Kerala is a state tucked away in the southwest corner of India. The state is often referred as “God’s Own Country”. Kerala has a total area of 38,863 sq km and has a population of 33,406,061 inhabitants.
The state is bordered by the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu along with the Laccadive Sea. Thiruvananthapuram (also known as Trivandrum) is the capital of Kerala, which is famous for the Kovalam beach, one of the top beaches in the world. The state of Kerala is divided into fourteen districts. Each of them has a distinct character.
Kerala has a history dating back to the Christian era, although the modern Kerala was created on 1st November 1956 when all the states were reorganized along linguistic lines. Kerala is different from the rest of the India in many ways. History was created in 1957 when Kerala became the first state in the world to democratically elect a Marxist government. The state has a strong presence of left ideology. It has the highest literacy rate in the country, lowest infant mortality rate and the highest female to male population ratio. These facts speak volume of the state which is often compared to the society of the developed western countries.
On the southwestern coast of India, almost touching the tip of the peninsula, Kerala occupies the region known as the Malabar Coast. It is surrounded by the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Kerala is like a narrow strip of land lying between the Arabian Sea to the west and the hill ranges called Western Ghats . This geography defines Kerala’s main identity as a green, rain-rich state filled with inland water bodies.
The rain-laden southwest monsoon comes across the Arabian Sea to hit Kerala around 1st June, and expends much of its waters here. More than 40 rivers flow down the Western Ghats to meet the Arabian Sea forming, with the backwash of the sea, a complex of canals and lakes called the Kerala Backwaters. This combined package of beaches, backwaters and greenery is what the tourism department promotes as Gods Own Country, making tourism one of Kerala’s main businesses.
Kerala’s history of being a progressive princely estate (Travancore) and long stints of Communist Party rule in independent India have led to high rates of literacy and life expectancy. But the state is not industrialized. Agriculture is a dominant occupation rice, coconut, tea, coffee, and the spices pepper, cardamom, cashew which the Malabar Coast has traded for centuries. Fishing is another mainstay. The main cities of Kerala are capital Thiruvananthapuram (popularly called Trivandrum) and Kochi (popularly Cochin) of which Kochi is now a rising hub of industry and investment. Both cities have international airports.
Kochi harbour was an international port for Arab, Portuguese, Dutch, and British trade since the 14th century. Modern Kochi has Portuguese churches, Dutch buildings and old Jew quarters. Thiruvananthapuram was earlier the seat of the royal family of the kingdom of Travancore. Its Fort area has palaces, temples, and ornate residences. Alappuzha (called Alleppey) is a good backwaters cruise hub. Down the coast, Bekal Fort Beach, Cherai Beach, (25 kms from Kochi), Varkala and Kovalam Beaches (south of Thiruvananthapuram) are popular spots. Eravikulam and Silent Valley National Parks are reachable from the hill spots of Munnar and Palakkad.
Culturally Kerala offers Kalaripayattu, an ancient martial art, and Kathakali dance in which elaborately costumed artists perform stories from the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata.