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A few years ago we visited India for the first time and after hearing incredible stories about the state of Kerala, we chose to start our trip there. It was a decision that we were so glad we made as it was the perfect introduction to incredible India.
Kerala is a tropical state in southern India with 600 km of Malabar coastline. It is packed with breathtaking nature, from palm-lined beaches, to sleepy villages among inland canals, to green mountainsides covered with tea fields, to wild jungles with exotic wildlife.
We arrived in Kerala after a long flight from Europe and right away we knew we had arrived in a special place. Nicknamed, “God’s Own Country”, Kerala is known for its laid-back lifestyle and lush green landscapes. However, what I remember most about our time in Kerala was the friendliness of the people we encountered.
We always recommend Kerala to friends and family so were happy to help the Kerala Tourism Board promote their latest campaign, Human by Nature, as it so well matches what we love about Kerala. We had been dreaming about a return visit, so this gave us the perfect reason to return, if only virtually.
This campaign reminds us why most of us travel: Not to tick countries off our bucket list or to post Instagram-worthy photos, but to experience distant lands and new way of seeing things.
Here is the stunning campaign video!
So what makes Kerala so special?
The Kerala Way of Life
Life moves much slower in Kerala than the more hectic northern regions of India. Kerala’s seafaring and trade history due to its strategic position have created a melting pot of diverse cultures. Differing ideologies, religions and cultures peacefully co-exist in Kerala. Walk down the streets of Kochi, Kerala’s most visited city, and you will see Jewish synagogues alongside Hindu temples and Catholic churches. In fact, 20% of the Kerala population is Christian.
In our first few days we got to experience the kindness and hospitality of the Keralan people. We were on a train from Kochi to the Backwaters. It was our first experience on an Indian train and I remember the sultry warm air blowing by in the crowded carriage.
As we stood in the aisles unsure of where to sit ourselves in the full carriage, a family beckoned us over, squeezed our children between them and struck up a conversation. They were a large group returning from a family wedding in high spirits and wanted to practice their English and know all about us. As the chai seller walked through the carriage, they insisted on buying us our very first cup of chai. The remainder of the journey was spent in conversation about Kerala, their lives and ours. We got off that train feeling like we had truly arrived in India. We kept in touch with this family throughout our time in Kerala and incredibly ended up running into them at the airport before our flight out.
One of the best ways to experience Kerala daily life is to stay in a family-run homestay. While we fondly remember the different destinations in Kerala we visited, it is our memories of our homestay hosts turned friends that we hold closest. Kerala has many quaint homestays where you can experience home cooked local foods, learn about the Kerala way of life and experience the rich culture.
We were lucky enough to be in Kerala for Onam, the most important festival in Kerala (takes place in August or September). We were mesmerized with the gorgeous pookalam flower decorations, processions through the streets and festive atmosphere. At our home stay in Kumily, our host included us in the Sadhya feast on the most important day of Onam where she cooked a multitude (20+) of vegetarian dishes served on a banana leaf. The kids had so much fun watching her work in the kitchen and helping make the Papadums. It was another incredible moment of hospitality that connected us to the people.
At a remote home stay in Wayanad, we enjoyed home cooked meals with the family, walks through the coffee and spice fields and chai delivered to us on our balcony. Gavin celebrated his 7th birthday there and I asked our hosts if they could help us get a cake. They went above and beyond. In addition to sourcing a birthday cake in a tiny village, they surprised us all by decorated the outdoor spaces with candles and lights, invited the other guests to Gavin’s party and gifting him with homemade gifts. It was certainly a birthday that he and our whole family will always remember. Once again, our hearts were warmed by the kindness shown.
Countless times throughout our time in Kerala, we experienced these touching human moments and connections. In Kannur, we were welcomed into a Theyyam ritual, while in Munnar, we spent hours on our balcony overlooking the green tea fields discussing life in both India and Canada. In the steamy Backwaters, the canals that weave through Kerala, we were treated to a boat tour through local villages where every one greeted us with waves and smiles.
I could tell you many more stories of human nature in our travels in Kerala, but really you should GO and experience it for yourself!
This post is sponsored by Kerala tourism.