Kerala – “Gods Own Country” in India
#3 in Best Places to Visit in India - Kerala, often referred to as “Gods Own Country” for its scenic beauty is one of the 28 states of India. The southern most state is located with the Arabian Sea in the west, the mountains of Western Ghats to the east. It borders the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The beautiful mountains on one side and the sea on the other make it a tourist destination for Indians and foreigners. Travel and Leisure names Kerala as “One of the 100 great trips for the 21st century”. A land of backwaters, temples, beaches and hill stations, Kerala is home to scenic beauty and vibrant cultural heritage. The state is also known for its high level of literacy and often referred to as the model Indian state with a Human Development Index of 0.92 and literacy rate of 95% (which rivals many developed countries). These educated natives are referred to a Keralites, however they refer to themselves more commonly as Malayalees or Mallus (in vernacular). A common mistake many people including Malayalees make is spelling Kerala as “Kerala”.
Kerala Tourist Destinations
Kerala was unknown to the world until the 1980s and it is only in the 1990s that tourism as an industry took a strong hold. Today tourists flock to beaches in Kovalam, Varkala and Cherai to soak in the sun. On the other hand undisturbed nature, wildlife awaits the avid traveller in Wayanad, Munnar, Kumarakom, Vagamon and Thekkady.
Culture & Heritage of Kerala
Malayalees are known for their keen interest in art, science and simplicity. The culture is a reflection of this fact. According to Census of India figures, 55% of residents in Kerala are Hindus, 24% Muslims, 19% Christians, and the remaining 2% follows other religions. All religious festivals are celebrated in style. The Hindu festivals of Onam and Vishu are celebrated by everyone with the same passion. Among must see places of great important are the temples of Guruvayoor and Sabarimala. Tens of millions of people visit these two temples each year to pay homage to residing deities of Guruvayoorappan and Ayyappan respectively.
Famous art and dance in Kerala include the leading dance forms of Kathakali, Mohiniyattam among others and ancient martial art of Kalaripayattu. Kerala is also the birth place of ancient medical science of Ayurveda and Homoeopathy, which are widely practised in the state.
A Brief History of Kerala
Indian religious texts show the birth of Kerala to the act of Parasurama (a warrior sage with great powers) who threw his battle axe into the see, and Kerala rose from the waters. There are many mystical stories that surround Kerala, and you can read them all here.
In modern history, after the independence of India in 1947, the states of Travancore and Cochin joined India. The state of Kerala as we know it today was formed in 1956. Interestingly the first election in the state led to a communist party coming to power in a democratic India, and continues to be a part of active politics even today – a testimony to its lively cultural background.