Welcome To God's Own Land - Kerala

Welcome to the state of Kerala."Keralam" means the land of Coconut trees and is derived from the Sanskrit word Kera (Coconut palms). "Ente Keralam" is just my view of this Green carpet of Penisular India. Kerala is a beautiful state in the South-western tip of India.  This divine land stretches from the gigantic Western Ghats to the Arabian Sea with its luscious tropical forests, paddy fields and Waterfall evergreen coconut grooves. The ever flowing rivers with its tributaries , the backwaters and lagoons are indeed a sight of this 'God's Own Country' Kerala, rich in spices is also a land of colourful avenue of rich culture, heritage and people. Besides, Hinduism which was the predominant religion of Kerala and most of the Indian subcontinent, Christianity, Islam and Judaism flourished. Kerala is a state of exotic wildlife, ancient regiments, spectacular art forms, colourful festivals, fascinating history, and a wealth of unique culture and traditions.

But history states that when India became free, Kerala was made up of two princely states, Travancore and Cochin, and Malabar which was under the direct administration of the British. One of the first steps taken by independent India was to amalgamate small states together so as to make them viable administrative units. In pursuance of this policy the Travancore and Cochin states were integrated to form Travancore Cochin State on 1st July, 1949. But Malabar remained as part of the Madras Province. Under the States Re-organization Act of 1956, Travancore-cochin State and Malabar were united to form the State of Kerala on 1st November, 1956. The state has a unicameral legislature. The legislative assembly has 141 members and in the Indian parliament the state is represented by its 20 members. The state is divided into 14 districts.

Kerala is a tropical paradise far from the tourist trail at the southern Peninsular tip. With seductive beaches in quiet seclusion, flanked by cliff, headland and palm. With the dream-like serenity of its enchanting backwater and lagoons. With ancient temples and lovely palaces that make you forget the age you are in. As does shopping for antiques, cashew and gold.senic beauty With nature cures and herbal messages that tone up your body, mind and soul. And with thick evergreen reserves here wild color and wild life run riot. Geographically Kerala is an exotic mixture of nature's very best.

 The capital of Kerala is Thiruvananthapuram; formerly known as Trivandrum. The main language is Malayalam; however English is widely written and spoken in the state. It cover an area of about 38,864sq kms; which is 1.27per cent of India's total land area. The currency is Indian Rupee and time is GMT +5:30. Weather is Tropical.

Kasaragod - The Northern EndBekal Fort

      The northern most tip of Kerala, Kasargod is known for it's coir and handloom industries. Grey rocks and barren land amidst dense vegetation and calm lagoons, the place has an unique aura about it.  The district Area is about 1992 sq km. The district is bounded in the East by the Western Ghats, in the west by the Arabian sea, in the north by South Kanara district of the Karnataka and the south by Kannur district. The forest produces are Shegaibark, Sheakoy, Cardamom, Canes, Fibres etc. Sambar, the fastest deer, is seen in some areas. Bekal Fort is an important place of tourist interest in the district.

Kannur

      Kannur's history abounds with the activities of colonial powers - The Portugese,French, Dutch and the British. Today it is known for it's handloom and beedi (native version of the cigarette) industries. The district Area is about 2966 sq km.).Taliparambu is a temple that is said to date back to the 10th century. For travelers there are two beaches, they are Payyambalam Beach and Muzhappilangad Beach. Then comes the Thalassery Fort 20KM away from Kannur was built on 20th august 1708.

Wynad

      The name Wynad has been derived from the expression 'Vayal nadu' - the village of paddy fields. This northern district, with it's rugged landscape and pastoral valleys, pose a delightful challenge for hikers and nature lovers. Wynad's climate and geography make it ideal for the cultivation of coffee, tea, pepper and rubber. The district Area is about 2131 sqkm. When the state of Kerala was formed in 1956, Wynad was part of Kannur district. Later South Wynad was added to Kozhikode district and then on November 1, 1980 North and South Wynad joined together to form the present Wynad district. Trekking to the Chembra peak is one of the risky tourist endeavours. Chembra peak is the highest peak in Wynad at 2100m. above mean sea level. It is14 kms. west of Kalpetta. Trekking to the top of this peak takes almost a day. Tourists can also stay one or two days at the top of the peak in temporary camps. The Edakkal Caves are at Ambukutty Mala. It is a pre-historic rock shelter formed naturally out of a strange disposition of three huge boulders making one to rest on the other two with its bottom jutting out in between and serving as the roof. Edakkal literally means a stone in between.

Kozhikode (Calicut)

      Senic beautyNorth of Kerala lies the land, the legendary traveler Marco Polo described in A.D 1320 as "the great province of Malabar". After the 13th century, Kozhikode grew in importance as a port and as the capital of the Samoothiri kings or Zamorins, as they were called by the Portuguese. In fact some historians say, Calicut derives it's name from the fortified palace ' koyil kotta ' built by a samoothiri ruler. Calicut has also lent it's name to ' Calico ' - a fine hand woven cloth said to have originated in this place. Kozhikode is an important trading centre for timber,tiles and shopping ground for the famous delicacy - kozhikode Halwa. Beypore, 11 km away is a ship buiding centre famous for it's country crafts called 'uru'. Telicherry and Sultan Battery, 98 km away are important trading centres. The city Area is about 30.61 sq km.

Malappuram

       "Malappuram" - literally meaning a terraced place atop hills, this district was carved out of the dstricts of Kozhikode and Palakkad. It figured prominently in history during the freedom struggle especially during the Mappilla revolts of malabar bvetween 1792 and 1921. Although Malappuram lags behind other districts in literacy and education standards, it has contributed immensely to Kerala's cultural traditions.
It hs been a center for vedic learning and Ponnani for education of Islamic philosophy. The father of Malayalam literature, Thunchath Ezhuthachan and Vallathol narayana Menon, often called the poet laureate of Kerala was born here.Among contemporary personages, the marxist political leader E.M.S.Namboothiripad, was born at Elamkulam in Perinthalmanna, a taluk(panchayath) of Malappuram district. The district area is about 3550 sqkm. Four important rivers of Kerala, Chaliyar, Bharathapuzha, Kadalundipuzha and Tirurpuzha flow through Malappuram district. Nilambur An extensive forest area well known for it's bamboos. Itis home to the world's oldest teak plantation known as 'Canolly's Plot'. The Famous Thirumanthankunnu temple is at Angadipuram, near Perintalmanna. The 16th century poet Poonthanam was born at Keezhattur. "Tirur" is a major business centre of Malappuram district.

Palakkad (Palghat)

      Close to the Tamil Nadu border, Palakkad derives it's name from the Pala tree (Alsteria Scholaris) and Kadu (forest). It is always called the Gateway of Kerala. Palakkad lies at the foot of the gigantic Western ghats on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. This district with mountains, forests and fertile valleys, rivers and mountains streams are rich in flora and fauna. Palakkad is known for its historical background and the remnants of Tippu Sulthan's Fort are still maintained. Malampuzha ParkBharathapuzha, kerala's longest river flows through it. Along with Idukki, it is the only district not to have a sea coast. The land is fertile and often called the granary of Kerala. Attapadi, an extensive mountain valley, is populated mainly by tribals.
Malampuzha, 14km away is the site of a large irrigation dam as well as an amusement park. Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary and Silent Valley National Park are two wildlife reserves close to Palakkad. The district Area is about 4480 sqkm. Kunjan Nambiar the most famous of all Malayalm poets and the founder of thullal , a purely Kerala art form, was born in a small village in this district.
   Kunnathurmedu Sreekrishna Temple is located at the heart of the Palakkad Town. A beautiful Vigraha, (idol) depicting Sreekrishna as a child is an attraction of this temple. The main festival of the temple is Ashtami Rohini (Sreekrishna Jayanthi). It is the only Sreekrishna Temple in Palakkad Town. Kalpathy Car Festival is based on vedic Tamil Brahmin culture.The main centre of the festival is Kalpathy Sree Viswanathaswamy temple. The three satellite temples in the village of new Kalpathy ,old Kalpathy and Chathapuram also celebrate the festival this period.

Thrissur

      The name trichur is derived from Tiru-siva-peroor, which means the city of Lord siva. The central feature of this town is a Siva temple, locally known as Sri Vadakkumnathan Temple. This spacious temple is built on a hill rock right at the centre of the town.

Guruvayur, one of India's major hindu pilgrimage centres lies 32 km from Thrissur. The Sree Krishna Temple, dedicated to lord Krishna, is renowned for it's healing powers. Several offerings are made from the simple 'archana' to the elaborate 'udayastamana' pooja or the 'thulabaram' where the devotee is weighed against offerings of banana, jaggery, sugar or coconuts. It is also the site for several weddings and 'annaprasanam' the first feeding ceremony of a child. As in most Kerala temples, non-hindus are not allowed entry. Near Guruvayur, 4km away, is Punnathur Kotta, the place where the temple elephants (over 40) are taken care of . Visitors are allowed. Cheruthuruthy, 29km north of Thrissur ,home to the renowned Kerala Kalamandalam. This institution offers training in music, drama, and other dance forms including Kathakali, Mohiniattam and Ottam Thullal. Thrissur PooramThe most spectacular festival here is 'Pooram' celebrated at the Vadakkumnathan temple every year during April/May.During Onam, there is also the annual 'Kandassamkadavu Boat Race'. Kerala's grandest temple paegentry, which includes colourful processions of caparisoned elephants and a midnight fireworks display can be witnessed from the crowded streets of Trichur. During Onam, there is also the annual 'Kandassamkadavu Boat Race'. The town Area is about 25 sqkm.

Idukki

      This district's name is suposed to have been derived from the malayalam word ' Idukku' meaning a narrow gorge. About 1500 sq ft of it's area is rserved forest, much of which is home to a variety of flora and fauna.
For the people of Kerala, Idukki is always associated with power generation, since 60% of the state's power needs come from the hydroelectric power station at Moolamattom. The district area is about 5019 sqkm.
Idduki DamIdukki Arch Dam is world's second and Asia's first Arch Dam constructed across the Kuravan & Kurathi hills. It is 650 ft in breadth and 550 ft in height and this lies close to the much smaller Cheruthoni barrage. To the west is the Kulamavu Dam. The underground Power House at Moolamattam is another attraction. Thekkady


"Thekkady" the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, lies 60 km away from Idukki, 190 km from Kochi. The sancuary is the natural habitat of elephants, deer, bison and wild boar. It is also a tiger reserve. It is India's largest Sanctuary covering over 750sq km of forests. There are oppoptunities for trekking, elephant rides and boating.It is expected to be declared as a bird Sanctuary in the near future with 246 types of native birds and 40 varieties of migratory flock. The Thekkady sanctuary is one of the best in the country for watching and photographing wild life. Thekkadi is almost on the border with state of Tamil Nadu State.
Munnar"Munnar" a beautiful, peaceful hill station covered with tea plantations, 133 km from Kochi. 17 km from Munnar lies the Eravikulam National Park. It can be reached only through trekking. In this area can be found the Nilgiris tahr, an endangered species.Over twelve varieties of spices including ginger, garlic, cardamom, vannilla, pepper, cinnamon, coffee, tea, clove and nutmeg is cultivated in Munnar and its neighbouring villages. "Peermade" 43 km before Thekkady, lies the former summer palace of the Travancore maharajas. This cool and tiny hill station is full of rubber, tea and spice plantations.

Kochi

      The commercial capital of Kerala and the most cosmopolitan. Located strategically on the east-west route, it is also Kerala's major port. Centuries ago, traders and sea farers from the Middle east, Persia, China, Portugal and Holland visited Kochi to trade in spices, rubber, coir and seafood. Most of the city's commercial centres and shops are located in the mainland, the town called Ernakulam, which also lends it's name to the district. Tiny islands can be found in the backwaters that extend east and south of the harbour. Among these are Vypeen, Ramanathuruth, Vallarpadam, Bolghatty and Gundu
.Cochin is the first district in India to obtain one hundred percent literacy. St.Francis church
Fort Kochi is the site of the St.Francis Church, built in 1510 by five Portugese priests who arrived with Albuquerque. Said to be the oldest European Church in India, it was the original burial site of Vasco-Da-Gama.The Clock on this Church was erected in the year 1923 in memory of HAL HARRISON JONES, a former managing director of Aspinwal. A few memorial brass plates and marble slabs were erected in the memories of very important persons who had contributed their own lives to this Church and the Society. The present furniture were installed when it was under the Anglican order of worship. Now the Church is owned by the Church of South India (CSI).
"Sree Rajeswari Temple the unique character of this renowned temple is that the Goddess is worshipped as saraswati in the morning, Bhadrakali at noon and Dugra in the evening. This temple having the reputation as a place of redemption from evil spirits, has a temple pond known as Rakthakulam, a dip in which is believed to remove the evil spirits from possessed individuals.

Kottayam

      Kottayam is the land of letters,latex,lakes.
This historical town derives it's name from the malayalam word "kottayakam" - meaning "Within the fort". 12 km west of Kottayam, on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, lies a small village - Kumarakom, a captivating bird sanctuary known for it's local varieties like the water fowl,cuckoo and migratory birds like the Siberian Stork. Kottayam is also an important commercial centre thanks to it's plantations of rubber, tea, coffee and pepper. The district Area is about 2203 sqkm. History says that the present district of Kottayam was previously a part of erstwhile princely state of Travancore. Earlier, the Travancore state consisted of two revenue divisions viz., the Southern and the Northern division, under the administrative control of Divan Peshkar for each. Later, in 1868, two more divisions, Quilon and Kottayam, were constituted. The fifth division - Devikulam, came next but for a short period, which in course of time, was added to Kottayam.  Kottayam rubber estate Kottayam is proof of the cultural and religious plurality of Kerala. It serves as the headquarters of several ecclestiastical heads of christian churches like those of the Syrian Christian Community. It houses several ancient churces like Puthenpally, Valiapally-(1550 A.D), Cheriapally(1579 A.D) and St.Mary's Church, Manarcad (1585). Bharananganam is another important christian pilgrimage centre. It houses the mortal remains of Sister Alphonsa (1916-1946). Situated in the heart of Kottayam town is the picturesque Thirunakkara Mahadeva Siva Temple.Ettumanoor,13 km away is famous for it's legendary 16th century Shiva Temple.Agriculture forms the livelihood of the majority in the district. It is also the main factor influencing the economy. Food crops as well as cash crops are cultivated here. Rubber is the major cash crop. It is grown in 1.07 lakh hectares; the largest area under Rubber cultivation in the state and its production is going up gradually. It was the first town in Kerala to achieve total literacy in India.

Allapuzha

      Alappuzha, a centre for coir and carpet industries is an ideal headquarters for backwater touring. The large network of canals provide Alleppey its lifeline. It has a long sandy beach which is spectacular.
At one end are the dense palm groves that are so characteristic of Kerala's landscape.Interlocked with a large number of canals and bridges, this waterlocked district has immense potential for backwater tourism. Alappuzha district can be proud of being the cradle of boat races. all the important boat races, namely the Nehru Trophy boat Race at Punnamada. Boat Race
It is in the months of August and September that the moist, rain-drenched earth and the glorious everflowing backwaters burst into song together, as over hundred thousand men and women gather on the banks to witness a spectacular water regatta - the SNAKE BOAT RACES. The interesting places of attraction for the tourists are Punnamada Kayal where Nehru Trophy Boat takes place every year and Pathiramanal which is a beautiful Island in Vembanad lake. The 18th century Krishnapuram Palace built during the reign of the Travancore monarch, Marthanda Varma, is a double storied structure which displays typical characteristics of Kerala architecture-gabled roofs, dormar windows, narrow corridors. It houses one of the largest mural paintings in Kerala called the Gajendra Moksham.

Pathanamthitta

      The district area is about 2462 sqkm
. Sabarimala the best known pilgrimage destination in Kerala, this holy shrine located high up in the sahyadri mountains is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa (Dharma Sastha) and attracts pilgrims from all over India. Situated near the western ghats and bordered by the hills, Pathanamthitta district is a treat to eyes with its vast unending stretches of forests, rivers and rural landscapes. Blessed by nature, the district is famous for its scenic beauty, fairs and festivals. Aranmula a small town, 10 km from Chengannur famous for it's expensice hand made mirrors of polished metal called the "Aranmula Kannad" and for the annual Aranmula Boat races during Onam. Kadammanitta a village only 8 kms. Away from Pathamamthitta is famous for padayan, which is an important ritual art performed in the premises of the Kadamanitta Devi Temple. The river Pamba flows through this land. A large portion of this distrist, then the eastern part of Kollam district, was set apart for the Idukki Hydroelectric Project as well as for ex-servicemen, harijans and tribals.

Kollam (Quilon)

      An ancient sea port dating back to the 9th Century ad, Kollam lends it's name to the malayalam era Kollavarsham in 825 AD.
That was the year the town was founded by Persian immigrants, having received a charter of privileges by the Raja of Venad. The district Area is about 2491 sqkm. Two rivers, Kallada and Ithikkara, flow through this district. The Sasthamcotta lake, the only major fresh water lake in the State, is here. Two other major lakes are the Ashtamudi kayal and the Paravoor kayal, Edava and Nadayara kayals lie partly in this district. In addition to the traditional past times like Kathakali, Koothu, Ottamthullal, Pattakam, Harikatha, Kaikottikkali, Thiruvathirakkali, Kolattam etc.., there are certain amusements and festivites which are unique to Kollam district. They are held in connection with festivals in temples. The mock sword-fight -Oachirakkali, is one of the most important of such festivals. Oachira has been famous for long as one of the sacred places of Kerala. In Kottamkulangara Temple in Chavara, there is a peculiar custom of men dressing up as women and carry lighted lamps (Thalappoli) The Uriati is a typical festival associated with krishna Temple. The Kettukazhcha (exhibition of effigies) festival held at Mahadevar Temple, Thrikkadavur in February March every year is one of the colourful festivals of the district.

Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)

      The word ' Thiru Ananthapuram' means the city of Anantha or the abode of the sacred thousand headed serpent Anantha, who forms the couch on which reclines Lord Vishnu, the preserver in the Hindu trinity. Built on seven hills, it was the capital of the Venad chieftains.
The city has grown as a tourist and commercial center, with the International airport becoming the main gateway into Kerala.  Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple Being the state capital, it also throbs with political activity. Veli Tourist Village(11km) and Akkulam Lakeside Boat Club Kovalam Beach are other popular recreational centers for the locals. For shopping, try the SMSM Institute, the handicrafts emporium of the Handicrafts Development Corporation of Kerala. Kovalam, the world renowned beach, is about 16km away. There are several hotels and restaurants including the five-star Kovalam Ashok Beach resort. Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple Dedicated to Padmanabha or Lord Vishnu, it is according to legend, was built in stages , to house an idol discovered in the forest by a devotee. Akkulam is a place of great scenic beauty with a picturesque lake. There is a boat club with over dozens of boats, available for joy riders. The city area is about 74 sqkm.

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