Art, Backwaters, Cafes: How We Did Kerala in One Whirlwind Trip

Art, Backwaters, Cafes: How We Did Kerala in One Whirlwind Trip
Art is everywhere in Kochi , Photo Credit: DRAWzdova / Shutterstock

From hip cafes to ayurveda centres, lonely beaches to bustling backwaters.... This single state will give you everything you need for a memorable trip, and then some more!

Shefali Bharati
March 12 , 2022
04 Min Read

Some time back, a friend flew down from France for an ‘India trip’. And we ended up deciding  that we wanted to explore Kerala.

It didn’t need much mulling on our part as a cursory Google search and browsing through some aesthetics blogs was more than enough to convince us to pack our bags, check out the deals, and traverse across a slice of Kerala.

Art Attack in Kochi
We arrived in the port city of Kochi / Cochin, the destination of the famous art biennale to find a series of stunning art and designs exhibited in this picturesque city's streets, studios and cafes. The colonial history impressed onto the buildings, streets and food, gave us a sense of a place that was historical and modern, integrating the two seamlessly. 

We stayed at the Zostel Kochi which was super central to all the sights. And we ate our heart out as the food was exceptional almost everywhere.

The must-do’s in Kochi is definitely the famous Fort House Restaurant for porotta, mutton fry and shrimp by the water. And Kashi Art Cafe for fresh seafood brunch amidst art and creativity.

Meandering Munnar
For our next destination, we hitched a bus ride to Munnar, feeling the breeze get cooler and the incline, higher. As we set out to visit the tea gardens, we realised that photographs of Munnar on the internet are insufficient in giving us an idea of the true breadth and expanse of the rolling meadows and hills (certainly not 'gardens'!) that nurture the tea industry. Witnessing its sweeping depth, the greens of the landscape filled with little waterfalls soothed our eyes and soul. 
We stayed at The Tulsi Village Retreat which was nestled deep into the forest in a sleepy hamlet, surrounded by gorgeous hills. We would hike around and explore the dense jungle with all of the flora it had to offer.  
Backwater Bounty
Descending from the hills, we found ourselves below sea level in Alleppey and flipped the landscape to enjoy the backwaters. We got a cute little boat all to ourselves for a three hour backwater ride, cruising the peaceful and serene waters.
The most fascinating thing about Alleppey is how the surrounding water integrates itself into everyday life - we came across women washing clothes in their backyard river, children hailing boats to attend school, men and women cultivating rice and fish in submerged waters or groups of young people hanging out by the docks. It showcased how beautifully the community co-exists with nature.
Ayurveda Allure
Soon, the island and backwaters transformed into thick evergreen and deciduous forest of Kottayam, where we paused to treat ourselves in an exceptional ayurvedic centre, rejuvenating ourselves with satvik food, yoga and massages. Spending two-and-a-half days at Yogasudha for a wellness treatment was one of the luxuries we decided to award ourselves with. The centre was such a calming haven, located deep in the forests and surrounded by nature and the loveliest people.
Beach Bums
For the last leg of our journey and yet another landscape change, we arrived at the beaches and cliffs of Varkala. The waters were bright blue, the sun a sharp yellow and the palms a deep green.
With tons of places lined up on the cliff offering food, shopping and live reggae music, we would unwind by sipping fresh coconut water and watching the dolphins pop up in the deep see.
With many cliffside options, our favorite eatery was Cafe Nomad with flavourful curries and a chill vibe. You can catch fresh sea produce on the grill here as well. A place called True Thomas was a local recommendation and we loved its earthy interior, straight-up delicious food, and quirky objects.
We stayed in a Zostel in Varkala and enjoyed the beautiful views of azure waters - it was only a 5 min walk from the cliff and beach.  
Lazing on the black sands of the beaches we tried to wrap our head around the fact that we had covered diverse topographies, cuisines, dialects and history with out even having crossed the borders of the state or the country. 
Kerala, in a single state offered so much, that it may take a country or group of countries to match up!

Images: Shefali Bharati

This article is a submission by one of our readers, and part of our series #OTReadersWrite. Have a great travel story to tell? Write to us at


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