Being born in a middle-class household where my parents gave a lot of importance to travel from the very start of my childhood, I started to see the world with a much wider perspective than other kids my age. Travelling was synonymous to rich experiences, getting to know the people from our heartland and learning about how people from different states in our country live in harmony.
The South of India, especially Kerala holds a special place in my heart for various reasons! Many summer vacations have been spent here. I’ve come to Kerala for numerous occasions- A friends’ wedding, a special documentary shoot, one of my many solo trips and also my first TEDx talk ever!
Kerala favorably called God’s own country has been special in many ways than one.
Here are just some reasons why:-
FRIENDSHIPS: I am a Travel Photographer by profession and I’ve made so many friends from my trips to Kochi. My first day in Kochi was spent at the beach surrounded by families as it was a weekend. I saw kids playing, making sandcastles, asking for banana chips from their parents and I felt joy just looking at them while watching a beautiful sunset in the background. Kochi is such a fun place to be, surrounded by tourists and residents alike. I remember having an amazing breakfast near my hostel run by a Northeastern woman and she made the best smoothie bowls! I went to the same breakfast place everyday after that. The people in Kerala are generally so warm towards tourists (domestic as well as international) and I met a foreigner in my backpackers hostel who proved me right!
FOOD: You can’t talk about Kerala and not mention about the food here! Although my views might seem biased but I’m a fan of South Indian food! Anything with coconut in it has me drooling for days, haha. My favourite dish of all time is Kerala style fish curry and Appam with coconut stew. I can’t wait for things to get back to normal so I can travel back to Kerala and relive those moments again!
STORIES: In Kerala, every person has a unique story to tell. Stories about hardships, family and just about anything. People here believe in sharing their happiness with the world. Stories so raw and from the heart that you can’t help but fall in love!
I’m sure most of us who’ve travelled here know about the travel couple “Vijayan and Mohanna” (I fondly call them uncle and aunty after getting to know them personally while shooting for a documentary). The couple is known for selling tea and coffee in their shop in Ernakulum called “Sree Balaji Coffee House” and travelling the world with the money that they earn from their small business! They most definitely inspire me to travel the world irrespective of age and background. Vijayan Uncle and Mohanna Aunty are one of the stories from the many stories just waiting to be told!
INCLUSIVITY: The people here are very inclusive and make you feel right at home. The number of homestays and other family accommodations have spiked in the last couple of years. People not only open their homes for the tourists but also welcome them with open arms. Although I don’t have a lot of memories from Munnar where I travelled with my family, I remember going to a tea estate and the owner personally gave us a tour of his tea garden which I felt was very special.
EXPERIENCES: Kerala offers a different and unique experience wherever you go. The houseboats and the beautiful backwaters of Allepey, the hilly region of Munnar and the beautiful artsy town of Kochi all have the “Kerala vibe” in common but offer so much more. I have vivid memories of spending a night on a houseboat with my family, taking a tour of the backwaters and that is one experience that you can’t possibly forget.
I travelled to Kochi during the Kochi- Muziris Biennale, an international exhibition for contemporary art and it just blew my mind. The artworks presented there were extraordinary and something I’d never seen before.
Thekkady, a place known for its biodiversity and also close to the Periyar National Park gained a lot of prominence after the famous song “Jiya Jale” was shot there starring Preity Zinta and Shah Rukh Khan. After that a lot of notable films were shot in various parts of Kerala. I can safely say that as crazy as I am for Kerala, Bollywood is too.
Kerala with its lush greenery, biodiversity, hilly regions, breathtaking waterfalls and a plethora of artistic places continues to be one of the most popular travel destinations in India.
Here’s a small video of the #HumanbyNature campaign by Kerala Tourism that you must definitely watch!
Sponsored by Kerala Tourism.