TRAVEL DIARIES - INDIA (KERALA)

After a 22 hour journey from Goa including a 15 hour overnight train and 5 hour taxi ride up the mountains we made it to our first stop in Kerala, Munnar, which is famous for the beautiful tea plantations. We then headed to Alleppey to experience the backwaters on a houseboat and finally onto Cochin city to visit Fort Cochin. Again we spent a fair bit on taxis here but we did get a bus from Alleppey to Cochin which was super cheap around 75 rupees so the transport options cater to any budget. We did find you could probably do a couple of days in Munnar, couple of days in Alleppey and then a day or 2 is good in Cochin to see everything you need.

WHERE TO STAY

WINDERMERE RETREAT in Munnar

Instagram: @windermereretreats

Windermere Estate in Munnar is right at the top of the mountains and a tranquil retreat. With beautiful grounds, an infinity pool overlooking the tea plantations and super comfy rooms, it offers the perfect escape and quietness you need sometimes when travelling. The staff were extremely helpful and the food was great, offering continental breakfast and a set evening Indian menu which offers meat and vegetarian which was both flavoursome and filling. The whole place had a very chilled and relaxed environment. One of my favourite things was afternoon tea outside which has homemade cakes and local tea! On the first day we chilled by the pool and relaxed and on the second day we went on an organised walk around the local area which was extremely beautiful through the jungle and explored the tea plantations. They have a amazing viewpoint which is great for sunrise and sunsets! Munnar is like another world and a definite must see when visiting India a complete opposite to Goa which is what I love about India most.

AYANAS HOMESTAY in Alleppey

Instagram: @keralabackwaters

After a very bumpy taxi ride down the mountains we arrived in a little village by the backwaters and were greeted by a small boat to take us across to a big beautiful white house overlooking the water. The owner Gopal was sat at the front waiting to greet us at the homestay and blessed us at the doorway. He made us feel so welcome with chai and biscuits and he sat and told us about the homestay, his family and the local area. The room was comfy and everything we needed. We chilled the first evening and watched the beautiful sunset over the water. Dinner was traditional Kerala Indian Thali with lots of different home cooked dishes to try both vegetarian and meat. Desert of local rice pudding was also very yummy! Breakfast was local cuisine with again lots of new flavours to pick and try from and the chai was the best I have had! On the second day we got a rickshaw to Alleppey beach, the beach itself wasn't that great compared to Goa but it was pleasant and there was a really nice restaurant called Harbour restaurant in which we chilled for most of the afternoon. We then headed back for another yummy dinner. Gopal helped us so much organising transport, calling the houseboat for us for the next day and anything we needed he really looked after us. The homestay offered something very different for us on our trip and it was so refreshing to stay with a family, have home cooked cuisine and get a different perspective on Kerala entirely, would definitely recommend.

Houseboats

Everyone recommends getting a houseboat in Kerala so this was an opportunity we had to splash out on. It cost around £85 for the boat which is from 11am-4pm and includes freshly made lunch and snacks in the afternoon. There are cheaper options if you go on group tours or go amongst more friends and you can also stay overnight on a houseboat which I'm sure is a great experience! It was so fun and relaxing sitting on the upper deck watching the other boats go by and seeing the local life in the sun. A definite highlight of our India trip and something which you shouldn't miss!

Cochin

Not in our original plan but something I am so happy we did was spend a few days in Cochin. Fort Cochin is famous for its Chinese fishing nets, Kerala traditional kathakali dancing and Jew Town.Fort Cochin was one of my favourite days in India so far - the area is so beautiful boasting lots of European style cafes and places to eat. We visited the local churches which were really beautiful and a must do is stop at Kashi Art Cafe for cake, we had the biggest bit of cake and great coffee, with a very chilled and relaxing atmosphere. We then went to see sunset by the Chinese fishing nets which is really beautiful. The whole area has lots of things to take photos of, painted walls and cute little details. We then went to the Kerala Kathakali Centre which was a great experience to see the local dancing. The show is from 6-7.30pm and you can watch them do the make up first which is an art in itself! The costumes and dancing was such a good experience and something very different! We then headed for dinner at the Italian down the road called Upstairs, a good photo spot as it has rainbow stairs leading up to it. The Italian menu is great with deliciois pizza and a rooftop style vibe, they also had a guy playing guitar which was very nice! An amazing day and no hassle. Kerala was such a contrast from beach life in Goa and offered a completely different experience which was very special, we are now heading up to Jaipur for a few days which I am really excited about!