Tea, Spices and Backwaters in Kerala
Kerala is an Indian state on the tropical Malabar Coast, with nearly 375 miles of Arabian Sea shoreline. It’s well known for its palm-lined beaches and backwaters (a network of canals). Inland are the Western Ghats, mountains whose slopes support tea, coffee and spice plantations as well as much wildlife.
Munnar is the hill station 6,000 ft above sea level that is the home to many tea plantations. These tea plantations were the British Raj solution to Chinese’s tea monopoly in the 1800s. With cooler weather, the fog often wafts over the mountains. The tranquil beauty of nature is punctuated by signs of women plucking buds and leaves from the green tea gardens (tea plantations). The harvest goes through a crush, tear and curl process to produce tea pellets. .
Camellia sinensis (the tea plant) is an evergreen shrub native to Asia. Some teas are named after a geographic region, for example Darjeeling, Assam and Oolong.
Kannan Devan Tea Museum tells the evolution of the century-old plantation from a simple tea roller to the present day fully automated tea factory. Observe different steps in tea processing and savour many varieties of tea in the tasting session.
Gently hiking through the lush landscape, visit Kudla Dam, Asia’s first Arch (curved) dam and Echo Point.
Serene Kochi is a melting pot of medieval Portuguese, Dutch and an English village grafted onto the tropical Malabar Coast. You will be following in the footsteps of explorers, traders and travelers here since 600 years ago.
Legend has it that the Chinese Fishing Nets were introduced in Fort Kochi by the Chinese explorer, Zheng He in 15th century. They were brought from the court of Chinese emperor Kublai Khan. Just take a stroll by the Vasco-da-gama Square near the Fort Cochin and you are bound to come across a number of Chinese fishing nets, suspended in mid-air, alongside the sea coast.
Kochi has an exotic mixture of Chinese fishing nets, a 400-year-old synagogue, ancient mosques, Portuguese houses and the crumbling remains of the British Raj. Kochi is also a centre for Keralan arts and is one of the best places to see a classical Indian dance (Kathakali) and local martial arts (kalarippayat).
The historical towns of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry are major tourist destinations, but still retaining their serene atmosphere.
With the amazing spice markets and seafood eateries, Kochi is a place to entice your taste buds.
Alleppey is in the hub of Kerala’s backwaters, home to a vast network of waterways and more than a thousand houseboats. You can explore the water world of villages, shikara (traditional motorized small boats), toddy shops and houseboats surrounding by great paddy fields. Exploring the backwaters is one of Kerala’s most mesmerizingly beautiful and relaxing experiences.
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