The Kerala Backwaters

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Perhaps the most famous attraction in the state of Kerala is the backwaters, a large network of lagoons, canals, and lakes that flow into the Arabian Sea.  It adds up to more than 900 km of waterways that run up and down the length of the state and there are many cities and towns that are points of entry.  You can rent a boat for a half day, full day, or even hire a houseboat and live on it for a week or more (which is very expensive!).

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Fort Kochi, Kerala

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Fort Kochi (also Fort Cochin) is the first city I visited in the state of Kerala.  It’s really only known for the Chinese fishing nets that local fishermen use to catch a wide array of fish from the Indian Ocean, which they then sell whole to locals and tourists.  After purchasing the fish, you can walk it a short distance and have it cooked at a nearby restaurant.  Because these large, manually-operated nets are the #1 attraction in Lonely Planet, they have been turned into a bit of a tourist trap.  If you walk near them, several fishermen will  approach you and show you how the net works and allow you to operate it for a few minutes, and then turn around and ask you for a tip.  Unfortunately, although Fort Kochi is a peninsula and therefore surrounded on three sides by water, there are no swimmable beaches in the city because they are all littered with either fishing nets or trash.

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Kathakali

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One evening in Fort Kochi (Cochin, Kerala) I decided to check out this cultural center that was advertising traditional Indian performances, specifically something called Kathakali.

 
Kathakali is described as a “dance-drama” and I thought that sounded interesting, so for about $5 I bought a ticket and went to the show.  They said to arrive at 5:30pm for “make-up.”  I wasn’t really sure what that meant, but I knew I didn’t want to miss it.  

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