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I arrive early and grab a premium seat in the front row, from where I watch a rather rotund man, fat like Buddha, having his face painstakingly painted an apple green. Soon, the lights are dimmed and the man reappears in full costume, complete with huge headdress. The audience erupts into laughter as the performers display emotions such as ‘love’, ‘fear’ and ‘disgust’ with semi-comical facial movements. The show is over in a flash and happy tourists pile into tuk-tuks headed for the seafood restaurants nearby.

In search of a drink, I manage to get some froth into my glass at the dimly lit XL bar. It is one of the few taverns in Fort Cochin and as a result is heaving with thirsty travellers. Nursing my Kingfisher, I conclude that I understand why the mere mention of the word ‘Kerala’ is enough to send many an Indian misty-eyed. Sure it’s touristy, but this coastal state still packs a punch. It may be known as ‘god’s own country’ but also somehow manages to hit all the right notes for travellers, and locals, alike.

Caroline travelled with Intrepid Travel, which offers a five-day short break in Kerala from £252pp twin share (£395pp single room), including two nights in a hotel, one night homestay and one night on a houseboat. Includes some meals, walking tours, sunset cruise, Kathakali dance show and cruise on the backwaters. Intrepid Travel can also arrange flights

When to go: The best time to visit Kerala is winter, between early November and early February, when it’s not too hot and the monsoon rains have let up.  

£1 = INR86.27 (Indian rupee).

Accommodation: Stay at Green Woods Bethlehem in Fort Cochin for about £5pppn and the nicest hosts you’ll ever meet. (Kurisingal 11/236A). Try Dew Drops, set on a spice plantation, for a treat in Munnar, at about £20pn.
Basic beach hut-style rooms in Varkala from about £5pppn here:

Getting There: Fly from London Heathrow to Trivandrum, via Delhi, with Air India from £515 return. Note that Trivandrum is short for the impressively unpronouncable Thiruvananthapuram.


Images: Getty

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God's own country: A peaceful paradise awaits in Kerala, India
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