Looking for places to visit this summer? What better than an environment with beautiful beaches, serene backwaters, beautiful beaches, boat houses, wild safaris and what not. We look at the two such destinations Kerala and Sri Lanka to provide you with things like what to do there, where to go, how to get there along with tips on keeping safe and a look at what these treasures of natural beauty have to offer!
If you are wondering whether you should plan your trip to Kerala in India or Sri Lanka , there is no question that you will get confused between which destination to pick as both of them seem like mirror images across the Indian ocean, in terms of the things to do or the places to explore in each of these destinations.
There is no doubt that tourism in Kerala has been generating revenue because of the beautiful emerald backwaters, the green landscape, calming Ayurveda therapy and many more features unique to it but however, if you take a glance at Sri Lankan Tourism, it recorded 18.1% growth in arrivals with 1.5 million visitors according to www.srilanka.travel. You will realize that Sri Lanka is well past its quarter century violence-ridden history and making strides in the tourism industry enough to give a heartburn to its Indian counterpart. Both have beautiful beaches, boat houses, pilgrimages, wild safaris etc. in fact there are many things that are common to both the destinations.
Do take a look at some of the features of both these places that may help you in deciding your destination, starting from the price of travel to the attractions that are unique to each of these destinations.
Attractions and activities
Backwaters and houseboats
The tranquil backwaters are a major highlight of every traveler’s itinerary. They are unique to Kerala. The backwaters have a unique ecosystem: freshwater from the rivers meets the seawater from the Arabian Sea. You can take a leisurely journey in the luxurious houseboats in the backwaters.
Ayurveda, a science that is 5000 years old that helps treat the mind, body and soul the natural way, is native to India and is used to treat millions of people who travel to Kerala to get cured of their diseases or simply for holistic wellness and detoxification of their bodies.
An ideal time for Ayurveda treatments in Kerala is from June to September, when the atmosphere is cool and dust free.
Although there are many beaches in Kerala but Kovalam beach and Varkala beach are the most popular beaches of the state. There are a lot of attractions on these beaches that you can visit. The lighthouse on the Kovalam beach, Vellayeni fresh water lake and Edakallu a popular sunset point on the beach.
On the Varkala beach there is the Sivagiri monastery and the 2000 year old Janardhana temple. Also on this beach you can enjoy boat riding, swimming, adventure sports and Ayurveda treatments. Anjengo fort , though in its ruins is a prime attraction here. Varkala tunnel waterway is an important historical site as it was constructed by the British for trade and it very well depicts the architectural skills of the engineers of the 18th and 19th century.
Munnar is a breathtakingly beautiful hill station in Kerala and a prime tourist destination with sprawling tea-plantations, exquisite waterfalls and rare flora and fauna. You can buy tea and spices like ginger, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, coffee, clove nutmeg etc. Homemade chocolates are a must try here whether white, dark or chocolate with nuts.
Wayanad and Thekkady are other two very popular tourist attractions that are synonymous with natural beauty. Periyar wildlife sanctuary in Thekkady is one of the world’s most enchanting wildlife reserves in the world.
Ancient martial arts
Known as Kalaripayattu, it is an ancient martial art form practiced in Kerala and you can watch it at Kadathanadan Kalari center in Thekkady.
These temple festivals are usually an elaborate and grand affair with bejeweled elephants being the major attractions. Each temple festival may last for about ten days and the biggest festival is held in Vadakkumnathan temple in Thissur. It takes place during the month of April/May with as many as 60 elephants in attendance. You can enjoy cultural music, classical dance performances here.
Transportation in Kerala is easy, well connected and affordable. For inter-city transfers there are buses,cities,auto rickshaws and taxis. The state’s waterway transportation is very active. You can book small boats or sea jets to move from one district to another. In fact Kochi, the port city is a marine transit hub and you can book your choice of water transportation medium here.
Traveling to Kerala is very cheap in terms of public transportation, accommodation and visiting various attractions.
Flight cost of traveling from Delhi to Kerala may cost an average of 15000 INR (226 USD) per person depending on which flight you take.
Accommodation in Kerala is quite affordable and a three star hotel stay may cost you an average of 3000 INR (45.21 USD) per room night.
Applications by US nationals submitted in person are processed in one to three business days and if submitted online by them then it may take around seven to nine business days.
For all non US nationals it will take one to two weeks. So it is advisable to plan your travel much before the actual dates.
Sightseeing and Activities
Water bodies and houseboats
Sri Lankans are in no way undermining the importance of developing inland water bodies like rivers, lakes and lagoons as tourist attractions and have introduced fiber-hull house boats for tourists to enjoy nature at its best as they cruise past mangrove tunnels and rain forests and give an opportunity to gaze the animals of the forest from these comfortable house boats.
Beaches in Sri Lanka are very good and Unawatuna, the little horse shoe beach, is a beautiful place to escape to from the very famous Galle fort. Bentota and Mirissa, Tangalla and Beruwala are also very popular beaches of the country on the southern coast of the country.
These beaches also offer chic boutique hotels, coral reefs and many undiscovered corners of nature.
Scuba diving and surfing are popular beach sports of the country.
It’s an ancient historical monument, a palace with huge gardens, fortifications, ponds, canals, alleys, fountains and fortifications. It is a rock plateau formed by magma of a volcano that is now extinct. It attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Jetavanaramaya stupa, Anuradhapura
It is a Buddhist pilgrimage and one of the biggest archaeological sites of the world.
Both Sigiriya and Anuradhapura have been declared as world heritage sites by UNESCO.
The Dutch colonial buildings, tropical setting and classical architecture make it a must -see place if you visit Sri Lanka. Built by the Dutch, the Galle fort is surrounded on three sides by the ocean. It is easily accessible from the beach towns of Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa.
Dambulla cave temple
It is the largest cave temple in Sri lanka and is spread over five caves containing paintings and statues related to Gautama Buddha and his life.
Buses are a common mode of transportation in Sri Lanka. Trains are a good medium for intercity travel but hiring a taxi is the most convenient and comfortable mode of travel
Traveling to Sri Lanka is considered quite expensive but if you stick to public transport and stay in guesthouses then it won’t be a burden on your pocket. But if you are a foreigner you may be charged higher price for visiting the attractions which sometimes may be a hundred percent more than what is charged from the locals.
If you are an Indian traveling to Sri Lanka then a flight from Delhi to Colombo will cost you around 2000 INR
Average cost of accommodation of a three star hotel may be around 4000 INR( 60.15 USD)
It generally takes 5-8 days to get the Sri Lanka visa processed. But an online visa application or ETA for travelling to Sri lanka takes around 48 hours in processing. In short, getting a Sri Lankan visa online is a breeze and almost hassle free.
Sri Lanka has a strong drinking culture and has two staple forms of alcohol- Lager and Arrack . Liquor is freely available in Sri Lanka, and you can buy alcohol from supermarkets in bigger cities. This is likely to drive a lot of tourists away from Kerala and towards Sri Lanka.
So, apart from the places that are common to both Kerala and Sri Lanka like the tea plantations, the spice gardens, wildlife reserves and the river cruises that both of them have in common, you can compare them on the parameters mentioned above and decide for yourself which one is your preferred destination.