Kerala finds a spot on CNN Travel's top 19 destinations

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CNN Travel has exhorted travellers of the world to spend the year's vacation on the beaches of Hawaii and Kerala, among other places.

The destinations are part of the US-based channel's list of places that have bounced back to normalcy after devastating natural disasters. Kerala is the only place from south Asia to find a spot on it.

"This area of India has it all: sun, sea, sand, good food, houseboats, culture and wildlife," reads the report.

The state features among 20 other destinations including Fukuoka in Japan, Hebrides in Holland, Lima in Peru, and Oaxaca in Mexico.

Seven Kerala destinations in particular have gained a special mention in the CNN travel report.

Kochi

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Home to the most popular international airport in the state, Kochi is undoubtedly a favourite of tourists. One sees the old world charm of Kochi when the haze of urbanisation lifts every now and then. Mattancherry, the Jewish Synagogue, Fort Kochi, the Chinese nets and ruins of Dutch and Portuguese heritage strewn around are a few of Kochi's lingering sights. The charm of a trip up to Fort Kochi lies in the boat trip across the backwaters.

Fort Kochi: A walk back in time

Kovalam

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Kovalam is Kerala's most developed beach destination. The beautiful seashore offers numerous activities for travellers. In winter the place is pretty subdued as the days are generally cooler than summer and nights can be a bit cold. This time of the year is denitely recommended to enjoy the nightlife in Kovalam. Average temperature during winter is around 20 to 25 degree Celsius, which is very soothing and quite cozy.

Gape beneath sea as you scuba dive in Kovalam

Varkala

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The beach here is distinguished by a unique geographical formation. A steep cliff overhangs the beach and the beauty of the seashore can bebest enjoyed from there. However, bathing in the sea is not totally safe.Relishing the breeze from top of the cliff is the best part of a visit to Varkala.

5 reasons for spending a weekend at Varkala

Alappuzha backwaters

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On all other days, except when there is a Vallamkali or a snake boat race, life goes on as usual along the Alappuzha backwaters. It is laid back, relaxing and rejuvenating. You can go on exploring the many sights and sounds of the village life along the backwaters.

A houseboat, though expensive is an ideal way of taking in the rustic village life. Alappuzha, as you know is a maze of backwaters and lagoons. And the beach is never really too far off. Making it all the more enticing to explore on a boat. And do stop by and see how they weave coir from coconut husks.

5 reasons why Alappuzha is your ideal destination

Vembanad

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"The backwaters of Kerala are a natural wonder to be enjoyed from houseboats," says the CNN report. The waterways which connect Kottayam and Alappuzha through the serene backwaters conceal a rich and varied history of the unique geographical features. Decades ago, even before the AC and the MC roads were constructed, the lighthouse at Malarickal showed the way to Kottayam for the people who came rowing the small boats.

Though a lot of changes happened here, the impeccable charm of the hamlets of Kuttandu never seems to cease. The stunning beauty of the lush green paddy fields, the vistas of coconut palms and the serene lakes continue to attract tourists from all over the world to enjoy it by taking a boat ride through the famed waterways of the Vembanadu Lake.

Get ready for a bewitching backwater trip from Kottayam

Periyar Tiger Reserve

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Periyar Tiger Trail is an adventurous trekking and camping program conducted by the Government of Kerala and Periyar Tiger Reserve in Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary near Thekkady, Idukki. For a lover of nature, the tiger trail offers tour packages which are a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of modern life. The national park is home to many rare, endemic, and endangered flora and fauna and forms the major watershed of two major Kerala rivers – the Periyar and the Pamba.

In search of the elusive cat

Munnar

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Munnar is known the world over for its misty tea gardens, scenic hills, paths covered with fog, and cool climate. There are also several pretty streams that gently cascade down the rocky ledges. The sights, sounds, and smells of Munnar captivate eyes as well as the mind.

Munnar got its name from the three rivers – 'aars' in Malayalam – that flow in the area. The CNN reports has made a special mention of the tea plantations of this destination.

Munnar trip: A basic guide

The August 2018 deluge caused a short-termed setback to Kerala tourism and hospitality industry but it sprung back within weeks of subsidence of the flood. The once-in-12-years blooming of neelakurinji (strobilanthes kunthianus) flowers in Munnar of Idukki district aided the surge in tourists by inviting up to one lakh visitors within September-October period.

Recently, a travel aggregator website, on Saturday revealed that Kerala topped the list with five out of 10 'most welcoming' tourist destinations in India. According to its 2018 Guest Review Awards survey data, the five destinations were Varkala, Kochi, Thekkady, Alleppey and Munnar.

Also read: A stay at Chinnar offers a chance to be part of a delicate eco-system

The Kerala tourism department is yet to release the statistics for the year 2018 but Tata economic consultancy has projected foreign tourist arrivals in Kerala in the year 2018-19 at 479,000 and domestic tourist arrivals at 9,404,000.

Year 2017 saw a growth of 10.94 per cent in number of tourist arrivals to the state. Domestic arrivals rose by 11.39 per cent, and the number of foreign tourists rose by 5.1 per cent in 2017.

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