Kerala is famous for so much more than we can possibly jot down in a single blog. From stunning natural beauty, unique art and dance forms, splendid topography, wide biodiversity, unusual activities and adventures, quirky handicrafts, to the cuisine of Kerala, there are tons of things that distinguish it from other places in India and the world.
Kerala is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Kerala is famous for houseboats, Kathakali, Ayurveda, Snake boat races, Kalarippayattu, Hill stations, festivals like Onam and Vishu etc., have made it a popular among tourist. Further, it is a land famous for its diverse cultures and enchanting landscapes and is also known as Gods Own Country
To help you discover and relish some notable ones, we have listed below top 10 things Kerala is famous for that you must include in your itinerary and turn your trip from ordinary to extraordinary!
ALSO SEE– Best time to visit Kerala
Wondering how to experience it all? We got you covered! Just pick from our range of activities from Kerala is famous for you want to include in your Kerala holiday packages and let our travel experts help you immerse in the most vivid exploits this tropical utopia has to offer!
What Kerala Is Famous For
While there are plenty of blogs out there listing things famous in Kerala they’ll never know what we know. Being based out of Kerala itself, we, at Iris, have first-hand knowledge of what makes this state God’s Own Country. Scroll down to find out
People often say that “Kerala is synonymous with houseboats”. Well, they’re absolutely right! In addition to its surreal beaches, Kerala is famous for its network of saltwater canals and lagoons that remain dotted with dreamy houseboats year-round.
Houseboats are traditional wooden floating houses that calmly sail over these canals and river channels of Kerala. Staying in them gives one the feeling of living and dining in a 4-star hotel cruising leisurely over amber-coloured waters and through picture-perfect rural scenes of Kerala. If you’re looking for the same experience on a small budget and a shorter journey, you can choose to take a day-trip in a houseboat instead of staying overnight in one.
ALSO SEE- Kerala Backwater Cruise-Top 10 Fun Facts
Taking you through Kerala’s lush, rather inaccessible areas in a grand vessel, sailing in a houseboat in Kerala is an incomparable experience that could even give Venice a run for its money! Everyone should try it at least once in their lives.
Best time to sail in Kerala houseboats: The winter season between November and February
Places for Kerala houseboat cruising: Alleppey, Kumarakom, Kollam, Trivandrum, Thrissur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Kasargod
Best houseboats in Kerala: Alappuzha Houseboat, JCT Houseboat, Spice Coast Cruises, Why Not Houseboat
Best Kerala houseboat routes:
- Alappuzha (Alleppey) Backwater route
- Alappuzha to Kumarakom route
- Alleppey to Thottappally route
- Alleppey to Alumkadavu route
- Kumarakom backwater route
Average Kerala houseboat charges: Depending on type of boat hired, duration of cruise and season, a houseboat in Kerala can cost between INR 3,500/- to INR 30,000/- per person.
Onam, holds great significance in the hearts of the people of Kerala. It is a time when the entire state comes alive with joy and enthusiasm. The festival is dedicated to King Mahabali, a legendary Asura ruler known for his benevolence and generosity. Onam brings people together in celebration, fostering a sense of unity and harmony among communities. It is a time when families come together to exchange gifts, participate in traditional games, and enjoy cultural performances like Kathakali dances.
One of the most iconic aspects of Onam is the creation of Pookkalam, or floral carpets. These intricate designs made from colorful flowers are laid out on the floors of homes and public spaces as a way to welcome King Mahabali. The competition to create the most beautiful Pookkalam adds an element of excitement and creativity to the festivities.
Another highlight of Onam is the grand feast known as Sadya. This elaborate meal consists of a variety of vegetarian dishes served on a banana leaf. From crispy papadums to flavorful curries and sweet desserts, every item in the Sadya represents a unique blend of flavors that tantalize taste buds.
Months in which Onam is Celebrated: August and September
Most popular Festivities of Onam in Kerala: Sadya, Pookalam, Mahabali Visit, Athachamyam, Pulikali
Sitting right in the middle of this hot, tropical Indian state is the cool and misty hill station of Munnar.
This endearing hill station in Kerala is a package of lush hazy mountains, rolling pastures dotted with tranquil lakes, carpets of swaying tea estates stretching into the horizon, and year-round cool breeze filled with the aroma of tea and spices – all of which is exactly what Munnar inKerala is famous for.
Add to it the diverse and resplendent Eravikulam National Park – one of India’s best wildlife sanctuaries – and your Kerala itinerary is complete!
Kerala is among the few states in India with a widely diverse topography. While it’s a tropical destination with a beautiful coastline, charming beaches, picturesque backwaters and serene fishing villages, those aren’t the only famous places in Kerala worth visiting.
Munnar’s high altitude, chilly weather and misty hills offer a much-needed respite from the tropical scenery and hot climate of Kerala. On top of that, its dramatic landscapes and breathtaking views are unlike anything you’ll ever see, and that’s what Kerala is famous for
Best time to visit Munnar: Year-round! It’s magnificent in all seasons!
Things to do in Munnar: Hiking in the hills, nature walks, tea plantation tours, tea factory and tasting tours, visit to Mattupetty Dam, Eravikulam National Park wildlife safari, and more
Places to stay in Munnar: Amber Dale Hotel, Elixir Hills Resort, Mountain Club Resort, Elekai Villa, Kaivalyam Wellness Retreat, Mistletoe Munnar Homestay, The Mudhouse Marayoor Eco-stay, Moselberg Riverside Cottages, Neelakurunji Plantation Bungalow
Kathakali is a one-of-a-kind, intriguing dance form in Kerala that draws an enormous influx of tourists here every year.All over the world, Kerala is famous for this vividly entertaining dance form featuring exuberant makeup (vesham), delicately graceful moves, and vibrant costumes that make it a treat to watch!
Through elaborate movements and magnificent orchestral music, this dance weaves a tapestry of India’s rich heritage, culture and history on stage, winning this Indian state the admiration of the world and the tag of being one of the most popular things in Kerala to witness.
This intricate artform is said to have originated about 300 years ago and is a magnificent fusion of devotion, dance, drama, attire, and traditional music, using it all to recite great Indian epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.
It isn’t just any ordinary dance form. What this dance in Kerala is famous for is the intricacy of its movements ranging in facial expressions (abhinaya), finger movement (mudras), eye movement, rhythm, formation, right down to the very quiver of the dancer’s lips and the graceful bounce of the eyes.
Dancers train for years to perfect body movement and fluidity to present to the audiences a spectacle so brilliant it leaves them spellbound!
Best places to watch Kathakali in Kerala: Kerala Kathakali Centre (Kochi), Kerala Kalamandalam (Thrissur), Ernakulam Kathakali Club, Dr Devan’s Kathakali (Ernakulam), Kairali Kathakali (Kochi)
Average ticket charges:Ranges from INR 200/- to INR 600/- per person
Ayurvedic healing has been an integral part of Kerala for over a thousand years. People from all parts of the world and all walks of life journey to this paradise to cure ailments as well as enrich their mind, body and soul with the oldest form of healthcare in the world.
Kerala is famous for this ancient approach to health care also because it uses natural elements, oils, milk, and herbs to provide healing instead of expensive pills and painful injections.
Treatments include relaxing sessions of Spa, massages, and yoga that the whole wide world has slowly integrated into its fitness regime.
Despite having reached a zillion cultures and countries, it is believed Kerala is still the only place in the world with the highest number of Ayurveda practitioners.
In addition to healing, Ayurvedic massages and Spa have become an integral part of tourism in Kerala. Resorts and hotels in Kerala offer relaxing Ayurvedic treatments to guests. In fact, couples’ Ayurvedic therapy is an integral part of every honeymooner’s Kerala trip itinerary
Offering travelers rejuvenation through Ayurveda is also what Kerala is famous for
Best places for Ayurvedic therapies in Kerala: Palakkad, Malappuram, Kochi, Trivandrum, Wayanad, Thekkady, Kumarakom, Varkala, Vaikom
Best hotels for Ayurvedic Spa in Kerala: Kairali Ayurvedic Health Resort, Sarovaram Ayurvedic Resort, Ayurveda Yoga Villa, Maya Spa (Zuri Kumarakom Lake Resort), Taj Malabar Jiva Spa, Somatheeram Ayurvedic Health Resort
Best wellness centers for Ayurvedic treatments in Kerala: Keraleeya Ayurveda Samajam, Ayurville (Kochi), Soma Manaltheeram, Kalari Kovilakom, Athreya Ayurvedic Centre
Most popular Ayurvedic treatments in Kerala: Panchkarma, Abhyanga, Swedana, and Shirodhara
6. Coconut Oil
to its fertile soil, apt weather conditions, suitable hours of sunshine, as well as adequate humidity and temperature, Kerala is the foremost producer of good quality coconuts and coconut oil in India, and India the 3rd largest in the world! Impressive, isn’t it?
The entire land of Kerala is famous for having good quality coconut cultivation farms. But out of all, the coconuts of Kuttiady and West Coast Tall (WCT) are said to be of the most superior quality thanks to the efforts of the Coconut Development Board (CBD) in Kerala. After all, the word ‘Kerala’ literally means ‘the land of the coconuts’!
ALSO SEE – Kerala Travel Guide
Almost every part of the coconut and coconut tree are used in India and tropical regions around the world. The shell, pulp, milk, nut, fiber, and even the leaves have a purpose to serve. However,what Kerala is famous for in particular is the production and worldwide supply of the best ever coconut oil made from its healthy coconut yields.
Tonnes of virgin coconut oil is exported every year as more and more of the world becomes privy to the innumerable health benefits of this nourishing elixir! Uses of coconut oil:
- Beauty products: Body mists, lip balms, face masks, makeup removers – a lot of your products come enriched with it
- Skincare: It is used to make things like conditioners, moisturizers, hair oils, baby oils, lotions, soaps, and shampoos
- Food: It is used to cook an endless array of culinary delights
- Medicine: It has antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal properties making it a major component in medicines. It is used to treat everything from obesity, psoriasis, breast cancer, heart diseases, to eczema, rashes, and fungal infections.
Places to buy coconut oil in Kerala: Panniyankara Oil Mills (Kozhikode), Swamy Oil Industries (Kollam), Vattathara Oil Mills (Kottayam), Spices India (Malappuram)
7. Thrissur Pooram
What makes Kerala famous in the Summer season is its popular festival of Thrissur Pooram. Often called “the mother of all temple festivals”, this religious carnival is an explosion of colors and music that draw lakhs of tourists and pilgrims from around the world to witness it.Thrissur Pooram in Kerala is famous for its dazzling elephant pageantry where about 15 elephants are decked up in traditional attires, painted in bold colors and given individual bejeweled parasols, all in the company of melodious percussion music.
It’s majorly a harvest festival held annually on the ‘Pooram day’ in the month of ‘Medam’ according to the Malayalam Calendar. The whole ceremony is essentially a mass celebration carried out across 10 magnificent temples, all located around the main venue – the Vadakkunnathan Temple complex, one of the most prominent temples in Kerala famous for its unique murals.
Try and book your trip around the Thrissur Pooram festival in Kerala in April/May to catch a glimpse of the pompous celebrations and take a sneak-peek into the royal culture and festive spirit of Malayali people. Being a part of the joy and fervor surrounding this whole celebration is something you wouldn’t want to miss!
Highlights of Thrissur Pooram in Kerala:
- Kudamattam Ceremony – A vivid display of beautifully dressed and brightly coloured elephants lined up under individual (and equally vibrant) parasols.
- Ilanjithara Melam – A bewitching orchestra performed by about 250 artists (including Chenda artists) using traditional instruments like the chenda, <kombu,kurumkuzhal andelathalam
- ireworks – The festival is concluded with a grand fireworks show visible for miles
Date of Thrissur Pooram: The date varies each year as it is decided as per the Pooram Nakshatra in the Malayalam Calendar. Thrissur Pooram 2024 date is April 20 (Saturday)
Location of Thrissur Pooram in Kerala: Thekkinkadu Maidanam (Vadakkumnathan temple ground)
Participating temples of Thrissur Pooram: Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna, Laloor Bhagavathy, Ayyanthole Sree Karthyayani, Nethilakkavu Bhagavathy, Paramekkavu Bhagavathy, Chembukkavu Bhagavathy, Panamukkumpally Sastha, Choorakkottukavu Bhagavathy, Pookattikkara Karamukku, Kanimangalam Sastha
There is a reason why Kerala is called the ‘Land of Spices.’Kerala is famous for its variety of spices and herbs that add a sprinkle of uniqueness to its cuisine. Whether it’s a simple curry, vegetables, or seafood, everything in Kerala is prepared with the use of its flavorsome and aromatic spices.
When you’re here, you must try every bit of Kerala’s variety of culinary delights, especially seafood, and you’ll know why foodies from around the world come running to God’s Own Country!
Start with a breakfast of Puttu (cylindrical steamed rice cakes cooked with grated coconut) with Kadala Curry (black chickpeas cooked with onions, coconut milk and spices), bananas and coconut shavings.
For lunch, you must try Appam (bowl-shaped pancakes of fermented rice flour and coconut milk). Pair it with some Ishtu (spicy shallot stew) that can have cooked pieces of mango if you’re a vegetarian, or chicken or lamb if you’re not.
Lastly, for dinner, have Malabar Parottas with either the Vada Koottu Curry (spicy boiled potatoes and lentils curry) if you’re a vegetarian, or Karimeen Pollichathu (Spice-marinated Pearl Spot fish baked in a banana leaf) if you eat meat. You can substitute the fish with Beef Curry, another delectable dish Kerala is famous for
Don’t forget to try the ‘Sadya’, a lavish vegetarian feast consisting of 28 flavorsome dishes including red rice, pickles, curries, breads, side dishes, and desserts, all over an enormous plantain leaf!
Best places to eat in Kerala: THAFF Restaurant (Alleppey), Thekkady Cafe, Balettan’s Fish Fry Centre (Kozhikode), Kayees Rahmathulla Cafe (Kochi), Hotel Annapoorna (Perumbavoor), Mullapanthal Toddy Shop (Kochi), MVK Restaurant (Kannur), Kashi Art Cafe (Kochi)
Average cost of food in Kerala: Meals in Kerala can cost anywhere between INR 250/- to INR 800/- per person per day on an average depending on whether you’re dining in a local food joint or a mid-range restaurant.
9. Aranmula Mirrors
Aranmula Kannadi (mirror) is a rare and raw craft of Kerala that has been passed down by generations of skilled craftsmen in the small town of Aranmula. This ‘magic’ mirror is handmade out of a combination of metals and is among the 8 auspicious items that constitute a bride’s traditional trousseau in Kerala.
Kerala is famous for this mirror owing to its many unique and rather fascinating aspects:
- There is no glass in the Aranmula mirror. It’s the metal in it that shows your reflection and even eliminates secondary reflections.
- The Aranmula Kannadi is the first ever item from Kerala to get worldwide recognition back in 2004 and a permanent geographical indication tag!
- A 45 cm Aranmula mirror sits on display in London’s British Museum!
- The combination of metal alloys used in Aranmula mirrors are a secret passed down from generations of craftsmen! No one else in the world is aware of them.
- The mirror is believed to be magical and brings good luck to people in possession of it. It is kept in prayer rooms of homes and businesses as well as in religious ceremonies, festivals and weddings in Kerala courtesy its tremendous spiritual value.
The town of Aranmula lies just 120 km away from Trivandrum and is known for two more things besides the mirror – the revered Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple and the famous Aranmula Vallamkali Boat Race held annually during Onam (August-September).
If you’re in Trivandrum wondering what Kerala is famous for,take a day trip to this offbeat yet delightful little town to visit the temple and take home this precious little treasure!
Best places to buy Aranmula mirrors in Kerala: Murugans Handicraft Emporium (Aranmula), The Kerala Craft Store (Trivandrum), Sreekaryam (Trivandrum). You can also buy them online at the official Aranmula Kannadi website
Average cost of Aranmula mirrors:Ranges from INR 1,000/- to INR 50,000/- depending on the size, make, and quality
How to reach Aranmula from Trivandrum: The nearest airport is at Trivandrum itself, from where you can rent a car or hire a taxi for the day to drive to Aranmula. The nearest railway station is Chengannur located 11 km away from Aranmula and connected to major train stations in Kerala.
Your visit to Kerala is incomplete without witnessing the mother of all Martial Arts – the Kalaripayattu fight, yet another unique practice that Kerala is famous for! Dating back 3,500 years, the Kalaripayattu is the oldest Martial Art practiced in India with its roots in Ayurveda and yoga.
It is believed to have originated in the Vedic period when Lord Shiva taught it to Brahmin sage Parashurama, Vishnu’s sixth incarnation, who in turn decided to pass it down to upcoming generations by establishing hundreds of Kalaripayattu schools in Kerala.
‘Kalaripayattu’ is the fusion of the words ‘Kalari’ meaning ‘practicing’ and ‘Payattu’ meaning ‘training school’. It is essentially a self-defence discipline taught to children starting from the age of 7 and involves a number of acrobatic styles and the practice of fighting with swords, bows and arrows, spears, daggers, and sticks.
Having survived the opposition of the British who saw it only as an instrument of rebellion against the colonial rule, this practice has only grown stronger over time. Besides being a fighting technique, this sentiment of Kalaripayattu’s resilience and oppression against boundation is what Kerala is famous for!
Thekkady is where you can witness this adrenaline-pumping Martial Art practice during your trip to Kerala. The Kalaripayattu schools here organize public demonstrations from time to time, a fascinating experience that attracts a large influx of both Indian and foreign travelers.
Best place to watch Kalariyapattu show: Kadathanadan Kalari & Navarasa Kathakali Centre in Thekkady (Kerala government certified)
Kalariyapattu show ticket price: INR 350/- per person (Kadathanadan Kalari)
Timings of Kalariyapattu show: 6 PM to 7 PM & 8 PM to 9 PM (Kadathanadan Kalari)
Other Kalariyapattu shows in Thekkady: C.V.N. Kalari, Greenix Village, Kadathanadan Kalari, ENS Kalari, Kerala Kathakali Centre, The Kalariyil Dharmikam, Mudra Kalari, Kalari Kshethra
It may not come as a surprise to most that Kerala is famous for its ecological diversity and well-preserved natural beauty. It is, after all, called God’s Own Country for a reason!
Eco-tourism is, without a doubt, one of the best initiatives taken by the government of Kerala that has launched multiple programmes to make offbeat and remote areas accessible to travelers while ensuring due conservation and protection of the environment.
Other than being one of the most famous things in Kerala, the rich biodiversity is essentially Kerala’s USP. The chance to be one with unspoilt nature in a place so calm and serene is what makes this destination the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life, and the perfect therapy for your stressed mind!
Ecotourism locations in Kerala: Thenmala, Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary, Gavi, Alappuzha, Rhodo Valley, Thommankuthu, Kumbalangi, Silent Valley National Park, Eravikulam National Park, Kakkayam, Konni, Pampadum Shola National Park, Kottur, Neyyar
Offbeat places in Kerala: Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary, Dhoni Waterfalls, 900 Kandi, Palakkad, Chembra Peak, Ashtamudi Backwaters, Marari, Cherai Beach
Now that you know what Kerala is famous for, you would be able to indulge in the real, raw essence of God’s Own Country and embrace its true heritage and culture. We know it’s unfair to list just 10 famous things in Kerala when this state is a kaleidoscope of unique experiences, sights, places, and tastes. However, we have tried our best to bring you the absolute finest of these experiences that you must not miss when you’re here. Reach out to our Kerala holiday experts today and enjoy a customized holiday in this little paradise on Earth. Happy tripping!
Frequently Asked Questions About What Kerala Is Famous For
1. For which things Kerala is famous?
Kerala is famous for a number of things like Ayurveda, houseboats, spices, the town of Munnar, eco-tourism, Kathakali dance, coconut oil, the Aranmula mirror, the festival of Thrissur Pooram, the practice of Kalaripayattu and more. Other than this, the architecture, natural beauty and beaches are also what Kerala is famous for.
2. What is unique about Kerala?
Kerala is famous for several unique aspects that draw travelers here. Among them all, Kerala is known most for its
- Natural beauty unlike anywhere else in India
- Unique network of lagoons and backwaters that run parallel to its coast
- Charming houseboats
- The practice of Ayurveda and yoga
- Diverse wildlife, especially its large population of Asian Elephants
- High coconut yield that is exported around the globe and all over India
- The fact that it has the highest literacy rate and life expectancy rate in India
- Rich architecture of temples
- Diverse topography – it has everything from beaches, mountains, forests, tea plantations, lagoons, lakes, backwaters, marshes, to caves
3.Why is Kerala so popular?
Kerala is famous for a range of things including its stunning beaches, tranquil backwaters, beautiful houseboats, resplendent green landscapes, endless fields of spices, coffee and tea, rich cultural heritage, delectable cuisine, colorful festivals, intriguing dance forms, the Ayurvedic way of healing, and the warm hospitality of its people.
4.What is the main beauty of Kerala?
The abundant natural beauty, the unique houseboats sailing in the backwaters, the age-old practice of healing through Ayurveda and yoga, the breathtaking beauty of Munnar, and the fascinating Kathakali dance form are some of the main things Kerala is famous for.
5.Who is most popular in Kerala?
Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Anju Bobby George, Padmabhushan Dr K J Yesudas, PT Usha, Mohanlal Viswanathan, Mammootty, Kalamandalam Gopi, Raja Ravi Varma, K R Narayanan are some of the most famous people in Kerala.