Kerala’s Summer Holidays Guide – Festivals, Places & Lot More

Published By: Gitanjali Diwakar on April 21, 2022

The summer has set in. While the rest of India seems to be heating up drastically, God’s Own Country – Kerala is set to spring a few surprises to its residents and tourists. If you are planning for the summer holidays in Kerala, you must check this useful information before you plan your trip.

Quick fact about Kerala (for those of you who are unaware)

Kerala is a state with 100 percent literacy, i.e most people can read and write in their native language – Malayalam. This state is also known for its advanced and highly reputed medical care facilities. It is the home to other alternative forms of medical treatment – especially Ayurveda. This state shares its borders with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Hence, most people invariably speak two or three languages – including English. The local residents are the best guides in the state of Kerala. Do not be fooled by their humble dwellings; these people know more than the average ‘educated common man.

Things to remember

  1. Kerala is predominantly a coastal state. Hence, the climate is humid. So, don’t bother carrying moisturizers or lips balms in your travel bags. Instead of keeping your skin supple, these products are likely to create a mess and complicate the journey. However, if you wish to visit the hill stations of Kerala, you could carry one small tube of moisturizer. Suntan lotion, on the other hand, is a useful product while traveling.
  2. Hydrate yourselves well. Most often, travelers fail to carry sufficient water during a journey. The humidity of Kerala is bound to add to your fatigue. Hence, it would be wise to carry a water keg or can as opposed to bottles of water. You could even consider keeping a few sachets of glucose or ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) which could be used in case you experience an extreme state of dehydration.
  3. Cotton clothes, preferably loose-fitting and those with full sleeves or half sleeves, are ideal for a trip to Kerala in the summers. You could wear loose synthetic clothes as well if you are not suffering from any skin allergies. A cap and a pair of sunglasses could help you fight the heat.
  4. Lastly, carry an umbrella and be prepared for the unexpected! Yes, Kerala does have a few summer showers. While the frequency of such spells is low, they are rather unpredictable. It is, thus, wise for travelers to protect themselves in these situations. Lighter clothes dry faster. Hence, you could consider using a ‘thorthu’ or a traditional Kerala towel for bathing and cleaning purposes.

Coconuts are a quintessential aspect of Kerala cuisine. If you are not in favour of the use of grated coconut, coconut oil, or even coconut milk, here’s a tip: Try it out. It may not be perfect. But it is pure and safe as well as a healthy ingredient to consume. Steamed dishes are quite unique to Kerala – especially Steamed Tapioca served with Spicy Fish Curry. Believe it or not, the ‘thattukadas’ in Kerala serve these dishes in the most authentic fashion.

An eventful summer in Kerala

There is never a dull moment in the state of Kerala. Summer or monsoon, this state has something for everyone.

Celebrations to look out for in Summer

There are various festivals being celebrated by the locals during summer. Check out more information and plan your summer holidays accordingly. These types of local festival will give you great opportunity to understand the culture and the life of locals in Kerala.

Kerala Cultural Festivals in Summer

1. Vishu

Vishu is one of the festivals that is unique to Kerala. It marks the beginning of all agricultural activities in the state. Devotees gather in large numbers at temples to seek the blessings of the Lord. Indeed, most people adorn traditional Kerala outfits – Women wear the Kerala saree or set mundu while the men dress up in the mundu.

There are a few traditional practices that are exclusively followed during this festival. Some of the most popular aspects of the festival include – Vishu Kani, Vishu Kaineetam, and the Vishu Sadhya.

Vishu Festival
Vishu Kani. Photo: Wikipedia
  1. Vishu Kani: ‘Kani’ refers to the first glimpse. The Vishu Kani is, in other words, the first glimpse of the Lord at the dawn of the festival. Various floral arrangements are made to honour to the deity (in most case, it is Lord Krishna) followed by a short prayer. Most of these arrangements would include the Kani Konna – a yellow flower that blooms during the summer season.
Kanikonna. Photo: Gitanjali Diwakar
  • Vishu Kaineetam: It is a sum of money that the elders give the younger members of the family. Traditionally, it was given by landlords to their tenants.
  • Vishu Sandhya: This refers to the grand meal that is served in the afternoon on Vishu.
  •  2. Easter

    Kerala has one of the largest population of Christians in the country. It is for this reason that Easter is also celebrated in a grand fashion. Households mark the end of the ‘lent’ by preparing a grand feast. Churches conduct special prayers throughout the day. Some devotees even visit the famous St. Thomas Church at Malayatoor in Ernakulam district.

    The story behind the Malayatoor Church

    St. Thomas, also known as ‘Doubting Thomas’, was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. He had taken the initiative to spread Christianity in Kerala. It is believed that the apostle had held a prayer at this church when he had landed in Kerala. This hilltop church is located 15 kilometres from Kalady, the birthplace of Adi Shankaracharya and is situated on the banks of the Periyar River.

    A view from the Malayatoor Hill. Photo: Wikipedia

    3. Thrissur Pooram

    If you wish to see Kerala at its cultural best, then this is one event that you shouldn’t miss.

    A glimpse of the Thrissur Pooram. Photo: Vibin Balakrishnan

    The Thrissur Pooram is said to be the grandest temple festival in the state of Kerala. It is, as many would call it, a grand assembly of Gods and Goddesses in and around the Thrissur district. The most popular aspects of the festivities are held within the premises of the Vadakkunanthan Temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

    About ten deities are said to ‘participate’ in the celebrations. These include the Thiruvambady Bhagavathi and Paramekkavu Bhagavathi. The processions and rituals follow a strict itinerary.

    The late Maharaja of Cochin, Sakthan Thampuram, was instrumental in creating the present format of the grand festival. He had unified the 10 temples situated around the Vadakumnathan temple and took steps to celebrate Thrissur Pooram in such fervor. The participants are divided into two groups the western and the Eastern The western group includes a few temples the temples of Thiruvambady, Ayyanthole, and Nethilakkavu while the eastern group includes a few others including Paramekkavu, Karamukku, and Panamukkamppilly

    This year, the festival is set to take place from May 5 and would continue for a week. A wide variety of cultural events can also be witnessed during the festival. One of the most unique aspects of these celebrations is the ‘Kudamaattom’ – a competition that showcases a wide array of colourful and decorative umbrellas.

    4. Onam

    Onam, Kerala festival

    One of the most popular festivals of Kerala, Onam, marks the harvest season of the crops and is celebrated for ten days. The celebration brings the Malayalam calendar year oncoming, also called the Kolla Varsham. Vallam Kali, or the festival of the boat race, is a part of this festival.

    Onam is also when people make Pookkalam, a colourful floral design in front of their homes. Trivandrum, Palakkad, Thrissur, Alleppey, Ernakulam, and Kannur are a few of the tourist places in Kerala for exploring Onam.

    5. Ambalapuzha Arattu

    A great festival to celebrate while in Kerala in the summers. This is one of the unique festivals of Kerala, where grand processions are carried out with elephants adorned and decked with crafts and decorations.

    The event is further celebrated with music and martial arts called Velakali, which find its roots in Ambalapuzha. The temple Ambalapuzha was built in the 17th century by the then ruler. The Ambalapuzha Arattu festival is celebrated in the Ambalapuzha city of Kerala.

    Arattu Festival in Janardhanaswamy Temple

    This is the only temple in South India where the name Janardhana Swamy worships Lord Vishnu. The processions are carried out with beautifully decorated elephants who add colour to this auspicious festival. Cultural Kathakali performances mark the fourth and fifth days of the celebration.

    6. Kerala Boat Festival

    Kerala Boat Festival

    The Aranmula Boat Race festival is perhaps the most popular and grand festival in Kerala. It is celebrated in August and September. It is believed that the festival is celebrated to mark the day when Lord Krishna’s idol was brought to the temple of Ambalapuzha using a boat. Another boat race festival called Champakulam Moolam Boat Race is celebrated on the Pampa river and organized at the start of the Monsoon season around June/July.

    7. Kodungallur Bharani Utsavam

    You don’t want to miss out on the Kodungallur Bharani festival as it is one of the highlight festival celebrations of Kerala in the summer. The oracles, Komarams or Vellichapads, assemble on the Kavu Theendal day in red attire with untied hair holding swords. The atmosphere is charged with energy. They run around the temple and throw objects and abuse it. It becomes one of the unique places to visit in Kerala in Summer if you want an unforgettable experience.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Kerala Summer Places

    Which cities are best for a summer vacation in Kerala?

    Munnar, Alleppey, Kumarakom, and Lakkidi. Munnar, having the largest tea-growing area in South India or Waynad is also known as a jewel in the crown of Kerala, with light temperatures surrounded by hills, forests, and plantations.

    Is summer a good time to visit Kerala?

    Yes, one can consider traveling during May and July in Kerala to witness low temperatures and 341mm rainfall. The Western Ghats prevent the hot winds from entering during summers making the West Coast a cool place for summers in Kerala.

    Which are popular Kerala beaches in summer?

    Kovalam Beach, Trivandrum, is the biggest beach in Kerala made of three smaller beaches, namely, Lighthouse beach, Samudra beach, and Hawah beach. Alappuzha and Kappad beaches in Alappuzha and Kozhikode are top destinations with a pristine atmosphere.

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