Setting Up A Rendezvous With Kerala - God's Own Country

So much has been said and written about God's Own Country - from its picturesque landscapes to tranquil gateways, from its action-packed adventures to rejuvenating health resorts, the state has something for everyone.

As a much sought after tourist, pilgrim, wedding, and movie destination, Kerala ranks high on my bucket list of must-see places in 2015.

A prominent state in south-west India, Kerala was also named as one of the "ten paradises of the world" and "50 must-see destinations of a lifetime" by The National Geographic's Traveller magazine.

Quite recently, the epic Indian film, Baahubali: The Beginning (a. k. a. The One with Strong Arms) was shot near Athirappilly Falls, the largest waterfall in Kerala which is nicknamed The Niagara of India.



They say when you want something bad, the whole universe conspires to make it happen. Surprise surprise. This Tuesday I received an invitation from - lo and behold - Kerala Tourism themselves to attend their press meet, where key representatives from the Kerala Trade fraternity revealed their ambitious plans for the year, along with some new initiatives to boost tourism in the state.

Kerala Tourism Press Meet 2015 Gurgaon

The event was flanked by who's who of the Kerala Tourism board, including Mr. Sheikh Pareeth, Director, Kerala Tourism and Dr. G Kamala Vardhana Rao, Secretary, Kerala Tourism.

Mr. Sheikh Pareeth

What caught my fancy was how Kerala is being promoted as the complete holiday destination. From Edakkal Caves to Varkala Beach, Kerala is blessed with divine features that make it a perfect holiday destination. In fact, the Visit Kerala campaign for 2015-16 is hailed as the season of surprises.

Kerala 360 Degrees

Do a homestay in Alleppey or visit the Spice Village in Thekkady. Kerala is rapidly transforming into a complete 360 degrees vacation destination.

Kerala 360 Degrees - The Complete Holiday Destination

To get an essence of Kerala in a single event, the Kerala Tourism presented swatches of its culture, cuisine, music, and entertainment. It was time to feel the warm hospitality of Kerala.

Mohiniyattam

Dressed in a Kerala Kasavu Settu Saree (a. k. a. Golden Border Saree), the emcee for the event, Preeti Hoon, invited Mr. Pareeth to address the media and talk about the following key topics:
  • Statistics on domestic/international tourist arrival in Kerala
  • New initiatives in God's Own Country
  • Real progress in the virtual world
  • Expected growth in Kerala Tourism
  • Marketing plan for 2015-2016
  • Awards and Accolades

Preeti Hoon


Mr. Sheikh informed the media about strategic partnerships between carriers like Jet Airways and Go Air, who are offering patrons with discount packages for Kerala. He also showed us few TV commercials on Kerala, highlighting its pristine backwaters, plantations, boat stays, village life including stay with the tribal, festivals like Thrissur Pooram, wildlife, Ayurveda, beaches like Kovalam, sporting events like The Nehru Trophy Boat Race, etc.

Kerala - God's Own Country

It was heartening to know more about places like Munnar, a hill station and former resort for the British Raj elite. My favorite part of his presentation was when he talked of the local artisans of Kumarakom, a popular tourism destination located near the city of Kottayam, and the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, an international exhibition of contemporary art, which happens to be the first Biennale being held in India.

Bumped into him at the Entrance

For one, I didn't know that the richest Hindu temple in the world - the Padmanabhaswamy temple - is located in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. Or that Steffi Graf was appointed as Kerala's Ayurveda brand ambassador.

A Unique Dance Form in Kerala

Mr. Sheikh then talked of the Muziris Heritage Project, the largest heritage conservation project in India initiated by the Government of Kerala to reinstate the historical and cultural significance of the legendary port of Muziris. This is part of the Spice Route Initiative by Kerala Tourism.

A Beautiful Chandelier at The Leela Ambience Gurgaon Hotel & Residences

The meet was followed by a traditional cultural show - an eclectic mix of dance and art form - symbolizing the true essence of Kerala. Steeped in rich traditions and history, Kerala is known the world over for its many cultural delights such as -
  • Kathakali - where the artistes speak - not through words - but through facial and gestural idioms.
Kathakali
  • Mohiniyattam - where the dancer sways gracefully like a coconut palm in the evening breeze.
Mohiniyattam
  • Kalaripayattu - one of the oldest fighting systems in existence.
Kalaripayattu
  • Kolkali - where the dancers move in a circle striking small sticks and keep rhythm with special steps according to the music.
  • Puli Kali (dance of the tiger) - which is an integral part of the Onam festival

Before this press meet, my understanding of Kerala was restricted to its treasure of wilderness and wildlife, backwaters with crisscrossing lanes, and secrets of culinary craft. Obviously, there is much more to unlock and experience.

Visit Kerala 2015-16

The press meet was a perfect platform to meet the guardians of these secrets. I left the event thinking about just one thing "It's time for a break. Time for Kerala. A natural anecdote to stress."