Sunrise view from the front of a boat over the Kerala backwaters, with palm trees on both side of the water

A few years ago I spent two weeks travelling through Kerala in India and it was one of those trips that I consider a watershed in my life as a world traveller, where there is a before and an after.

This post may contain affiliate links that earn me a small commission but come at no extra cost to you.

The experiences of my Kerala trip not only influenced the way I travel today but they also changed the way I see the world. I experienced a dimension of travel that I’d touched on at a superficial level, the human side. 

Kerala is known as God’s Own Country for a reason. It truly is a slice of paradise, with abundant wildlife, breathtaking epic landscapes and a welcoming sense that makes you feel like you’re truly at home.

Woman sitting at the front of a boat while navigating the river like backwaters with palm trees all around

I have often pondered about the warmth of Keralites. What makes them so welcoming and kind? There is always a smile waiting to greet you, or even walk past you in the street. Keralites will come and talk to you given any opportunity. They want you to feel at home and they will make sure you feel looked after.

Not many parts of the world can boast this kind of humanity in their people. So what is it that makes Kerala human by nature?

The Kerala humans behind the backwaters

The backwaters of Kerala are a network of lakes, rivers and lagoons that run parallel to the coast. These waterways have created a unique ecosystem and lifestyle, linking remote villages with the rest of the world.

Man on a long narrow boat rowing past a small blue house in the Kerala Backwaters

Lady washing laundry in the river in the Kerala Backwaters

The waterways were once the highways of this beautiful region, used to move from A to B and to transport goods in and out of the state from the main ports. It is now one of the major draws for travellers to Kerala, and spending at least a day or two cruising the backwaters on a houseboat is the best way to appreciate a world that is unique to the area.

A lagoon with palm trees on its banks and a house boat approaching in the water

Visit places like Munroe Island and you will find men travelling on long rowing boats between villages, women washing their laundry on the edge of the lagoon, and children swimming and playing in the water. This is the human side of living in the Kerala backwaters, where there is always time for a friendly smile and an invitation to a cup of tea.

A group of people on a boat in the Kerala Backwaters. An older lady, a young lady and an older man sitting down next to a small goat, and a young girl standing in the middle holding a baby goat in her arms. This image sums up Kerala Human by Nature

The Kerala humans behind the tea plantations

Another way of life that is unique to Kerala is one dictated by the mountains and a cooler climate and found in the Western Ghats. These magnificent mountains cover a vast area across a number of Indian States. But there is one particular area that is completely different from the rest of Kerala.

Woman standing in the middle of a tea plantation with views over the hilly tea plantation and the mountains further away

The tea plantations found in Munnar, a town and former British hill station located at 1,600 metres, are a sight to behold. This is South India’s largest tea growing region. The rolling hills are covered by what looks like a lush green blanket, a thing of beauty.

Four women working in the tea plantations with tea collection bags hanging from their heads. There are mountains in the background

Two women laughing while working in the tea plantation trimming the tree bushes

If you look closer, this green blanket will tell you the story of the people who through hard work have created this man made wonderful landscape. And you will also find that beauty is not just present in these surroundings, but also in the people who work in the plantations. A look and a smile tells you that you are welcome to approach them, that they will happily show you how they sculpt the land and they may even let you have a go.

It is moments like this that will always stay with you no matter where you go.

A scene in the woods with an older lady sitting on a tree trunk next to a man and a dog. Between them there is a younger lady standing wearing traditional Kerala clothing

The Kerala humans behind the diverse cities

From Trivandrum to Kochi and Thrissur, the cities of Kerala chronicle the long history of this diverse region. From the times way before the arrival of Vasco da Gama, the first European to reach India by sea who landed in the Malabar Coast back in the 15th century, Kerala has been a land of riches. 

Traditional Kerala male dancer wearing a red and black skirt with bells on his hips and a heavy wooden head dress that he keeps in place by holding two long white ribbons

Man making flower garlands while sitting at flower garland stall in Munnar market

It was this Portuguese explorer who linked Europe and India by opening up the spice trading routes, and in turn allowing those riches to reach Europe as well as external influences to enter Keralan culture.

The evidence of this historical era is still apparent today. The cultural diversity of Kerala is reflected in many aspects of life such as religion, with 50% of the population being Hindus, 27% Muslims and 19% Christians, as well as the way they practice medicine, with traditional Ayurveda as well as modern medicine. You only have to spend a bit of time in Fort Kochi to appreciate the melting pot of cultures that have co-existed for hundreds of years, or you can experience an Ayurvedic treatment to understand the benefits of both medicine systems.

Priest man dressed and made up in traditional religious outfit blessing a worshipper

But one big thing that all these different cultures and faiths have in common is their warmth and kindness. The smiles are a constant across Kerala, whether in the villages or in the cities, and you always feel welcome and looked after.

A young woman walking on a narrow street, a man pushing a bike with a toddler on it and another woman standing in the middle of the street looking at the camera

Kerala, Human by Nature

No matter where you go in Kerala, the nature of the landscapes, or how people live their lives, one thing is for sure. Kerala is Human by Nature, and it is this that makes God’s Own Country a special place whose warmth and beauty should be experienced by all.

Visiting Kerala? Check out my other articles about Kerala, India


Like this post? Pin and save for later

Kerala, Human by Nature

Kerala, Human by Nature

Kerala, Human by Nature

Disclosure: This post has been created as part of the Human by Nature campaign in partnership with Kerala TourismAs always, all views are my own.




  1. Sophie says:

    I visited Kerala in 2012 and had a really similar experience. The people were so incredibly friendly and kind. You’re right, the smiles are constant!

  2. nishi says:

    Wow looks amazing great post about Kerala nature actually this is my dream destination to visit. Thanks for such a great post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.