Kerala featured in New York Times list of 52 places to go in 2023
The publication hails the ‘Responsible Tourism’ initiatives of Kerala Tourism.
Kerala – the ‘Queen of the Malabar Coast’ – is renowned as one of the most enticing and spectacular travel destinations in India. Adorned by the spectacular Arabian Sea, guarded by the soaring Western Ghats, dotted with numerous lagoons, and offering leisure activities to suit every mood, this picturesque holiday destination casts a magical spell on all its visitors.
Fondly called ‘God’s Own Country’, Kerala boasts of bountiful beauty and chromatic offerings. From the tranquil backwaters to the palm-fringed sandy beaches, from the lush green hill stations to the vibrant cultural cities, Kerala has something for every traveler. Earlier in 2022, Kerala had also bagged the Global Vision Award for eco-friendly tourism.
The New York Times has listed Kerala as one of the 52 locations to visit in 2023 alongside many other breathtaking tourist destinations from across the world. Kerala becomes the only state from India to feature in the global list, which includes places like Morioka in Japan, Guadalajara in Mexico, and many more.
Kumarakom, Maravanthuruthu gets special mention
A special mention was made of three places along with more traditional tourist activities like experiencing village life. It’s interesting to note that Vaikom, Kumarakom, and Maravanthuruthu are all locations in the Kottayam district that made the global list.
The state’s efforts to implement responsible tourism were lauded, and offbeat activities like the temple dances in Maravanthuruthu and the picturesque canals and coconut fibre ropes of Kumarakom caught the eye.
Kumarakom, a collection of tiny islands on the Vembanad Lake in the Kuttanad district that is home to a bird sanctuary, is a tourist haven because of its beautiful backwaters. The ‘Responsible Tourism’ concept, which allows visitors to experience village life, is commended in the New York Times piece. Visitors are drawn to Kumarakom by its breathtaking natural beauty, unusual fishing techniques, toddy tapping, and palm leaf mat weaving. In addition, taking a houseboat ride on the famous Vembanad Lake is a once-in-a-lifetime event.
In March 2008, the Responsible Tourism project was officially launched in Kumarakom. The community was named the 2008–2009 winner of the National Tourism Award for Best Responsible Tourism Project.
The other location to catch the eye was Maravanthuruthu, which is situated 40 Km away from the Kottayam district, beside the Muvattupuzha River. Here, the Responsible Tourism Mission began work on its first STREET project to create streets with specific themes. This took on the shape of a water street, art street, flower street, and cuisine street, and this is a component of the local community development.
The Water STREET Project
The World Tourism Organization’s (WTO) tagline, “Tourism for Inclusive Growth,” served as the inspiration for the initiative that took home a prize at the London World Travel Mart. Clogged water bodies are cleansed, preserved, and made accessible to tourists as part of the initiative and eventually tourism-related activities would protect these water bodies.
The STREET project was implemented under the employment guarantee scheme with the active participation of the community, which cleaned up canals and other water bodies so that they could be used as tourist spots.
The bodies of water provide opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, coracle boating, and shikara boat cruises. Various tourism clubs were also established to coordinate with the work of the various units. Besides Water Street, Art Street and other projects such as Green Street, Village Life Experience Street, Food Street and Agri Street are also in the pipeline.
The iconic ‘Vaikathashtami’ festival is also mentioned in the New York Times story. The twelve-day yearly celebration of Vaikathashtami takes place in the Malayalam month of “Vrischikam” (Scorpion), which corresponds to the months of November and December, according to the Kerala Tourism website. The festival is held in the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple, which features exquisite Kerala style temple architecture and is located on the banks of the Vembanad Lake in Vaikom (Vaikkom).
Dakshinakasi, or the Kashi of the South, is the name of the temple. (Kashi, in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, is one of the holiest pilgrimage sites for Hindus.) Visitors of all ages will find the festival to be a fascinating cultural experience, with everything on show from pageantry to dance recitals, Kathakali performances, and music concerts. On the final day of the festival, the presiding deity (replica) is carried on elephant back by proceedings that commence from nearby temples.
Various other locations on the list
Other places on the list are London, Palm Springs in California, Ha Giang in Vietnam, Auckland in New Zealand, Kangaroo Island in Australia, the country of Cuba, Tromso in Norway, and Vjosa River in Albania. India, Japan, Vietnam, and Bhutan are the four Asian nations that have made the list. Kerala Tourism has also introduced luxurious caravans to allow visitors to tour the state’s picturesque valleys while traveling.
Spectacular beaches, tranquil backwaters, flamboyant houseboats, cascading waterfalls, bountiful plantations, rustic homestays, towering peaks, diverse wildlife, enthralling activities, rich culture, or even historical wonders; just think of it, and Kerala houses all this, and much more.
Join us as we escape to God’s own Country, won’t you?