Relaxing while on vacation surrounded by nature’s treasures is a treat most travellers look for. However, being in a tourist hotspot comes with a slight drawback — tourists.
When you are in a popular tourist location you are bound to be surrounded by fellow travellers, who are on vacation, just like you. Which means you are looking at a situation where it’s mostly crowded, and quite possibly, not peaceful.
Now, for some, it might not be that much of an issue, but there are those who crave tranquility and, most importantly, fewer people. And the ideal vacation spots for such people are the places that are not really known in travelsphere, but still are perfect holiday spots.
Kerala is one of the world’s most sought-after locations for holidays. Be it a family vacation, a trip with the gang, or just a solo sojourn, ‘God’s Own Country’ ranks among the top spots for the perfect getaway.
Many folks, particularly those who travel a lot, are quite familiar with the usual tourist spots like the Alappuzha backwaters, Munnar tea plantations, and the many, many benign beaches.
However, there are also several locations that are still known only to a few.
South First spoke to a few locals from such locations and also travellers who visit these places, to curate a list for those who seek a tranquil and “crowd-free” holiday.
Here are 4 underrated locations to visit in Kerala before they become mega popular and are flooded with tourists:
1. Silent Valley National Park, Palakkad
“I think this is one of Kerala’s best-kept secrets. I hardly see the name anywhere on social media and my friend who lives near there asked me to visit her and that is when I stumbled across this haven which is perfect for a wildlife lover like me,” Leona Fernandez, a 41-year-old software engineer from Mangalore, who visited the location earlier this year, tells South First.
Located in the northeast part of the Palakkad district, this park is a paradise with its tropical evergreen rain forests and rich exotic flora and fauna and is situated in the splendid Nilgiri Hills.
Besides being a lush gem surrounded by nature’s wealth, it is also one of the most extensively researched National Parks in India.
“I took more than a thousand pictures of the park on my phone and camera, but I still could not capture what my eyes were seeing, that’s how unbelievably beautiful it is. Being a nature lover who lives in a concrete jungle in the city, Silent Valley evoked an emotion in me that I have never felt. You must experience and observe this first-hand to truly feel the wonders of nature,” Fernandez adds.
Ideal time to visit: Between December and February. The summer months of March and April are also considered apt.
Nearest railway station: Palakkad, about 70 km away.
Nearest airports: Coimbatore International Airport, about 85 km/Calicut International Airport, about 110 km/Cochin International Airport, about 180 km.
2. Edakkal Caves, Wayanad
Cited as an “experience of a lifetime” by most who have visited this location, the caves offer travellers a rare lesson about the lives and habits of our ancestors.
“I love trekking and was looking for a lowkey and budget-friendly location for my solo trip and my Malayali friend recommended this spot,” 28-year-old graphic designer from West Bengal Dipesh Raj tells South First.
“The carvings, paintings and engravings on the pre-historic rocks took me by complete surprise and the history buff in me was stunned. The local tour guide just made the whole trek an unforgettable experience by sharing his knowledge with me. If you love history and exploring, the caves should be on your list,” he adds.
Located in the Ambukuthi Hills, visitors can go on a trek and explore the rocks. But fair warning, it takes almost an hour to get to the top of the hill and the path keeps getting steeper as you ascend, making it a tough climb.
Ideal time to visit: Between December and May.
Nearest railway station: Kozhikode, about 97 km.
Nearest airports: Calicut International Airport, about 105 km/Kannur International Airport, about 110 km.
3. Vagamon, Idukki
An enchanting little hill station within in the Idukki district, Vagamon is slowly becoming a popular holiday destination, especially for families looking to indulge in adventure sports away from the hustle and bustle of city life. From forests and lakes to waterfalls, Vagamon has it all.
“My family and I visit Vagamon almost every year and my children know the place better than me by now. My kids are adrenaline junkies and Vagamon is the perfect location for them as it’s not really crowded but offers world-class activities including trekking, paragliding, mountaineering and rock climbing. I could not ask for a better summer vacation spot,” Karthik Menon tells South First.
Dotted with tea gardens and meadows, the destination is perfect if you’re looking to unwind and relax, replacing the sounds of traffic with that of nature.
Ideal time to visit: Locals suggest avoiding the monsoons and arriving during the dry seasons, ie December to May.
Nearest railway station: Kottayam, about 65 km.
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 95 km.
Not many are aware of this unspoiled and unexplored backwater destination, but it is a truly underrated yet brilliant tourist spot, which is slowly gaining popularity, especially on social media for its gorgeous beaches.
Located some 27 km away from the capital city, Thiruvananthapuram, Poovar cradles a host of tourist-friendly spots, from its golden beaches with swaying palm trees, the silent and tranquil backwaters, and the many fishing locations.
One of the most fascinating features of Poovar is that you can reach the mainland only by water taxis, giving tourists and travellers a rare and wonderful experience.
Those who love seafood are in for a treat if they visit Poovar. Of course, one expects top-class pescatarian options when in Kerala, but Poovar locals claim that the best seafood in the state is from their island.
“Lobster, crab, mussels, shrimp, octopus, calamari, every type of fish… you name it, we have it. I am not just saying this because I live here, but I have personally encountered a wave of tourists who ended up going back as hardcore seafood lovers,” Wilson Matthai, a local from Poovar, tells South First.
For those planning to visit Poovar for the first time ever, and are keen on authentic Kerala seafood, Matthai suggests making a trip to the famous Fishing Village, where they will be overwhelmed by the smorgasbord of affordable food options.
Ideal time to visit: Locals suggest avoiding the monsoons and arriving between the months of September and March.
Nearest railway station: Thiruvananthapuram Railway Station which is around 23km away.
Nearest airport: Trivandrum International Airport which is around 25 km away.