For nature lovers, there could be nothing more soothing to the eyes than the rain-drenched thick foliage of tall trees and shrubs glimmering in the mild sunlight. And Kerala is blessed with such beauty in abundance.
Over the years, monsoon travel has gained traction, with the tourism department coming up with various packages. However, when it comes to monsoon tourism, Ernakulam district finds itself neglected. Often called the gateway to tourism in Kerala, Ernakulam is home to several hidden gems and untapped possibilities for boosting monsoon tourism.
“It’s not just about Fort Kochi, Mattancherry or Cherai; the district holds immense potential for eco-friendly monsoon tourism,” says freelance photographer and tour operator Abhilash Warrier. “These are times when people want to get close to nature. We must make the most of it.”
Travel influencer Geethu Mohandas agrees, adding that many picturesque spots remain underexplored. “I won’t say monsoon tourism is absent. It is happening; for instance, I have conducted several trips to places like Thattekad,” she says.
“But most promotion of Ernakulam’s monsoon tourism spots is happening mainly via social media content shared by those fortunate enough to stumble upon them.” Geethu notes that the ideal spots for monsoon tourism are in the areas bordering Kottayam and Idukki districts. “That is where the rainforests are located, and those areas are home to many waterfalls and streams,” she says.
Thomas Vacha, who runs Kochi-based Weekend Planner, highlights that backwaters and islands near Kochi, too, are great spots for monsoon and rural tourism. “Poothotta backwaters – only about 30 minutes from Vytilla – is an example,” he says. “Sustainable expansion of tourism in such spots will help the local community, too.”
The president of Kerala Homestay & Tourism Society, M P Sivadathan, also calls for boosting island tourism. “They are serene, scenic sites that tourists can enjoy, especially during the monsoon,” he says.
Echoing the view, Dilraj of GDM Travel highlights Kadamakuddy. “Monsoon is the time of pokkali farming, which is a very unique agriculture technique that is endemic to these islands.
Kadamakudy is perfect for rain tours in combination with pokkali farming,” he says. However, when asked about initiatives by the District Tourism Promotion Council, an official bluntly says, “There is no monsoon tourism promotion happening here.”
One of the most famous monsoon tourism spots in the district is the Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary, which marks its 40th birthday this year. Established in 1983, it was Kerala’s first bird sanctuary and is located about 12km from Kothamanagalam.
Sudamma, the lone woman among 14 tour guides at the sanctuary, says the destination has been receiving increasing footfall of late. “People have the option of going on a bird-watching trip, or they can go hiking. Then there is the facility for trekking,” she adds.
The Idamalayar forest is about 15 km from Thattekad Bird Sanctuary. A large evergreen forest covers the area to the east and southeast of the Idamalayar dam, extending from Malakkappara to as far as Rajamala. Mountain hawk eagles are found in this forest. Other birds in this forest include dark-fronted babbler, brown-cheeked fulvetta, brown-backed and white-rumped needletails, and emerald green pigeons.
“Since it is monsoon, the migratory birds have all gone. The only ones that are presently residing in the forest are the native varieties,” says Sudamma. “However, Thattekad remains a great spot for those who seek to connect with nature, enjoy the rains. Recently, we hosted a group of government pleaders.”
Urulanthanni waterfall is located in a forest area in Kuttampuzha. The waterfall comes alive only during the monsoon, and the water flows into the Periyar.
Inchathotty is a small village on the banks of the Periyar River on the Thattekad-Neriyamangalam road. The suspension bridge across the river is a tourist attraction and is the longest such bridge in Kerala with a length of 183m and a width of 1.2m. Kayaking and pedal boating facilities available near the hanging bridge are another factor that attracts a lot of tourists.
Mamalakandam is located around 32km from Kothamangalam taluk in Ernakulam district and 86km towards the east of the district headquarters in Kakkanad. Located at an average elevation of 1,200m above sea level, it is one of the hidden tourist attractions in Kerala. The place is a great spot for camping, trekking and placid picnicking. The forest is home to animals such as elephants, deer and macaques.
Iringole Kavu is an ancient grove dedicated to Goddess Durga, situated in Kunnathunad Taluk of Ernakulam district. It is located 2.5 km from Perumbavoor. This is one of the 108 Durga Temples in Kerala believed to have been consecrated by Lord Parasurama. Though not exactly a typical tourist spot, the grove is known for its magnificence during the monsoon – a divine blend of nature and spirituality.
Paniyeliporu near Kothamangalam is an ideal location for a one-day excursion. A trek of 1.5km along the riverside will take you to the waterfalls. After walking around 400m, one has to cross the river on foot to reach the forest and proceed about a kilometre to reach the waterfall. There are also numerous islets in the river.
Located at Pampakuda in Muvattupuzha, the waterfall originates from Mannathur Hills in Thirumaradi Panchayat. It comes down from a height of more than 70ft. Other tourist destinations near Areekkal Falls are Kochareekkal Caves, Pazhur Padipura, Pazhur Perumthrikovil Temple, and Piravom Valiya Palli.