SPONSORED— Someone recently asked me what my favorite trip I’ve ever taken was. Without skipping a beat, I knew the answer. I’ve traveled to India several times, and each trip there has been memorable for its own special reasons. India stands out in my travel memories because so much of what I’ve seen, done, and experienced in India has resonated far beyond the trip itself.
Since the pandemic has hit the travel world hard, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect back on my favorite travel experiences, on my best memories from backpacking around the world. Where were those places that were memorable not just for their tourist attractions and their regional food, but for their specialness?
There are certain trips and destinations which leave a lasting impact not least for their attractions, but for their lasting influence. And for me, Kerala—a state along the southwestern coast of India, is that exact kind of special place.
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Kerala — Human by Nature
I first visited Kerala in 2010, during my gap year trip around the world. Rather than travel with a well-defined itinerary, I let the journey itself guide where I went and how long I spent there. And while traveling in India, I visited Kerala for what was supposed to be a week, but ended up being three.
Kerala resonated so strongly with me, because its beauty is in more than its sights. The way of life in Kerala, the attitude of the people, the habits and the hobbies, the brief glances I’d share with strangers—it’s almost magical. It was the people I met in Kerala who reminded me how special a place can be.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Kerala’s natural landscape is equally beautiful. In fact, I named two different towns in Kerala (Fort Cochin and Munnar) as among the world’s most beautiful spots.
The land in Kerala is lush and green. I remember the bus ride from Munnar, an inland town in the Western Ghats mountain range, to Kochi, a costal port town. Riding from the rolling green hills of spice fields down to the swampy backwaters around Kochi. The transformation in scenery was striking, but it’s that diversity that made it so special. The sunsets over the coast were just as beautiful as those up in the hills.
Kerala’s recent campaign, Human by Nature, tells the natural stories of this beautiful, special region not just with incredible scenes & scenery, but from the stories of its people. There’s a rich tapestry of nature and humanity in Kerala.
Much of it stems from Kerala’s rich history of trade and seafaring (don’t miss the Chinese fishing nets in Kochi and Kollam). At the intersection of so many cultures throughout time, Kerala has a reputation for diversity and inclusion.\
The people of Kerala have also found unique ways of connecting nature with their daily lives. That comes through the backwater canals which wind between homes, restaurants, and businesses. You can even rent a houseboat to fully immerse yourself in the local culture.
In the hillside towns and hill stations famous for cascading tea plantations, like Munnar, life moves at a different pace. Local women often handpick the tea leaves in a rhythmically beautiful manner. Just like a cup of fresh tea itself, an afternoon walk among the fragrant tea plantations can be calming for the soul.
This melting pot of scenery and people, of different types of industry and commerce—it’s made Kerala the rich, diverse place it is today. And that’s what makes it so special for travelers of all types.
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Kerala is so much more than a destination, it’s a way of life. The perfect kind of place to gain some insight, to find motivation, to take a moment to breathe in fresh air and fresh ideas.
My weeks spent in Kerala were memorable for the natural beauty I witnessed, but also for all the mundane moments I allowed myself to experience. Whether it was an afternoon watching the fishermen bring in their daily catch, waiting for the sun to set over a hill, or watching the water sit still beneath my boat…
In Munnar, I’d take an early morning walk each day through the town, passing by children on the way to school. Motorbikes and rickshaws were somehow quieter, more peaceful than in other places. The fresh air mixed with the smell of cardamom and the sweeping landscapes—it captivates in a way that allowed me to rest my mind and live in the moment. Traveling can oftentimes feel chaotic, but when you’re in a place so special for its beauty & its way of life, it’s easy to enjoy.
The sounds, the smells, the sweeping hills of Kerala’s natural landscape, and the people, the calm water, the fragrant foods, the history, the quiet so unusual from other regions… Kerala makes you feel as if you’re living in a poem.
This post was sponsored by Kerala Tourism.