|God's Own Country, ൈദവത്തിന്റെ സ്വന്തം നാട്.|
|Established||1 November 1956|
|Governor||R. S. Gavai|
|Chief Minister||V. S. Achuthanandan|
|Legislature (seats)||Unicameral (141 seats:
140 elected, 1 nominated)
|31841374 (12th) (2001)
• 819 /km2 (2,121 /sq mi)
|Time zone||IST (UTC+05:30)|
|Area||38863 km2 (15005 sq mi)|
Kerala (Malayalam: കേരളം?; Kēraḷam) is a state in south-western India. It was created on 1 November 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act bringing together the areas where Malayalam is the dominant language. The state has an area of 38,863 km2 and is bordered by Karnataka to the north, Tamil Nadu to the south and the east and the Arabian sea towards the west. Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of Kerala. Kochi and Kozhikode are the other major cities.
A 3rd-century-BC rock inscription by emperor Asoka the Great attests to a Keralaputra. Around 1 BC the region was ruled by the Chera Dynasty, which traded with the Greeks, Romans and Arabs. The Tamil Chera dynasty, Ays and the Pandyan Empire were the traditional rulers of Kerala whose patriarchal dynasties ruled until the 14th century. The Chera Kingdom were Patriarchal in descendency. The Cheras collapsed after repeated attacks from the neighbouring Chola and Rashtrakuta kingdoms. Feudal Namboothiri Brahmin and Nair city-states subsequently gained control of the region. Kolla Varsham or Malayalam Era, which is assumed to have been established by King Udaya Marthanda Varma in 825 AD, serves as the official calendar of Kerala. Early contact with Europeans gave way to struggles between colonial and native interests. After independence, the state of Kerala was created in 1956 from the former state of Travancore-Cochin, the Malabar district of Madras State, and the Kasaragod taluk of Dakshina Kannada.
Kerala is a popular tourist destination famous for its backwaters, Ayurvedic treatments  and tropical greenery. Kerala has a higher Human Development Index than all other states in India. The state has a literacy rate of 91 percent, the highest in India. A survey conducted in 2005 by Transparency International ranked Kerala as the least corrupt state in the country. Kerala has witnessed significant migration of its people, especially to the Persian Gulf countries, starting with the Kerala Gulf boom, and is uniquely dependent on remittances from its large Malayali expatriate community.
The name Kerala has an uncertain etymology. Keralam may stem from an imperfect Malayalam portmanteau fusing kera ("coconut tree") and alam ("land" or "location").:122 Kerala may represent the Classical Tamil chera-alam ("declivity of a hill or a mountain slope") or chera alam ("Land of the Cheras").:2 Natives of Kerala, known as Malayalis or Keralites, refer to their land as Keralam. Kerala has been referenced in puranas as created by Parashuraman by throwing his axe into the sea.
It is unknown if the region was inhabited during Neolithic times. Dolmens belonging to this period have been unearthed from Idukki district. The Edakkal Caves in Wayanad has inscriptions dating back to the stone age.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu once shared a common language, ethnicity and culture; this common area was known as Tamilakam. The first distinct reference to Kerala is from a 3rd-century-BCE rock inscription by emperor Asoka the Great which attests to a Keralaputra.
During the first century BCE the region was ruled by the Chera Dynasty established by the Dravidian tribe Villavar, whose mother tongue and court language was the ancient Tamil. The capital of Cheras was Vanchi. The southern Kerala was ruled by the Pandyan Kingdom with their capital at Nelcynda. The merchants from China, West Asia and Roman Empire had trade links with Cheras.The Sangam literature from the period has descriptions of the Roman ships coming to Muziris, laden with gold as exchange for pepper. Kerala is represented as the eastern tip of the known world in Tabula Peutingeriana, the only known surviving map of the Roman cursus publicus. :192–195, 303–307 The west Asian-semitic  Jewish, Christian, and Muslim immigrants established Nasrani Mappila, Juda Mappila and Muslim Mappila communities. The Jews first arrived in Kerala in 573 BCE. The works of scholars and Eastern Christian writings state that Thomas the Apostle visited Muziris in Kerala in 52 CE to proselytize amongst Kerala's Jewish settlements, however this is widely disputed due to lack of credible historical evidence. Muslim merchants led by Malik ibn Dinar settled in Kerala by the 8th century CE and introduced Islam.
The Later Chera Kingdom (c. 800–1102), also called the Kulasekhara dynasty, was founded by Kulasekhara Alwar who is regarded as a Vaishnavaite saint. Ay kings ruled southern Kerala, but by the 10th century the Ay kingdom declined and became a part of the Chera Kingdom. A Keralite identity, distinct from the Tamils became linguistically separate during this period. The Kulasekhara dynasty came to an end by twelfth century, weakened due to the invasions by Pandyas and Cholas. In the absence of a strong central power, the state became divided under small principalities governed by feudal rulers. The kingdoms of Kochi, Venad and Kozhikode emerged powerful.
After Vasco Da Gama's arrival in Kozhikode in 1498, the Portuguese gained control of the lucrative pepper trade. In 1502, Gama signed a treaty for concession for trading rights with Samoothiri, the local ruler of Calicut over the objections of Arab merchants. On 25 March 1505, Francisco de Almeida was appointed the Viceroy of India with his headquarters at Kochi. In 1506, the Samoothiri's fleet was defeated in a sea battle in the Battle of Cannanore by the Portuguese. The Portuguese established forts at Kannur, Cochin and Kollam .
The Dutch East India Company took advantage of the conflicts between Kozhikode and Kochi and ousted the Portuguese to gain control of the trade. However, the Dutch were defeated by Marthanda Varma of the Travancore Royal Family at the Battle of Colachel in 1741. In 1766, Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore invaded northern Kerala. In the late 18th century, Tipu Sultan, Ali’s son and successor, launched campaigns against the expanding British East India Company, resulting in two of the four Anglo-Mysore Wars. He ultimately ceded Malabar District and South Kanara to the Company in the 1790s. The Company forged tributary alliances with Kochi in 1791 and Travancore in 1795. Malabar and South Kanara became part of the Madras Presidency.
Kerala was comparatively peaceful under the British Raj; only sporadic revolts such as the 1946 Punnapra-Vayalar uprising and the Dewan of Travancore Velayudan Thampi Dalava, Kozhikode navarch Kunjali Marakkar, and Pazhassi Raja, among others, vied for greater autonomy or independence. Many actions, spurred by such leaders as Vaikunda Swami, Sree Narayana Guru and Chattampi Swamikal, instead protested such conditions as untouchability; notable was the 1924 Vaikom Satyagraham. In 1936, Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma of Travancore issued the Temple Entry Proclamation that opened Hindu temples to all castes; Cochin and Malabar soon did likewise. The 1921 Moplah Rebellion involved Mappila Muslims rioting against Zamindari system and the British Raj.
After India gained its independence in 1947, Travancore and Cochin were merged to form Travancore-Cochin on 1 July 1949. On 1 January 1950 (Republic Day), Travancore-Cochin was recognised as a state. The Madras Presidency was organised to form Madras State in 1947. On November 1, 1956, the state of Kerala was formed by the States Reorganisation Act merging the Malabar district, Travancore-Cochin (excluding four southern taluks, which were merged with Tamil Nadu), and the taluk of Kasargod, South Kanara. Elections for the new Kerala Legislative Assembly were held in 1957; this resulted in the formation of a communist-led government headed by E.M.S. Namboodiripad. Many Indians consider this the first democratically elected communist government in the world; however, both San Marino (in 1948) and Guyana (in 1953) had elected communists to power years earlier. Radical reforms introduced by the E. M. S. Namboodiripad government in favour of farmers and labourers helped change, to a great extent, the iniquitous social order that had prevailed in Kerala for centuries.
Kerala is wedged between the Laccadive Sea and the Western Ghats. Lying between north latitudes 8°18' and 12°48' and east longitudes 74°52' and 72°22', Kerala experiences the humid equatorial tropic climate. The state has a coast of length 590 km (367 mi) and the width of the state varies between 35 and 120 km (22–75 miles). Geographically, Kerala can be divided into three climatically distinct regions: the eastern highlands (rugged and cool mountainous terrain), the central midlands (rolling hills), and the western lowlands (coastal plains). Located at the extreme southern tip of the Indian subcontinent, Kerala lies near the centre of the Indian tectonic plate; hence, most of the state is subject to comparatively little seismic and volcanic activity. Pre-Cambrian and Pleistocene geological formations compose the bulk of Kerala’s terrain.
Eastern Kerala consists of high mountains, gorges and deep-cut valleys immediately west of the Western Ghats' rain shadow. Forty-one of Kerala’s west-flowing rivers, and three of its east-flowing ones originate in this region. The Western Ghats form a wall of mountains interrupted only near Palakkad, where the Palakkad Gap breaks through to provide access to the rest of India. The Western Ghats rises on average to 1,500 m (4920 ft) above sea level, while the highest peaks may reach to 2,500 m (8200 ft). Anamudi is the highest peak at an elevation of 2,695 metres (8,130 ft). Just west of the mountains lie the midland plains comprising central Kerala, dominated by rolling hills and valleys. Generally ranging between elevations of 250–1,000 m (820–3300 ft), the eastern portions of the Nilgiri and Palni Hills include such formations as Agastyamala and Anamala.
Kerala’s western coastal belt is relatively flat, and is criss-crossed by a network of interconnected brackish canals, lakes, estuaries, and rivers known as the Kerala Backwaters. Lake Vembanad—Kerala’s largest body of water—dominates the Backwaters; it lies between Alappuzha and Kochi and is more than 200 km² in area. Around 8% of India's waterways (measured by length) are found in Kerala. The most important of Kerala’s forty-four rivers include the Periyar (244 km), the Bharathapuzha (209 km), the Pamba (176 km), the Chaliyar (169 km), the Kadalundipuzha (130 km), the Valapattanam (129 km) and the Achankovil (128 km). The average length of the rivers of Kerala is 64 km. Many of the rivers are small and entirely fed by monsoon rains. These conditions result in the nearly year-round water logging of such western regions as Kuttanad, 500 km² of which lies below sea level. As Kerala's rivers are small and lack deltas, they are more prone to environmental factors. The rivers also face problems such as sand mining and pollution. The state experiences several natural hazards such as landslides, floods, lightning and droughts. The state was also affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
A catastrophic flood occurred in Kerala in 1341 CE that drastically modified the terrain and consequently affected the history. The flood resulted in changing the course of the river Periyar, recession of Arabian Sea by several miles downwards making the Kuttanad region cultivable, closure of the Muziris (Kodungalloor) harbour and creation of a new harbour at Kochi.
With 120–140 rainy days per year, Kerala has a wet and maritime tropical climate influenced by the seasonal heavy rains of the southwest summer monsoon.:80 In eastern Kerala, a drier tropical wet and dry climate prevails. Kerala's rainfall averages 3,107 mm annually. Some of Kerala's drier lowland regions average only 1,250 mm; the mountains of eastern Idukki district receive more than 5,000 mm of orographic precipitation, the highest in the state.
During summer, Kerala is prone to gale force winds, storm surges, cyclone-related torrential downpours, occasional droughts, and rises in sea level.:26, 46, 52 The mean daily temperatures range from 19.8 °C to 36.7 °C. Mean annual temperatures range from 25.0–27.5 °C in the coastal lowlands to 20.0–22.5 °C in the eastern highlands.:65
Much of Kerala's notable biodiversity is concentrated and protected in the Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve in the eastern hills. Almost a fourth of India's 10,000 plant species are found in the state. Among the almost 4,000 flowering plant species (1,272 of which are endemic to Kerala and 159 threatened) are 900 species of highly sought medicinal plants.:11
Its 9,400 km² of forests include tropical wet evergreen and semi-evergreen forests (lower and middle elevations—3,470 km²), tropical moist and dry deciduous forests (mid-elevations—4,100 km² and 100 km², respectively), and montane subtropical and temperate (shola) forests (highest elevations—100 km²). Altogether, 24% of Kerala is forested.:12 Two of the world’s Ramsar Convention listed wetlands—Lake Sasthamkotta and the Vembanad-Kol wetlands—are in Kerala, as well as 1455.4 km² of the vast Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Subjected to extensive clearing for cultivation in the 20th century,:6–7 much of the remaining forest cover is now protected from clearfelling. Kerala's fauna are notable for their diversity and high rates of endemism: 102 species of mammals (56 of which are endemic), 476 species of birds, 202 species of freshwater fishes, 169 species of reptiles (139 of them endemic), and 89 species of amphibians (86 endemic). These are threatened by extensive habitat destruction, including soil erosion, landslides, salinization, and resource extraction.
Eastern Kerala’s windward mountains shelter tropical moist forests and tropical dry forests, which are common in the Western Ghats. Here, sonokeling (Dalbergia latifolia), anjili, mullumurikku (Erythrina), and Cassia number among the more than 1,000 species of trees in Kerala. Other plants include bamboo, wild black pepper, wild cardamom, the calamus rattan palm (a type of climbing palm), and aromatic vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides).:12 Living among them are such fauna as Indian Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus), Bengal Tiger, Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca), Nilgiri Tahr, Common Palm Civet, and Grizzled Giant Squirrel.:12, 174–175 Reptiles include the King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), viper, python, and Mugger Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) . Kerala's birds are legion—Peafowl, the Great Hornbill, Indian Grey Hornbill, Indian Cormorant, and Jungle Myna are several emblematic species. In lakes, wetlands, and waterways, fish such as kadu (stinging catfish) and Choottachi (Orange chromide—Etroplus maculatus; valued as an aquarium specimen) are found.:163–165
Kerala's fourteen districts are distributed among Kerala's six historical regions: North Malabar (Far-north Kerala), Malabar (northern Kerala), Kochi (central Kerala), Northern Travancore, Central Travancore (southern Kerala) and Southern Travancore (Far-south Kerala). Kerala's modern-day districts (listed in order from north to south) correspond to them as follows:
Mahé, a part of the Indian union territory of Puducherry (Pondicherry), is a coastal exclave surrounded by Kerala on all of its landward approaches. Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) is the state capital and most populous city. Kochi is the most populous urban agglomeration and the major port city in Kerala. Kozhikode, Kannur, Thrissur, Palakkad , and Kollam are the other major commercial centers of the state. Kannur district is the most urbanised district in Kerala, with more than 50% of its residents living in urban areas. The High Court of Kerala is located at Ernakulam. Kerala's districts, which serve as the administrative regions for taxation purposes, are further subdivided into 63 taluks; these have fiscal and administrative powers over settlements within their borders, including maintenance of local land records.
|Major cities in Kerala
(2001 Census of India estimate)
|State symbols of Kerala|
|Bird||Great Indian Hornbill|
|Flower||Cassia Fistula (Indian laburnum)|
|Costume||Mundum Neriyathum(women), Mundu(men)|
Kerala is governed via a parliamentary system of representative democracy; universal suffrage is granted to state residents. There are three branches of government. The unicameral legislature, the Kerala Legislative Assembly, comprises elected members and special office bearers (the Speaker and Deputy Speaker) elected by the members from among themselves. Assembly meetings are presided over by the Speaker and in his absence by the Deputy Speaker. Kerala has 140 Assembly constituencies. The state sends 20 members to the Lok Sabha and 9 to the Rajya Sabha, the Indian Parliament's upper house.
The Governor of Kerala is the constitutional head of state, and is appointed by the President of India. The executive authority is headed by the Chief Minister of Kerala, who is the de facto head of state and is vested with extensive executive powers; the Legislative Assembly's majority party leader is appointed to this position by the Governor. The Council of Ministers, which answers to the Legislative Assembly, has its members appointed by the Governor on advice of the Chief Minister.
The judiciary comprises the Kerala High Court (including a Chief Justice combined with 26 permanent and two additional (pro tempore) justices) and a system of lower courts. The High Court of Kerala is the apex court for the state; it also hears cases from the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. Auxiliary authorities known as panchayats, for which local body elections are regularly held, govern local affairs.
The state's 2005–2006 budget was 219 billion INR. The state government's tax revenues (excluding the shares from Union tax pool) amounted to 111,248 million INR in 2005, up from 63,599 million in 2000. Its non-tax revenues (excluding the shares from Union tax pool) of the Government of Kerala as assessed by the Indian Finance Commissions reached 10,809 million INR in 2005, nearly double the 6,847 million INR revenues of 2000. However, Kerala's high ratio of taxation to gross state domestic product (GSDP) has not alleviated chronic budget deficits and unsustainable levels of government debt, impacting social services.
The Legislature comprises the Governor of Kerala appointed by the President of India and the Kerala Legislative Assembly. The Governor has the power to summon and prorogue the Assembly or to dissolve the same. The Members of the Legislative Assembly are directly elected once in 5 years. Kerala hosts two major political alliances: the United Democratic Front (UDF—led by the Indian National Congress)and the Left Democratic Front (LDF—led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)). At present, the LDF is the ruling coalition in government; V.S. Achuthanandan of the CPI(M) is the Chief Minister of Kerala and Oommen Chandy of the UDF is the Chief Opposition leader. Strikes, protests and marches are ubiquitous in Kerala due to the comparatively strong presence of labour unions.
Since independence, Kerala was managed as a democratic socialist welfare economy. Since the 1990s, liberalisation of the mixed economy allowed onerous Licence Raj restrictions against capitalism and foreign direct investment to be lightened, leading to economic expansion and job creation. In fiscal year 2007-2008, nominal gross state domestic product (GSDP) was Rs 162,414.79 crore (US$ 35.57 billion). Recent GSDP growth (9.2% in 2004–2005 and 7.4% in 2003–2004) has been robust compared to historical averages (2.3% annually in the 1980s and between 5.1%:8 and 5.99% in the 1990s).:8 The state clocked 8.93% growth in enterprises from 1998 to 2005 compared with 4.80% nationally. Relatively few such enterprises are major corporations or manufacturers. Kerala's Human Development Index rating is the highest in India. This apparently paradoxical "Kerala phenomenon" or "Kerala model of development" of high human and low economic development results from the strong service sector.:48:1 Kerala's economy depends on emigrants working in foreign countries (mainly in the Persian Gulf countries such as United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia) and remittances annually contribute more than a fifth of GSDP.
The service sector (including tourism, public administration, banking and finance, transportation, and communications—63.8% of GSDP in 2002–2003) and the agricultural and fishing industries (together 17.2% of GSDP) dominate the economy. Nearly half of Kerala's people are dependent on agriculture alone for income. Some 600 varieties:5 of rice (Kerala's most important staple food and cereal crop):5 are harvested from 3105.21 km² (a decline from 5883.4 km² in 1990):5 of paddy fields; 688,859 tonnes are produced per annum. Other key crops include coconut (899,198 ha), tea, coffee (23% of Indian production,:13 or 57,000 tonnes:6–7), rubber, cashews, and spices—including pepper, cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Around 1.050 million fishermen haul an annual catch of 668,000 tonnes (1999–2000 estimate); 222 fishing villages are strung along the 590 km coast. Another 113 fishing villages dot the hinterland.
Traditional industries manufacturing such items as coir, handlooms, and handicrafts employ around one million people. Around 180,000 small-scale industries employ around 909,859 Keralites; 511 medium and large scale manufacturing firms are located in Kerala. A small mining sector (0.3% of GSDP) involves extraction of ilmenite, kaolin, bauxite, silica, quartz, rutile, zircon, and sillimanite. Home gardens and animal husbandry also provide work for hundreds of thousands of people. Other major sectors are tourism, manufacturing, and business process outsourcing. As of March 2002, Kerala's banking sector comprised 3341 local branches; each branch served 10,000 persons, lower than the national average of 16,000; the state has the third-highest bank penetration among Indian states. Unemployment in 2007 was estimated at 9.4%; underemployment, low employability of youths, and a 13.5% female participation rate are chronic issues.:5, 13 Poverty rate figures range from 12.71% to as high as 36%. More than 45,000 residents live in slum conditions.
The state treasury has suffered loss of thousands of millions of rupees thanks to the state staging over 100 hartals annually in recent times. A total of 223 hartals were observed in 2006, resulting in a revenue loss of over Rs 2000 crore.
Kerala has 145,704 kilometers (90,536 mi) of roads (4.2% of India's total). This translates to about 4.62 kilometers (2.87 mi) of road per thousand population, compared to an all India average of 2.59 kilometers (1.61 mi). Virtually all of Kerala's villages are connected by road. Traffic in Kerala has been growing at a rate of 10–11% every year, resulting in high traffic and pressure on the roads. Kerala's road density is nearly four times the national average, reflecting the state's high population density. Kerala's annual total of road accidents is among the nation's highest. India's national highway network includes a Kerala-wide total of 1,524 kilometers (947 mi), which is 2.6% of the national total. There are eight designated national highways in the state. The Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP), which includes the GIS-based Road Information and Management Project (RIMS), is responsible for maintaining and expanding the 1,600 kilometers (994 mi) of roadways that compose the state highways system; it also oversees major district roads. Most of Kerala's west coast is accessible through two national highways, NH 47, and NH 17 and eastern hills are accessible through proposed Hill Highway (Kerala).
The state has three major international airports at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and Kozhikode, that link the state with the rest of the nation and the world. The Cochin International Airport (COK) was the first Indian airport incorporated as a public limited company and is funded by nearly 10,000 Non Resident Indians from 30 countries. A fourth international airport is proposed at Kannur.
The Indian Railways' Southern Railway line runs throughout the state, connecting all major towns and cities except those in the highland districts of Idukki and Wayanad. Kerala's major railway stations are Alappuzha, Aluva, Chengannur, Ernakulam Junction, Kannur, Kasaragod, Kayamkulam Junction,Kollam Junction, Kottayam, Kozhikode, Palakkad Junction, Shornur Junction, Thalassery, Thrissur Junction, Tirur, Trivandrum Central and Vadakara.
|Source: 2001 Census of India|
The 31.8 million Keralites are predominantly of Malayali ethnicity, while the rest is mostly made up of Jewish and Arab elements in both culture and ancestry. Kerala's 321,000 indigenous tribal Adivasis, 1.10% of the population, are concentrated in the east.:10–12 Malayalam is Kerala's official language; Tamil, Tulu, Kannada and various Adivasi (Tribal) languages are also spoken by ethnic minorities especially in the south-western region.
Kerala is home to 3.44% of India's people; at 819 persons per km², its land is nearly three times as densely settled as the rest of India, which is at a population density of 325 persons per km². Kerala's rate of population growth is India's lowest, and Kerala's decadal growth(9.42% in 2001) is less than half the all-India average of 21.34%. Whereas Kerala's population more than doubled between 1951 and 1991 by adding 15.6 million people to reach 29.1 million residents in 1991, the population stood at less than 32 million by 2001. Kerala's coastal regions are the most densely settled, leaving the eastern hills and mountains comparatively sparsely populated.
Women compose 51.42% of the population.:26 Kerala's principal religions are Hinduism (56.2%), Islam (24.70%), and Christianity (19.00%). In comparison with the rest of India, Kerala experiences relatively little sectarianism.
According to 2001 Census of India figures, 56 percent of Kerala residents are Hindus, 24 percent are Muslims, 19 percent are Christians and the remaining one percent follows other religions. The major Hindu castes are Nambudiri, Nairs, Ezhavas and Dalits. Notably, steps taken by many progressive and tolerant Hindu kings over the years and movements like Narayana Guru’s movement for social reform and tolerance helped to establish Kerala as one of the most socially progressive states in India. The Abrahamic religions attest to Kerala's prominence as a major trade centre. Islam and Judaism arrived in Kerala through Arab traders. A significant Jewish community existed in Kerala until the 20th century when most of them migrated to Israel leaving only a handful of families. The Paradesi Synagogue at Kochi is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth. Christianity reached the shores of Kerala in 52 CE with the arrival of St Thomas, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ The major Christian denominations are Catholic, Oriental Orthodox and Protestant.
Kerala has witnessed significant migration of its people, especially to the Persian Gulf countries, starting with the Kerala Gulf boom, and is uniquely dependent on remittances from its large Malayali expatriate community.
Kerala's society is less patriarchal than the rest of the Third World.:18–19 Kerala government states gender relations are among the most equitable in India and the Third World, despite discrepancies among low caste men and women.:1 Certain Hindu communities such as the Nairs, some Ezhavas and the Muslims around North Malabar used to follow a traditional matrilineal system known as marumakkathayam, although this practice ended in the years after Indian independence. Other Muslims, Christians, and some Hindu castes such as the Namboothiris and the Ezhavas follow makkathayam, a patrilineal system. Owing to the former matrilineal system, women in Kerala enjoy a high social status.
Kerala's human development indices— primary level education, health care and elimination of poverty—are among the best in India. According to a 2005-2006 national survey, Kerala has one of the highest literacy rates (97.0%) among Indian states and life expectancy (73 years) was among the highest in India in 2001. Kerala's rural poverty rate fell from 69% (1970–1971) to 19% (1993–1994); the overall (urban and rural) rate fell 36% between the 1970s and 1980s. By 1999–2000, the rural and urban poverty rates dropped to 10.0% and 9.6% respectively. These changes stem largely from efforts begun in the late 19th century by the kingdoms of Cochin and Travancore to boost social welfare. This focus was maintained by Kerala's post-independence government.:48
Kerala's healthcare system has garnered international acclaim. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization designated Kerala the world's first "baby-friendly state" because of its effective promotion of breast-feeding over formulas. For example, more than 95% of Keralite births are hospital-delivered.:6 Aside from ayurveda (both elite and popular forms),:13 siddha, and unani, many endangered and endemic modes of traditional medicine, including kalari, marmachikitsa,:17 and vishavaidyam, are practiced. These propagate via gurukula discipleship,,:5–6 and comprise a fusion of both medicinal and supernatural treatments,:15 and are partly responsible for drawing increasing numbers of medical tourists.
A steadily aging population (11.2% of Keralites are over age 60) and low birthrate (18 per 1,000) make Kerala one of the few regions of the Third World to have undergone the "demographic transition" characteristic of such developed nations as Canada, Japan, and Norway.:1 In 1991, Kerala's total fertility rate (children born per women) was the lowest in India. Hindus had a TFR of 1.66, Christians 1.78, and Muslims 2.97. Kerala's female-to-male ratio (1.058) is significantly higher than that of the rest of India.:2 sub-replacement fertility level and infant mortality rate is lower compared to other states (estimated at 12:49 to 14:5 deaths per 1,000 live births).
However, Kerala's morbidity rate is higher than that of any other Indian state—118 (rural Keralites) and 88 (urban) per 1,000 people. The corresponding all India figures are 55 and 54 per 1,000, respectively.:5 Kerala's 13.3% prevalence of low birth weight is substantially higher than that of First World nations. Outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis, and typhoid among the more than 50% of Keralites who rely on 3 million water wells is a problem worsened by the widespread lack of sewers.:5–7
The Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics was founded by Madhava of Sangamagrama in Kerala, which included among its members: Parameshvara, Neelakanta Somayaji, Jyeshtadeva, Achyuta Pisharati, Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri and Achyuta Panikkar. The school flourished between the 14th and 16th centuries and the original discoveries of the school seems to have ended with Narayana Bhattathiri (1559–1632). In attempting to solve astronomical problems, the Kerala school independently created a number of important mathematics concepts. Their most important results—series expansion for trigonometric functions—were described in Sanskrit verse in a book by Neelakanta called Tantrasangraha.
Schools and colleges are run by the government, private trusts, or individuals. Each school is affiliated with either the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE), or the Kerala State Education Board. English is the language of instruction in most private schools, while government run schools offer English or Malayalam.
More than 94% of the rural population has access to primary school within 1km, while 98% of population benefits one school within a distance of 2km. An upper primary school within a distance of 3km is available for more than 96% of the people, whose 98% benefit the facility for secondary education within 8km. The access for rural students to higher educational institutions in cities is facilitated by widely subsidised transport fares. Kerala's educational system has been developed thanks to institutions owned or aided by the government. No fees are required for any school level, with exception to the higher education and technical education institutions, owned or aided by the government. Fees concerning the higher and technical education are very low; the ratio of recovery of government's revenue expenditure was 2.6% in 2006-2007.
However, the lacking of fees or low fees does not imply low educational cost, as the students incur other costs of several types (examination fees, special fees, reading and writing material costs, clothing travelling, private tuition et cetera). In fact, according to the 61st round of National Sample Survey (2004-2005), per capita spending on education by the rural households resulted to be more than twice the national average (Rs 41 for Kerala, 18Rs for India). Urban India spending, on the contrary, resulted to be greater than Kerala's (Rs 74 for India, Rs 66 for Kerala). However, the survey reveals that the rural-urban difference in expenditure on education by households was much less in Kerala than in the rest of India.
After 10 years of secondary schooling, students typically enroll at Higher Secondary School in one of the three streams—liberal arts, commerce or science. Upon completing the required coursework, students can enroll in general or professional degree programmes. Kerala topped the Education Development Index (EDI) among 21 major states in India in year 2006-2007.
Thiruvananthapuram, one of the state's major academic hubs, hosts the University of Kerala and several professional education colleges including fifteen engineering colleges, three medical colleges including Trivandrum Medical College, three Ayurveda colleges, two colleges of homeopathy, six other medical colleges, and several law colleges. The College of Engineering, Trivandrum is one of the prominent engineering institutions in the state. The Asian School of Business and IIITM-K are two of the other premier management study institutions in the city, both situated inside Technopark. The Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology(IIST), first of its kind in India, and the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research(IISER) are also situated here.
Other research centres in the state capital Thiruvananthapuram includes Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Sree Chitra Thirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute, Kerala Fisheries Research Institute, ER&DC – CDAC, Kerala Highway Research Institute, CSIR – National Institute of Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, Free Software Foundation(FSF), Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS), Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (CTCRI), The Oriental Research Institute & Manuscripts Library, etc.
Kozhikode is home to two of the premier educational institutions of India: the IIMK, one of the seven Indian Institutes of Management, and the National Institute of Technology Calicut (NITC). Kozhikode also houses the Calicut Medical College.
Kochi is home to Cochin University of Science and Technology. The National University of Advanced Legal Studies and Government Law College at Ernakulam are the centres of Law Education. Educational centres for oceanic studies such as Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training and the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute are based here. Centre of Excellence in Lasers and Optoelectronic Sciences which functions under CUSAT functions here.
Kerala's culture is derived from both a Tamil-heritage region known as Tamilakam and southern coastal Karnataka. Later, Kerala's culture was elaborated upon through centuries of contact with neighboring and overseas cultures. Native performing arts include koodiyattom (a 2000 year old Sanskrit theatre tradition, officially recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity), kathakali—from katha ("story") and kali ("performance")—and its offshoot Kerala natanam, Kaliyattam -(North Malabar special), koothu (akin to stand-up comedy), mohiniaattam ("dance of the enchantress"), Theyyam, thullal NS padayani.
Other forms of art are more religious or tribal in nature. These include chavittu nadakom, oppana (originally from Malabar), which combines dance, rhythmic hand clapping, and ishal vocalisations. However, many of these art forms largely play to tourists or at youth festivals, and are not as popular among most ordinary Keralites. These people look to more contemporary art and performance styles, including those employing mimicry and parody.
Kerala's music also has ancient roots. Carnatic music dominates Keralite traditional music. This was the result of Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma's popularisation of the genre in the 19th century. Raga-based renditions known as sopanam accompany kathakali performances. Melam (including the paandi and panchari variants) is a more percussive style of music; it is performed at Kshetram centered festivals using the chenda. Melam ensembles comprise up to 150 musicians, and performances may last up to four hours. Panchavadyam is a different form of percussion ensemble, in which up to 100 artists use five types of percussion instrument. Kerala has various styles of folk and tribal music. The popular music of Kerala is dominated by the filmi music of Indian cinema. Kerala's visual arts range from traditional murals to the works of Raja Ravi Varma, the state's most renowned painter.
Kerala has its own Malayalam calendar, which is used to plan agricultural and religious activities. Kerala's cuisine is typically served as a sadhya (feast) on green banana leaves. Such dishes as idli, payasam, pulisherry, puttucuddla, puzhukku, rasam, and sambar are typical. Keralites—both men and women alike—traditionally don flowing and unstitched garments. These include the mundu, a loose piece of cloth wrapped around men's waists. Women typically wear the sari, a long and elaborately wrapped banner of cloth, wearable in various styles. Presently the North Indian dresses such as Salwar Kameez has also become very popular amongst women in Kerala.
Elephants are an integral part of daily life in Kerala. These Indian elephants are loved, revered, groomed and given a prestigious place in the state's culture. They are often referred to as the 'sons of the sahya.' The ana (elephant) is the state animal of Kerala and is featured on the emblem of the Government of Kerala.
The predominant language spoken in Kerala is Malayalam. Malayalam literature is medieval in origin and includes such figures as the 14th century Niranam poets (Madhava Panikkar, Sankara Panikkar and Rama Panikkar), and the 17th century poet Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan whose works mark the dawn of both modern Malayalam language and indigenous Keralite poetry. The "triumvirate of poets" (Kavithrayam), Kumaran Asan, Vallathol Narayana Menon, and Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer, are recognised for moving Keralite poetry away from archaic sophistry and metaphysics, and towards a more lyrical mode.
In the second half of the 20th century, Jnanpith awardees like G. Sankara Kurup, S. K. Pottekkatt, Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai and M. T. Vasudevan Nair have made valuable contributions to the Malayalam literature. Later, such Keralite writers as O. V. Vijayan, Kamaladas, M. Mukundan, and Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy, whose 1996 semi-autobiographical bestseller The God of Small Things is set in the Kottayam town of Ayemenem, have gained international recognition.
The National Family Health Survey - 3, conducted in 2007 ranked Kerala as state with the most media exposure in India. Dozens of newspapers are published in Kerala, in nine major languages, but principally Malayalam and English. The most widely circulating Malayalam-language newspapers include Mathrubhumi, Malayala Manorama, Deepika, Kerala Kaumudi, Madhyamam and Deshabhimani. Among major Malayalam periodicals are India Today Malayalam,Madhyamam weekly,Grihalakshmi, Veedu, Vanitha, Chithrabhumi, Kanyaka and Bhashaposhini.
Doordarshan is the state-owned television broadcaster. Multi system operators provide a mix of Malayalam, English and international channels via cable television. There are 17 Malayalam TV channels like Asianet, Indiavision, Surya TV, Kairali TV, Manorama News, Amrita TV and JaiHind TV that compete with the major national channels. All India Radio, the national radio service, reaches much of Kerala via its Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur and Alappuzha, Malayalam-language broadcasters. Television programmes such as serials, reality shows and the Internet have become a major source of entertainment and information for the people in Kerala. A Malayalam version of Google News was launched in September 2008. Regardless, Keralites maintain high rates of newspaper and magazine subscriptions. A sizeable "people's science" movement has taken root in the state, and such activities as writers' cooperatives are becoming increasingly common.:2
BSNL, Reliance Infocomm, Tata Docomo, Vodafone, Aircel, Idea and Airtel compete to provide cellular phone services. Broadband internet is available in most of the towns and cities and is provided by different agencies like the state-run Kerala Telecommunications (which is run by BSNL) and by other private companies like Asianet Satellite communications, VSNL. BSNL provides broadband service in most of the cities.
Malayalam films are produced in Kerala and they are known for their realistic portrayal of characters as well as being socially oriented without giving a lot of importance to glitz and glamour. Movies produced in Hindi, Tamil and English (Hollywood) are also watched by many Keralites. Late Malayalam actor Prem Nazir entered the Guinness World Book of Records for having acted as the protagonist of over 720 movies. Nowadays Malayalam movies are dominated mainly by two actors; Mohanlal and Mammotty who have been in the malayalam movie industry for over 25 years. They have won several National and State awards and are considered among the greatest actors in India
Several ancient ritualised arts are Keralite in origin. These include kalaripayattu—kalari ("place", "threshing floor", or "battlefield") and payattu ("exercise" or "practice"). Among the world's oldest martial arts, oral tradition attributes kalaripayattu's emergence to Parasurama. Other ritual arts include theyyam and poorakkali.
Cricket and football are the most popular sports in the state. Two Kerala Ranji Trophy players gained test selection in recent years. Sreesanth, born in Kothamangalam, has represented India since 2005. Among other Keralite cricketers is Tinu Yohannan, son of Olympic long jumper T. C. Yohannan. Notable Kerala footballers include I. M. Vijayan, C. V. Pappachan, V. P. Sathyan, and Jo Paul Ancheri.
Other popular sports include badminton, volleyball and kabaddi. Among Kerala athletes are P. T. Usha, T. C. Yohannan, Suresh Babu, Shiny Wilson, K. M. Beenamol, M. D. Valsamma and Anju Bobby George. Volleyball is another popular sport and is often played on makeshift courts on sandy beaches along the coast. Jimmy George, born in Peravoor, Kannur, was a notable Indian volleyball player, rated in his prime as among the world's ten best players.
Kerala, situated on the lush and tropical Malabar Coast, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Named as one of the "ten paradises of the world" and "50 places of a lifetime" by the National Geographic Traveler magazine, Kerala is especially known for its ecotourism initiatives. Its unique culture and traditions, coupled with its varied demographics, has made Kerala one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Growing at a rate of 13.31%, the state's tourism industry is a major contributor to the state's economy. Until the early 1980s, Kerala was a relatively unknown destination; most tourist circuits focused on North India. Aggressive marketing campaigns launched by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, the government agency that oversees tourism prospects of the state, laid the foundation for the growth of the tourism industry. In the decades that followed, Kerala's tourism industry was able to transform the state into one of the niche holiday destinations in India. The tagline Kerala- God's Own Country has been widely used in Kerala's tourism promotions and soon became synonymous with the state. In 2006, Kerala attracted 8.5 million tourist arrivals, an increase of 23.68% over the previous year, making the state one of the fastest-growing destinations in the world.
Popular attractions in the state include the beaches at Kovalam, Cherai, Varkala, Kappad, Muzhappilangad and Bekal; the hill stations of Munnar, Nelliampathi, Ponmudi and Wayanad; and national parks and wildlife sanctuaries at Periyar and Eravikulam National Park. The "backwaters" region, which comprises an extensive network of interlocking rivers, lakes, and canals that centre on Alleppey, Kollam, Kumarakom, and Punnamada (where the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held in August), also see heavy tourist traffic. Heritage sites, such as the Padmanabhapuram Palace and the Mattancherry Palace, are also visited. Cities such as Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram are popular centres for their shopping and traditional theatrical performances. During early summer, the Thrissur Pooram is conducted, attracting foreign tourists who are largely drawn by the festival's elephants and celebrants. The main pilgrim tourist spots of Kerala are Sabarimala Temple, Chettikulangara Temple, Vadakumnathan Temple, Guruvayoor Temple, Malayattor Church and Parumala Church.
|Arabian Sea||Tamil Nadu|
Kerala is a state on the tropical Malabar Coast of southwestern India.
Kerala, a state in India  is known as the tropical paradise of waving palms and wide sandy beaches. It is a narrow strip of coastal territory in Southern India that slopes down the Western Ghats in a cascade of lush green vegetation, and reaches up to the Arabian sea. Kerala borders the states of Tamil Nadu to the east and Karnataka to the north. It is also known for its backwaters, mountains, coconuts, spices and art forms like Kathakali and Mohini Attam. The most literate state in India, it is also a land of great religiosity, where you can find Hindu temples, mosques, churches and even synagogues. The tourism department of Kerala boasts that the state is God's Own Country. Once you visit, you will realize that this is not false advertising. The state really is blessed with great natural beauty. Abundant rainfall means that you can find lush greenery pretty much throughout the year. A vacation here is an opportunity for rejuvenation. You can get an Ayurvedic oil massage, spend a day or two on a houseboat with nothing to do but watch palm trees pass by, or just laze around on Kovalam or Varkala beaches.
Kerala was named as one of the "ten paradises of the world" and "50 places of a lifetime" by the National Geographic Traveler magazine.
Alapuzha - Backwater,kuttanadu, alapuzha beach,Marrari beach,Pathiramanal(midnight island),Thannermukkom ,Nehru trophy snake boat race(Augest 9th Saturday)House boat cruice Ayurveda.
St. Mary's church Kudamaloor is one of the ancient churches of the Syro-Malabar Rite. It is a famous Marian pilgrim center and is situated 7 km north of Kottayam town. "Alphonsa Bhavan" - the birthplace of Saint Alphonsa is under this parish. Mannanam, a pilgrim center, where the tomb of Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara situates, is also under this parish.
The old church was built by King Chempakasserry on AD 1125. There is a legend associated with the establishment of this church. Once, the Chempakassery Rajah was about to start an important journey. When he entered into the cart, the horses stood stationary and many attempts failed to move them. The King had to postpone his journey. The King ordered the chief astrologer to find the reason behind his journey disruption. The astrologer found that the place where the horses stood was a battlefield. The King excavated the area and found many skeletons of many warriors. The King listened to the advice of the astrologer and he decided to establish a church and immigrated five Nasrani families namely, Mukkunkal, Chakkunkal, Palathunkal, Thekkedam and Vadakkedam and gave land and wealth these families. In addition, families like Alumkal, Thuruthumali, Perumali, Thayyil etc. also settled as a result of Christian immigration during the establishment of Kudamaloor church. Out of these families only traces of Mukkunkal and Thekkedam are around the Church of Kudamaloor and the rest all have disintegrated to various parts or have changed their family names after successive partitions, to worship . The present day Syrian Christians in this area are these immigrants.
The church is dedicated to " Mukthiamma" (Blessed Virgin Mary). There is a very beautiful oil painting on the Madbaha and is of 400 years old.. Unlike many Christian pictures, infant Jesus has been painted with the colour of Lord Krishna. The church used to have a pulpit built on a wooden elephant and the main beam is still decorated with elephant’s head; these features are very characteristic of the Hindu influence. The church is very famous for the rituals during the Holy week. The special offerings such as Neenthu Nercha, Karinercha, Thamukku Nercha, Kanji Nercha etc are popular.
There are some historic churches and mosques through-out Kerala.
Myth has it that Kerala was created by Parasuraman (an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu) when he tossed his axe dripping with the blood of his mother, over the Western Ghats Mountain into the sea. He was asked to decapitate his mother by his father over an allegation of adultery. Parasurama chopped off his mother's head and this pleased his father so much that he granted him any wish he wanted. He promptly asked for his mother to be brought back to life and it was granted. However Parasurama felt so bad after this that he tossed his favorite weapon to the sea and renounced violence once and for all. However the sea which is depicted as a Goddess didn't want to receive the spooky axe and receded creating the land of Kerala.
Kerala is one of the few places in India that was not subject to direct British rule. Parts of Kerala, The Tiruvithamkoor (Travancore) and Kochi (Cochin) regions were ruled by local kings during the period of the British rule in India. People here live largely the same way they have lived traditionally and much of its rich culture and heritage is well-preserved.
Kerala has one of the oldest (some say, second oldest) functioning mosques in the world.
For thousands of years Buddhism was the most influential religion in Kerala. It was only in the 11th and 12th centuries that Brahmanism took hold in the state and Buddhism waned. Christianity, believed to have been brought over by the Apostle St. Thomas, and Judaism have also existed in Kerala for around a couple thousand years and as well. A strong, distinct Muslim culture in the North of Kerala also stands out. The local language (Malayalam), the cuisine, the practice of Ayurveda (a traditional health system), the widely prevalent use of traditional clothing, all reflect this diversity.
Kerala has a sizable number of atheists due to a strong Communist movement. While Hindus constitute about three fifth of the population, Muslims and Christians account for about one fifth each. Irrespective of religion, people are religious when compared to other cultures in India and communal and sectarian tensions are very minimal.
The state has an area of 38,864 km2 and is home to 33 million people. The main language spoken in the state is Malayalam. Other languages spoken, or understood, include English.
Onam is the biggest festival in Kerala. Onam Festival falls during the Malayalam month of Chingam (Aug - Sep) and marks the homecoming of mythical King Mahabali. Onam festivities last for ten days and brings out the best of Kerala culture and tradition. Intricately decorated Pookalam (floral carpets), the mammoth Onasadya (the festival feast), breathtaking Snake Boat Race and the exotic Kaikottikali dance are some of the most remarkable features of Onam, Kerala's harvest festival.
The festival is celebrated in memory of the mythical King Mahabali and his reign, during which perfect harmony and prosperity prevailed. The King Mahabali's popularity was at its height and led to the envy of the Gods. This golden age ended when Vamana, the dwarf incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, expelled him from his throne to the netherworld. On account of his virtue, Mahabali was allowed to visit his subjects once a year, during Onam.
The people of Kerala speak Malayalam (a palindrome when written in English). However, most educated people speak Hindi and English as well. As Malayalam is similar to Tamil, locals may understand spoken Tamil with some difficulty. Almost all bus routes and other important signs including name boards are written in Malayalam and some in English. Railways and other central government establishments also carry signs in Hindi.
There are three airports in Kerala, with flights to domestic and international destinations. The airports are at Kozhikode, Kochi(Nedumbasseri) and Thiruvananthapuram. The airports have several carriers operating international flights around the world. Most carriers offer connection flights to one of the airports in Kerala. Domestic destinations accessible by direct flights from these airports include Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Agatti, Hyderabad,Mangalore,Goa and Delhi.
Indian Railways  operates several trains to and from (and within) Kerala. Trains into Kerala start from all the neighbouring states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, etc. Long-haul direct train services from cities like Delhi and Mumbai are also available.
Be aware that trains are the most popular method of transport and almost all trains in Kerala originate or terminate in Thiruvananthapuram or Ernakulam and are usually heavily booked. Buy your tickets as early as possible.
Inter-state private and government buses operates between neighboring states. Usually the journey is performed in the night so that you can escape the heat of the day.
It is recommended that you consider booking long distance bus tickets on "Air Conditioned Volvo buses" operated by all operators as the quality of the other buses vary significantly.
Trains, buses and taxis provide the easiest way to get around Kerala. Trains are good for long distance travel, say from the north to the south.
Taxis are good but expensive way to get around for short distances. Do negotiate the price before you get into the taxi.
Buses are good for very short travel. Both government and private buses travel between and within cities. Buses within cities are very crowded and if you travel on them, please take care of your belongings (wallet, passport) as pickpockets are not rare.
Auto-rickshaws (also called auto) are another convenient mode of transport for very short travel - not too expensive and fast. By law the auto driver has to start a meter for every journey. However at times this law tends to be overlooked. It is wise to ask the driver, politely, to ensure he starts the meter at the start of your journey , to avoid unecessary arguments at the end of the trip. The best way not to get tricked would be to ask a helpful Samaritan how much it would cost to your destination and check it up with your driver before you get into the auto. Most of the larger railway stations and all the airports have "pre-paid" auto-rickshaw and/or taxi stands. Just tell them where you want to go and you will get a slip of paper with the destination and amount written on it. Pay only that amount of money and nothing more.
Three weeks in Kerala, see some of the highlights that Kerala has to offer: experience bustling Kochi (Cochin)and Thiruvananthapuram, relax in the Backwaters, hike in the mountains and enjoy the beaches. Starting from Kochi you can move on to Munnar and en route there are couple of good places worth a visit,if you have time. From Munnar a scenic road leads to Thekkady, or you can also make this trip via Idukki Dam, Aruvi and Wagamon. From Thekkady, KK Road will take you to Kottayam from where you can move on to the backwater haven of Kumarakom. After relaxing there, it's most ideal to go to Allapuzha for its famed inland waterways and sandy beaches. The National Highway 47 (NH47) will be your best option to go further south. You can stop at Kollam (cashew nut hub...pick them up for cheap here) en route and its better to keep Paalaruvi, Thenmala (Dam site and good for treks) both near the Tamil Nadu border while NH47 is in the coastal region. During the return trip you can also visit Thenkasi (in Tamil Nadu, famous for a big temple) and Kourtyalam. After Kollam proceed to Thiruvanathapuram. The Padmanabhapuram Temple, Kovalam beach. If time permits proceed to Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. Taking a taxi for the entire trip will be the most hassle-free option, though its slightly expensive. Bringing your own bicycle or renting a motorcycle for cycling the entire route is also a good choice.
Kerala is one of the few places which caters to all kinds of tourists. It has hill stations, virgin beaches, lazy backwaters, rain forests, historical and cultural destinations. If you are interested in culture, surely you should visit Thrissur (Trichur) the city of culture where you can visit different Hindu temples, churches especially St.Thomas church at Palayoor and the Mosque in Kodungallore, that is the first Mosque in India.
Kerala cuisine is distinctly different from food elsewhere in India. Rice is a staple here, unlike the wheat-eating north of India. Seafood is also a big part of the diet. Quite a large number of traditional dishes will have coconut paste in it. The oil used for cooking is also often coconut oil. Unlike much of India, beef is also popular in Kerala, particularly with the Muslim and Christian communities. Food in Kerala tends to include a variety of spices and there are a few fiery dishes.One of the favourite for any connoisseur of food would be the sadhya served especially during festive occasion on a plaintain leaf.
Kerala cuisine varies with the regions. The southernmost parts serve the most traditional sadya (or so they believe). Central Kerala cuisine is enriched with non-vegetarian dishes of all kinds. In Northern Kerala cuisine, you can see the influence of Arabian cuisine on the food. Sea food is available all over. In regions bordering the backwaters and lakes, traditional cuisine includes fresh-water fish like Karimeen, Prawn, Shrimps, Kanava[Squid], and many other delicacies served along with 'Kappa'[Tapioca] or rice.
The road connecting Alappuzha to Changanasery known as AC Road is a wonderful place for foodies as there are a plethora of 'Toddy Shops' which serve the fresh catch of the day from the nearby water bodies cooked deliciously along with Toddy, a type of liquor obtained from coconut/palm trees which is sour-sweet in taste. You will love the ambience, when you are sitting in a toddy shop in the middle of a water logged green field nibbling on spicy fish and sipping toddy.
Kerala was one of the first states in India to pioneer the concept of Homestays and make it a successful industry, providing a much needed source of extra income to the locals, while at the same time giving travelers more than a peek at the real Kerala. Under this Homestay concept, you get to stay with a family who can show you around and also help you to find what makes Kerala tick. Your accommodation and food is taken care of at a nominal cost.
You will in all probability be staying with a family whose members are well versed in English or at the least can speak decent English. All the people offering homestays are vetted by the Government and will have to register themselves as such.
Rs 322.50(~7 US$) and Rs 700(~15 US$) are magic numbers when you are looking for budget Non-AC and AC rooms respectively. Most budget hotels in Kerala will have a room in this price. You can expect basic facilities with a bed, T.V and an attached bath-room. For budget travel through out kerala, you can seek help from a Tour Operator before planning your trip to Kerala.
For a more comfortable stay, you need to shell out above 500 Indian Rupees(~11 US$) for a Non AC room or More than 1200(~26 US$) for an AC Room. This category would include many 3 star hotels. You could expect to have more spacious rooms, English proficient concierges, Airport/Railway Station Pick-Up and Drop. However if you are expecting a cheap extended stay hotel, with attached kitchenette, India is the wrong place to be in. Only 5 star hotels and resort cottages provide extended stay facilities.
If you are in one of those yet to develop tourist spots like Munnar, you can find hotels only in this range.
Themed resorts also would fall in the category. Prepare to shell anywhere above Rs 2000 and you could rent out a whole cottage in an idyllic location and they do come with kitchens.
Five Star hotels in India don't come cheap. If you are willing to stay in these hotels, most of them throw in a guided tour or a packaged tour as a compliment. Most Five star hotels provide attached kitchenette and if you are sick of Indian food, this is an option.
Kerala is one of the places where multiple religions exist in great harmony. This is achieved by one respecting the customs and rituals of other religions. A visit to these shrines is necessary to understand the breadth of cultural influences in the state.
In some Hindu temples non-Hindus are not allowed enter the shrines. It is best to ask someone at the temple. Many are happy to let you in as long as the usual rules of the temple are observed. However, photography inside the temple is a strict no-no.
Also for male visitors at many places inside a temple, dress code is traditional mundu without a shirt - the no-shirt rule will be enforced even if the mundu rule is not. The best thing to do is to watch what others are doing and follow. You are also expected to take off your footwear outside the temple. Usually there are no locker facilities, cheap footwear is best.
For females any non exposed dress, preferably not shirts and trousers.
There are exceptions to these rules. For example everybody is welcome at Adhi Shankaracharya's temple. At Shabarimala any male that has performed a set of pre-defined rituals is welcome, but females are not.
At a Muslim mosque females have some restrictions.
At Christian churches usually men sit to the left of the aisle and women to the right. Some of the more traditional churches don't even have pews...you'll have to stand.
The synagogue at Kochi is not open to non-Jews on Saturdays.
Kerala has its share of criminals. Pick pockets are quite common. Don't trust your hotel cleaning staff with your costly belongings. Also women are advised not to walk in swimsuits. It also isn't safe for a woman to walk alone in the night.
Use bottled water and stay in decent hotels even if you have to shell out some extra money.
|This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!|
KERALA, or Chera, the name of one of the three ancient Dravidian kingdoms of the Tamil country of southern India, the other two being the Chola and the Pandya. Its original territory comprised the country now contained in the Malabar district, with Travancore and Cochin, and later the country included in the Coimbatore district and a part of Salem. The boundaries, however, naturally varied much from time to time. The earliest references to this kingdom appear in the edicts of Asoka, where it is called Keralaputra (i.e. son of Kerala), a name which in a slightly corrupt form is known to Pliny and the author of the Periplus. There is evidence of a lively trade carried on by sea with the Roman empire in the early centuries of the Christian era, but of the political history of the Kerala kingdom nothing is known beyond a list of rajas compiled from inscriptions, until in the 10th century the struggle began with the Cholas, by whom it was conquered and held till their overthrow by the Mahommedans in 1310. These in their turn were driven out by a Hindu confederation headed by the chiefs of Vijayanagar, and Kerala was absorbed in the Vijayanagar empire until its destruction by the Mahommedans in 1565. For about 80 years it seems to have preserved a precarious independence under the naiks of Madura, but in 1640 was conquered by the Adil Shah dynasty of Bijapur and in 1652 seized by the king of Mysore.
See V. A. Smith, Early Hist. of India, chap. xvi. (2nd ed., Oxford, 1908).
Kerala is a state in the Republic of India. It is surrounded by the Arabian Sea in the West, and the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the East. The capital city of the state is Thiruvananthapuram. The land area of Kerala is 15,005 mi² (38,863 km²), which is bigger than Bhutan but smaller than Switzerland.
Most of the people in Kerala speak Malayalam.
Kerala is known for traditional arts and people enjoy traditional, percussion-filled music. They also enjoy tribal ceremonies, martial arts, and even sports activities such as soccer, cricket, and badminton. Most of the people have access to internet, TV’s, newspapers, and books. The average amount of reading per week is about seven hours. The literacy rate is approximately 96.9%.
Kerala is known for its beautiful beaches and extensive backwaters, and is one of the biggest tourist attractions in India, both for Indians as well as foreigners. Kerala is known as "God's own country".