Kerala is the latest part of India to become a fashionable luxury holiday destination, and with good reason. The south-western coastal province at the tip of this massive country is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, the Western Ghats mountain range in the east, and is criss-crossed with dozens of rivers.
In addition to the long shoreline, there are tranquil backwaters, flanked by beautiful hill country where the slopes are blanketed with tea plantations and the cooling breezes provide respite in the searing summer months. In amongst the plantations and paddy fields, there are numerous historic and cultural monuments.
The Keralan people, with their distinctive Malayalam language, are among the most charming and independent in India, famed for their delicious - but hot (even by Indian standards) - fish curries and a history of independent thinking.
Explore historic Cochin; like many port cities, a place where civilizations have rubbed shoulders for centuries, and heir to a remarkable cultural heritage.
Drift through the photogenic backwaters of Alleppey on a rice boat at dawn, visit elegant coastal cities where Portuguese churches stand as a lasting reminder of a long since vanished colonial presence, and spend time on the beach or up in the cooler climes of the hill country.
Kerala is also the place to come for authentic Ayurvedic treatments, and several of the luxury resorts have excellent spas.