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"Kerala - Well Worth The Wait!!" Top 5 Page for this destination State of Kerala by suvanki

State of Kerala Travel Guide: 1,771 reviews and 4,444 photos

Kerala....Some background information

Kerala State was created in 1956, by the merging of 3 states: Travancore,Cochin and Malabar.

Mythologically, Parusurama (an incarnation of Vishnu), a warrior, who had killed many people during a 21 year battle, sought refuge and penance in the Western Ghats. He beseeched the gods for help. Varuna (the Sea God) pledged to give Parusurama land which equalled the distance he could throw his axe (Parusurama had acquired his name (parasu = axe) for his strength and skill with this weapon)
Parusurama, gave it his best shot, and flung the axe, which landed on Indias southern tip. The seas rolled back to expose the strip of land that is Kerala!! Creating a land of peace and harmony, thanks to Parusuramas penance!

Geological evidence supports this legend.
The Western Ghats, a mountain range of 1500km,which runs from the southern tip of India to Mumbai (Bombay), form Keralas eastern border. However, they once formed the coastline of the Arabian Sea! The land rose above the sea, due to volcanic activity, and expanded further as rivers carried their deposits seaward, turning ports into inland settlements. The landscape was, and still is transformed by the Lakshadweep Sea surging up the river beds, creating islands, lakes and The Backwaters.

The name Kerala may have come from the Sanskrit word keralam, which means land added on. Though the word kera means coconut!

The coastal area is very fertile, with coconut groves and rice paddies in abundance. These lowlands contain the backwaters, lakes and islands, as well as the beaches and bays.

Moving inland, the terrain becomes hillier, and coconut groves make way for rubber trees, spice plantations, tapioca, coffee and tea.

The Western Ghats, form Keralas eastern border with Tamil Nadu. The mountains rise to an average 900m high, with Anamudi(2,694m), near Munnar, being the highest Indian mountain south of the Himalaya.

Tea plantations and eucalyptus trees cover the terrain. The forests of teak, ebony and rosewood have diminished over the years.

The word malai = mountains, and Keralan people are known as Malayalis, their language being Malayalam.

More facts about Kerala, and what it has to offer

The population of Kerala is estimated to be around 32 million, with the majority living in rural areas. Kerala is unique in India for having a higher ratio of females to males 1036 : 1000. The growth rate is also lower than most states.

Kerala boasts 90% literacy, nearly 100% for young adults, literacy and education having had importance in this area for centuries. School attendance rose rapidly with the introduction of free school meals.
However, Kerala still remains one of the poorest states in India.

Despite this Kerala has many riches to offer its visitors.

Kerala is sometimes referred to as Gods own country, which may be due to being thought of as Heaven on Earth, but may also be due to the fact that here Hindus, Christians, Muslims and a small Jewish community all exist in harmony. It's not unusual to see a temple, mosque and church in close proximity, and their religion and associated festivals and customs add to the daily life of Keralans.

The earliest settlers of this area can be traced back to 10 BC, when hunting and cultivation were the main activities, later, literacy and the arts developed, followed by trading of spices, gems, precious timber and ivory.

New religions arrived, as trade routes were established, Buddhism and Jainism, then Judaism around 70 AD, by Jews fleeing persecution.

Later arrivals were the Portuguese in C 15th, aiming to gain control of the trade routes, but also introduced new crops.

Pepper and cardamom were an important comodity, which the Dutch were keen to have control over, again they left a legacy of improved farming and production methods during c17th.

The 18th century saw an attack by the Muslim Sultan of Mysore, which saw changes in the Hindu caste system and improvements in transport and finance.

The British then took control in 1800, although education, the arts, law, finance and transport systems improved, along with the introduction of coffee and new skills, it wasn't without trouble. A period of unrest with riots and terrorist attacks lasted for many years.

Independence was declared in 1947, with the formation of Kerala in 1956.
All of these events have left their mark on Kerala, as can be seen in daily life, architecture, cuisine and culture etc.

The Spice Route

Kerala had been at the top of my "Must See" list , since being enthralled by a radio programme about The Backwaters, nearly 10 years ago. Since then I'd been reading up, and knew the places I wanted to see/Things I wanted to do.

After a couple of false starts, I was on my way!
I booked a 2 week package, through Manos,a 5 day Spice Route tour and Kovalam, as this seemed the best way to see as much as I could in a short period of time, with minimal fuss.

I had a few days to relax in Kovalam, before setting off on New Years Eve, with 4 other travellers, our guide and a driver for the 8 hour journey to Periyar. This was my first visit to India, (the others had been to Kerala and/or Goa before), so everything was new to me.

I sat transfixed, as we sped through glorious scenery and busy towns and villages, stopping off at a rubber plantation on the way. We also encountered Tamil herdsmen, walking their cattle on the 6 day journey to sell them, before walking back and starting the journey all over again.
Sometimes, it seemed like there was too much to absorb. (Where was the remote control with the pause button)??

Our itinery was as follows:

Day 1 Travel to Periyar, overnight at Spice Village, with New Years Eve Gala

Day 2 Early start for Periyar, boat trip.
Breakfast, then visit to tea plantation and factory, spice plantation and garden. Spice shop. afternoon free. Overnight at Spice Village

Day 3 journey to Munnar, through breathtaking scenery of mountains and tea plantations. Afternoon at Eravikulam National park, with chance to see Nilgiri goats, then visit to market in Munnar. Overnight at Copper Castles Hotel

Day 4 journey to Cochin, check in at Casino Hotel, afternoon free. Evening Kathakali performance

Day5 Boat trip to see Chinese Fishing Nets and St Francis Church, then onto Jew Town, the Jewish synagogue and the Dutch Palace, before the journey back to Kovalam.

Back in Kovalam, besides enjoying the beach life, I got to experience The Backwaters, an Ayuverdic treatment session and rode an elephant.

This is covered in more depth in my Kovalam, Periyar, Munnar and Cochin pages. Some of the tips are duplicated, but with different photos.

For me, this tour was an ideal way to see a lot of what Kerala had to offer in a short space of time. We were lucky to have an excellent guide, who was very informative, spoke excellent english, and had a brilliant sense of humour. We had quite a bit of freedom too, to decide what WE wanted to see and do

The driver was exceptional too, we were all shocked to realise, this had been his first time driving this route, we all thought he knew it like "the back of his hand"! as he was so careful.

This tour was great value and I stayed in hotels that I couldn't afford to stay in normally, and wouldn't normally have chosen, but glad I had the opportunity.

All in All, I had a fantastic 2 weeks in Kerala, It was all I'd expected and a lot more besides, as I said, Well worth the wait!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Wow! where do I start???
  • Cons:Can't think of any, except for having to leave!
  • In a nutshell:Was it all a dream?
  • Last visit to State of Kerala: Jan 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (39)

Comments (25)

  • Aug 30, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    Have enjoyed a journey through Kerala thank you. Our next visit to India will hopefully include Kerala too. India has so much to offer.

    • suvanki's Profile Photo
      Sep 2, 2013 at 3:06 PM

      Errr possible catch up was in Karlsruhe, not in India!

    • Sep 2, 2013 at 3:11 PM

      I realised that lol........I was thinking of booking for Chris and I but there again if want the meet in Kerala.....................<br>

  • Jul 31, 2010 at 3:34 AM

    It's a wonderful detail write up on kerala. But you missed writing about Kerala backwater. This is the most visited place in Kerala

  • cherrybug's Profile Photo
    Jul 5, 2007 at 3:17 PM

    Hi Sue, Love your Kerela page - I'm still to build mine, was there in February and reading your page brought back wonderful memories which help me to cope with the current UK monsoons!

  • Vulindlela's Profile Photo
    Apr 1, 2007 at 5:06 PM

    Fascinating page! Thank you for the great photos and tips.

  • AcornMan's Profile Photo
    Jan 6, 2007 at 2:10 PM

    Very informative tips! I'm headed to Kerala this coming summer and I appreciate the advice.

  • mad4travel's Profile Photo
    Apr 20, 2006 at 2:03 PM

    Hello Sue, really enjoyed your Kerala pages. You do get around! I'm hoping to get to India later this year.

  • RickinDutch's Profile Photo
    Apr 4, 2006 at 11:43 AM

    Wow - great and detail photos and tips of Kerala! India just gets in the blood - doesn't it?

  • hindu1936's Profile Photo
    Mar 27, 2006 at 4:47 PM

    great stuff! much appreciated. we learn more than tourist information on these pages. thank you

  • mikelisaanna's Profile Photo
    Jan 28, 2006 at 12:51 PM

    Kerala looks fascinating. Another destination to add to our wish list!

  • ian-uk's Profile Photo
    Jan 11, 2006 at 11:43 PM

    Happy Birthday Sue, loved your Kerala pages didn't get to that part of India myself. Have a great day and take care, Ian


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