Kerala ( South India)
One of the most beautiful and richly endowed territories in the world- a country very rich in scenery, in natural resources and in water-ways and communications, a country in which, in fact, both land and sea are smiling so agreeably. A taste of real spice in the bazaars of Kochi, glorious days on fabled backwaters of Alleppey and Kumarakom and tusker spotting by Periyar Lake make your Kerala tour a lifetime experience. This is the land of Kerala or Malabar, at the extreme tip of the Great Indian Peninsula. Kerala, the "Kashmir of South India", with the two former states of Travancore and Cochin, dates back in history to the great epics and the mythology of India. Ancient tradition has it that this land of beauty and natural riches was formerly submerged in the sea but was reclaimed from the ocean-bed by the axe of Parasurama.
However, as Parasurama had slain high-caste Hindus (Kshatriya), he gave the new-won land to the Brahmins as a gift, to expiate his sin. It may well be that an upheaval of the sea-bed took place in those days and this geographical fact has been preserved in the epic story of Parasurama. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Kerala or Malabar is mentioned both in the Mahabharata and in the great works of the ancient Tamils of the south.
Only around 6th century, we find any mention of Travancore and Cochin, but the name Kerala dates back to the great Chera Kings who shared the suzerainty of South India with the Pandyas and the Imperial Cholas of the south. It is from the Chera kings that the land got its name Cherala or Kerala.
Kerala served as the gateway to the western world from early times. The ships of the ancient Phoenicians, Egyptians, Syrians, Jews and Romans visited this southern coast of India long before the British came in. Kerala has been gateway of India since time immemorial. In Kerala, India exchanged both her culture and goods - of small bulk but of great value- with the western world.
The climate of Kerala is warm and humid, with plenty of sunshine and rain. In consequence of this warm, damp tropical climate, Kerala has thick and dense forests, covering nearly a third of its area. The appearance of the country -side is in sharp contrast to that of the neighbouring Tamil Nadu in the east. Anyone travelling from Chennai to Trivendrum is immediately struck by the sudden transformation from the dry, barren land on the eastern side of the Ghats, to this velvety-green paradise on the western side. Here in Kerala, we have rich forests, green hills and valleys, lush rice or paddy fields, palm trees covered coast-line, rivulets trickling down to join the rivers and rivers hastening to join the sea.
The population density of Kerala is among the highest in India, comparable to that of the rich Gangetic plain. About 25 percent population resides in towns and cities, the remaining 75 percent population inhabits the villages, supporting themselves by working on the land. The State language of Kerala is Malyalam, which is spoken by almost 90 percent population. Tamil and Konkani are also spoken especially in the border districts. Literacy rate is highest in Kerala among all other States of India. The state has excellent record with regard to higher education and holds leading position in so far as the education of women is concerned.
Kerala's theatrical art has its origin in religion. Some branches of it, even today, remain confined to precincts of the temples. The Koothu and Kootiattam, for instance, are still performed in certain temples only. The excellence of these dances rests not only in their "mudras" but also the manner in which the story is told.The theatrical art of Kerala reaches its perfection in Kathakali, revival of which is engaging the attention of the Kerala Kalamandalam at Trissur. With its specialized convention, the historic Kathakali art can be appreciated only by those who are well versed in its language of signs, symbols and underlying ideals.
The Kerala murals form a corollary to the ancient art of Kathakali, as most of the stories told in these murals are representations of the characters portrayed on a Kathakali stage. Kerala has always been the home of valuable relics of Dravidian culture and art. The very interesting arts of wood and ivory of the temple architecture merit the attention of art connoisseurs throughout the world. The important home of the Cochin murals is the Mattancheri Palace, also known incorrectly, as the Dutch Palace.
The Archaeological Museum at Thiruanantpuram is one of the finest in the East. Its central hall is devoted to indigenous Arts and Crafts and its corridors and wings to Natural History. Equally reputed is the Aquarium, reputed to be the largest and most up-to-date in Asia.
Nature has endowed Kerala with a lavish sprinkling of all the beautiful things. Lagoons, beaches, backwaters, range of mountains, wildlife sanctuaries, monuments, temples and what not. The land of Kathakali dance, the final word in performing art and the unique spectacle of the Pooram festival involving a hundred caparisoned elephants had many things to offer to the people who come on Kerala tour. The moderate climate, clean environment and the peaceful atmosphere make it a natural, though largely unchartered tourist destination of India.