Key Destinations to Visit in Kerala

“Kerala Discovery Pursuit”

Anjengo Fort, Varkala - Kerala

Located about 36 km North of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, near the famed beach of Varkala, and lying on the seacoast is Anjengo or Anjuthengu, meaning five coconut trees... The word 'Anjuthengu' means 'five coconut palms' and this place has a beautiful and pristine beach too and has an historic importance as well as beautiful natural setting which is admired by nature lovers. , Anjengo is an ideal destination for those who don't mind walking around and explore what is in store.

The fishing village adjoining the beach adds to the overall charm of Anjengo, with the fishermen and their routine activities adding to one's interest. While visiting here, you may also explore Muthalapuzhi Lake located at the close proximity to the fort and the enchanting backwater stretch lined with coconut trees. Moreover, the fort is the first signaling station for ships coming from England.

The historic significance tagged to Anjengo comes through foreign powers like the Portuguese, the Dutch and finally the English East India Company. In the year 1684, the English East India Company chose Anjengo to establish their first trade settlement in Kerala. Following the English East

India Company's presence, the place came to be known as Anjengo, meaning five coconut trees. According to local folk, the name Anjengo owes its genesis to a small area of land with five coconut trees, which was given on lease to the English East India Company by the then Queen of Attingal for trade purposes.

At Anjengo, one can find the remnants of the old English Fort, which was targeted several times by other foreign powers, who were at that time fighting each other to get a firm footing in Kerala. The Fort is now under the protection of National Heritage Monuments. There is also a cemetery inside the fort, which most probably would be having the remains of the occupants of the fort, and the oldest among the burial sites dates to 1704.

Best Time to Visit: Tourists can visit between December and March as the climate remains pleasant and one will enjoy exploring the surroundings during this time.

Getting there

Nearest Railway Station:

Varkala, about 12 km and Central, about 37 km

Nearest Airport:

Trivandrum International Airport, about 35 Km

Bastion Bungalow, Cochin - Kerala

Bastion Bungalow has become one of the most popular tourist spots for visitors to Kochi. This elegant old bungalow capped is a blend of Indo-European styles of architecture with Kerala style tiled roofing and a typical wooden verandah on the façade of the first floor. It is in Fort Kochi.

Bastion Bungalow was constructed way back in 1667 and gets its name from its location – the site of the Stromberg Bastion of the Old Dutch Fort (Immanuel Fort). The edifice merges marvelously into the circular formation of the bastion, has a tiled roof and a typical first floor verandah in wood along its front portion.

Legend has it that there is a network of secret tunnels running below the bungalow – a story that adds mystique to this graceful building. However, no tunnels have been found so far! The Bastion Bungalow has been declared a protected monument by the Archeological Department of Kerala.

This heritage building now houses the Renaissance Museum, a first of its kind museum to showcase the renaissance movement.

Bastion Bungalow in Fort Kochi is worth a visit not only for the elegance and beauty of the building, but also because it takes you back in time. With its Kerala-style sloping roof, long open verandahs and elegant façade, it is bound to charm you. The Renaissance Museum at Bastion Bungalow will fascinate you. The museum is a treasure house of an interesting collection of objects pertaining to cultural, social and political movements that took place between 1800 and1980. You can have a look at paintings, drawings, artifacts and scriptures. The museum has on display the activities pertaining to the caste system and the now-defunct practice of untouchability and also outlines the steps taken to banish this heinous practice. A few hours spent at the Renaissance Museum will open your eyes to many social reforms and give you an insight into the cultural practices of that era. Interestingly, Bastion Bungalow was featured in the Hollywood film ‘Cotton Mary’.

Getting there

Nearest Railway Station:

Ernakulam about 13 km away from Fort Kochi

Nearest Airport:

Cochin International Airport, about 45 km from Fort

Bekal Fort, Kasargod - Kerala

Kasargod is a beautiful town poised at the Northern extreme of Kerala State.16 km south of the town on the National Highway, is the largest and best preserved fort in the whole of Kerala, bordered by a splendid beach. Shaped like a giant keyhole, the historic Bekal Fort- built in 17th century - offers a superb view of the Arabian Sea from its tall observation towers, which were occupied by huge cannons, couple of centuries ago.

Near the fort is an old mosque said to have been built by the valiant Tipu Sultan of Mysore. Built by the rulers of the ancient Kadampa dynasty, the fort changed hands over the years to the Kolathiri Rajas, the Vijayanagar Empire, Tipu Sultan and finally, the British East India Company. When Tipu Sultan led the great military expedition to capture Malabar Bekal Fort served as an important military station for his army. The coins and other artifacts unearthed by the archaeological excavation conducted recently at Bekal fort shows the strong presence of the Mysore Sultans. The Fourth Anglo-Mysore War in 1799 led to the death of Tipu Sultan and consequently the fort came under the British East India Company.

Today, the Bekal Fort and its surroundings are fast becoming an international tourist destination and a favourite shooting locale for film makers

Visiting hours: 0800 - 1730

Getting there

Nearest Railway Station:

 Kasaragod, on the Mumbai route, about 16 km

Nearest Airport:

Mangalore, about 50 km from Kasaragod town;International Airport, Kozhikode, about 200 km from Kasaragod.

Mattancherry Dutch Palace, Ernakulam - Kerala

Though the Dutch Palace has been named so, it was the Portuguese who built it. What the Dutch did was merely cosmetic renovation and repair. During the early decades of the 16th century, the Portuguese had plundered many temples in Kochi. In 1555, they built the palace and presented it to King Veera Kerala Varma with the hope of establishing trading relations with the kingdom. When the Dutch arrived in Kochi much later, they renovated the building.

The palace is a two-storeyed structure, built in traditional Kerala naalukettu (quadrangular) model with four separate wings opening into a central courtyard. While the central courtyard houses a temple of the royal deity Pazhayannur Bhagavathi, the two other temples situated on either side of the palace are dedicated to Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva. Outside, the palace looks simple, but elegant with the white walls on the front and the sloping roof. Long and spacious halls, arches etc are other characteristics of the palace. The ground floor harbours the ladies room with a staircase to the kanithalam room. The square shaped Coronation hall, royal bed chamber, dining hall, assembly hall and the staircase room are situated on the upstairs.

The ceilings of various halls are decorated with wood carved floral designs including the design of an inverted lotus. Even brass cups are used to embellish the ceiling of the dining hall. The unique flooring, done with a mixture of burnt coconut shells, lime, plant juices and egg-whites., is fascinating. It could easily be mistaken for a piece of black marble.

The walls of the palace interiors will please the aesthetic sense of a visitor with their intricate mythological mural paintings in rich warm colours. The breathtakingly beautiful mural paintings in the Royal Bed Chamber depict the entire story of Ramayana. The painting covers about 100 square meter and it is believed to be done between the 17th and 18th century. The coronation hall houses life-size statues of the Kochi kings, in their coronation robes, who ruled from the year 1864. These portraits were made by local artists. Some of the robes and headgear shown in the portraits have been kept on display.

Apart from these, there are exhibits of Dutch maps of old Kochi, royal palanquins with floral designs, silver sequined gowns, royal umbrellas make of silk and brass, the ceremonial royal sword and other royal paraphernalia on display in different rooms of the palace. The weapons displayed include sheathed swords, daggers, spears and so on.

Getting there

Nearest Railway Station:

Ernakulam, about 10 Km

Nearest Airport:

Cochin International Airport, about 42 Km

Pierce Leslie Bungalow, Fort Kochi - Kerala

A very charming mansion of Fort Kochi in the state of Kerala, Pierce Leslie Bungalow is an ancient mansion built in the year 1892. Earlier it was the office of Pierce Leslie & Company, a popular group of coffee merchants in India. It's one of the most famous heritage buildings of Kochi that draws millions of travelers with its historical importance and architectural splendor.

Features built in the year 1862, this old mansion is a real architectural delight that combines Dutch, Portuguese and Kerala style of construction. Other features of mansion are the beautiful wood panels that form the roof of the ground floor, carved doors, expansive rooms and arched doorways. There are two houses in the bungalow named as Old Harbor house and Koder House. Water front verandas are another major attraction of the Bungalow which adds charm to its elegance.

Getting there

Nearest Railway Station:

Ernakulam, about a Kilometre

Nearest Airport:

Cochin International Airport, about 30 km from ernakulam

Padmanabhapuram Palace, Trivandrum - Kerala

A magnificent wooden palace of the 16th century, Padmanabhapuram Palace lies at the land's end of mainland India - Kanyakumari. An enticing ediffice to any lover of art and architecture this old palace of the Rajas of the erstwhile Travancore (1550 to 1750 AD) is a fine specimen of Kerala's indigenous style of architecture. The antique interiors are replete with intricate rosewood carvings and sculptured decor. The palace also contains 17th and 18th century murals. One can see: the musical bow in mahogany, windows with coloured mica, royal chairs with Chinese carvings,

'Thaikkottaram' or the Queen Mother's palace with painted ceilings, rose wood and teak carved ceilings with 90 different floral designs.

Durbar Hall of the palace has a shiny black floor specially made from a combination of egg white, jaggery lime, burnt coconut, charcoal and river sand, granite tubs to cool curd and buttermilk, secret underground passages, the King's bedroom with a four poster medicinal bed, mural paintings, pictures of Lord Krishna, hanging brass lanterns lit continuously since the 18th century, open air swimming bath, granite dance hall, Saraswathi (goddess of knowledge) temple, large earthen urns, room for scribes and accountants, carved figures on columns holding oil lamps, pooja (worship) rooms with jackfruit tree columns, fish carvings on the ceilings, enormous teak beams, Belgian mirrors and an outer cyclopean stone wall fitted together without mortar.

Visitors to the palace are often overwhelmed by the royal splendour of erstwhile Travancore. Though the palace is situated in Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu State, it comes under the Government of Kerala's administration.

Visiting hours:  9 hours to 17 hours (All days except Mondays)

Getting there

Nearest Railway Station:

Nagarcoil (Tamilnadu), about 16 Km

Nearest Airport:

Trivandrum International Airport, 52 km away

Nilambur Kovilakam

Nilambur Kovilakam was the family or the local rulers or representatives of the Kozhikode Samoothiris. Unlike the Samoothiris, who played a vital, recorded role in the history of Kerala, the local rajas of Nilambur Kovilakam were not given credit for the parts they played in the state's past.

The family of Nilambur Kovilakam acted mostly as the local princely rulers, taking care of the land and collecting the food tax offerings for the Samoothiripad. With no published records for reference, the Nilambur Kovilakam family has faded into word-of-mouth legend. The present generations of the Nilambur Kovilakam family are scattered around the world with very little or nothing at all written to preserve their place in time in.

The architectural marvel seen in the buildings here has been appreciated across the globe. Many international architects have been visiting Nilambur Kovilakam to know more about this system of architecture.A team from National Institute Of Technology had conducted a detailed study on how the temperature is maintained inside the rooms under different climatic conditions.

Getting there

Nearest Railway Station:

Nilambur is the terminus of the Shornur Nilambur railway line

Nearest Airport:

Calicut International Airport, about 26 km from Malappuram town

Varkala Beach

Varkala beach is the only place in southern Kerala where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea. These tertiary sedimentary formation cliffs are a unique geological feature on the otherwise flat Kerala coast, and is known among geologists as Varkala Formation and a geological monument as declared by the Geological Survey of India. There are numerous water spouts and spas on the sides of these cliffs. The beach is a haven for sun-bathing and swimming. The evening views of the sunset are worth lingering over. There are several small restaurants and snack shops near and around Papasnanam beach, which attracts the maximum visitors both for leisure as well as for religious reasons.

A two thousand year old shrine the Janardhanaswamy Temple stands on the cliffs overlooking the beach, a short distance away.

Varkala offers excellent accommodation facilities for tourists and is fast becoming a popular health resort with many Ayurvedic massage centers.

Main attractions are the beach, mineral water springs, the Sivagiri Mutt and a 2000-year- old Vishnu Temple.

Getting there

Nearest Railway Station:

Varkala Sivagiri Railway Station

Nearest Airport:

Thiruvananthapuram international airport , thiruvananthapuram which is 37 km away from Varkala Beach .

Konni

Konni is a major elephant training centre. Located 11 km from Pathanamthitta , it is a major tourist attraction. The prime attraction here are the huge cages built of wood to house elephants. These cages are locally known as Aanakkoodu and can accommodate 3- 4 elephants at a time.

The trainers here train the baby elephants which get separated from their herd, or are found wounded or roaming in the forest. Experienced trainers using their systematic training methods, tame the baby elephants. Visitors can get a close look at these elephants and can observe and understand a lot about their behaviour, especially that of baby elephants, which are often endearingly mischievous.

During peak times, the daily collection of this tourism spot will cross Rs. 1,50,000. It is about 6.5 km away from Achenkovil.This waterfall is a part of river Achankovil. Manalar Waterfall is another important waterfall near to this. The travelers can see wild animals also if lucky. Because the waterfall is very close to the thick Konni Forest area.Palaruvi Falls is another nearby attraction of this falls.

Getting there

Nearest Railway Station:

The nearest Railway station is punalur, 25 km

Nearest Airport:

The nearest Airport is Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, about 99 km

Achankovil river

Kerala’s famous Achankovil River has its origin in some of the small streams in Konni. It flows through Mavelikkara, Thiruvalla and Karthikapally Taluk into the left of river Pamba near the Vembanattu Lake. Pathanamthitta is the gift of river Achankovil originating from the high ranges of the Western Ghats near the ancient forest shrine of Achankovil in the north eastern border of Kollam district so close to Senkotai and Tenkasi in Tamil Nadu. The Achankovil is a river in Kerala, India, created towards the southern tip of the peninsula by the confluence of the Rishimala, Pasukidamettu, and Ramakkalteri Rivers. The Anchankovil enriches the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala state. It joins with the Pamba River at Veeyapuram, in the Alappuzha district of Kerala. Achankovil is also the name of the forest area, which is the catchment area for this river, and of a small town situated in the Achenkovil forest area. The Achankovil village is not easily accessible; however, it can be reached through forest routes. The river also passes through the village Vazhuvadi.

Getting there

Nearest Railway Station:

The nearest railway station to Kayankulam Railway Station

Nearest Airport:

We couldn't find the nearest airport to Achankovil River.

Forest temples

Achankovil and Aluvamkudi are two very ancient temples worthy of visit.Achankovil Temple is in the Kollam district and is in Kerala border. Infront of the temple we can see Achancovil river. Achankovil is an important Hindu pilgrim centre and the famous Sastha temple here is situated amidst thick forest. It is very much important among the sastha temples in Kerala. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Ayyappa. It is said that the installation of the idol of Sastha have been installed several centuries before the Christian Era by Lord Parasurama himself. Achencovil temple is almost above 950 mtrs height from the sea level.

Achankovil Shastha Temple, or the Dharmasastha Temple, is one among the five important temples dedicated to Lord Ayyappa in Kerala. Lord Ayyappa leads the Grihastha Ashrama life here – he is depicted as a family man or leads married life here. He is depicted along with his two wives – Purna and Pushkala. It is believed that the idol here was installed by Lord Parashurama.

Getting there

Nearest Railway Station:

The nearest railway station to achankovil river is Kayankulam Railway Station

Nearest Airport:

We couldn't find the nearest airport to Achankovil

Palaruvi Waterfalls

Amidst evergreen forests, and 16 km from Thenmala towards Shenkotah, this beautiful fall comes down from a height of 300 ft.It is a favourite picnic spot for visitors from all over south India. The journey to Palaruvi through the dense tropical forest is a spellbinding experience.

Palaruvi which means stream of milk makes its way down the rocks, from a height of 300 feet. It is a beautiful picnic spot. The PWD Inspection Bungalow and the KTDC Motel here offer comfortable accommodation.

The surrounding mist-clad blue hills and green valleys form a stunning backdrop to the milk-white burst of foam whose muffled roar resounds through the otherwise tranquil virgin forest.

Palaruvi is around 4 km deep into the forest from the NH 208. It is situated in and around the Thenmala Eco Tourism Project. Areas are marvelous for evergreen forests and temples of Lord Ayyappa. In kulathupuzha the fresh water swamps, harbouring fishes, are ideal bathing ghats. The temple at Kulathupuzha, Aryankavu, and Achencoil, attracts many devotees. The perennial waterfall at Palaruvi, near Aryankavu attracts a lot of visitors.

Getting there

Nearest Railway Station:

Kollam, about 75 km away

Nearest Airport:

Trivandrum International Airport, about 72 km from Kollam town