Set on the coast of Southern India, Kerala has a variety of natural landscapes to explore including beautiful beaches along the Arabian Sea, the backwaters, and lush green tea plantations. It offers a unique language, culture and cuisine from the rest of India. For those hoping to learn more about Ayurveda and dive deeper into their yoga practice, there are also a number of retreat centres in Kerala. Our Kerala itinerary included all of these elements, making for the perfect introduction to this magical part of India.
Trekking: Take an active approach to Munnar sightseeing by arranging a half or full-day trek. It is is easy to do once you arrive in Munnar and a Munnar trekking excursion is also a great way to experience the natural surroundings, tea making process and support the local people.
Eat Local: Dosa, one of South India’s most popular dishes, is a thin crepe made of rice and lentils, usually served with a variety of chutney, curry and vegetable soup called sambar. My favourite Dosa in Kerala was at a local spot called Saravana Bhavan in Munnar, served on a banana leaf with endless refills on all of the sides.
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Safari: Venture out by Jeep into the forest and look for elephants, tigers, bison and other exotic animals with a Thekkady safari. Thekkady is blessed with beautiful lakes, waterfalls, and tea plantations, which make it another stop worth exploring by foot or small boat.
Culture: Evenings in Thekkady are a great time to experience traditional arts. The Kadathanadam Kalari Centre has nightly Kalaripayattu martial arts shows. The performers are highly engaging and quick to bring audience members onto the stage to participate in their high-risk stunts. Kathakali is another traditional Indian art, where stage performers act out entire storylines using facial expressions. This was truly one of a kind experience that had me in between laughter and absolute awe.
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Boating: The Kerala backwaters are a beautiful set of lakes and lagoons running parallel to the coast and lined with small villages. There are a variety of options for exploring the Alleppey backwaters by boat, from inexpensive ferry rides running regularly throughout the day to private houseboat tours, all of which can be easily arranged from local travel offices.
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A Varkala Stay
Varkala is a lovely little beach town set on cliffs overlooking the Arabian Sea. There is a nice strip of cafes, which offer a mix of cuisines from all over the world, Ayurvedic spas, yoga centres and local shops. You can take part in activities such as cooking lessons, surfing, jewellery making, or just relax on the beach.
Varkala Yoga: Sunil is a very kind, knowledgeable local teacher that has been leading traditional Hatha Yoga classes in Varkala for over 12 years. He’s currently teaching at Krishnatheeram in a beautiful space overlooking the Sea.
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Retreat Centres in Kerala
India is a bucket list destination for yoga devotees, with yoga teacher training in India high on the list of those who want to teach the practice. There are a number of retreat centres in Kerala. You will find a number of places to dive deeper into yoga, spirituality and Ayurveda, India’s ancient science of natural medicine everywhere.
The Sivananda Ashram in Neyyar Dam offers a two-week Kerala Yoga Vacation for beginners and long-time practitioners of yoga that includes a full schedule of asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), meditation, chanting, karma yoga (service), and lectures on yoga philosophy. For those with limited experience of yoga, it is best to join on at the beginning of the course. However, visitors are welcome to drop-in to the Kerala ashram at any time.
Amma, often referred to as “The Hugging Saint” also has a very large Kerala ashram comparable to a mini-city, where people travel from all over the world to get a hug. August and September are the best months to visit since Amma spends the majority of the year touring the world.
If you’re looking for world-class Ayurvedic care, Rajah Islands offer personalised treatments with accommodation set on Kerala’s backwaters. Yoga Therapist, Shy Sayar also offers Yoga Therapy sessions to complement treatment packages.
Planning Your Trip to India
- Check out our photos that will inspire you to travel to India
- Consider a trip to Udaipur
- What to know when travelling India solo
- How to get a tourist visa for India