Kochi is an interesting mix of modern metropolis and mellow backwaters. The tall buildings and busy roads symbolize the hustle and bustle of the city, but Kochi’s backwaters and quiet corners are an escape from all the commotion. Still, these quiet little spots are few and far between, and they are not ideal for a peaceful getaway, especially when you look at all the incredible destinations that are near the cosmopolitan city. And while the city is certainly beautiful in the monsoon, there are some amazing monsoon destinations near Kochi that can offer a more unique experience. Here are five of them. ALSO READ: Monsoon in Kerala: 5 reasons why it’s the best time to visit God’s own country

Wayanad

Wayanad mountains in the morning

Wayanad mountains in the morning

Wayanad is a sprawling hilly district that turns all misty and bursts in different shades of green during the monsoon. Add to that the aroma of its spice, coffee and tea plantations, and you have the ingredients for a nice romantic getaway near Kochi, which lies around 260 km south. The route from Kochi to the hills of Wayanad is around seven and a half hours, but it is well worth the effort, taking you through the dense forests and hills of the Malabar region. You may also get to see some waterfalls along the way. In Wayanad, you can spend your weekend exploring the tea gardens, watching the monsoon rains from Wayanad’s famous tree houses, or going on a trek to Chethalayam, Neelimala or Pakshipathlama. For accommodation, opt for a tree house for an unforgettable experience.

Munnar

Munnar , Photograph courtesy: Nikky Stephen/Creative Commons

The popular hill station of Munnar lies at an altitude of 1,600 meters above sea level, and its tea estates and rolling hills make it a popular weekend destination from Kochi throughout the year. The hill station lies around 126 km from Kochi, and the four-hour drive to the place is as scenic as you would expect it to be. Munnar, as mentioned before, is appealing throughout the year, but it has a charm of its own during the monsoon. If you time your trip well, you could get to see the rare Neelakurjini flowers bloom. Since these flowers only bloom in 12 years, you’ll have to wait until 2018 to see them. This year, you can spend your monsoon trip in Munnar trekking up to Anamudi Peak, the highest peak in the Western Ghats at 2,695 meters, or visiting the Nallathanni Estate tea museum. ALSO READ: 10 photos that prove Munnar is breathtakingly beautiful!

Athirapally Falls

Athirapally Falls

Athirapally Falls

Athirapally Falls lies around 72 km from Kochi, making for a scenic two-hour drive that takes you through dense forests to the entrance of the Sholayar hills. Located on the Chalakudy River, the water falls 82 feet into the rocks below. Athirapally Falls is, in fact, the largest waterfall in the state, and there is no better time to get proof of that than in the monsoon season. This is when the waterfall is at its most magnificent, reaching a width of 330 feet. The waterfall has been used as the backdrop in many films, including the iconic Dil Se and the more modern blockbuster, Bahubali. The journey to this place is a wonderful experience in itself, taking you through narrow forest roads and sharp and winding hill roads. You can spend your time here watching the falls from Rainforest, the only hotel in the region. ALSO READ: How to reach Athirapally falls in Kerala

Alappuzha

Kerala_Alappuzha

Alappuzha

If your preferred monsoon destination near Kochi does not involve mountains or sprawling waterfalls, you could opt for a nice and relaxing monsoon getaway in Alappuzha. There are plenty of reasons why this place makes for a great weekend getaway. For one, Alappuzha (also called Alleppey) lies just 53 km from Kochi, which is just around an hour’s drive. Once there, you have the option to rent a houseboat and chill by the backwaters while eating some of the delicious seafood available here. If you are the religious kind, Alappuzha also has some important temples around, all of which are beautiful to look at. For a more offbeat experience, visit the International Coir Museum, dedicated to what is undoubtedly everyone’s favorite rope fiber.

Ashtamudi

Ashtamudi

Ashtamudi

Speaking of backwaters, the lake of Ashtamundi or Ashtamudi is another good weekend destination near Kochi. The lake lies 128 km from the city, making for a three-hour drive along scenic vistas of wide backwaters. Ashtamudi is actually the second-largest lake and the most visited lake and backwater in the state. It is considered the gateway to Kerala’s backwaters, with plenty of houseboats and lakeside resorts along its banks and eight channels. You can take the cruise to Kollam to get the best views of the backwaters, or just spend your time in a houseboat or a full-fledged resort, complete with the Ayurvedic spa treatment. NOW READ: Places to visit around Ashtamudi: The largest backwater in Kerala

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