Kerala is one of those places that gets romanticised as a land of tranquil backwaters, sweeping coastlines and fragrant tea plantations. While some of that is true this photo diary captures romance and the reality of “God’s own country”.
Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum): the capital of Kerala
This branch of the employee-owned Indian Coffee House chain is housed in an iconic red brick building, designed by architect Laurie Baker. The banquette seating inside the restaurant spirals up to the top of the building, it’s no wonder the waiters are a little grumpy.
Kerala, showing it’s true colours. Left-leaning parties have fared well in Kerala for generations and the current State Governor is from the Communist Party, hence the flags.
There’s gold in that there temple! The 16th Century Padmanabhaswamy Temple is one of the most heavily guarded places in the state. A few years ago vaults, presumed to have lain unopened for centuries, were found to have untold riches inside. The temple’s treasure has an estimated value of $18 million.
Kollam: the gateway to Kerala’s backwaters
Boys play on the beach in a residential area of the town, while on the other side of the camera some locals live in makeshift dwellings fashioned from tarpaulin.
Tangasseri Lighthouse looking like a stick of rock and in operation since 1902. Unfortunately it was closed on our visit, so outside views only.
Backwaters: the boat to Alleppey (Alappuzha)
Local fishermen hoping for a good haul set sail on small narrow boats.
A lazy day spent drifting along the backwaters on our way to Alleppey.
Enthusiastic locals love to wave at the passing boats, you’d think they’d be bored at the sight of tourists by now but apparently not.
Fishing vessels docked at a small port in the backwaters.
The slow boat chugging along sleepily towards Alleppey, most passengers were rocked to sleep at some point on the journey.
Life on the backwaters really does looks laid-back, calm and peaceful.
Travelling by boat you catch glimpses of locals going about their daily business as you drift past.
Luxury houseboats ply the backwaters showing tourists everything the area has to offer while they relax in plush surroundings (needless to say, we didn’t go on one of these).
Palm tree perfection reflecting on the waters.
Chinese fishing nets dot the backwaters, but are rarely used for fishing these days, instead they’re kept as tourist attractions.
Green and blue as far as the eye can see.
Local school boys spot my camera and jostle for photos.
But most of what you’ve heard is true…Alleppey and the backwaters is a picturesque sort of place.
Kochi (Cochin): the bustling port city
Colourful stalls are aplenty in the Jew Town area of Kochi.
Jew Town’s historic cobbled streets are lined with antique and tourist shops, and where the town’s 16th century synagogue can be found.
Hand-painted doors in an old area of the town.
And beautifully shabby, shuttered buildings.
Admiring boats through doors.
And from the port-side.
Need to dispose of rubbish in India, not a problem, just chuck it straight into the nearest body of water.
Munnar: the wonder of the Western Ghats
Standing at the shore of the lake at Echo Point in Munnar, where the landscape looks more European than Indian. Probably the reason the British colonisers loved this Hill Station town.
Tea plantations for days…
*Side note: a lots of cities in India have two names (confusing, I know!) one is usually the old colonial name and one the new name. Locals often still use the old names. This is India, it was never going to be straight forward was it.