Kerala (or Keralam, കേരളം ) is a South Indian state in India. It is the most literate state in India with a literacy rate greater than 90%.
The State of Kerala was formed by amalgamation of three regions: Kingdom Thiruvithaamkoor (Travancore), Kingdom of Kochi (Cochin), and Malabar Province. Thiruvithaamkoor and Kochi, former princely states, were merged to form Thiru-Kochi on July 1, 1949. Malabar was merged with Thiru-Kochi to form the State of Kerala on November 1, 1956.
Kerala is divided into 14 districts.
They are (from north)
Kollam (Quilon) and
Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of the state.
More than 95% of the people in Kerala speak Malayalam.
The major religions followed in Kerala are Hinduism (58%), Islam (21%), and Christianity (21%). Kerala also has a tiny Jewish population, said to date from 587 BC when they fled the occupation of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. The state has many famous temples, churches, and mosques. The synagogue in Kochi is the oldest one in India.
Kovalam Beach - tourists and fishermen
Kerala occupies a narrow strip of India's southwestern coast. It is bounded by the Arabian Sea on the west and the Western Ghats in the east.
Many places in Kerala have become tourist attractions. These vary from beaches to hill stations. Central Kerala's backwaters (inlets of the sea connected by canals) are major tourist attractions. One of the premier tourist attractions is Kovalam, which is 20 minutes by taxi from Thiruvananthapuram. Western tourists lounge on the beach while fishermen pull in their nets with the catch.
The states of Karnataka in the north and Tamil Nadu in the east are Kerala's immediate neighbours. A part of the union territory of Pondicherry, Mahe, also shares a land border with Kerala.
List of political parties in the state
Kerala gained the distinction, in 1957, of having the first democratically elected Communist government anywhere in the world. Kerala has a reputation as being one of the most left wing states in India. Today the political life of Kerala is dominated by two fronts, the United Democratic Front (led by the Indian National Congress) and the Left Democratic Front (led by CPI(M)). Currently UDF holds the government.
Following is the chronological list of Chief Ministers of Kerala
Kerala has a rich tradition in Arts, both classical and folk. In addition to the classical uppercaste art forms like Koodiyattom (UNESCO Human Heritage Art), Kathakali, Mohiniyaattam and Ayappan Thiyatu, Kerala has numerous folk art forms performed by non-uppercastes in various regions of the state. Both classical and folk art forms have become artefacts of the past as contemporary art forms weave their own identity according to the contemporary needs. Mimicry and Parody are two of the most popular entertainments in Kerala now. Though at times very insensitive to women and subalterns, the mimicry artists dare to expose any luminary in Kerala's social life.
Malayalam Cinema is another form of creativity, and films from Kerala are very distinct from films made in Bollywood or Hollywood.
Mountain and Tea estates view
Kerala ranks highest in India with respect to "social development parameters" such as primary education and healthcare. Kerala was declared the world's first "baby-friendly state" under WHO-UNICEF's Baby Friendly Hospital initiative. The state is known for Ayurveda, a traditional system of medicine, which finds great market in the growing tourist industry now.
Literacy in Kerala, at higher than 90%, and unemployment rate, at higher than 40%, are the highest among Indian states. This is mainly due to the policies of earlier governments, which made these services available free of cost to Keralites who would not otherwise have access to them. Education and early influences of arabs and portugese has also made Kerala one of the most secular states in India. Ironically, Kerala is also noted as the state with the highest suicide rate in India.
Kerala has an ancient solar calendar called as the Malayalam calendar which is used by various communities only for religious functions. Kerala has its own form of Martial arts, Kalaripayattu. Theyyam is the most outstanding ritual art of Northern part of Kerala known as North Malabar. Poorakkali is another popular ritual art in North Malabar.
Onam associated with the legend of Mahabali is declared the State festival, but Keralites celebrate many other religious and secular festivals.
Kerala's economy can be best described as a socialistic welfare economy.
However, Kerala's emphasis on social welfare also resulted in slow economic progress. Kerala possesses few major industries, and its per capita GDP is lower than the nation's average of 360 USD per year (1998). Remittances from Keralites working abroad, mainly in the Middle East, make up over 60% of the state's GDP.
Agriculture is the most important economic activity. Coconut, Tea and rubber are grown extensively. Coir (Coconut fiber), Cashew, and Spice are among the most important products.
Tourism, too, plays an important role in the state's economy. Kerala is a popular tourist destination for both domestic and foreign travellers. Kerala has great beaches (Kovalam , Varkala), serene hill stations, national parks (Thekady and Munnar) and beautiful inwaters Kumarakom.
People have lived in the region now known as Kerala since ancient times. Regional identity developed in the 14th century with the development of the Malayalam language.
Vasco da Gama's voyage to Kerala from Portugal in 1498 was largely motivated by Portuguese determination to break the Kerala Muslims' control over the trade between local spice producers and the Middle East. He established India's first Portuguese fortress at Cochin (Kochi) in 1503 and from there, taking advantage of rivalry existing between the royal families of Calicut and Cochin, managed to destroy the monopoly.
The dispute between Calicut and Cochin, however, provided an opportunity for the Dutch to come in and finally expel the Portuguese from their forts. The British moved into the area in the form of the British East India Company and were firmly established in Kerala by the beginning of the seventeenth century. Tipu Sultan attempted to encroach on British-held territory in 1792, but he was defeated and the British remained in control until independence.
The Portuguese were surprised to discover, when they arrived in Kerala in 1498, that Christianity was already established. According to legend, the history of christianity in Kerala dates back to the arrival of St. Thomas the Apostle at Kodungallur in A.D. 52. A Christian-Jewish community was founded by a contingent of Syriac-Nasranis who arrived in 192 via Baghdad. The ancient Syrian-christians lived alongside the Cochin Jews. (see Saint Thomas Christians)
Modern day Kerala was created in 1956 from Malabar, which had been part of the Madras Presidency, and from Travancore and Cochin. The latter two were princely states which had been ruled by maharajas, both being somewhat unique among their kind in that they had concerned themselves with the education and provision of basic services to the residents of their territories.
Following are few notable praises/sayings about Kerala and Malayalis
- National Geographic society described Kerala one of the 50 must see destinations of a lifetime.
- 'State of Enlightenment' a Title for Kerala in a National Geographic traveller essay (2001)- by Anthony Weller with Photographs by Macduff Everton.
- By tourism department, Kerala is quoted as God's Own Country
- Malayalis are often known to be available throughout the world. A parody which is popular in Kerala says Neil Armstrong was served chaya (Tea) in moon by a Malayali (which means Malayalis were already there at moon!).
- Malayalis are widely known for running many Tea shops around the world. It is also common to refer Tea shop as Nair shop and chaya kada in India.
- Wherever Malayalis go, they yearn to come back , settle down and raise their children back home .To "Go abroad, make some money and come back" seems to be ingrained into the malayalee psyche.
- It is also common to refer Malayalis as educated and clean twice bath takers.
- Beedi (ciga), beard, lungi, Mundu, chaya (Tea), are usually associated with Malayalis.
- A matriarchal society where Malayali women are seen as the most intelligent in all of India
List of famous Keralites
- Abu Abraham - cartoonist, worked in The Guardian
- Abraham Kovoor - Rationalist and Atheist
- Adi Sankara - 8th century saint, poet, thinker, reviver of Hinduism in India
- Adoor Gopalakrishnan - film maker
- Ajitha-former naxalite and woman's rights activist
- Anita Nair - An internationally published contemporary Indian Writer
- Anju George - First Indian woman to win a bronze medal at the World Athletics Championships. She won the medal in Paris, 2003.
- G.Aravindan - Film maker
- Arundhati Roy - Booker Prize, 1997 for The God of Small Things
- Ayyankali -Social activist who fought for dalit rights
- Changanpuzha Krishna Pillai - (1911-48),poet
- Chembai Vaidyanatham Bhagavathar-Carnatic vocalist
- K.S. Chitra - playback singer
- George Sudarsan - physicist
- Hariharan - singer, ghazal, film and pop songs; record-breaking album Colonial Cousins
- Jayan - Film actor
- Jassie Gift - Musician
- Jimmy George- Volleyball player
- John Abraham- film maker,'Amma ariyan','Agraharathil Kaluthai' are some of his films
- M.C.Joseph - Rationalist, founder editor of Yukthivadi
- Kamala Das, also known as Madhavikutty - poetess, Asian Poetry Prize, 1964, Kent Award,1965
- V.R Krishna Iyer-Judge,human rights activist.
- M Krishnan Nair- critic famous for his column 'sahithyavaraphalam'
- V K Krishna Menon- Former Defence Minister of India and renowned Statesman.
- Kumaran Asan-Poet
- K. J. Yesudas - singer, devotional and film songs, exponent of Carnatic music
- K R Narayanan - President of India (1997-2002)
- M.T.Vasudevan Nair - Writer and Cinema personality, popularly known as M.T
- Madhava - 14th century mathematician
- Manoj "Night" Shyamalan - Hollywood film director, The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs
- Madhavan Nair -Chaiman, ISRO
- Mammootty - film actor. Three-time winner of the Best Actor prize at the (Indian) National Film Awards: 1990 (for Mathilukal and Oru Vadakkan Veera Gaatha), 1995 (for Ponthan Maada and Vidheyan) and 2001 (for Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar)
- Menon,Chandu -Author of the first Malayalam novel 'Indulekha'.
- Menon,V.P - The bureaucrat who helped Sardar Patel in the formation of the Indian Union.
- Mohanlal - film actor. Two-time winner of the Best Actor prize at the (Indian) National Film Awards: 1992 (for Bharatham) and 2000 (for Vaanaprastham)
- Mrinalini (Swaminathan) Sarabhai - danseuse. Wife of Late Indian Physicists, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai and mother of Mallika Sarabhai.
- M Mukundan -Novelist
- Sree Narayana Guru - social reformer, teacher and founder of the SNDP (Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam), created for the upliftment of the low-caste communities of Kerala.
- Nithya Chaitanya Yati - Scholar,Monk
- K.C.S Panikkar - Painter
- K.M Panikkar - Historian
- Padmarajan - film maker
- Pazhassi Raja - Feudal lord who fought the British and was martyred.
- Prem Naseer or Prem Nazir - leading Malayalam cinema actor of the 60's and 70's. At one time he was considered to have acted in the lead role in more movies than any other actor.
- Raj,K.N - Economist who played a key role in India's first five year planning and was also behind the excellence f Delhi School of Economics,
- Raja Ravi Varma - Painter.
- Sir. Sankaran Nair,C The ony malayalee to have become the president of Indian National Congress.
- Sankaran,Mattanoor -Chenda player
- Shaji N Karun - film maker
- Shanker - cartoonist.
- Shashi Tharoor - novelist, Commonwealth Writers Prize, 1991; Under- Secretary-General (Communication and Public Information) of the United Nations
- Shobhana - Bharathanathyam Dancer and Film actress.
- Vallathol Narayana Menon - Poet
- Vaikom Muhammad Basheer - writer, philosopher.
- P.T.Usha - Indian Athletics Legend.
- Vayalar Rama Varma-Poet lyricist
- Varghese - Naxalite leader
- Dr Verghese Kurien - architect of India's Milk Revolution.
- B.G Verghese-Journalist
- O.V.Vijayan - Novelist, cartoonist.
- Mata Amritanandamayi-A self-proclaimed godwoman.
- Great/Eminent Personalities of Kerala (http://www.gods-own-country.info/great.html)
-  (http://www.keralam.com)
- Collection of Kerala Websites (http://www.123kerala.com/)
- Kerala's Largest Entertainment Portal (http://www.malayalammp3.tk)
- Kerala Information & Reference (http://kerala-info.newkerala.com)
- The Official Web site of Kerala Government (http://www.kerala.gov.in)
- More Kerala Info from Department of Public Relations (http://www.prd.kerala.gov.in/prd2/keralam/ke.htm)
- Kerala Tourism Information (http://www.keralatourism.org)
- Kerala News & Current Affairs (http://www.123bharath.com/kerala-india-news/)
- History of Kerala (http://kerala-history.nrksite.com/)