The Backwaters of Kerala – Cochin, Kerala, India

An Exotic Labyrinth of Canals and Lagoons

Isolated, peaceful, and staggeringly beautiful, the southern coastal state of Kerala is one of India’s unpromoted treasures, a gentle, floral alternative to the harsher Himalayas or the Rajasthan desert in the north. The twisting kayals, the jungle-shrouded backwater canals and lagoons that lie inland, connect sheltered villages and are often just wide enough for your canoe.

They’re the only way to reach secluded Coconut Lagoon Village, an enclave of thirty gracious tarawads (traditional carved wooden bungalows made without nails, some of them more than 400 years old) that were painstakingly dismantled and moved here along the cool banks of the backwaters. This is a place for lazy R&R in the shade of a nutmeg tree.

Few cultural sites demand your attention, and the Ayurvedic health clinic offers restorative treatments and massages incorporating herbal oils made from the exotic spices that first drew Vasco da Gama to Kerala’s shores in 1498.

A stopover in Cochin is a must. The fasci­nating capital has been a trading port for more than 1,000 years, and is composed of a cluster of islands surrounded by a network of rivers, lakes, and estuaries. It is home to a unique culture and courteous people. Be sure to have dinner at the Fort Cochin Restaurant in the Casino Hotel, considered one of the finest eateries in southern India.

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