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Kerala is an important international and internal tourist destination; the backwaters, beaches, Ayurvedic tourism, and tropical greenery are among its major attractions. National Geographic's Traveler magazine named Kerala as one of the "ten paradises of the world" and "50 must-see destinations of a lifetime"; Travel + Leisure listed it as "one of the 100 great trips for the 21st century".

Kerala Houseboat, India

Kerala Houseboat

Top 10 Kerala Attractions

1: The Kerala Backwaters are a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast (known as the Malabar Coast) of Kerala state in southern India. The network includes five large lakes linked by canals, both manmade and natural, fed by 38 rivers, and extending virtually half the length of Kerala state. The backwaters were formed by the action of waves and shore currents creating low barrier islands across the mouths of the many rivers flowing down from the Western Ghats range.

The Kerala Backwaters are a network of interconnected canals, rivers, lakes and inlets, a labyrinthine system formed by more than 900 km of waterways, and sometimes compared to the American Bayou. In the midst of this landscape there are a number of towns and cities, which serve as the starting and end points of backwater cruises. National Waterway No. 3 from Kollam to Kottapuram, covers a distance of 205 km and runs almost parallel to the coast line of southern Kerala facilitating both cargo movement and backwater tourism.

 Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, India

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

2: Fort Cochin:The venerable city of KOCHI (Long known as Cochin), is Kerala's hottest tourist spot, spreading across islands and promontories in a stunning location between the Arabian Sea and bbackwaters.its main sections-modern Ernakulam, in the east, and the old districts of Mattancherry and Fort Cochin on a peninsula in the west-are linked by a complex system of ferries, ad distinctly less romantic bridges.

Although most visitors end up staying in Ernakulam, For Cochin and Mattancherry are the focus of interest, where the city's extraordinary history of

During a wander through their narrow lanes, you will stumble upon spice markets, Chinese fishing nets, a synagogue, a Portuguese palace, India's first European church, Dutch homes, and a village green that could have been transported from England's Home Counties. The city is also one of the few places in Kerala where, at any time of year, you can be assured of seeing Kathkali dance,either in one of several special tourist theatres,or at a more authentic performance by a temple based company.

3: Munnar is a hill station on the Western Ghats, a range of mountains situated in the Idukki district of the Indian state of Kerala.

The name Munnar is believed to mean "three rivers", referring to the town's strategic location at the confluence of the Madhurapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly rivers. The town has shared a strong cultural link with Tamil Nadu.

4: Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (PNP) is a protected area in the districts of Idukki and Pathanamthitta in Kerala, south India. It is notable as an elephant reserve and a tiger reserve. The protected area covers an area of 925 km2 (357 sq mi). 350 km2 (140 sq mi) of the core zone was declared as the Periyar National Park in 1982.

The park is often called the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. It is also referred to by the name "Thekkady". It is set high in the Cardamom Hills and Pandalam Hills of the southern Western Ghats along the border with Tamil Nadu state. The park is located 4 km (2.5 mi) from Kumily, approximately 100 km (62 mi) east of Kottayam, 110 km (68 mi) west of Madurai and 120 km (75 mi) southeast of Kochi.

5:Kollam, often anglicized as Quilon, is a coastal city on the banks of the Ashtamudi in Kerala a state of India that took on the title 'God's Own Country' without much demur. The braids of the Ashtamudi Lake lie about 71 kilometres (44 mi) north of the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram. The city hosts the administrative offices of Kollam district and is a prominent city of trade for the state.

An ancient trading town - trading with Chinese,Arabs and Orientals with historical citations of trade dated back to Biblical history, going back to Solomon, granted credence with a find of ancient Roman coins. Internal trade occurred through the Punalur Pass connecting the ancient town to Tamil Nadu. The overland trade by bullock cart of its produce pepper and the trade over the waterways connecting Allepey and Cochin ensured trade linakges that grew into shaping it as a town playing host to one of the earliest industrial townships. The rail links established to Tamil Nadu supported firmer trade links. The marine exports processing factories and the processing and packaging of Cashewnuts took the produce of these shores across the globe. The State of Kerala is looking at trade to drive development that is environment friendly and sustainable.

Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, India

Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary

6: Varkala is a coastal town and municipality in Thiruvananthapuram district situated in the Indian state of Kerala. It is located 50 kilometres (approx. 32 miles) north-west of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) and 37 km south-west of Kollam city.

Varkala is the only place in southern Kerala where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea. These tertiary sedimentary formation cliffs are a unique geological feature on the otherwise flat Kerala coast, and is known among geologists as Varkala Formation and a geological monument as declared by the Geological Survey of India. There are numerous water spouts and spas on the sides of these cliffs.

Varkala is also famous for the 2,000-year old Janardana Swami Temple which is an important Vaishnavaite shrine in India and is often referred to as Dakshin Kashi (Benares of the South).The temple is located close to the Papanasam beach, which is considered to have holy waters which wash away sins, and is also an important Ayurveda treatment centre. The temple has an ancient bell removed from a shipwreck, donated by the captain of the Dutch vessel which sank near Varkala without causing any casualties.

Another major landmark in Varkala is the Sivagiri Mutt, established by the social reformer Sree Narayana Guru. The hill-top mausoleum of Sree Narayana Guru is one of the most famous monuments in Kerala. The adjacent hills house the East-West University of Brahmavidya and Sree Narayana Gurukulam.

7: Kumarakom is a popular tourism destination located near the city of Kottayam (16 kilometres (10 mi)), in Kerala, India, famous for its backwater tourism. It is set in the backdrop of the Vembanad Lake which is the largest freshwater lake in the state of Kerala.

Kumarakom is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is a noted bird sanctuary where many species of migratory birds visit. The Vembanad Lake, the largest backwater in Kerala, is habitat for many marine and freshwater fish species and it teems with Karimeen (Pearl spot(Etroplus suratensis ) shrimp ( Metapenaeus dobsonii)common name Poovalan chemeen The bird sanctuary extends over 14 acres (57,000 m2), and came into existence following preservation efforts from the government. If you are lucky you will chance upon a Siberian Crane, a special visitor during the migratory season.It is a very beautiful place to live. It is a major tourist attraction

Munnar, Kerala, India

Munnar, Kerala

8: Thrissur pronunciation, originally Thrisivaperoor and previously known by its anglicized form as Trichur, is the fourth largest city, the third largest urban agglomeration in Kerala (Pop. 1,854,783) and the 20th largest in India. It is also the headquarters of the Thrissur District. Thrissur city is built around a 65-acre (26 ha) hillock called the Thekkinkadu Maidan which seats the Vadakkumnathan temple. Thrissur was once the capital of the Kingdom of Cochin. It is located 300 kilometres (186 mi) towards north-west of the state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

Thrissur is also known as the Cultural Capital of Kerala because of its cultural, spiritual and religious leanings throughout history. It houses the Kerala Sangeetha Nadaka Academy, Kerala Lalita Kala Akademi and Kerala Sahitya Academy. The city hosts the Thrissur Pooram festival, the most colourful and spectacular temple festival in Kerala. The festival is held at the Thekkinkadu Maidan in April or May. Thrissur has a large number of well-known temples including the Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple, Vadakkumnathan temple and Paramekkavu temple, as well as two famous churches, the Our Lady of Lourdes Syro-Malabar Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral and the Our Lady of Dolours Syro-Malabar Catholic Basilica.

Fort Cochin, India

Fort Cochin, Kerala

9: Kozhikode, also known as Calicut, is a city in the state of Kerala in southern India on the Malabar Coast. Kozhikode is the third largest city in Kerala and is part of the second largest urban agglomeration in Kerala with a metropolitan population of 2,030,519 as per 2011 census. It is the headquarters of the Kozhikode district.

During classical antiquity and the Middle Ages, Kozhikode was dubbed the "City of Spices" for its role as the major trading point of eastern spices. It was the capital of an independent kingdom ruled by the Samoothiris (Zamorins) in Middle Ages and later of the erstwhile Malabar district under British rule. Muslim Arab merchants traded with the region as early as 7th century, and Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama landed at Kozhikode on May 20, 1498. A Portuguese factory and fort was intact in Kozhikode for short period (1511ĘC1525, until the Fall of Calicut), the English landed in 1615 (constructed a trading post in 1665), followed by the French (1698) and the Dutch (1752). In 1765, Mysore captured Kozhikode as part of its occupation of Malabar Coast.

10: Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is an animal sanctuary in Wayanad, Kerala, south India. It is on the way from Mysore to Sultan Battery. Wild animals such as Indian Bison, elephant, deer and tiger can be spotted here. There are also quite a few wild birds in the sanctuary.Peacocks and Peafowl tend to be very common in the area.

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is the second largest wildlife sanctuary in Kerala. It is bestowed with lush green forests and rich wildlife. Also known as the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary, this wildlife area houses some of the rare and endangered species of both flora and fauna.

Established in 1973, the sanctuary is now an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. It's bounded by protected area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur of Karnataka in the northeast, and on the southeast by Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu.