Defined by its glorious Arabian Sea coast and beaches, a maze of glistening backwaters and scented breezes of spices and tea-covered hills, setting foot in the South is stepping into an entirely different world. This exceptionally tolerant socialist district is home to Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Jewish communities and is the home of Ayurvedic treatments and diet. We recommend exploring both Kochi (or Cochin) and Kumarakom which hit all the notes of a tropical symphony.
Direct flights from Mumbai or New Delhi will connect you South in a few short hours. We suggest setting aside anywhere from 3-5 days to explore.
Kochi is a fascinating port town stretching across a number of peninsulas and islands, reachable by a network of bridges and ferries. As the heart of the early Indian spice trade, it has absorbed and reflects the many nations who have landed on its shores. From giant Chinese fishing nets to Dutch palaces and Portuguese churches, a 400-year-old synagogue and the white sails of Arabic dhows, Kochi offers a fusion of traditions, histories and architecture.
Many highlights of a stay in Kochi are found on the peninsula of Fort Kochi: St Francis Church, the oldest European-built church in India; and Mattancherry Palace, which dates back to 1557. Wander through the Kerala Folklore Museum, displaying more than 4,000 cultural and ethnic artifacts; the 16th-century Jewish Synagogue; and the local market, where the air is filled with the aroma of exotic spices and the vibrant fish market.
After the bustle and buzz of a journey through India, Kumarakom is an oasis of serenity. One of Kerala’s most alluring backwaters, Kumarakom is a paradise best explored from the vantage of an overnight houseboat journey. Silently glide past the bucolic scenes of rural countryside, along mangrove forests mingling with rice paddies, coconut palms, and bursts of lilies. Along the banks you’ll see people tending their fields, washing clothes, socializing. Children board their school boats and Christian’s pray with India’s oldest congregation, established in AD 32 by St Thomas. Back on land in your stunning hotel, take full advantage of the abundance of Ayurveda treatments on offer. Laze in the pool beneath the swaying palm trees, enjoy a little yoga.
Our favorite accommodation in Kochi & Kumarakom
Discovery Backwater Cruises
The Brunton Boatyard
Kumarakom Lake Resort & Kumarakom Houseboat
Other areas to explore in India
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