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How do I visit and spend a couple of nights in non-touristy villages in Kerala between Kochi, Alappuzha and Kollam? Do I just hire a boat and ask them to take me to such a village?

Could you recommend any villages where I can find accommodation and see Keralan rural life?

Do you have any advice on visiting villages in Kerala (or other parts of India) in general?

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Just to be clear, do you want to live with a family in a village? Or do you want to stay in hostel / cheap hotel / B&B in small towns / villages? –  Ankur Banerjee Jan 31 '12 at 21:45
    
I'd prefer a homestay. Besides, I really doubt there are other types of accommodation in villages. I'd like to see daily life of villagers without the intrusion by other tourists. –  John Doe Feb 1 '12 at 14:51
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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

In India, there is a website I've used in the past to look up some holidays in Maharashtra

I've searched for Kerala and this list contains some big and some small homestay facilities.

http://www.nivalink.com/kerala/homestay.html

I can see most of these still look a bit touristy which is grander and less authentic than what you're looking for. And this doesnt meet your criteria - since there will be other tourists there as well.

My suggestion will be to enquire for bookings etc and if possible once you get there or are sufficiently comfortable with the persons you're corresponding with (on email) - you can ask them for a smaller (more authentic and rural) homestay.

If you trust them enough (and vice-versa) then you should request them to take you to their homes for a night - to see how they live.

The other option I would suggest is to ask at the local churches within Kottayam. The priests speak English and they might be able to recommend a suitable family that could take in a foreigner for a day.

Believe me - they will be really curious about it.

My hometown is in Kerala and in the smaller villages it's an oddity for the locals to see any foreigners wandering about their village. So expect people staring and of course, be mindful of your personal belongings and your safety.

Update

I've found out a list of Government approved homestays (some of them are small-scale) on this website

http://www.keralatourism.org/homestay/

Some of these cater to only one or two guests at a time, you could contact them and ask for photos/references. Look at those classified as "Silver House" for cheaper rates and lesser facilities.

Absolutely at random, I've picked one example

http://www.keralatourism.org/homestay/homestay_details.php?id=299

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Thanks for the links. Finding accommodation through Church isn't a bad idea but I guess I'll have to check that once I get there. –  John Doe Feb 2 '12 at 10:44
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I will suggest making a boat trip from alapuzha to kollam.
This route covers canals, backwaters and villages. It will cost just 5 USD. It's an 8 hour long journey.
See this link for details on the trip Next weekend I am going for boat trip on this route. I will let you know my experiences and images too. :)
Myself from Kerala. If you would like to know anything about Kerala or India, please ask me.

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This is quite tricky one.Though spending day is never a problem,spending night is.Some of my suggestions are:

1.Have somebody as your interpreter:It may not seem that important in cities with many people knowing English,but in villages,it is a must.I went with my friend who was Indian and I really think that you cannot survive there without interpreter as it is quite possible that nobody may understand you.

2.Homestay:To be honest,if they don't know you,they will not let you spend night in their home.You may get lucky but please also heed my next point.

3.Safety:A big concern would be safety.There may be people who take you with them to their village and then may rob you.So,don't fall in such traps as such incidents may happen.

Considering the previous three points,if you don't know anybody in India,your best bet is to talk to the tourist department for this.There may be such programs for tourists.Another option is to befriend your guide or driver(who is registered by tourist department) and ask him to show his village as they normally live in nearby villages.Even then,you should take precautionary measures like validating his identity and sending his identity information to your local contact or something while he notices you sending(truly it helps).

Now if you are lucky to find somebody,some suggestions:

1.If you go to any village which is not a tourist spot,be prepared for a lot of people coming to see you(honestly).

2.Respect the ladies/girls.It is the most important thing you should keep in mind.

3.Don't go inside their worship place without permission,and if you get permission,don't go inside wearing shoes.

4.Ask them to prepare local dishes,I got to taste some dishes only in villages.

Note:I've heard that crime rate is less in South India,so your guide/driver would probably be a safe bet.

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Great suggestions, thanks. Having an interpreter doesn't really fit my backpacking trip so I'll probably have to check government approved homestays. –  John Doe Feb 2 '12 at 10:27
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