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Kerala, State of Enlightenment
Courtesy, National Geographic Traveler, April 2001
Iíd have almost preferred not ot go back to India.Over the last 20 years Iíd made numerous journeys there. Iíd seen most of what I wanted to see; and as much as I loved the daily pleasures of the culture,I felt done with the place. India was entering the 21st century with a billion people,and for me ,the enchantment was wearing off.
But I had not seen Kerala . And ,now,on my very first morning here in this state on southwestern tip,Iíam wondering if Iíve saved the best for the last.

For me, however, Keralaís draw is its unmatched reputation for performing arts.Iíhave alreadybeen surprised by the high quality of the evening musicat our resort.Ussualy it is a violinist,a singer,and a drummer on a long mridunga,often accompanying a Mohiniyattam dancer of langarous classical gestures,clad in gold and white. Good art is simply everywhere.

The ultimate way to enjoy ,the backwaters,we find ,is to stay a night or two on a converted kettuvellam, a cargo boat traditionally used for transporting,say,30 toons of rice. The point is not to get anywhere,but to drift languidly through eteheral beauty.It is astonishingly romantic to watch the sunset from one kettu vallam among several.while three boatmen hang lanterns and pearly glowfades behind the scrim of palms.Dinner is abundant 11 plattersof Kerala cuisine built around subtly spiced fresh fish.As the coconut t islands darkens , the shimmering water doubles the infinite tree of stars. Walking at dawn we find ourselvessurrounded by hundreds of fishermenís skiffs on immense Vemabanad lake.Itís like time travel in to a quiet morning of another century

Destination of the millennium.. A cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake, is an enchanting backwater destination, Kumarakom offers visitors with many leisure options.
The pride of Kerala. In this dense evergreen, moist deciduous forests and savannah grasslands.roam herds of elephants, sambars, tigers, gaurs, lion tailed macaques and Nilgiri langurs.
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