Kerala, India - Stein Travel
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Kerala

Tucked away in the south-west corner of India, Kerala is a narrow strip of land between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghat mountains. The name means 'land of coconuts', and palms still shade almost the entire state from the blazing sun. The tropical landscape is criss-crossed by dozens of rivers and countless waterways, and visitors can spend idle days riding small ferries through the backwater lagoons, observing village life close-up in this, India's most populous state.

Kerala has some of India's best coastal resorts: among the finest is the much-photographed Kovalam, which many argue has the best beach in the country. Here visitors can take in Kerala's rich cultural and artistic life, and enjoy arguably the best vegetarian cuisine on the planet.

When the rest of India gets too hot to handle, Kerala is often soothing and rejuvenating. Whether you stick to the lowlands or head for the hills, you will pass through scenery dotted with churches and temples; spice, tea, coffee and rubber plantations; and natural forests with wildlife reserves filled with elephants.

Compared to the rest of India, Kerala is short on monumental sights to see - its real draw-card is its natural beauty. The countryside undulates westward from the mountains, offering vistas of rich green valleys. Rivers glide across the plains towards the sea, creating attractions like the Athirampally Falls, before ending in a linked chain of lagoons where the silence of the still waters is broken only by boats and canoes, seagulls and cranes.

Information & Facts

Climate

Kerala features a wet maritime climate and experiences heavy rains during the summer monsoon season (June to August), while in the east a drier tropical climate prevails. The average daytime temperature in Kerala ranges from 82°f to 90°F (28°C to 32°C) on the plains, but drops to about 68°F (20°C) in the highlands. During the summer months Kerala experiences gale force winds, storm surges, and cyclone-related torrential downpours; while the winter months are much cooler and calmer. The best time to visit Kerala is between November and March.

Language

Although English is generally used for official and business purposes, Hindi is the official language and is spoken by about 40 percent of the population. Urdu is the language common with the Muslim demographic. India has a total of 22 official languages

Money

The currency is the Indian Rupee (INR), which is divided into 100 paise (singular paisa). Major currencies can be changed at banks, and authorised bureaux de changes. It is impossible to obtain rupees outside India, but no matter what time you arrive in India there will be an exchange office open at the airport. It is illegal to exchange money through the black market and it is advisable to refuse torn notes, as no one will accept them apart from the National Bank. It is best to change money into small denominations. Travellers cheques and major credit cards are widely accepted, particularly in tourist orientated establishments. ATMs are not generally available.

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