Kerala … God’s Own Country
Kerala is a union state located in the southwestern part of India and is a green strip of land, in the South West corner of Indian peninsula.The landscape varies from long golden beaches to cool hill stations and dense green jungle to bustling cities. Its unique feature is the 1,900km of palm fringed backwaters. Kerala is mentioned in the ancient epic Mahabharata (800 BC) at several instances as a tribe, as a region and as a kingdom.Kerala is considered to be one of India’s most beautiful state. Major cities are Thiruvananthapuram (the capital), Kochi, and Kozhikode. The principal spoken language is Malayalam. Kerala has two national parks, ten wildlife sanctuaries and two bird sanctuaries.
It has only 1.1 8 per cent of the total area of the country but houses 3.43% of the the country’s population. The people of Kerala are warm and friendly and interaction with them is often a highlight of a holiday to Kerala. Kerala, India’s most advanced society: A hundred percent literate people. World-class health care systems. India’s lowest infant mortality and highest life expectancy rates. The highest physical quality of life in India. Keralites have a strong culture and are fiercely proud of their state. Some of their art forms (eg Kathakali and Theyyam) and martial arts (kalaripayattu) are unique. Peaceful and pristine, Kerala is also India’s cleanest state.
According to legend, Kerala was ruled by Mahabali, an Asura-king. Onam, the national festival of Kerala, is dedicated to Maveli’s memory.
Another legend says that it was Parasurama, an avatar of Mahavishnu, who threw his battle axe into the sea and from those waters, Kerala arose.
The ancient Cheras, ruled Kerala and whose mother tongue and court language was Tamil, from their capital at Vanchi. They were constantly at war with the neighbouring Chola and Pandya kingdoms. A Keralite identity, distinct from the Tamils and associated with the second Chera empire, became linguistically separate under the Kulasekhara dynasty. By the beginning of the 14th century, Ravi Varma Kulasekhara of Venad established a short-lived supremacy over southern India. After his death, Kerala became a conglomeration of warring chieftaincies, among which the most important were Calicut in the north and Venad in the south.
The ports of Kerala became a link between the Middle East, the Mediterranean and China. In 1498, Vasco da Gama made his historic landing on the Malabar Coast. In 1723, the East India Company signed a strategic treaty with King Marthanda Varma. For a few decades, Hyder Ali and his son –Tipu sultan proved to be a thorn in the flesh of the British, sweeping down several times into Kerala. In 1947, it was the turn of the British to pack their bags.
For administrative purpose, the state of Kerala is divided into fourteen districts. Most of these districts offer all the tourism products typical of the State.
Kerala is governed through a parliamentary system of representative democracy; universal suffrage is granted to state residents. There are three branches of government. The unicameral legislature, known as the 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 judiciary comprises the Kerala High Court 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.
Kerala has 145,704 kilometers (90,536 mi) of roads (4.2% of India’s total). 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. Most of Kerala’s west coast is accessible through two national highways, NH 47, and NH 17.
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 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 backwaters traversing the state are an important mode of inland navigation.
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 Trivandrum Central, Trichur Junction, Kollam Junction, Ernakulam Junction, Kannur, Kozhikode, Shoranur Junction, and Palakkad.
Kerala is 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
Popular attractions in the state include the beaches at Kovalam, Cherai and Varkala, 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 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.