Travellers have been making a beeline for Kerala’s southern beaches for years but Northern Kerala has long been the underrated half of the state, concealing its backwater charms and emerging slowly like a butterfly from a chrysalis.2017 marks India’s 70th year of independence

and the opening of a new international airport in Kannur – Kerala’s largest – which will provide an easy introduction to the north. The beaches around Kannur, Thottada and Bekal are pristine, and a string of homestays and resorts have sprouted to give in-the-know travellers on all budgets a beachfront view that should make Goa’s hoteliers weep. In the eastern hills you’ll find Wayanad, one of Kerala’s most underrated wildlife sanctuaries and a haven for wild elephants.