Kerala is a state which may appeal to a random tourist because of its backwaters, beaches and palm trees. But you cannot undermine the fact that the state is teeming with super-educated people and some A-class traditional artists. Kerala has been programmed to fascinate the visitors in almost every way possible. While the lagoons of Alleppey even made National Geographic magazine sit up and take notice (it included this state in its list of top 50 places to visit before you die), what makes us proud about the state is its profound involvement in art. Cochin is one of the top cities for art lovers and receives a good mix of travel enthusiast and art admirers.
Kathakali is the name that springs on mind instantly when one visualizes stage performances. Though it is a form of dance, its fascination lies in its outlandish costumes, gaudy body paintings and fiery expressions. A lot of time you miss the actual steps because you are staring nowhere else other than at the performer’s lurid eyes. They can be so emotive that they tend to hold you captive. Hitherto, you must have watched Kathakali only on TV, but believe us, it is not as boring as it appears on the screen. The story-telling through a visual medium is one of the toughest things to portray, but most of the performing artists are seasoned.
Another intensely popular form of art is Kalaripayattu. Technically speaking, it is martial arts. But it is different from what you are accustomed to seeing. In contrast to the 21st century martial art forms, this one is traditional, almost primitive, and uses more grace than any of its modern day cousins. At the same time, it involves dance steps in subtle forms. So, in essence, Kalaripayattu is a cocktail of martial art and dance. One need not be told that visually it is a spectacle that is hard to resist.
Since art is such a big thing in this state, most travel agents do include at least one live show with all the tour packages to Kerala. However, if you feel that you can spend more time inside the theatre, you can always request for a couple of more shows.