustrious murals that can be found in the palaces are episodes and moments drawn from Hindu epics. Padmanabhapuram lies within South Indian state of Tamilnadu. It used to be the seat of the kings of the erstwhile kingdom of Venad. The palace is famous for its woodwork also. It is about 65kms south of Trivandrum. Krishnapuram is 100kms north of the capital.
The Parthasarathi temple (dedicated to Lord Krishna, the charioteer of Arjuna in the epic war) with its wonderful architecture, wood and stone work and sculptures speaks volumes about the temple architecture of ancient Kerala.
Aranmula is also a much sought after destination because of the world famous Aranmula Boat Race. This cheerful race and the celebrations that are held during the traditional festival of Onam are a part of the land's rich heritage. There is an institution, Vijnana Kalavedi; here that imparts training (even to foreign tourists) in traditional arts like Kathakali, classical dances, classical music, as well as Kalaripayattu the ancient martial art of Kerala. Aranmula is also famous for its kannadi, a mirror made of a polished alloy with secret ingredients.
This temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu from whom the capital city derives its name. (Trivandrum is the anglicized form of Thiru-Anantha-puram, the place of the sacred serpent Anantha or Adisesha on which Lord Padmanabha reclines). The intricate carvings in granite that date back to 1730s are splendid examples of South Indian architecture.
This is one of the most popular temples in the state. The decorative wall paintings, fabulous stone carvings and sculptures are all historically important pieces of art. The
masonry of the walls, the lofty gopurams, the design and the tall flag posts or Kodimaram are classic examples of the Kerala style of architecture. This temple is located in the heart of Trissur.
Santa Cruz Basilica
The Portuguese built this very famous church. Pope Paul IV himself gave it the Cathedral status in 1558. Bishop Dom Gomez Ferreira rebuilt the house of worship that was captured by the British in 1795. Pope John Paul II proclaimed the church a Basilica in 1984.
St. Francis Church
This is the first church built by Europeans in India. Built by the Portuguese (1510AD), and having been a Reformed Church from 1664 to 1804 and an Anglican Church from 1804 to 1947, the church reflects the colonial struggle and course of Christianity in India. The body of Vasco Da Gama, the first European traveller to discover a route to India, was buried in this church. His gravestone is still there, although his remains were taken back to Portugal.
The monument erected in Kochi in 1g to Jewish traditions are found here. The synagogue has a rare distinction. Each of the over 1000 tiles is distinct. The street adjacent to the synagogue has a row of shops selling souvenirs and antiques.
Cheraman Juma Masjid
The historical importance of the site stems from the fact that not only is this, the first mosque built in India, but also it is the second mosque in the world. This famous mosque built in Kodungalloor in 629 AD is also noted for its peculiar architecture; it resembles a Hindu temple denoting the harmony among religions in ancient Kerala. Juma prayers are believed to have started here.
This museum in the centre of Trivandrum displays a variety of stone-sculptures, bronze and woodcarvings, ancient musical instruments, old coins and burial urns. It is a good place to learn about the state´s history. There is a carefully reconstructed Nair joint family dwelling in the compound. One of the opulent chariots of the Travancore royal family is also on display.
The State Archaeological Department presently maintains the museum at East Hill, Kozhikode. Various copies of ancient mural paintings, antique bronze ornaments, coins, temple models and megalithic monuments are on display for visitors to behold and have a glimpse of the history and heritage of the land.
Note : Mural Paintings
Murals of Kerala are classified as "Fresco-secco". They are prepared following special techniques outlined in 'Shilparatna', a principal text on Indian painting techniques. Surfaces are treated with special mixtures and solutions and colour dyes prepared from vegetable or mineral pigments and crude chemicals are used.
Panayannarkkavu Murals at Panayannarkkavu (Parumala), Ettumanoor Murals at the Siva Temple in Ettumanoor (Kottyam), Pundareekapuram Murals at Pundareekapuram temple at Thalayolapparambu (Kottayam), Mattancherry Murals at the Bhagavathy temple in Kochi, Kottakkal Murals at Venkatta Tevar Siva Temple in Kottakkal (Kozhikkode) are the famous examples of mural paintings. Most of these depict lives or instances from sacred books and epics.