Take a break, head to Kerala

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Take a break, head to Kerala

Resplendent with natural beauty and architectural marvels, Kerala offers a wonderful retreat away from the hustle-bustle of city life

By Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli

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Published: Mon 25 Jan 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 26 Jan 2016, 1:00 AM

Kerala is named as one of the 10 Paradises of the World by the National Geographic Traveller magazine; and also features in the magazine's 50 must-see destinations of a lifetime. If you are planning a vacation to God's own country any time soon, we recommend the following places: 
Kerala Backwaters
If you have heard or researched even wee bit about Kerala, chances are that you are already aware of the paradise called backwaters. A network of rivers, lakes and inlets interconnected by canals forming 900 km of waterways on the west coast of south Kerala, backwaters offer the best retreat in the state. It is often called the Venice of the East. The network connects a number of towns and is littered with houseboats - serving as the best ways to revel in the serenity and natural beauty. You can spend your vacation in the lap of nature, where nature puts up spectaular shows every day through sunrise and sunset. In the night, sleep under the open skies under the gaze of thousands of twinkling stars - a rarity in the hot and humid weather in Dubai. 
Fort Kochi
Known as the Gate Way of Kerala, Kochi has an interesting take on history. Being a coastal city, Kochi attracted a number of traders, invaders and rulers to its soil - and imbibed peculiarities of each culture. Today, its architecture and the way of life is a blend of influences from Arabs, British, Dutch, Chinese and Portuguese. The architecture and historical sites are frequent haunts of tourists and residents alike.
One of the must-see sites is the Chinese Fishing Nets - Kochi's most recognisable sight. It has been in use since the 14th century. One of the best ways to enjoy the local flavour and hospitality is to take a stroll along the waterfront on a late afternoon, buy fish from the local fishmonger, get it cooked at a nearby shack, and enjoy eating while the sun sets. Other notable hotspots include Jew Town, Mattancherry, St Francis Church, and the Princess Street. 
A must-visit for all tea lovers, Munnar is located at an altitude of 1,600 feet above sea level. The verdant tea plantations with its winding lanes and misty hills are a great escape from the hustle bustle of the city. You can see tea leaves being picked. Try fresh tea from the garden. If interested in a bit of history, the place has a well-kept tea museum too. Intrepid explorers can trek to Anamudi, the highest peak in south India; explore Eravikulam National Park, or go rock climbing and paragliding.
You can also visit the Indo Swiss Dairy Farm, Chinnar Wild Life Sanctuary and Anamudi - the highest peak in the Western Ghats. 
Resplendent with natural beauty and lush greenery, the pace of life is pretty relaxed in this small town - making it a perfect spot for relaxation in the lap of nature. The bright green mountainous region stretches along the Western Ghats and is dotted with coconut palms, thick forests, paddy fields and lofty peaks.
Adventure enthusiasts have plenty to explore here. Popular attractions include trekking to Chembra Peak and Meenmutty Falls, exploring old Jain temples, climbing to Edakkal Caves, and wildlife spotting at Muthanga and Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuaries. Another highlight of Wayanad is the many delightful homestays in the area. 
Periyar National Park
Periyar National Park is one of the most popular national parks in southern India. One of the best things about the park is that it stays open all year round, even during the monsoon season. Periyar is known for its elephants. A 30-minute elephant ride takes you through the jungle and gets you acquainted with the best the place has to offer. The national park also arranges safaris on boat, and enthralls its visitors by culminating the ride at sunset - making it a sight to behold. Visitors can also take part in an excellent variety of eco-tourism activities there. 

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