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The mysterious land of Kerala is today one of the most popular tourist resorts in India, but its rather isolated location allowed it to develop a culture all its own.
This land is explained in detailed in “Kerala: Of Gods and Mean (Imago Mundi Series)” by Laurent Aubert and Jonathan Watts. The two authors look at the history of this Indian state, the first to come into contact with both Christianity and Islam, and provide color photographs of the various Kerala’ religious festivals including the rituals, ceremonies and costumes involved in the process.
The stories of the land’s women are told in “Daughters of Kerala: Twenty-Five Short Stories by Award-Winning Authors,” translated by Achamma C. Chandersekaran, with introduction by R.E. Asher. Through these stories you can understand how unique India’s smallest state actually is: a land with a high literacy rate and thus many very accomplished authors.
As with the rest of its cultures the food of Kerala has a taste that is truly unique. Whether you’re heading to Kerala and wish to sample the cuisine before you go, just came back and have a taste for more, or want to experience the authentic dishes of this remote land there are a few books to get you started preparing your own meals. “Savoring the Spice Coast of India: Fresh Flavors from Kerala” by Maya Kaimal, and “101 Kerala Delicacies” by G. Padma Vijay will have your mouth watering, and prove there is more to Indian food than just curry and chutney.
The Kerala tourism department markets and brands Kerala as "God's Own Country". While Kerala is definitely beautiful with its lush green surroundings and backwaters, whether it is Godzown can be a matter of subjective judgment, so it is easiest to travel to Kerala once and then decide.
From a general safety standpoint, one can be rest assured that Kerala is a very safe place; people are very nice. One can roam around without any fear or worry; of course, basic safety instincts must always be on, but then that is a must wherever one travels in the world.
Having said all that, if you are travelling to Kerala, keep in mind that it can be very costly to tour if you don't plan well. The part that is normally well planned whenever and wherever you plan to travel is the reaching and leaving part i.e. reaching Kerala and leaving Kerala for back home through any airport or railway station. You will get many flight offers, and even cheaper ones during off-peak season. The accommodation rentals can vary depending on the kind of property you target to stay in and the stars it has. A typical 4-star property can cost Rs. 3.5 to 6K PER day during OFF-peak season, depending on your negotiation skills. Peak season is very costly, and there can be no real reference range to it (Hotels quote what they want). Most hotels seem to have extremely cushy beds; so if one has a problem with cushy beds and is used to sleeping on hard ones (cotton filled), then one needs to ensure that it is made clear to the hotel before booking. Kerala is a coconut growing region, so it is natural for most of the population to be using coir mattresses which is what makes it cushy.
For travelling inside Kerala, the best way is via road, since internal rail connectivity is not that great. Roads are good and well maintained, potholes are very rare.
For bag packers and other money minded tourists, the cheapest way to travel inside Kerala is bus transport. KSRTC (www.keralartc.in) has a widespread network of buses between various cities and towns, but don't expect a Volvo kind of service all the time. Most of the buses are non-AC, while Volvo and other AC services are very rare and normally overbooked. Once you are inside a town, you can always use the local city bus transport or share auto services. None of the local city transport systems are well documented on the internet, but one can always ask local people who are very helpful.
For general tourists and travellers, you will need to hire taxis, which can cost a bomb in Kerala. The reason for the high costs seems to be the in-efficiency and fragmented nature of the taxi services. Taxis would charge you the total cost on garage-to-garage basis; as of July 2015, a normal diesel hatchback is Rs. 1400 for first 100 Kms in a day (Rs. 12 per Kms thereof) plus driver allowance of Rs. 300 per overnight stay. Unused kilometres in a day can be used the next day, for example, if you have booked for 6 days, then your overall kitty would be 600 Kms. Therefore, the easiest way of reducing costs in taxi movement is to plan the routing in a way that you maximize the garage-to-garage usage. For example, one can start the Kerala trip in Kochi and end it at Kochi itself. So one may do a Kochi - Munnar - Kumarakom - Allepey - Kochi, thus ensuring the maximum use of kms. One word of caution while booking a taxi service before you reach Kerala; while one may find many taxi services on the internet (like justdial, quikr, etc), please ensure you book only through someone who speaks either fluent English or Hindi, and make the terms and conditions very clear, preferably in writing on email. You don't want any confusion/friction later on just because of a communication gap. If you have your own car and stay near to Kerala, the best would be to drive to Kerala. Another option for a lower cost travel within Kerala is self-drive rental cars. As of now, such services are less in number though.