Kerala State General Information
Official language: Malayalam
Introduction to Kerala
Kerala is sandwiched between the Lakshadweep Sea and the Western Ghats, is a narrow, fertile strip of land on the southwest coast of India. The landscape of Kerala is a gift of the sea and the mountains. Overwhelmed by Kerala's scenic splendor, a tourist once exclaimed, "The God that made Kerala had green thumbs!" It is in this tranquil land of Kerala, embellished with green that one can find an ideal getaway - an escape unwinding miles of find golden sands with the boundless blue of the Arabian Sea. No doubt then that Kerala with its beautiful landscape, intriguing customs, high-intensity cultural life and an educated public so often dressed in white has highlighted its name on the itinerary of many tourists in various parts of the world.
Geography of Kerala
Kerala is located between latitudes 8 degree 18' north and 12 degree 48' north and longitudes 74 degree east 52' and 72 degree 22' east, this is a land of eternal beauty having 1.18 per cent of the country. It is on the tropical Malabar Coast of southwestern India. Tamil Nadu state is in east and Karnataka state is in north of Kerala. Due to its terrain and its physical features, it is dividing in east west cross-section into three district regions - hill & valleys midland plains and coastal region. Forests cover 27 per cent of the whole of Kerala. Some of the forests are so dense that their flora and fauna, in places such as Silent Valley, have not yet been completely assessed and recorded. Medicinal herbs, abundant in these forests, are used in Ayurveda.
Brief History of Kerala
Kerala is mentioned in many ancient Sanskrit works. The Aitareya Aranyaka is the earliest Sanskrit work, in which Kerala is mentioned. The Ramayana and Mahabharatha, show indication of Kerala. Katyayana (4th century BC) and Pathanjali (2nd Century BC) show their acquaintance to the Kerala. The puranas also show the geography of Kerala. Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsa has given a beautiful description of Kerala. Kautilya’s Arthasastra also mentions Kerala. In ancient time, the population of Kerala was combination of different groups of Dravidian. The ancient Dravidian kingdoms of South India (Chera, Chola and Pandya) as well as their people were held together by intimate bonds of blood, language and literature and that was the force, which promoted a sort of cultural homogeneity in South India. The Aryan immigrants who settled in Kerala had themselves to undergo radical changes in their ways of life, habits, customs and manners. This process of transformation paved the way for a desirable fusion of the two streams of culture; the Aryan and the Dravidian. Aryan systems of medicine, astrology, art and architecture also were introduced. The Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas became the scripture. their ways of life, habits, customs and manners. This process of transformation paved the way for a desirable fusion of the two streams of culture; this synthesis evolved Kerala culture as it is today. Kerala has a culture with certain distinct characteristics. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity have contributed their significant share in enriching the cultural wealth of Kerala. The States Reorganisation Act of November 1, 1956 elevated Kerala to statehood.
Government of Kerala
At that time when Kerala was formed, the State was under President's rule. The election conducted for the first time in March 1957. At that time there were 126 Assembly and 16 Parliamentary seats. The Communist Party of India emerged as the single largest party in the Assembly with 60 seats. In the last Assembly Election held in 2006, the LDF (Left Democratic Front) won with 98 seats. The 19 members LDF ministry was sworn into power on 18th may 2006 with Shri.V.S. Achuthanandan as the Chief Minister. Shri K. Radhakrishnan was elected as the speaker and Shri Josebaby as deputy speaker.
Districts of Kerala
Kerala has 14 districts. Based on geographical, historical and cultural similarities, the districts are generally grouped into three groups:
North Kerala: Kasaragod, Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikkod and Malappuram
Central Kerala: Palakkad, Thrissur, Eranakulam and Idukki
South Kerala: Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta and Kottayam
Economy of Kerala
Kerala is one of the economically developed states of India with a per capita GDP of INR 11,819, significantly higher than the all India average. The service sector, tourism, business process outsourcing, banking and finance, transportation etc., dominates the economy with 63.8% of statewide GDP while agriculture and fishing industry account for 17.2% of GDP. Although, the manufacturing industry is not very significant, this is mitigated by remittances sent home by overseas Keralites, which contributes around 20% of state GDP. Nearly half of Kerala’s population is engaged in agriculture. The key crops of Kerala include rice, coconut, tea, coffee, rubber, cashews, and spices - including pepper, cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The state has some mineral resources also which include ilmenite, kaolin, bauxite, silica, quartz, rutile, zircon, and sillimanite. Industries include traditional manufacturing such items as coir, handlooms, and handicrafts, small-scale industries and some medium- and large-scale manufacturing firms.
Kerala Travel Information
Kerala is one of the most romantic, beautiful natural attractions of the world. It can attract a traveler with vast expanse of beaches, green shades of palm trees, lowlands, and sky scraping mountains, placid lakes and some of the most picture- perfect locations of the world. The distinctive features of Kerala are ayurveda, backwaters, beach tourism and short distances. The natural beauty packed with beaches, jungles, mountains and backwaters, Kerala is a hot destination for health tourism. With age-old resources of Ayurveda, the visitors can rejuvenate their body, mind and soul.
Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital has many tourist attractions such as Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, Puthe Maliga Palace Museum, Velli Turist Park, CVN Kalari Sangam, Natural History Museum, Zoological Garden and Science and Technology Museum. Ponmudi, a small hill resort is just 61 Kms from Thiruvananthapuram and on the way, one can see Neyyar dam and Neyyar Wildlife Sanctury. Kovalam, a picture perfect tiny beach is a certain charm and popular with travelers looking for rest from their hectic life. The places worth visiting in and near Kovalam are Vizhinjam, Pulinkudi & Chwara, Samudra Beach and Pozhikkara beach and Varkala Beach resort. The other places to visit in Kerala are Kollam, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ettumanur, Munnar, Kochi, Thrissur, Kozhikode, mahe, Thalasseri and Bekal.
Rivers of Kerala
Kerala has 44 rivers, of which 41 originate from the Western Ghats and flow towards west into the Arabian Sea. The river Cauvery originate in Kerala and flow east into the neighboring States. These rivers and streams flowing down from the Western Ghats either empty themselves in to the backwaters in the coastal area or directly into the Arabian Sea. The important rivers from north to south are Valapattanam (110 kms.), Chaliar (69 kms.), Kadalundipuzha (130 kms.), Bharathapuzha (209 kms.), Chalakudy (130 kms.), Periyar (244 kms), Pamba (176 kms), Achancoil (128 kms.) and Kalladayar (121 kms.). Other than these, there are 35 more small rivers and rivulets flowing down from the Ghats. Most of these rivers are navigable up to the midland region for country crafts, which provide a cheap and reliable transport system. The presence of a large number of rivers has made Kerala rich in water resources, which are being harnessed for power generation and irrigation.
Education in Kerala
Kerala is best in India in literacy and education. According to the census of 2001, the rate of literacy in Kerala is highest with an average of 90.92 per cent. It signifies that Kerala is at par with advanced countries of the world on point of literacy. The Muslims had their Madrassas and Arabic Colleges. The Madrassas give special emphasis on the learning of Quran, the life of the prophet, worship and the tenets of Islam. The beginning of Western education in Kerala may be associated with the work of Christian missionaries. The foundations of English education were firmly laid in Kerala. This led to the establishment of institutions offering professional and technical courses as well as those devoted to the promotion of oriental studies and fine arts. Institutions like Law College, Thiruvananthapuram (1874), the Ayurveda College, Thiruvanthapuram (1889), the Sanskrit College, Thiruvananthapuram (1889), the Engineering College, Thiruvanthapuram (1939), the Swathi Thirunal Academy, (now College of Music) (1939), the Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram (1951), the Agricultural College, Thiruvanthapuram, (1955), and the Veterinary College, Trichur (1955) were started. In 1937, the University of Travancore with headquarters in Trivandrum was set up. In 1957 following the birth of Kerala State, the Travancore University was recognised as Kerala University with jurisdiction over the whole of the state until 1968 when the new University of Calicut was established to cater the needs of North Kerala. The Cochin University of Science and Technology, the Kerala Agricultural University, Trissur, The Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, the Sree Sankaracharya Sanskrit University, Kaladi, the North Malabar University Kannur were established later.
Food of Kerala
Food in Kerala is light, fresh and easy to eat. The main food items are rice, coconut and vegetables, apart from fish. Food is traditionally eaten by the hand and served on a banana leaf. Another interesting feature is the abundant use of coconut oil, chilli, mustard seeds, curry leaves, and coconut milk.
Arts & Culture of Kerala
Kerala is very rich in cultural heritage developed through the centuries and typical art forms, particularly folk dances. Kerala's culture is mainly Dravidian in origin, deriving from a greater Tamil-heritage region known as Tamilakam. Later, Kerala's culture was elaborated on through centuries of contact with overseas cultures.
Dance & Music of Kerala
Native performing arts include koodiyattom, kathakali – from katha (story) and kali (performance) – and its offshoot Kerala natanam, koothu (akin to stand-up comedy), mohiniaattam (dance of the enchantress), thullal, padayani, and theyyam. Other arts are more religion- and tribal-themed. These include chavittu nadakom, oppana (originally from Malabar), which combines dance, rhythmic hand clapping, and ishal vocalisations.
Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala is one of the oldest and most scientific and comprehensive systems of martial training existing in this world today, and it has its own system of medicine called kalari marma chikitsa. The state's architectural wealth is embodied in its nalukettu- the traditional kerala house and other temple structures. These buildings represent the art of wooden construction at its best. Today very few new structures respect the traditions of Kerala architecture.
Kerala's equable climate, natural abundance of medicinal resources, and the cool monsoon makes it the best place for curative and restorative packages using Ayurveda, a system of medicine developed around 600 BC in India. Kerala is the only state in India, which practices this system of medicine with absolute dedication. The monsoon atmosphere provides dust-free and cool environment, opening the pores of the body to the maximum, making it most receptive to herbal oils and therapy. This system of medicine gives attention on the prevention of body diseases in addition to curing them.