Here is a list of 10 things that are unique to Kerala and an itinerary that will help you experience them on a shoestring:
1. Heritage home of Kerala – Built in the traditional style, called Nalukettu, these houses have four halls connected to a central courtyard. Many royal palaces and temples you see in different parts of Kerala are built in this style.
2. Nehru trophy snake boat race – One of the colorful and much anticipated event of Alleppey. If you are in Alleppey during August, then this event must not be missed. If you are not, then you should at least take a look at the snake boats. It can accommodate up to 90 to 110 rowers in a single boat.
3.Sadhya – Typical feast of the people of Kerala. Choose a homestay that will serve Sadhya, so you can taste authentic Kerala food.
4. Traditional attire – Saree for women and Mundu for men it is.
5. Kathakali – A classical dance drama originated in Kerala. The colorful make-up, elaborate costumes, live music, all of it got me so hooked, I was sitting at the theater long after the show was over, watching the artists pose for pictures with guests 🙂
6. Backwater cruise in Kettuvallom – Cruise the backwaters in a traditional Kerala houseboat built using coir wooden planks, bamboo poles. More than few hours might get you tired and bored, but without this, Kerala experience is not complete.
7. Toddy – Alcoholic beverage created from the sap of palm trees. Available at many shops in Kumarakom/Alleppey. But beware, as time progresses there will be an increase in the percentage alcohol.
8. Temples festivities – Magnificent processions, offerings, elaborate rituals, elephants, panchavadyam, and more. I was stunned seeing the magnitude of celebrations!
9. Ayurvedic massage – In a State that practices Ayurveda with absolute dedication, a simple two hours head massage might be worth a try.
10. Crafts of Kerala – Better experienced at the crafts village set up by Kerala tourism in Calicut.
Itinerary – 2N Alleppey, 2N Kochi, 1N Kottakal and 1N Calicut.
Day 01: Reach Kochi by flight, proceed to Alleppey. Lunch. Check-in at the heritage homestay (@ Nelpura homestay), enjoy a tour of the house, Dinner, EOD
Day 02: BF, Drive for 12 kms to see snake boats at Champakulam. Enjoy Sadhya for lunch at the homestay, Try Kerala traditional attire, free time, Dinner, EOD
Day 03: BF, Check-out, arrive at Kochi. Check-in (@ Vasco’s homestay). Lunch. Enjoy evening Kathakali show (@ Greenix village opposite to boat jetty), Dinner, EOD
Day 04: BF, Opt for a full day backwaters tour (by Destination tours). Cruise, see toddy tapping, coir making, visit spice plantations and more. Back by 5.00 pm, Dinner, EOD
Day 05: BF, Arrive at Cheruthurthy by train, Visit Kalamandalam (this is an alternate option to visiting temples), Lunch, continue your journey by train to Kottakal, check-in at a homestay, Ayurvedic massage, Dinner, EOD
Day 06: BF, Check-out, arrive at Calicut by train, check-in at a homestay, see the crafts village (@Iringal), free time, Dinner, EOD
Day 07: Depart from Calicut airport
Written in brackets are my suggestions. I had a lovely time at each of these suggested places. Hope you have a good time too.