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location_onSTATES AND CITIES

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.

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.

Attractions

Kerala is also known as “God’s Own Country” because of the abundant natural beauty here in the form of lush greenery, picturesque hill towns, tranquil backwaters, and beautiful tropical beaches. Some of the best places to visit here are – Alleppey and its Backwaters, Munnar and its lush tea plantations, Kovalam and its sandy beaches, Thrissur and its colourful temples, Kozhikode – the city of sculptures, Wayanad and its green forests and waterfalls, and the capital city Thiruvananthapuram!

WEEKEND GETAWAYS

Kerala has many stunning places with ecological beauty that people can travel to or explore; and which are perfect for a peaceful short vacation or a weekend getaway, such as -

  • Munnar – A beautiful and serene town with ecological charms, surrounded by hills dotted with tea plantations. A popular vacation destination in Kerala.
  • Kollam – An ancient town with lakes, backwaters and heritage sites.
  • Periyar National Park, Thekkady – Wildlife, natural beauty
  • Alleppey – (also called Alappuzha) a perfect place to experience the famous Backwaters in Kerala and house boat rides.
  • Kovalam – Peaceful coastal town with beautiful beaches and filled with palm trees.
  • Kumarakom – Another place to experience Kerala’s backwaters – this is a village on Vembanad Lake in the backwaters of Kerala, southern India; laced with many canals and houseboats plying on them where people can spend nights or days. The village also has a beautiful large bird sanctuary (Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary) that is home to various bird species such as cuckoos and Siberian storks.
  • Wayanad – A place with dense forests, lots of greenery, waterfalls and streams and beautiful resorts amidst the wilderness.

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)

HISTORICAL PLACES

Kerala also has many historical gems to see. Some popular sites of historical significance in the state are:

  • 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)
  • Edakkal Caves, Nenmeni
  • St. Mary’s Forane Church, Kuravilangad Post