India for Beginners – Why Kerala is the Perfect Introduction to Traveling in India

Kerala: India for Beginners

India can be quite a culture shock for the first time visitor but it is also probably the most fascinating and rewarding place you could ever visit, somewhere everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime! Luckily there are places in India that are less chaotic and the tropical, laid back southern state of Kerala is a great introduction to India for beginners.

When people think of India usually images of of the Taj Mahal, brightly coloured saris, desert forts and dirty and chaotic cities come to mind. While the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, and the flamboyant state of Rajastan holds some of the most crazily colourful and exotic travel experiences in the world, visiting these places can also be really overwhelming and traveling in India can be hard work.

 

 

India can be quite a culture shock and a bit overwhelming but the tropical and relaxed state of Kerala in South India is the perfect place to ease into it and start your travels in India

After over 18 months of traveling in both the North and South of this incredible country I always offer the same advice to friends venturing to India for the first time – start with the South of India.

I say this because, generally speaking, I find the South of India a lot easier, cleaner and safer to travel in and a real gem and highlight of South India is Kerala

Tropical, Beautiful Kerala

Looking down over the cliffs to stunning Varkala Beach
Looking down over the cliffs to stunning Varkala Beach

The luscious, emerald green state of Kerala forms a tropical, blissed out strip along the Western Coastline of the far South of India. Whilst all the colour and exoticness of India is found here, in many ways the state of Kerala, also known as ‘God’s own Country,’ differs to the rest of India and traveling in Kerala is a cleaner, less hassled, and laid back affair.

Nature has blessed ‘Gods own Country’ from head to toe and Kerala boasts so many amazing experiences from tropical beaches, spice plantations, languid backwaters, stunning nature and wildlife sanctuaries, cool hill stations and historic, multicultural, unhurried towns. Add scrumptious seafood and cuisine, an abundance in natural therapies like yoga and ayurveda and some of the friendliest people and warmest hospitality I’ve ever encountered.

Houseboats on the Kerala Backwaters
Houseboats on the Kerala Backwaters

India is so diverse, you could really spend a lifetime travelling here and never see it all, from deserts to the Himalayas, from chaotic cities to rural villages untouched by the 21st century to ancient temples, historic forts, tropical beaches and of course, one of the most amazing water ways of earth – the Kerala backwaters. Diversity abounds in India and every state is different. Kerala has been described as ‘easy India’ or India for beginners’, and from my experiences, Kerala is the prefect introduction to India.

Why is Kerala Different?

Sunset at the Chinese fishing nets in Fort Cochin
Sunset at the Chinese fishing nets in Fort Cochin

Kerala differs from the rest of India as it was cut off by the highlands of the Western ghats, instead the abundance of spices grown here attracted traders and explorers since time immemorial, first the Arabs and Chinese and then the Portuguese, Dutch and British and along with trade they also influenced the local population. Kerala is also cleaner, wealthier and more developed than many parts of India and it was actually the world’s first state to have a democratically elected communist government back in 1957.

Gorgeous green views over Munnar's tea plantations
Gorgeous green views over Munnar’s tea plantations

One of the biggest differences is in education, Kerala has the highest literacy and life expectancy rates and the lowest infant mortality in India. Education is taken very seriously here and it’s never hard to find someone to help who can speak English. 

Despite Kerala’s stunning natural beauty, it is the people of Kerala, possibly the friendliest I’ve encountered in India,  and their wonderful smiles who are Kerala’s best asset. Actually the people here have overwhelmed me with their warm welcomes and amazing hospitality, this alone makes a visit here special and one that lingers in the hearts, minds and memories forever.

Being greeted with gits, music and dots on the head!
Being greeted with gits, music and dots on the head!

I’m going to be writing many more tips posts to ease your travels around India, including packing, safety for women, transportation and how to book trains and where to go. If you have any queries about travel in India contact me and I’ll try my best to help!

 

Related posts

Bir Billing Travel Guide: An OffBeat Gem in the Indian Himalayas

Anna

10 Reasons I Love Australia

Anna

Local Secrets Guide to Hanoi, Vietnam

Anna

18 comments

Rosemary Neave March 30, 2015 at 10:53 pm

Great article Anna!

Reply
Anna Phipps March 31, 2015 at 6:52 am

Thank you Rose 🙂

Reply
Matthew March 31, 2015 at 10:15 pm

Thanks for sharing Anna!

Reply
Lavina October 11, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Loved reading your blog post about Kerala. I was there recently and could not agree more. Kerala’s luscious greenery, beautiful landscape and incomparable hospitality makes it a great starting point.

Reply
Anna October 11, 2015 at 5:19 pm

Thanks so much Lavina! Glad you found it useful and so happy that you liked Kerala! Did you get to see many other places in India too?

Reply
john April 6, 2016 at 7:03 am

thanks for your article about kerala. it’s help people to understand my land and its way of attractions

Reply
john April 6, 2016 at 7:05 am

actually Kerala meaning “land of coconuts” is a common misconception. the real meaning, dating back to the times of Asoka the Mauryan emperor is “land of the cheras” or “land controlled by the cheras”, the cheras being a hereditary royal dynasty that has ruled these lands for most of history and whose descendants are the local royals to this day. chera-alam>keralam>kerala.
and malayalam in a similar way actually means “land beyond the hills”, rather than hill-country. the name was given, as names usually are, by the outsiders, the tamils to the east.

Reply
Anna April 21, 2016 at 9:48 am

Thanks John, glad you liked the article and thanks for the info and tips about Kerala

Reply
Victoria May 10, 2016 at 7:03 pm

Yay I’m glad I found your site. My husband and I are going to live in Kerala for about a month this fall. After reading this, I’m even more excited about it!

Reply
Anna May 24, 2016 at 3:21 pm

Oh how exciting! Kerala is beautiful! I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

Reply
Aryane August 8, 2016 at 9:46 am

Hi Anna!
I asked fellow travelers ideas for my honeymoon, my idea at the moment being 3 weeks in Cambodia and Laos, and mentioned Kerala.

Wow!!

The wedding is in a month, but we’re planning on doing our honeymoon around January-February. Is it a good time to go to Kerala? I’m also wondering where to fly to if we do choose Kerala.

Thank you very much in advance! I’ll make sure to check out more of your posts for more inspiration 🙂

Reply
Anna August 12, 2016 at 11:15 pm

Hey Aryane! Wow congrats on your marriage and it looks like you will have an exciting honeymoon! Jan and Feb will be perfect for Kerala – its peak season so cool, dry and sunny weather. Kochi and Trivandrum both have airports in Kerala. Happy Honeymoon! 🙂

Reply
Soph March 23, 2018 at 6:56 pm

Kerala is beautiful around December because the weather is not as intense as in the summer months. Also, as many parts of Kerala are Christian it’s truly delight to see the cultural component of an Indian Christmas. Enjoy!

Reply
Shane Cox September 11, 2017 at 4:22 am

OMG! Anna, I’ve read so many blogs, popular and no so much, and I’m so glad I found yours. It’s the best guide to getting around that I’ve seen. I feel so much better about my upcoming trip to India (almost four months on my first go).

My next leg is southeast Asia, so I’ll be looking for your blogs.

Keep It up!

Reply
Saim Malik September 23, 2017 at 5:05 am

wow great post dear thanks for sharing

Reply
George March 11, 2020 at 12:17 pm

nice Blog. I loved reading the blog and seeing beautiful elegance through attractive images. Once again, I would like to visit the post, its useful material. Thank you so much for sharing the interesting post! Keep on writing.

Reply
How to Cruise the Kerala Backwaters on a Budget - Global Gallivanting Travel Blog November 17, 2022 at 2:57 pm

[…] is one of the most beautiful,advanced and relaxing parts of India, you could almost call it India for Beginners – see Why Kerala makes a perfect introduction to exploring incredible Indi… […]

Reply
The Absolute Best Places to Visit in India - Global Gallivanting Travel & Yoga Blog March 24, 2023 at 7:36 am

[…] Kerala is one of the most laid back places to visit in India, it makes a perfect, easy introduction to India. You could ease yourself into the country by exploring relaxed Kerala first and then flying up to […]

Reply

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More