Robert Schrader in Kerala, India

30 Pictures That Will Make You Want to Visit Kerala

When the man approached me, his curly white-yellow hair bouncing in the breeze that had just swept some of the late afternoon heat away, I assumed he was going to tell me I needed to pack up my camera equipment and leave. But instead, he surprised me.

“Selfie,” he said, noting that I was the focal point of the image on my camera’s screen. The wrinkles around his eyes suggested he was at least 60, the roughness of his hands a clue that he worked on one of the dozens of fishing boats prepping for their evening runs.

How on Earth does an elderly fisherman in a tiny port town 100 miles from the southern tip of India know what a selfie is?

He began fiddling with my camera, which made me nervous not because I feared he would take it, but because waves had suddenly begun lapping at our feet—and at the tripod’s.

“Don’t worry,” he said, sensing my apprehensiveness. “I’m a photographer too.” He paused, putting his eye up to the viewfinder, no doubt to see how well I’d framed the shot. “Or at least, I used to be.”

He proceeded to explain that he had once owned a photography studio, though he didn’t go into the details of why it had shut down.

Over the next 30 minutes or so, as we walked counter-clockwise around Vizhinjam Harbor toward the pair of mosques at its northern periphery, Mohan (as I soon learned his name to be) provided commentary not only regarding the photos he thought I should take, but about the social divides in this small fishing community, and where he fell between them.

“I was born Hindu,” he said matter-of-factly, Kovalam Lighthouse towering behind him in the distance, “but I have no religion now, and haven’t for some time. You’re a Christian, I assume?”

“Catholic,” I corrected him, “but like you, I stepped away from religion as soon as I could walk.”

We made our way back toward the main harbor, which stunk of dead fish and feces in spite of how fresh the catches there looked and how inconspicuously the public defecated around these parts, and toward the Portuguese-looking village that sat just past the market.

“This one is bigger than the original,” Mohan insisted, pointing to the village’s copy of Christ the Redeemer, obviously unaware that I’d visited the one atop Rio’s Corcovado mountain. Or maybe he didn’t care, and just wanted to talk shit. I wasn’t about to ruin his fantasy, at any rate.

We walked up to the town’s cathedral, which provided relief from the day’s lingering heat and humidity even though it was only fan-cooled. Scents of frangipani and gardenia essential oils filled the air, and rhythmic Malayalam breathed life into Catholic prayers whose English incarnations were as stale as communion wafers.

As a young woman clad in a lilac-colored sari genuflected before the altar, I thought back on the week I’d just spent exploring India’s Kerala state, and how perfectly my evening with Mohan had encapsulated it.

Kerala was the most visually stunning part of India I’d seen, from the colonial streets of Fort Cochin, to the backwaters of Alappuzha, to the red cliffs of Varkala, to the verdant hills of Munnar, and was the only place in the country I’d ever felt completely at ease. Not a single person tried to scam me, nor was there any ulterior motive in their joyful greetings—usually “hi” instead of “hello,” and with a subtle gyration of the head in either direction.

On the other hand, Kerala frequently fell short of the propaganda I’d encountered as a travel blogger, most notably that it was India’s cleanest state. Nearly everywhere I went was filthy, from plastic-covered beaches and tea plantations, to sewage-smelling bays and backwaters, to smog that seemed more befitting of Delhi or Mumbai.

Road conditions were likewise deplorable, and the quality of accommodation and restaurants (and food—South Indian cuisine is severely lacking in flavor) was far beneath most everywhere else in India I’ve traveled. Most regrettably, I encountered countless examples of the very worst type of (white) travelers.

Namaste, they moan as they watch their styrofoam coffee cups blow into the sea, vowing never to vaccinate to their future children the moment they discover Ayurveda.

As I bid Mohan farewell, having missed the final moments of sunset due to the thick layer of smog lingering on the horizon line, I began to think about the images I would share to inspire all of you to take your own Kerala trips. And how I would frame mine so that it was both honest about the state’s shortcomings, but cognizant of the otherworldly beauty on display here, and the many forms it takes.

(How do you think I did?)

Need help planning your trip to Kerala? Hire me as your Travel Coach!

 

Sunrise in Kerala's backwaters
 
Sunset in the tropics
Woman fishing in Kerala, India
 
Robert Schrader in Kochi, India
 
Women in Kerala, India
Perfume oils in Kerala, India
 
Varkala Beach in Kerala, India
 
Houseboat in Kerala, India
Mud crabs in Kerala, India
Eagle in Kerala, India
 
Munnar Kerala Spice Garden
 
Meal on houseboat in Kerala, India
Cactus in Kerala, India
 
West Fort in Trivandrum, India
 
Woman in Kerala
Kerala cuisine
 
Relaxation in Kerala, India
 
Kerala Nutmeg
Mosque in Kerala, India
 
Fisherman in Vizhinjam, India
 
Boats in Vizhinjam, India
Communist graffiti in Kerala
Hindu art in Kerala, India
 
Indian Coffee House in Trivandrum, Kerala
 
Church in Vizhinjam, India
Kerala South Indian Temple
 
Robert Schrader in Kerala, India
 
Tea fields in Munnar, India
Catholic Church in Kochi, India
 
Chinese Fishing Nets in Kochi, India
 

About The Author

is the author of 858 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!

 

informs, inspires, entertains and empowers travelers like you. My name is Robert and I'm happy you're here!

 
 
 

Get Email Updates

Like what you're reading? Sign up to receive my weekly email newsletter – it's like a trip around the world to end every week!

Upcoming Trips

  • Wakayama, Japan May 18-24
  • Sumatra, Indonesia June 28-July 4
  • Hokkaido, Japan July 12-July 17
  • Mongolia July 31-August 10
  • Switzerland August 24-30
  • Lithuania August 31-September 3
  • Latvia September 4-September 7
  • Estonia September 8-11
 
 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex March 12, 2018 at 4:14 am

Wow, those pictures are uneblievably beautiful. I heard Kerala was lovely since a friend of mine used to have a hotel there, way back in the hippie days. She still visits and loves it, and I can definitely see why.

Robert Schrader March 12, 2018 at 4:27 am

I’m glad you enjoyed them!

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: