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India: State of Kerala

Flowering Konna, Kerala

Map of Kerala State

Kerala is the tropical paradise, God's own country, recommended by the National Geography Magazine as one of the 50 destinations in the world that one should visit.

Situated at the southwest corner of Indian Peninsula, Kerala is one of the smaller states. The Arabian Sea in the west, Tamil Nadu in the South and East and Karnataka in the north surround Kerala. Isolation from the other parts of India by the Western Ghats helped Kerala to retain its culture in its original form for a long time.

Area 38, 863
Population 31,838,619 (2011 census)
Languages Malayalam
Climate Summer - March to June (Max. Temp. 39 Degree C)
Winter - Nov. to Feb (Min. Temp. 22 Degree C)
Monsoon - June to Oct
Best Time to Visit October - February
Capital City Thiruvananthapuram
Airports Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Kozhikode
Major Towns Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Kochi, Trissur, Palakkad, Kozhikode, Kannur


A Sunny Kovalam Beach, Destination Kerala

Legends say that Kerala was reclaimed from the Sea God 'Varuna' by Parasurama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, by throwing his battle-axe into the sea. Varuna retreated to the point where the axe fell. The reclaimed land was distributed to 64 Brahmins and Parasurama went back to continue his penance.

In the older days, Kerala was known as the 'Cheranadu'. The prehistoric inhabitants belonged to the Negrito race. Their successors are still living on some hilly areas of Kerala. The Negritos were replaced by the wandering Proto-Australoids who settled on the plains. The powerful Mediterranean race, the predecessors of Tamils, replaced them during BC 700. By the advent of Aryans, caste system also formed in Kerala.

From times of Sumerian civilization, Chinese, Mesopotamians and other Arabs arrived in Kerala for Trade. In 1000BC, King Solomon's ships arrived here for ivory, sandalwood and spices. The epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata mention the existence of Kerala in them.

The documented records indicate that Kerala was under Mauryas (BC322- BC270). During the Sangham Age (1st-5th centuries AD) Kerala was part of Tamil Country. The original language was Tamil and through centuries Malayalam evolved into a full-fledged language.

During the Sangham era, mainly three political powers reined Kerala. The southern region was under the Ay kings while Ezhimala Kings ruled the northern region. The area between these two kingdoms was the early Chera country. From the beginning of the Christian era, the Cheras were prominent. They ruled Kerala for 250 years. After the Sangham age, during the 7th and 8th centuries, the history of Kerala is in the dark. By 9th century AD, Cheras again came to power. Their rulers were known as 'Kulashekharas'. By 1102 AD, their rule came to an end. During their reign arts, culture, literature etc. flourished. The renowned Sage Adi Shankara, the advocate of Adwaita in Hinduism was a contemporary of one of these rulers.

After the decline of Cheras, the kingdom broke into smaller regions under local chieftains. This led to the formation of provincial states. Venadu, Kolathunadu, Kochi and Kozhikode were prominent among them.

Secretariat, Thiruvananthapuram

With the arrival of Vasco da Gama in 1498, a new era started in the history of Kerala. The Dutch and the British followed the Portuguese. The Europeans cashed in on the rivalries of the local rulers and ultimately took the power from them. In 1766 Hyder Ali of Mysore conquered Kochi and Kozhikode and his son Tipu Sultan continued the conquest. The British did not like the idea of Tipu becoming powerful. They teamed up with local rulers and defeated Tipu. According to the treaty of Srirangapatna in 1792, Malabar, Kochi and Coorg became part of East India Company. By the treaty of 1805, Travancore also started paying Rs. 800, 000 as tribute to the British accepting their supremacy. By the early 19th century, the control over Travancore was also complete.

There was resentment among people about the way British handled matters. In not so organized scale, movements were staged against the British. Pazhasi Raja of Kottayam and Veluthampi Dalava of Travancore were among those who gave their lives in these freedom struggles. Kurichya Movement and Mappila Movement are a few among the freedom movements staged in Kerala.

After Independence, Malabar was attached to Madras. Travancore and Cochin stood as independent princely states. By regrouping princely states in 1949, the state of Travancore-Cochin was formed. In 1956, Nov.1, when states were reorganized based on languages, Kerala was formed with Kasargode from Mysore, Malabar from Madras, Travancore and Cochin. A governor was appointed as the head of state in the place of 'Rajapramughan'.