Floodwaters start to recede in Kerala

Kerala and Southern India will be open for tourists in time for our November tour

Floodwaters in Kerala and Southern India have started to fall, after the region was hit by heavy monsoon rains that killed over 350 people and left thousands stranded on rooftops.

Red and amber alerts have been replaced with green weather warnings, and Cochin Airport is due to reopen in a matter of days.

With water levels receding and the threat of further landslides abating, the focus now lies on rescuing those marooned, and helping the hundreds of thousands of people who have been relocated to emergency relief camps.

What caused the floods?

Intense rainy seasons are an annual phenomenon in Kerala, which lies in the path of the south-west monsoon. During the monsoon season (June–September), India receives 70% of its annual rainfall in four months.

However, this year the region has experienced 37% more rain than usual, due to a lengthy spell of low pressure. The resulting floods are the worst southern India has seen in a century.

Over 350 people have lost their lives, landslides have destroyed entire villages and hundreds of thousands of people are living in emergency relief camps.

How will the floods affect Pure Kerala Tours?

Our ground support team in Kerala assure us that things will soon return to normal. However, with the deluge causing damage to infrastructure and tea, coffee and spice plantations, we may need to adjust our itineraries to fit around cleanup and restoration projects.

Our next trip is scheduled for November – two months after the monsoon season comes to an end – and we still have spaces left. While we may need to tweak routes and activities accordingly, please don’t let the recent floods put you off visiting this beautiful part of the country. Rest assured your safety remains our priority – and ensuring you have the trip of a lifetime, of course!

If you’re interested in booking onto one of our trips and have questions in light of recent events, click here to contact us.

If you’ve been moved by the floods and would like to donate to the cause, please click here.

Bright, bold, beautiful – the many colours of India

India is known as one of the world’s most diverse destinations, and for good reason. Travelling through India will expose you to vastly different landscapes, religions, customs, people and cuisine. However, there is one element of Indian life that runs the length of the country – and that’s colour.

India is a land whose story is best told through colour. From pink cities to orange spices and everything in-between, India is a kaleidoscope of colour, and one that has to be seen to be truly experienced. Here are a few examples of India’s famously vivid colours, many of which you’ll see on your holiday with Pure Kerala Tours.

Lush green plains

From rolling hills and boundless views to tea fields and spice plantations, Kerala in Southern India is awash with hues of lush and glorious green. The fertile land in this serenely beautiful state is fed by numerous rivers and a glistening network of backwaters, which you will explore by boat whichever Pure Kerala Tours holiday you choose!

Pink and blue cities

Up north in the desert state of Rajasthan are two fascinating cities made famous by colour. Historical Jaipur is known as the ‘pink’ city, while the houses surrounding the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur are painted a vivid blue. The city symbolises an oasis in the Thar Desert.

Multi-coloured temples

The vibrant, eye-opening temples in Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, are a must see when in India. The unique Dravidian style of architecture and elaborate multi-coloured carvings depicting ancient myths and legends make these centuries-old temples quite a sight to behold.

Colourful spice markets

From yellow turmeric to sacks of bright red chilli peppers, India’s spice markets are a true feast for the senses. Breathe in the wonderful aromas, marvel at the dramatic colours, and almost taste the tongue tingling spices infused in the humid air.

Bright fabrics

Saris, rugs, fabrics, bangles, accessories…whether they’re wearing them or using them to decorate their homes, India’s locals have an eye for colourful fabrics. You’ll find brightly coloured cloth with distinctive patterns in the markets in Rajasthan, where a traditional style of tie dye called Leheriya is practiced to this day.

Beautiful flowers

Garlands of flowers and oil lamps float down the Ganges and other holy rivers in vibrant displays of religious devotion, and deep orange marigold flowers bejewel almost every celebration across the country. The Valley of Flowers National Park in the West Himalaya is famous for its meadows of alpine flowers and rich diversity of colourful flora.

Truck art

Trucks in India aren’t just a convenient way of transporting goods from A to B. Painted in bright colours and adorned with bold accessories, trucks are also moving works of art! Truck drivers in India spend long months on the road delivering goods to remote parts of the country inaccessible by rail, so they decorate their vehicles with ornaments that remind them of home.

Holi festival

An explosion of colour that has captivated the world, Holi brings people together across the country to sing, dance and douse each other in water and coloured powder. This lively festival marks the beginning of spring and has been adopted by cities across England, Spain, France, Germany, Australia and the US.

Stunning sunsets

Last but not least, the sunsets in India are simply spectacular. Whether you watch the last lingering rays of sunlight melt into a river, sink into the sea or disappear behind a mountain, no two sunsets are ever the same.

A picture is worth a thousand words

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this one speaks volumes… Captured on a recent trip by Pure Kerala Tours, it shows the tender moment when three kindergarten children were presented with a small gift from a guest on our Kerala and Southern India small group trip.

This touching photo shows Suzanne, from Melbourne, Australia, presenting three little girls with a koala teddy each during a visit to a tribal village kindergarten in the hills of Palakkad, Kerala.

 The children were told our group was coming to visit their school, so they arrived in their very best clothes and surprised us with an enthusiastic rendition of the National Anthem.

The teacher apologised for the poor turnout of only five children that day.

“We have to urge them to come to school,” she said, explaining that the children hail from poor, illiterate families who live in the hills and beyond.

Outside, two boys played with a rusted bicycle wheel, chasing it along the stony, dusty ground with a stick. Inside, we were humbled to see a small classroom devoid of colour and toys, bare except for an old wooden bench and a rusty filing cabinet.

This eye-opening cultural experience in a remote tribal village highlights the lack of opportunity for children like these across our planet – and how lucky we are in comparison to lead privileged lives in more urban centres of the world.

5 benefits of homestays over hotels

We are  big fans of cultural immersion here at Pure Kerala Tours, and firmly believe that the best way to understand a foreign culture is to dive right in at every opportunity. Whether you feast on the local food, pick tea leaves on a remote plantation or get to know the locals, there are plenty of ways to make the most of your holiday to India.

That is  why we include handpicked homestays in our itineraries, and when we do stay in hotels, we make sure they’re something special that will enhance your experience – for example we might base ourselves in a historical heritage hotel, or a hotel overlooking a river where elephants come to bathe.

So what is a homestay, and why are they better suited to a cultural immersion holiday than hotels? A homestay involves staying with a local family, and there are many benefits to opting for this type of accommodation over big hotels. Here are just a few:

  1. Enjoy a home away from home

A homestay provides a familiar place and friendly faces to come ‘home’ to after a day of being in a strange city. Whether you stay with them for a few nights or several weeks, your new family can help you find your way around, provide home cooked comfort food and give you advice that won’t be found in any guidebook.

  1. Learn the language

You probably won’t be fluent in Malayalam by the time your Pure Kerala Tours holiday comes to an end, but learning a few useful phrases could really help at restaurants, the local market or simply when you’re out and about. The best way to learn a language is to surround yourself with it, so where better than a homestay with a friendly host family communicating predominantly in their native language?

  1. Learn local customs

Homestays provide the opportunity to experience local customs and family traditions first-hand, and offer an insight into local life that other accommodations simply can’t compete with. Discover how people communicate with one another, experience general family interactions and learn how mealtimes operate. You might even be lucky enough to arrive in the midst of a festival or family celebration!

  1. Live like a local

From helping workers in the tea fields to shopping at local markets, our tours are designed to get you living like a local. Homestays are a fantastic way to reinforce this, as you can learn what the locals like to do, where they go and how they go about their daily lives. You could watch a local TV show, learn to cook a local dish or participate in games your host family and their neighbours play in their spare time.

  1. Enjoy traditional food

Delicious, authentic and home cooked food on a daily basis is another fantastic reason to opt for homestays over hotels. Homestay families typically cook meals for their guests, giving you the chance to sample a variety of local cuisine and perhaps even learn how to make it!

All three of our tours include a two or more nights on a farm with traditional families of the district. These unique homestays provide a great opportunity to learn from the teachers and elders of these fascinating communities. It also allows us to witness religious and cultural rituals as we mingle with the locals.