By Kimberly L Bryant
Exploring southern India thoroughly could easily take years upon years; the south is filled with numerous cultures, cuisines, dialects, and landscapes. Moving from one state to the next sometimes feels like traveling to different countries altogether.
In Kovalam, I often went down to the beach and played in the water with the locals who take holidays there. Enveloped in a palate of colors, my view was relegated to a muddle of figures of all sizes mashed together. Adorned in bejeweled saris, the wet fabric clung to smooth, brown skin. Drips flew in every direction as the crowd converged in and out, pulsating like a vibrant flower.
Train travel in India is often talked about, as it really is a journey unto itself. The trains in the south were a bit more relaxed than in the northern parts of the country, though still fairly chaotic. Everyone moved in their own rhythm; children yawned, mothers held hands, and grown men leaned against one another, easily sinking into strange skin. Open windows invited the cool air, welcomed by our collective breath, as we rolled along, crammed together.
The natural scenery of the south is an utter treat for the eyes. Between the unique backwaters of Kerala, the prehistoric-looking gigantic rocks of Hampi, and the lush, green hills of Munnar, there is truly something for everyone, regardless of our individual tastes.
The state of Kerala is known for its backwaters, a network system of interconnected canals containing over 900km of waterways. The system is made up of five main lakes and 38 rivers with numerous linking canals, both manmade and natural. The backwaters consist of both freshwater and seawater, creating a unique ecosystem that is home to many species including crabs, turtles, kingfishers and of course, myriad golden-tinged palm trees. Throughout these intertwining waterways there are villages, towns and cities, such as Kollam, Alleppey and Kochi. Between the latter two lies the largest of the lakes, spanning an area of 200km.