In Kerala’s southern district of Kottayam, Kanam lies 40 kilometres inland from the coastal town of Alleppey. The countryside is made up lush working plantations and the area is covered with tropical vegetation. This is a pleasant and rural hill destination nestled between Periyar and Cochin, best experienced between January and April when temperatures are cooler and the humidity declines.
The town of Kanam and the area surrounding it is full of lovely temples and ancient churches. Hire a bike and amble through the streets of the villages, or travel by bullock cart. The region looks over the Blue Mountains of the Western Ghats, and green fields are abundant: pass by cocoa, pineapple, banana, spice, pepper, coffee, tapioca, rubber, cardamom, and papaya plantations. Come to Kanam to stay at the Serenity Estate and to explore Kerala’s backwaters and inland gems without battling through the crowds of tourists.
Visitors come to Munnar for an endless green expanse of rolling hills, and for exceptionally good tea, cultivated at the world’s highest altitudes on sprawling plantations. Munnar is nestled in the Cardamom Hills, speckled with beautiful old churches, Raj-style bungalows, lovely picturesque houses, and lush forest parklands. Come here for rest, relaxation, wildlife, nature, mountain air, and soothing Indian tea.
For tea enthusiasts, there are plenty of working cardamom and tea factories that welcome visitors, and the Tea Museum is worth a trip with its quirky photographs and machinery. Learn about the Munnar region and its historical tea plantations from the friendly locals on-site.
In the Eravikulam National Park, you can spot the rare Nilgiri Tahr, an endangered type of Indian mountain goat in its natural habitat. The national park is an ideal trekking destination, with wonderful views of the surrounding plantations. Watch out for rare mammals, colourful butterflies, and many beautiful bird species. Trekking enthusiasts might consider the Anamudi Peak. Towering at 2,700 metres, this is the highest peak in southern India. Enjoy fresh mountain air, deliciously cool temperatures, and remarkable mountain scenery, especially in the estates on the mountain top.
If entering Kerala from Tamil Nadu, Palakkad city is the grand gateway to the region. This makes it a popular destination for exploration in Northeast Kerala. The low mountainous pass that divides the two regions is known as the Palakkad Gap. Come here to see the ancient remnants of Tipu Sultan's grand and glorious fort, to relax in sweeping manicured gardens, and for easy access to Malampuzha and the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve.
The Palakkad Tipu Fort, constructed in 1766 by request from the emperor of the Mysore province, stands proudly in the very heart of the city. It has seen many a raid, capture, and war, and today the expansive grounds host exhibitions, cricket matches, and public events.
What draws visitors to Palakkad most of all is the Malampuzha Dam and surrounding gardens. On the front side of the dam, the Malampuzha Gardens are lush, green, expansive, and beautifully landscaped. They are dotted with sculptures, fountains, canals, and quaint hanging bridges. It is a picturesque place to relax and take in the views, either by boat, from a ropeway above the gardens, or on a leisurely walk.
Just outside of Palakkad, the Silent Valley National Park (also known as the Indira Gandhi National Park) is a green and ecologically diverse part of the world, where tropical evergreen forests and shola grasslands house many thousand flora and fauna species. Here, you can hike through the jungle, spot a Malabar giant squirrel, admire many colourful bird species, and trek along the lush Kunti river.
Few visitors make the time to venture as far north as Wayanad in Kerala, but their loss is certainly your gain. Here is a place that is yet unspoilt by mass tourism, a picturesque region made up of rolling green valley and mountains shrouded in mist. Pepper, tea, coffee, cardamom, vanilla, and other spices are grown here in great abundance, and it’s ideal for exploring plantations, taking in the mountain scenery, and escaping the hassle and heat of Indian city life.
Wayanad as a region is slowly gaining recognition as a place to visit. Close by, Edakkal Caves in Ambalavayal are incredible; here you can explore massive rock caves with intricate prehistoric carvings. The highest peak in the region is Chembra Peak, where trekkers will appreciate the panoramic scenery along the way. The waterfalls at Meenmutty cascade from a height of 300 metres, a striking feat of nature. Wayanad is a beautiful spot to stretch your legs between Bangalore or Mysore and Kerala.
Perhaps the most sought-after destination in Wayanad is the wildlife sanctuary, which consists of 345 square kilometres of remote forest reserve spread over two Indian states, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The landscapes encompass rice paddies, red earth, bamboo, plantations, and bold mountain ranges. The sanctuary itself is ideal for spotting wild elephants, gaur, spotted deer, and plenty of birds and reptile species. The region is easily explored from one of three main towns in the district: Kalpetta, Sulthan Bathery, and Mananthavady.