The old: Mango County
While this friendly Keralan restaurant might not be old, the style of food it serves up is steeped in local tradition. And it’s unbelievably cheap. Feast on a fish thali, served on a banana leaf with a selection of eye-twitchingly spicy Keralan curries, for no more than Dhs5.
Mango County, near Govt. Hospital, Temple Road, Varkala (+91 470 645 2205)
The new: Fort House Hotel
Whet your appetite with some freshly caught fish from Fort Cochin’s waterfront before heading down to this elegantly restored colonial house. Its restaurant, overlooking the backwaters, serves up local cuisine given a contemporary once-over.
Fort House Hotel, 2/6A Calvathy Road, Fort Cochin (+91 484 221 7103; www.hotelforthouse.com)
The old: Old Harbour Hotel, Fort Cochin
Amid the grand, but undoubtedly crumbling, remnants of Fort Cochin’s Portuguese colonial past, this elegantly restored boutique hotel breathes atmosphere with four-poster beds, high ceilings and unbeatable views of the Chinese fishing nets in action on Cochin harbour.
1/328 Tower Road, Fort Cochin (+91 484 221 806; www.oldharbourhotel.com)
The new: Taj Green Cove Resort
Stay here for the seclusion, contemporary atmosphere and location along a pristine stretch of Kovalam beach. An abundance of coconut palms, the ever-running canals beyond and the opportunity to explore hidden beaches along the coastline are also big draws.
GV Raja Vattapara Road, Kovalam (+91 471 248 7733; www.tajhotels.com)
The old: Cruise along the backwaters
From Allepey, board a bamboo and wicker boat for an over-nighter on Kerala’s signature and lively backwaters to explore the languid life along its banks. The onboard cook will grill what may be the biggest prawns you’ve ever laid eyes on.
The new: Silent Valley National Park
Silent Valley presents one of the most diverse and intact ecosystems found in India today. The healthy population of tigers, leopards, wild elephants and lion-tailed macaques can be glimpsed from the highly eco-conscious and expertly guided trekking safaris.
Fly from Dubai with Emirates to Cochin Airport, Kerala, currently for around Dhs1,795 return in July, and fares ranging from Dhs2,405 to Dhs2,745 return in August.