Kerala, South India has immense
potential for nature tours especially for nature lovers and
natural beauty lovers. Kerala in South India has it all, hills
covered with luxuriant greens, natural greens, beaches, Kerala
backwaters, acres of coconut palms, rice barges, temples and a lot
more. No wonder, it has been aptly named as "God's Own Country."
This adds to the reason that Kerala has today become one of the
most popular destinations in India amongst the travellers from
India and abroad. When Kerala comes to my mind I cannot stop
myself from mentioning places like Cochin, Munnar, Alleppey, and
Kumarakom, which offers an additional flavour for people
travelling to Kerala.
Kerala is located on the southwestern tip of
India with the Arabian Sea on the west and Western Ghats towering
500-2700m on the east. The State is divided into three regions -
the coastal lowlands, the fertile midlands and the highlands. The
lowland of Kerala is a costal belt relatively flat and are
networked by endless backwaters and the deltas of forty-four
rivers. The midland is made up of undulating hills and valleys.
This area is rich with cashew, coconut, arecanut, tapioca, banana,
rice, ginger, pepper, sugarcane and vegetable plantations. The
forested high lands slope down from western ghats which rise to an
average height of 900 meters with a number of peaks over 1500
meters in height. This is an area abound in tea, coffee, rubber
and spice plantations and wildlife reserves.
Kerala, India's most advanced society: A
hundred percent literate people. World-class health care systems.
India's lowest infant mortality and highest life expectancy rates.
The highest physical quality of life in India. Peaceful and
pristine, Kerala is also India's cleanest state.
History states that Kerala's original
inhabitants were animists, followed by the Dravidians. Later, the
Indo- Aryans with their military superiority drove the Dravidians
down east and south wards.The south was eventually dominated by
three powerful kingdoms - The Cheras, Cholas, Pallavas and pandyas.
The Dravidian-Aryan encounter led to a
complex social pattern in Kerala called "Marumakkathayam" or the
matrilineal system, which allowed women the right to inherit the
family property. The Brahmins or priestly class were called -
Nambudiris.The former chieftains displaced by the Aryan influx,
were absorbed into the Kshatriya or the princely class. Regular
Warfare among local chieftains led to the evolution of a special
community of warriors called Nairs.The Nairs were bred to be
fighters. Some of them were trained like the Samurai as suicide
squads. Known as 'Chavers', these warriors would fight their way
through an enemy attack in an orgy of death, that astonished even
The pepper vine has played a vital role in
shaping Kerala's history. When the queen of Sheba made her
celebrated entry into Jerusalem, she carried in her train "spices,gold,
precious stones and the wood of the almug tree" (sandalwood) from
Ophir. Scholars believe Ophir is the town of Puhar that existed
close to where the city of Thiruvananthapuram is today. Remnants
from the temples and palaces of Nebuchadnezzar included hardwoods,
that must have come from the tropical forest of Kerala. Pliny the
Elder complained in the first century, that the Roman nobility of
his time had depleted the treasury with their greed for pepper.
Almost upto the 16th century, the Arabs
monopolized the pepper trade. After Alexander's triumphant sweep
over Asia Minor, the greeks provided some competition. Gradually
the ports of Kerala became a link between the Middle East, the
Mediterranean and China. Remnants of the chinese influence include
the giant fishing nets at Kochi, Alapuzha and Kollam, the 'Cheena
chutty', the use of flat copper tiles on temple roofs and the
shallow sampan-like boats.
In 1498, Vasco da Gama made his historic
Landing on the Malabar Coast. Throughout the next century, the
Danes, the Portugese, the French and the British went on a flag
planting spree to establish their rights. It was a Dutch hike in
the price of pepper by one shilling that led to the formation of
the East India Company in December, 1599. The Portugese passage
through Kerala, was a stormy one. They worked very hard at
annoying the native Keralites, by stirring up the local christian
population and stopping rice shipments. In contrast, the Dutch
concentrated on trade and remained in the area for more than 130
In 1723, the East India Company signed a
strategic treaty with King Marthanda Varma. For a few decades,
Hyder Ali and his son -Tipu sultan proved to be a thorn in the
flesh of the British, sweeping down several times into Kerala.
Ultimately Tipu's luck ran out and suffered a humiliating defeat.
The British took over and pensioned off the old rulers. Finally,
in 1947, it was the turn of the British to pack their bags and