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kerala

Kerala is a state in Southern India, situated in the southwestern end of the Indian subcontinent. Kerala has a deep history of cultural heritage. It is the state with the highest literacy rate in all of India, and also where women have outnumbered men!

History

The lands in the place of Kerala today are said to have been recovered from the sea by the sage Parasurama, the sixth avatar of Vishnu. Though the latter is a part of mythology, it is believed that a substantial portion of Kerala may have been under the sea in ancient times, as marine fossils have been found in an area called Changanassery in the state, thus supporting this hypothesis.

Rock engravings that exist in the Edakkal Caves, in Wayanad, Kerala date back to the Neolithic era (around 6000 BCE).  Sites dated back to Mesolithic and Megalithic eras were also discovered in the state.

Since around 3000 BCE, Kerala is said to have been a major exporter of spices, thus also gaining a nickname - "Spice Garden of India", and attracting international trade from outer kingdoms like Babylonia, Assyria and Egypt to the Malabar coast, and in later years, the Greeks and Romans, and eventually other countries too started importing spices from Kerala. This spice trade flourished through the colonial and medieval eras and exists in Kerala to this day.

Cities

Kerala has a total of 442 cities and towns. The capital city of Kerala is Thiruvananthapuram (previously known as Trivandrum), and the most populated metropolitan cities are Thiruvananthapuram, Cochin (Kochi), Kozhikode and Thrissur.

People

There are 3.47 crore (34.7 million) people in Kerala, out of which 54.7% are Hindus, 26.5% are Muslims, 18.38% are Christians. These are the three predominant religions in the state (Hinduism, Islam and Christianity).

Kerala’s people are also often referred to as Keralites. The state has the maximum literacy rate in all of India and, and most of the people here can speak and understand basic English (excluding in some rural areas).

Culture

Kerala’s people are called Malayalis (after the language spoken there). The culture that exists in Kerala today is said to have evolved through Sanskritization of Dravidian ethos, and revivalism of religious movements and reform movements against caste discrimination.

Onam - a harvest festival celebrated extravagantly by the people of Kerala, is an important part of the traditions here – mainly for Hindus. Carnatic music (an Indian classical music form that originated in South India) is prevalent here. Apart from this Kerala has its own native music system called “sopanam”, which is a kind of step-by-step rendition of raga-based songs. Sopanam also provides the background music used in Kathakali – which is the state’s most popular dance form, which includes elaborately colourful make-up, costumes and face masks worn by the performers.

Language

The primary language spoken in Kerala is Malayalam, which is its official language. But apart from this, English is also widely spoken, along with some Tamil in few parts that are close to the borders of the state Tamil Nadu.

Geography and Climate

The state of Kerala has a Sickle-like in shape, and appears on the political map like a crescent moon as on the tenth-eleventh day of lunar eclipse. The state has many small and big water bodies (like lakes, streams, waterfalls, etc), beaches (Arabian sea) and more than 40 rivers run in the state. Kerala is geographically located between 74 0 7 '47 "and 770 37" 12 "north latitudes and 80 17 '30' and 12 0 47 east longitudes, experiences a tropical climate mostly, and heavy rainfall in monsoons.

Tourist Places

Known as the ‘God’s Own Country’, Kerala is the place where nature, culture, and heritage mingles to form a delightful paradise and amuses you with several spectacular scenic views, dance forms, cuisines, music, handicrafts, beaches, age-old temples, and whatnot. Named as one of the ten paradises of the world Kerala is recognized by long palm trees beaches, beautiful backwaters, and extraordinary temples. Every city in Kerala has something to offer to its visitors but some are just not to be missed and here are some of the best places to visit in Kerala.

  • Alleppey - The Venice of India: The breathtaking Alleppey tops every list of the places to visit in Kerala because of its pristine backwaters, lush green surroundings, and the romantic houseboats. Titled as the ‘Venice of the East’, the houseboats are one of the main sources of income for people in Alleppey which are the age-old modes of transportation refurbished in luxurious style with all amenities and is a perfect way to spend your vacation. The scenic landscape with tall coconut groves, paddy fields, ducks, lilies, and serene villages pass by is a soothing sight to behold and makes the houseboat experience even more memorable. The cuisines served on the houseboats are at par with taste and aroma as the fresh produce from the water makes way to your plate and the vegetarian delicacies are a delight as well. If you are visiting Alleppey in the month of August or September, do not miss the Snake Boat Race as it is a unique experience. Some of the best places to explore in Alleppey are Alappuzha Beach, Pathiramanal, ReviKarunakaran Museum, Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple.
  • Munnar – The Tea Heaven of the South: A view to reminisce forever, Munnar is one of the most beautiful hill stations in Kerala and the tea estate paradise of the south. Nestled as 6000 feet, the town has a magical charm and lets you forget all your stress and offers an escape from the day-to-day conundrums of life. The pleasant weather adds to the existing charm of the place, and it is perfect for tea farming which is spread in 80,000 miles. Go on a tea and spice plantation tour and experience the old-world colonial feel of the town. For our adventure junkies, hiking, trekking, and camping are done here which makes this place a balm for the body, mind, and soul. The best places to visit in Munnar are Attukad waterfalls, Blossom Park, Pothamedu Viewpoint, Indo Swiss Dairy Farm, TATA Tea Museum, etc.
  • Kovalam – Kerala’s Beach Paradise: One of the best towns to visit in Kerala for a relaxed vacation with a picturesque surrounding, Kovalam is known for its pristine beaches and beautiful shores. It is a beauty offering cherished experiences with its pleasant weather, soothing breeze, soft golden sand, and tall coconut trees which add to the gorgeousness of the place. Enjoy strolling alongside the sea or relish the fresh sea food, take a sunbath, or relax on a soothing ayurvedic massage, or you can go for some adventurous water sports, Kovalam has something to cater to the needs of the visitors. Some of the best places to explore in Kovalam are ThiruvallamParasurama Temple, Vizhinjam Fishing Harbor, Rock Cut Caves, halcyon Castle, Samudra Beach, etc.
  • Fort Kochi – The Crowned ‘Queen of Arabian Sea’: Fort Kochi is a must-visit place if you ever visit Kerala and one of the most spectacular places. The city has a diverse and rich history, heritage, and multi-ethnic culture which makes it an enjoyable experience for people with different interests such as history, art, nature, culture, etc. Fort Kochi has many things to offer from sights to cuisines, and different experiences. Filled with museums, religious places, palaces, synagogues, heritage buildings, art galleries, and beaches, the city tempts you to keep exploring it streets and lanes. The best places to visit in Fort Kochi are Mattancherry Palace, Paradesi Synagogue, Indo-Portuguese Museum, Santa Cruz Basilica, Marine Drive, etc.
  • Thekkady – Periyar Wildlife Adventures : For our animal lovers, Thekkady is the place hidden between the lush green wilderness of the western ghats. The forests of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary apart from the Periyar Lake are a well-known tourist attraction here along with the coffee and spice plantations. Periyar Tiger Reserves is inhabited by 35 species of fauna and 265 species of birds. Enjoy in the wilderness activities such as jungle patrol, safari, bamboo rafting, jungle camp and border hiking. Some of the best places to visit in Thekkady are Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Ayurvedic Garden, Periyar Lake, Ramakkalmedu, Vandiperiyar, Chellarkovil,etc.
  • Wayanad – Nature’s Very Own Garden: After making a tour of Wayanad, you will know why Kerala is known as the God’s Own Country. The land of paddy fields, Wayanad is the greenest place in Kerala which makes it a scenic beauty with some thrilling adventures that is loved by all. Explore the tribal villages or stay at a treehouse, walk through the stunning environs or trek to one of the hills, Wayanad soothes the body, soul, and mind with its mystical aura and breathtaking views. Some of the best places to visit in Wayanad are Edakkal Caves, Puliyarmala Jain Temple, Lakkidi Viewpoint, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, etc.
  • Thrissur – The Cultural Capital of Kerala: After all that greenery and backwaters and stunning locations, visit Thrissur to delve yourself in the culture and heritage of Kerala and explore various temples, cultural centers, churches, and celebrate the colorful and cultural festivals. The city is one of the oldest sites of human settlements and as a result, many relics of megaliths and dolmens belong to the Neolithic period. If gotten a chance, experience the grandeur of Thrissur Pooram celebrated between mid-April to mid-May which is the major festival of the state. The best places to visit in Thrissur are Thrissur Zoo, Viyur Jail Park, Temples of Vadakkunnathan, Athirapally Waterfalls, ShakthanThampuran Palace, etc.
  • Thiruvananthapuram – Beach City Built on Seven Hills: The capital city of Kerala thriving with modernity and yet co-existing with ancient history, Thiruvananthapuram or Trivandrum is one of the most visited places in the state. While the serene backwaters and beaches fringed by pam and coconut groves and the shrines keep the visitors busy, the most revered PadmanabhaSwamy Temple is the holiest of them all. A spiritual bliss, Thiruvananthapuram is the city offering delight, blissful indulgence, and a peek into its cultural heritage. Some of the best places to visit in Thiruvananthapuram are Kowdiar Palace, Trivandrum Zoo, Kanakakkunu Palace, Veli Lagoon, Padmanabhaswamy Temple, etc.

Historical and Religious Places

  • Krishnapuram Palace – An ancient palace with beautiful architecture; it also has an archaeological gallery within, with many delightful works of art displayed.
  • Thrikkakkudi Rock cut temple – Another ancient temple; has a 3-foot long Shivalinga for which it is known.
  • Pazhassi Raja’ tomb – A memorial to Pazhassi raja (of Kottayam’s royal family), who was also known as “Lion of Kerala”.
  • Thalassery Fort, Thalassery (Kannur district) - Also known as Tellicherry, the fort comprises a larges gateway and a lighthouse with a stunning view surrounding it.
  • Edakkal Caves, Nenmeni– Known for their exquisite rock and wall carvings, the pre-historic caves are two naturally occurring alcoves in Wayanad district.
  • Palakkad Fort – Built by Haider Ali in 1766 AD, this is one of the most protected forts and is famous for its architecture and houses Hanuman temple, Marty;sColumn, Anjaneya Swami Temple, VatikaShilavatika, and a sub-jail.

ADVENTURE EXPERIENCES

Some thrilling activities and things to do in Kerala for adventure lovers are:

  • Parasailing above the sea (in Alappuzha, Kovalam)
  • Paragliding above land and mountains (in Varkala, Vagamon)
  • Scuba Diving and Snorkeling (in Kochi, Kovalam)
  • Trekking (in Wayanad, Munnar, Thenmala)
  • Mountain climbing (in Rajamalai, Eravikulam National Park, Munnar)
  • Bamboo Rafting (at Periyar National Park, Thekkady)
  • Kayaking (in Alappuzha)

Food

Kerala’s cuisine includes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes prepared using many spices like chillies, Black pepper, curry leaves, coconut, mustard seeds, turmeric, tamarind, and asafoetida. The flavour of coconut is found in almost every dish here as it is available and used abundantly – in the form of coconut milk, fresh or dry coconut and coconut oil too. In non-vegetarian dishes, seafood, especially many varieties of fish are used (being a coastal state, it gets lot of fish), along with poultry, red meat and beef. Rice is usually served with main course as the typical accompaniment for the curries and stews

Travel/Transportation

Trains, Planes and Buses are major modes of inter-city transportation within Kerala. For travel within cities, there are many other modes such as taxi/cabs, buses, and private vehicles like 2-wheelers and cars, or even walking and cycling.

Airports – Kerala has 1 domestic airport connecting to other states and cities in the country, and 4 International airports connecting to cities within the state as well as other parts of the country.

  • Kannur International airport, Kannur
  • Cochin International airport, Cochin
  • Calicut International airport, Calicut
  • Trivandrum International airport, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Kollam Airport, Kollam

Railway Stations – Kerala has a total of 178 train terminals/railway stations (at least one for each city/town) that connect to other cities and towns within the state as well as those in other states in the country. Some of the major train terminals and junctions in the state are:

  • Thrissur Junction, Trichur
  • Kozhikode Main Railway Station, Calicut
  • Ernakulam Junction, Ernakulam
  • Kollam Junction, Kollam
  • Trivandrum Central, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Trivandrum Kochuveli station, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Kannur Main Railway Station, Kannur (Cannanore)

Bus Terminals – Kerala has its own line of state-run KSRTC (Kerala State Road Transport Corporation) buses which provide the connection between all the cities and towns within the state and also neighbouring states. These buses can be boarded at KSRTC stops/terminals that are available in every division and town in the state. The prominent town/city bus terminals in the state are located in almost every city and town - they can be easily found and are conveniently accessible.

Kerala

With an enchanting charm and a mystical vibe that is supported by breathtaking surroundings and diverse culture, Kerala is the land where culture and heritage combines with nature which demands and holds the attention of visitors with a promise to leave them spellbinding and in awe.

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