Kerala is South India’s most serenely beautiful state. This slender coastal strip is defined by its layered landscape: almost 600km of glorious Arabian Sea coast and beaches; a languid network of glistening backwaters; and the spice- and tea-covered hills of the Western Ghats, dotted with fiercely protected wildlife reserves. Just setting foot on this swathe of soul-soothing, palm-shaded green will slow your subcontinental stride to a blissed-out amble. Alappuzha Backwaters in Kerala.