Kerala is a destination where beauty breathes, wonders are created and nature smiles in all its glory! The place has rightfully earned the sobriquet of ‘God’s Own Country’ and is frequented by thousands of travellers, nature enthusiasts and explorers from far and beyond each year. For those who have a quest to travel to offbeat places in Kerala, attractions that are less explored and off the beaten track, there are options aplenty. The state will surprise you in several ways with its grand and undiscovered landscapes. Here, to give you a glimpse of what lies under the blanket of mist and mountains of the other side of Kerala, we have come up with a list of some brilliant and less populated places that will daze you with their sunning scenery and natural splendour.
Marari Beach, Alappuzha
The National Geographic called Marari Beach one of the best ‘hammock beaches’ in one of its magazine editions. The place is extremely gorgeous and perfect for a relaxed and peaceful vacation. Located only 11 km from Alleppey, this less explored beach in Kerala is a cure for the sore eyes. The best feature of the beach is that not many people are aware of its existence and hence it is not yet hit by worldly developments. The place breathes in natural environment and makes for a perfect getaway from the city buzz! There are some pretty decent staying options available in the vicinity, where travellers can seek accommodation.
How to reach: The nearest railway station to the beach is located in Alappuzha; regular cabs and autos are available from outside the station for Marari Beach.
Chembra Peak, Wayanad
This one is a trekker’s delight, Chembra Peak! Perched at an elevation of 2100 m above sea level, this place is a wonderland for adventure seekers. Those looking for some offbeat, wondrous and out of the world experience, this peak in Wayanad will fill your heart with much-needed excitement! However, to go on your trekking expedition, you need to get prior permission from the forest office in Meppady and come back the same day as camping is not allowed at the top. For a normal or beginner level trekker, it doesn’t take more than three hours to reach the peak. Stay there for some time, take in the gorgeous natural vistas and enjoy breathing in amidst lush greenery. While coming back, you will encounter a gorgeous heart-shaped lake called Hridaya Thadakam. It is believed that this lake has never dried up ever. So pack your trekking bag and get going!
Tips: Remember to carry a sun protection cap/hat, sun screen lotion, trekking shoes, water bottle, sun glasses and wear comfortable clothes.
Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom
Beautiful, less-frequented, and absolutely perfect for solitude seekers! The Vembanad Lake in Kumarakom is comparatively one of the less explored lakes in Kerala, now fast developing as a backwater tourism destination. The place is largely visited for picnic purpose by the locals. One can simply sit on the shores for hours amidst nature, and enjoy fishing or boating here. The green, algae-filled waters of Vembanad come alive during the occasion of Onam. If you are visiting Kottayam during this period, you’ll be greeted with spectacular snake boat races as well. And we all know how amazing these boat races in Kerala are! Watching hundreds of oarsmen cutting their way through the backwaters singing songs of victory and joy is not a sight you get to behold every day. Staying options are also available here.
How to reach: The nearest railway station to the lake is in Kottayam, about 13 km away.
Silent Valley National Park, Palakkad
The Silent Valley National park is as mysterious as its name and is one of the best kept secrets of South India! This sprawling tropical evergreen rain forest is situated in the Nilgiri hills of Palakkad district, and is home to a variety of flora and fauna. Wildlife lovers and people in the travel circuit are aware of this beauty, yet it remains one of the less-explored places in Kerala. However, it is the garden of curiosity for biologists, nature lovers and science students. As per the records, owing to its rich Western Ghats’ biodiversity, this forest has more than a hundred species of orchids, butterflies, beetles, moths and birds. Needless to say, the Silent Valley National Park is gorgeous, mysterious and full of natural splendour. Those who were super impressed with the movie, Into the Wild, and have always wanted to have somewhat similar (positive) kind of experience, they can head into this gorgeousness and feel the same!
How to reach: The nearest railway station to the Silent Valley National Park is in Palakkad, about 69 km away. Cab and other local vehicles are easily available.
Areekkal Waterfalls, Kochi
Another gem of a place in the south! Around 35 km from Ernakulam, this waterfall is a little hidden away and if you miss the signboard on the highway, you might just miss an experience. A popular picnic spot for the locals, this waterfall is surrounded with rubber trees and the area might experience unpredictable rainfalls, which adds to the beauty of the place! If you are planning a monsoon visit, then make sure to keep your eyes open for this spectacular hidden magnificence because this place is at its scenic best during the rains!
How to reach: The place is only an hour’s drive from the main city of Kochi. One can easily plan a day trip full of fun here.
You are most likely to get stunned with this gorgeously cascading waterfall in the hill station of Nelliampathy in Palakkad. The destination will give you much-needed thrills with its beauty and the cloud-kissed, soaring, Nelliampathy ranges are truly a sight to behold! You might fall short of words to describe the magnificence of the place and the calming effect it has on you. Reaching the destination is another adventure as there are more than 10 hairpin bends and the roads are as exquisite as the destination. Less crowded, full of pretty surprises and extremely soothing, this hill station is a peace lover’s paradise in all the true senses. Surrounded with greenery and vast paddy fields, Nelliampathy is also renowned for its orange cultivation and gorgeous tea and coffee estates.
How to reach: This beautiful hill station is only 56 km away from the Palakkad Railway Station while Thrissur and Shoranur rail stations are around 77 km away. Cabs, buses and local taxis are available from outside the station.
Not many might be aware of the fact that Kumbalangi in Kochi, Kerala is India's first designated ecotourism village. This spectacular fishing hamlet is overflowing with nature’s myriad gifts that make it all the more interesting. Enchanting to the core, it is one of the best places in South India to have some offbeat experiences. Facing Kochi backwaters, the village is known for its famous Chinese fishing nets, which is indeed a view to remember. Kumbalangi looks like a place straight out of an artist’s canvas, with its golden sunset in flowing backwaters and sunrays breaking into thousands of dots through the fishing nets, what a sight!
The village has several pretty homestays and guesthouses that one can easily book. The place has is not overtly-populated and is still untouched by a rowdy crowd, which makes it an ultimately relaxing holiday destination.
How to reach: Reaching here is not a hard task, as the Ernakulam Railway Station is located just 14 km away from here. Local transportation options are available easily from outside the station.
Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Kochi
This place is a birdwatcher’s dream come true! Home to around 300 species of birds, the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary in Kochi is spread across 25 sq km. This green space is a mix of tropical evergreen, grasslands and deciduous forests. One can easily spot some rare and gorgeous birds here, living in their natural habitat. Sri Lankan frogmouth, drongo, shama, Malabar parakeet and hornbill can be easily spotted here. if you wish to explore this charming forest properly, do make sure you take a guide along who would know all the ways and shortcuts to the jungle. Because it is a bird paradise, it sees only aficionados and remains offbeat.
How to reach: The bird sanctuary is only 50 km away from the Aluva Railway Station, and you can easily find local transport till here.
The picturesque town of Kundala falls on the way to Munnar, and it often missed by the eyes of flashy travellers, which is a good thing as the place is still unspoilt and beautiful! The place is home to a lovely manmade Kundala Lake, where boating can be done. The gorgeous green tea plantations and Kundala artificial dam (Sethuparvathipuram Dam) here are perfect cure for sore eyes. So, the next time you plan a trip to Munnar, do remember to explore the town that might just leave in awe!
How to reach: The place falls on Aluva-Munnar Road, on the way to Munnar.
Kilimanoor Palace, Thiruvananthapuram
This one is simply perfect for history lovers and connoisseurs of art. The Kilimanoor Palace is the place where acclaimed Indian painter Raja Ravi Verma was born. Not to mention that this man who fetched Kerala a name in the artist’s circuit holds a dear corner in the hearts of budding artists from the state. The palace, sprawling across 15 acres, features ponds, wells, and royal people still reside in some part of the palace. As you enter the palace, you’ll notice a studio where Raja Ravi Verma, the wizard of colours and canvas, used to work on his creations. Artists, from all over the world, visit the place to witness his art and to draw inspirations.
How to reach: Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station, nearly 40 km away, is the nearest commute point from Kilimanoor Palace.
Edakkal Caves, Wayanad
For an offbeat Kerala experience, Edakkal Caves serve the purpose quite brilliantly. The place is gorgeous covered with ancient inscriptions and makes for a perfect getaway for history lovers and mystery seekers. Nature plays with mind in various ways and creations of these caves is a perfect sample proving the fact. To explore the unknown, one has to trek about 4000 ft up a hill, where these caves are. Several archaeologists and historians have stayed here and excavated the sight for its period of existence. As per recent excavations, researchers claim that the caves have links with ancient the Indus Valley Civilization. All these mysteries surrounding the existence of Edakkal Caves make it more interesting and a perfect place to experience something unusual and less touristy!
How to reach: These ancient caves are around 16 km from Sulthan Bathery, and require around an hour’s trekking. But this trek is worth all the pain as you’ll be greeted with some gorgeous coffee plantation views and other mind-blowing vistas of nature.
Muzhappilangad Beach, Kannur
Kerala’s only drive-in beach with a rare charm! Stretching across four kilometres, the Muzhappilangad Beach in Kannur is a driver’s dream destination. If you wish to see some action, visit this striking beach in the month of April, when an annual beach festival celebrated wherein drivers and bikers go ahead and perform some serious stunts. An experience to remember! Apart from this, the place is visited by swimmers, sun bathers and adventure enthusiasts. Here, one can enjoy several water activities including parasailing and jet-skiing and catamaran ride. When you are here, do try the various Malabar delicacies that are served in the restaurants nearby.
How to reach: The destination is served by the Kannur and Thalassery Railway Stations, which are around 16 km and 12 km away, respectively.
Banasura Sagar Dam, Wayanad
This one is an extremely charming picnic place, still untouched by most travellers. Resting at an elevation of 3200 ft above sea level, this dam in scenic and misty Wayanad is a treat to eyes, offering splendid views of the Banasura Hills. Legend has it that Banasura, the legendary demon king, undertook a penance here and that’s why the place is called Banasura. The dam is counted as one of the largest earthen dams in the country and offers a range of interesting activities, including boating and birdwatching. There are swings and other little amusing things, where people can go and enjoy with family in peace.
How to reach: The Banasura Sagar Dam is around 15 km drive from Kalpetta.