Kerala: Exploring the Beauty and Charm of God's Own Country

KeralaExploring the Beauty and Charm of God's Own Country

Kerala, also known as Keralam, is a state in India on the Malabar Coast. It was formed in 1956 by merging Malayalam-speaking regions. With a population of about 33 million, Kerala has the highest literacy rate, life expectancy, and sex ratio in India. Its capital is Thiruvananthapuram.

Kerala's economy relies on sectors like services and agriculture, with significant contributions from remittances. But what truly sets Kerala apart is its breathtaking natural beauty, a paradise for nature lovers.

Its rich culture is just the cherry on top, making it a popular tourist spot. In this article, we will delve into the charm of Kerala.

Kerala’s Rich History

The name "Kerala" has ancient origins. It first appeared as "Keralaputo" in a 3rd-century BCE inscription by Emperor Ashoka, referring to the son of the Chera dynasty rulers.

"Chera" comes from a word meaning 'lake,' while "Kerala" might signify 'land of the Cheras' or 'hillside.' Moreover, it is believed to come from "Kera," meaning 'coconut tree,' and "alam," meaning 'land.'

In trade, Kerala was called "Malabar," possibly originating from the Malayalam word for 'hill' or a mix of Malayalam and Persian/Arabic words. These roots show Kerala's diverse cultural and historical background.


Kerala's history is fascinating and varied. Ancient texts like the Purananuru mention kings like Senkuttuvan and Parasurama, who reclaimed land from the sea. Kerala was famous for its spices, attracting traders from around the globe, including Arabs, Phoenicians, and later Europeans like the Portuguese and Dutch.

Powerful kingdoms like the Cheras and later the Zamorins of Kozhikode rose in the region. British influence increased, leading to British rule in the 18th century.

The state witnessed significant revolts during the independence movement, such as the 1921 Malabar Rebellion. Today, Kerala is renowned for its diverse culture, lush scenery, and rich history.

Geography, Climate and Biodiversity

Kerala, located in southern India, sits between the Lakshadweep Sea and the Western Ghats mountain range. Its land varies from flat coastal plains to rugged mountains. The state's 590 km coastline is famous for its backwaters and estuaries, forming what's known as the Kerala Backwaters.

The Western Ghats, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dominate the eastern side and are home to many different plants and animals. Rivers like the Periyar and Bharathapuzha start here, providing water for Kerala's lush greenery.

Geography, Climate and Biodiversity
Geography, Climate and BiodiversityGeography, Climate and Biodiversity

The climate in Kerala is tropical, with heavy rainfall during the monsoon season from June to December. The Western Ghats catch the southwest monsoon winds, making Kerala the first place to receive rainfall in India.

Kerala's rich biodiversity is supported by its various ecosystems, with over 25% of India's plant species found here. There are diverse plants like teak, bamboo, wild pepper, and aromatic vetiver grass.

Animals like the Indian elephant, Bengal tiger, Malabar trogon bird, and great hornbill thrive in Kerala's forests, while lakes and waterways are home to species like the orange chromide fish and Red Line Torpedo Barb.

Despite natural disasters like floods and landslides, Kerala's unique geography continues to sustain its diverse wildlife and cultural heritage.

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Kerala’s Governance and Administration 

Kerala is divided into six regions comprising 14 districts, each governed by its own local government institutions. Governance follows a parliamentary system, with a Legislative Assembly consisting of 140 members. The state elects 20 members to the Lok Sabha and 9 to the Rajya Sabha.

Kerala boasts a well-established three-tier local government system, with decentralisation initiatives dating back to 1993. Known for its effective governance and minimal corruption, Kerala has been recognised as the best-governed state in India.

Political alliances like the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) hold significant importance in Kerala's political landscape. Presently, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan holds power in the state.

Kerala's Economic Landscape

Since independence, Kerala has followed a social democratic welfare model. However, starting from the 1990s, economic liberalisation sparked substantial growth, leading to high GSDP rates.

The service sector, particularly tourism, IT, and healthcare, has been a significant contributor to Kerala's economy, driving around 63% of Kerala's revenue. Moreover, industries like shipbuilding, oil refining, and food processing have also thrived.

Agriculture remains vital, with Kerala being a top producer of coconut, tea, coffee, and spices. Emigration plays an important role, with remittances from Keralites working abroad contributing significantly to the state's income. Yet, challenges persist, such as unemployment and environmental issues.

Traditional sectors like coir, handlooms, and handicrafts, which are a testament to Kerala's rich cultural heritage, continue to employ many people. Also, the fisheries sector, benefiting from Kerala's extensive coastline and water resources, is a significant player, supporting millions of livelihoods.

Transportation in Kerala

Kerala boasts a strong transportation network, covering over 331,904 kilometres of roads that connect major towns and cities. National Highway 66 runs along the west coast, while state highways crisscross the east.

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) offers extensive bus services, and the state's railway network links key destinations, with Thiruvananthapuram Central being the busiest station.

Kochi features India's only metro rail system, and Kerala is home to four international airports, including the world's first fully solar-powered airport, Cochin International Airport.

Additionally, the state's water transport system includes major ports, inland waterways, and the innovative Kochi Water Metro, enhancing connectivity across Kerala's water bodies.

Demographic Overview

Kerala, housing 2.8% of India's population, stands out with a density of 859 persons per square kilometre, nearly three times the national average.

Thiruvananthapuram emerges as its most populous city, while coastal regions are densely inhabited. Despite a slow population growth, Kerala's population doubled from 1951 to 1991, reaching 33.3 million by 2011.

Matrilineal inheritance practices have empowered women, leading to higher literacy rates and education levels. Kerala demonstrates progressiveness in LGBT rights, with supportive policies for transgender welfare and awareness campaigns.

With a commendable Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.770, Kerala shines in social development, boasting India's highest literacy rate of 96%. Its healthcare system is advanced, ensuring universal healthcare and minimal infant mortality.

Malayalam prevails as the predominant language, with significant religious diversity, where Hindus, Muslims, and Christians coexist harmoniously.

Education, Media, and Sports in Kerala

Kerala's education has a deep-rooted legacy, with the Kerala School of Astronomy and Mathematics flourishing from the 14th to 16th centuries, pioneering key mathematical concepts. Modern education reforms began in the early 19th century, culminating in complete literacy by 1991.

The state offers a 10-year curriculum spanning lower primary, upper primary, and secondary stages, with high enrolment rates and diverse streams for higher secondary education. Kerala boasts a well-established network of schools affiliated with various boards, including esteemed institutions like CMS College, Kottayam.

Embracing ICT-enabled education, Kerala's educational prowess garners national and international recognition, consistently ranking high in educational metrics.

Kerala's media scene is vibrant, with numerous newspapers published in Malayalam and English, enjoying the highest media exposure in India. DD Malayalam serves as the state-owned television broadcaster, complemented by a diverse array of private channels.

With a notable internet penetration rate, digital and social media platforms are significant sources of information and entertainment. Kerala's rich literary tradition and cultural activities further enhance its media landscape.

Kerala's sports arena boasts a rich heritage. It features the traditional martial art Kalaripayattu alongside fervent enthusiasm for cricket and football, with players excelling at national levels.

Renowned athletes like P. T. Usha hail from the state, which also embraces sports like volleyball, badminton, basketball, and kabaddi.

Hosting events such as the FIFA U-17 World Cup highlights Kerala's growing prominence in sports. Coupled with its robust education system and vibrant media environment, Kerala epitomises a dynamic and progressive outlook.

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Kerala’s Cultural Tapestry

Kerala's cultural tapestry, woven with Aryan, Dravidian, Arab, and European threads, is showcased through its diverse festivals, including the grand Thrissur Pooram and the harvest celebration of Onam.

The state's rich artistic legacy includes classical dance forms like Kathakali and vibrant folk traditions like Theyyam.

Renowned literary figures such as Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan and contemporary writers like M.T. Vasudevan Nair have left indelible marks on its literary landscape.

Cultural Tapestry
Cultural TapestryCultural Tapestry

In cuisine, Kerala tantalises with dishes like Thalassery biryani and flavorful seafood specialities such as karimeen, prawns, and other crustacean delights, alongside breakfast staples like idli, dosa, and appam. Elephants, revered as symbols of strength, are integral to Kerala's cultural fabric, embodying its timeless traditions and vibrant spirit.

Top Places to Visit in Kerala

Kerala, known as "God's Own Country," is filled with stunning destinations that tourists adore. You can relax on sunny beaches like Kovalam and Varkala or glide serenely along the backwaters of Alleppey and Kumarakom on a peaceful boat ride.

If you love mountains, Munnar, Wayanad, and Ponmudi, offer breathtaking views and lush tea gardens.

Top Places to Visit in Kerala
Top Places to Visit in KeralaTop Places to Visit in Kerala

Nature enthusiasts can explore Periyar Tiger Reserve and Eravikulam National Park to spot diverse wildlife and beautiful flora. History buffs can visit Fort Kochi and Padmanabhapuram Palace, or explore famous temples like Guruvayur and Sabarimala.

Don't forget to explore the enchanting backwater spots like Pathiramanal Island and Nileshwaram and witness the exhilarating Nehru Trophy Boat Race in Alleppey.

Whether for relaxation, adventure, or cultural exploration, Kerala has something unique for everyone to enjoy!

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