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In 2017, I finally visited India. After years of being fascinated by the country, it was my time to experience it.
I spent two weeks in India visiting both the North and South, an opportunity which gave me an insight into just how diverse this magnificent country is.
Our southern portion of the trip was based in Kerala. Kerala is a state on India’s tropical Malabar Coast which has nearly 600km of Arabian Sea shoreline. It’s known for its palm-lined beaches and backwaters, a network of canals. Inland are the Western Ghats, mountains whose slopes support tea, coffee and spice plantations as well as wildlife. National parks like Eravikulam and Periyar, plus Wayanad and other sanctuaries, are home to elephants, langur monkeys and tigers.
While at present, this state may not get as much publicity as its Northern counterparts, Kerala is not somewhere to be skipped.
Across our 8 days in Kerala, we visited the tea plantations of Munnar, the backwaters of Alleppey, beaches at Mararikulam and the town of Fort Cochin. Aside from the beautifully diverse scenery of Kerala, it was the people who really made the biggest impact on me.
Human by Nature is a campaign by Kerala Tourism to show the way of life in Kerala and how the people here connect with the land and nature. They have created the below video to showcase their wonderful people and you can find out more by searching #humanbynature on across social channels.
When this campaign was shared with me many stand out interactions I had whilst there instantly came back to me. Welcoming interactions full of kindness and genuine interest.
Interactions which offered an insight into a life so different from my own back home in London, England.
The area of Munnar is synonymous with rolling hills that are carpeted with plantations of tea, it is recognised for having some of the best and most beautiful tea gardens across the globe. Owing to the presence of large tea estates and big names in the field, it is regarded as a prominent hub of the tea trade in the country.
Unfortunately for me, I fell poorly during our visit to Munnar and spent a large amount of time stuck inside our hotel room. What stuck with me most from the portion of our time in India was the kindness of the hotel staff. The people who checked on me frequently to ensure I was okay and cooked specially prepared meals to ensure I kept my strength up.
On our last day, feeling slightly healthier, the staff encouraged me to go on a hike around the plantations. One member of the team took us on a 10km hike through the tea plantations, the waterfalls and down to the local village. Along the way, locals shared smiles as they went about their daily routines and at the end shared fresh tea. a sense of pride was felt from the man who guided our walk – pride that all this nature was his back garden.
In Mararikulam, we stayed in a beautiful homestay, just off of the beach with a wonderful Keralan couple called Allwyn and Jency.
Every evening they prepared the most incredible traditional feast of Keralan food, which included the most delicious, freshly cooked parotta. Each day Allwyn and Jency shared stories as well as recommendations of where to visit next. When we got home, obviously aware of our admiration for their cooking, they emailed us their personal recipes so we could continue to create their dishes at home.
These recipes are now printed with a secure place alongside our favourite recipe books, to be used for years to come.
The final area we visited was Alleppey, an area of Kerala famous for the backwaters. What was once the highways of the region, used to transport goods in and out of the state, has now become a popular tourist destination. A wonderfully relaxing place to spend a night or two on a traditional houseboat exploring the backwaters.
Alongside spotting the native birdlife – striking blue Kingfishers, Kites and Bee-eaters to name a few, the backwater cruises give an insight into the lives of the local people as you watch them go about their daily life, the ladies washing their laundry while their children play alongside the famous backwaters. A heartwarming experience and a small insight into a life so different from my own in busy industrial London.
Travel, for me, is so much about the connections you make along the way. The interactions with local people who stay imprinted in your memories. Kerala is human by nature and it is what makes it special. It is the people of Kerala which keeps India in your mind for years to come.
This post was created in paid partnership with Kerala Tourism, however, as always all opinions and stories are my own.