Kerala – God’s Own Country
Kerala, one of the most splendid place situated on the Southern tip India, is one of the most popular tourist destinations/Attractions in India. Alternatively & quite popularly Kerala has been termed as “God’s Own Country”, an attractive tag coined by Mr. Walter Mendez, Creative Director of a reputed Ad agency in India. The tag was coined by Mr. Mendez on the request of Kerala Tourism Department, who wanted to capitalize on Kerala’s tourism potentialities. Kerala used to be referred as “the land of Coconuts” as well which reflects the presence of Coconut trees in nearly all the coastal line of Kerala. Kerala features in many magazines & articles world over, as one of the “Must-See locations”. A haven for tourists, famous for its backwaters, its beaches, “God’s own Country”, is a must see for a visit to India.
Kerala is blessed with unmistakable beauty with the Western Ghats (mountains) in its East, Arabian Sea in the west and a cultural diverse and unique in its own right. This amazing location is networked by 44 rivers, which is simply amazing & a sight to behold.
Kerala is divided into 3 distinct geographical regions : the Highlands, which descend from the Western Ghats onto the Midlands, surging hills & valleys and the conjoined coastline with many spell bounding backwaters, interconnected with canals & rivers. All of this provides a traveler with exploratory choices such as Hill stations, Beaches, Backwaters, Wildlife, Waterfalls geographically close to each other. Such facility enables a traveller to explore around from one destination to another with much ease and enjoy all these wonderful experiences in a short span of time. This provides an edge to Kerala than other places as it has multiple themes to visit from.
Kerala’s history is intertwined with its commerce, which mostly was around its spice trade. The conducive geography & much of the monsoon winds pouring over this small piece of land make it really fertile. This made Kerala an ideal place for cultivation of spices of the best quality. Hence Kerala was known as the “Spice Coast of India“.
Kerala (God’s own country) has a strong imprint in various forms- architecture, cuisine or literature, left by the British, Portuguese, Greeks, Dutch, Romans, Arabs, Chinese, Dutch & the French. One can visit the Spice Plantations & get a first hand experience of those wonderful & globally acclaimed spices. Owing to the spices, the cuisines are something not to be missed once one is in Kerala. Owing to this scrumptious fact, Kerala’s cuisine often finds itself in various magazines & periodicals for offering “Once-to-be-tasted” foods.
Kerala has a wealthy cultural heritage. Historically it is a synthesis of Aryan & Dravidian cultures. Now its multitudinous culture is shaped by the main religions of the region: Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. In the historic development of Kerala’s cultural traditions are exquisite sculptures, music and dance styles. There are dance styles like Kathakali & Mohiniyattam (See Also: Mohiniyattam – Dance of the Enchantress) that have blossomed from their folk origins into highly evolved classical dance forms. It is Kathakali that has led to Kerala gaining a lot of popularity worldwide. Other dance forms of Kerala include Thullal, Oppanna, Krishnanattom, Mohiniyattom, Thiruvathirakali , Koodiyattom, Kolkkali, Kakkarishi Natakom and Chavittunatakom.
Kerala is also known to be one of India’s most progressive states in terms of social welfare and quality of life. Kerala has India’s highest literacy rates, highest life expectancy and lowest infant mortality rates. The State also boasts of one of the highest literacy rate for women in all of Asia.
Kerala is renowned for its colourful & vivid celebration of festivals which makes it a tourist hot-spot. The most popular & well known being the Onam, which is celebrated to mark the Harvest Festival of Kerala. The festival goes on for 10 days which involves dance forms of various local cultures, boat races & processions in some places. People also dress-up as various creatures like Lion & Tiger marking the ancient time period. Other major attraction is Vishu, essentially called as the New Year for the people of Kerala, based on the ancient Malayalam Calendar.
Theyyam is perhaps the most oldest (800 years old) & the most colourful festival of Kerala with 400 types of local culture dances, with dancers dressed as deities & with colourful makeup. It is also one of the most documented festival. Thrissur Pooram Festival, similarly, is one of the oldest festivals celebrated in Kerala. The traditional pooja goes on for 36 hours non-stop & which ends with enthralling fireworks. The highlight or the star attraction is the captivating sight of wonderfully decorated Elephants that pass through the streets on the beats of massive drums. The sight of intricately decorated Elephants passing through the streets is absolutely majestic. All the aforementioned festivals are now known globally as they have been extensively documented.
One of the main tourist attractions is the spectacular Boat Race Festival, which attracts tourists from far & near. It is also one of the major sports of Kerala.
Backwater rides are the notable hotspots & highlight of Kerala. The lovely canals, lakes and Arabian Sea area unit all form a part of these backwater rides, wherever these boat races happen. It is a spectacular sight with Boats of different sizes competing. Each boat is massive holding upto twenty five rowers. It is a spectacular view, where you can see the team spirit & great enthusiasm among the riders. This engrossing action makes for an tremendous experience.
Astonishingly, Attukul Pongala is a secular festival which is celebrated irrespective of caste, religion or color. It also holds a Guinness Book of World Record for hosting largest female crowd on an annual basis.
The timeless beauty of the palm embroidered beaches of Kovalam and Varkala, the majesty of the billowing hills of Munnar and Vagamon, the serenity of the crystal clear backwaters of Kuttanad & Kumarakom and the bewitching woods and forests of Thekkady & Silent Valley will leave you speechless. That such a small terrain can hold such diverse geographical features and cultures is a wonder in itself, hence affirming its rightful sobriquet “God’s Own Country”.
See Also: Maharashtra, A Colossal Mosaic of People
Kerala Cuisine provides options and satisfies the taste of every individual. With Sadya – the eternal favourite as the traditional lunch and options ranging from appam and dish idili as breakfast, Malabar biryanis and roasted fish in balance leaf as non-veg dish to the various seafood options, this state is the place to be for the taste of real India.
Festivals and Art go hand-in-hand in God’w own country. As in rest of the country, Kerala has also been influenced by traditions and cultures through the ages which shows in its festivals such as Onam, Some of the unique festivals which is a feature of the state of Kerala are Theyyam, Pooram, Patayani and the Boat races.
Kerala is a beautiful place bounded by seas and the Western Ghat. It is rich in scenic beauty and has pristine beaches and the famous backwaters.
Official Web Page of Kerala Tourism:
The Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala maintains one of the most popular tourism and travel related websites in India. The web portal for the tourism website is https://www.keralatourism.org/
Some of the unique features of the portal are:
- Around 200 cuisines from Kerala with recipes for around 100 of them maintained on the portal
Directory of accredited business/service providers across categories.
Featured Photo by mehul.antani