India's southwestern state of Kerala (KEH-ral-la) is defined by her coastline along the Arabian Sea, an extensive network of inland canals, and a mountain range along her eastern border. The lushness and fertility of Kerala's landscape match a fertility in the spiritual, cultural, and artistic realms as well. Politically, Kerala has a lively participatory tradition, as well as the highest literacy in India. This trip takes place in the center of the state, in historic Cochin (recently renamed "Kochi"), where you'll find a beautiful harbor and large port, and an "Old City" with 500-year old houses, raja palaces, India's oldest church and oldest synagogue, and one of the country's finest antiques markets. You'll travel inland on the "backwaters", spending a night on a houseboat and two nights by Lake Kumarakom, and then continue into the highlands to the wildlife sanctuary at Periyar and the beautiful tea country around Munnar.
"Mention Kerala to someone who knows India, and invariably the response is a smile, as if to say, 'Aaah yes, I know it. It's soooo beautiful, a world of its own, a different India, I wish I were there right now....'" -Joan Weber
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