Quick facts

Quick facts about Kerala, the southern most state of India.

With the international airports in Trivandrum, Kochi and Calicut, Kerala is one of the most internationally connected states of India. The state is also blessed with well connected road, rail and water networks. With eight national highways and 72 state highways running through this narrow strip of a state, reaching from one place to other is easy. Kerala has a total of 1,70,000 km of roads with a class one core road network of 32,000 km, which makes travelling across the state easy. Kerala state road transport corporation (KSRTC) and private bus operators connect the cities and towns of Kerala. Air conditioned luxury buses connect Kerala to Coimbatore, Bangalore, Mysore and Chennai. Tourist taxis are available throughout Kerala and are a good option to cover short distances. From the airports, one can either get into air conditioned buses (cheaper), or avail a pre-paid taxi to the nearest city. Rent a car facility is also available. For a local city travel, auto rickshaws are a good option. Some cities offer rent a cycle facility as well. With a coastline of around 590 km and 17 ports across the state, waterways are also a cheap and common mode of transport in Kerala. Kollam  (Quilon), Alapuzha (Alleppey), Kottayam and Ernakulam are the districts with inland water transport systems.



Time Zone : Indian Standard Time (IST) - UTC+ 5:30
Rainfall : 350cm annually


State language : Malayalam, English is familiar.
State Symbol  : Sri Padmanabha Swami Shanku
State song      : Vanchi bhoomi
State animal    : Indian elephant
State bird       : Great hornbill
State tree        : Coconut
State sport     : Kalaripayattu
State dance    : Kathakali, Mohiniyattam
State flower   : Golden shower tree
State fish       : Green chromide
State fruit      : Jack fruit
State costume : Mundum neryathum (women), Mundum shirtum (men)

Kerala is situated on the lush and tropical Malabar Coast. Kerala is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Its unique culture and traditions, coupled with its varied demographics, has made Kerala one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. National Geographic's Traveller magazine names Kerala as one of the "ten paradises of the world" and "50 must see destinations of a lifetime". Travel and Leisure names Kerala as "One of the 100 great trips for the 21st century".Until the early 1980s, Kerala was a relatively unknown destination; most tourist circuits focused on North India. Aggressive marketing campaigns launched by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, the government agency that oversees tourism prospects of the state, laid the foundation for the growth of the tourism industry.In the decades that followed, Kerala's tourism industry was able to transform the state into one of the niche holiday destinations in India. The tagline Kerala- God's Own Country has been widelys] used in Kerala's tourism promotions and soon became synonymous with the state. In 2006, Kerala attracted 8.5 million tourist arrivals, an increase of 23.68% over the previous year, making the state one of the fastest-growing destinations in the world. The state's tourism industry is a major contributor to the state's economy which is currently growing at a rate of 13.31%.


Kerala is known for its ecotourism initiatives.The most popular tourist attractions in the state are beaches, backwaters and hill stations. These include the beaches at Kovalam, Cherai, Varkala, Kappad, Muzhappilangad and Bekal; the hill stations of Munnar, Wayanad, Wagamon, Peermade, Nelliampathi and Ponmudi; and national parks and wildlife sanctuaries at Periyar, Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary and Eravikulam National Park. The "backwaters" is an extensive network of interlocking rivers, lakes, and canals that center around Alleppey, Kumarakom, Kollam and Punnamada (where the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held in August). Heritage sites, such as the Padmanabhapuram Palace and the Mattancherry Palace, are also visited. Cities such as Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode are popular centres for their shopping and traditional theatrical performances respectively. During early summer, the Thrissur Pooram is conducted, attracting foreign tourists who are largely drawn by the festival's elephants and celebrants. The main pilgrim tourist spots of Kerala are Sabarimala Temple, Padmanabhaswamy Temple (Thiruvananthapuram), Padanilam Parabrahma Temple(Mavelikkara), Chettikulangara Temple, Vadakumnathan Temple, Guruvayoor Temple, Sarkara Devi Temple, Malayattor Church and Parumala Church.
  Kerala is wedged between the Lakshadweep sea and the Western Ghats. Lying between north latitudes 8°18' and 12°48' and east longitudes 74°52' and 77°22', Kerala experiences the humid equatorial tropic climate. The state has a coast of length 590 km (370 mi) and the width of the state varies between 35 and 120 km (22–75 miles). Geographically, Kerala can be divided into three climatically distinct regions: the eastern highlands (rugged and cool mountainous terrain), the central midlands (rolling hills), and the western lowlands (coastal plains). Located at the extreme southern tip of the Indian subcontinent, Kerala lies near the centre of the Indian tectonic plate; hence, most of the state is subject to comparatively little seismic and volcanic activity. 

The eastern Kerala region consists of high mountains, gorges and deep-cut valleys immediately west of the Western Ghats' rain shadow. Forty-one of Kerala’s west-flowing rivers, and three of its east-flowing ones originate in this region. The Western Ghats form a wall of mountains interrupted only near Palakkad, where the Palakkad Gap breaks through to provide access to the rest of India. The Western Ghats rises on average to 1,500 m (4920 ft) above sea level, while the highest peaks may reach to 2,500 m (8200 ft). Anamudi is the highest peak at an elevation of 2,695 metres (8,842 ft). Just west of the mountains lie the midland plains comprising central Kerala, dominated by rolling hills and valleys. Generally ranging between elevations of 250–1,000 m (820–3300 ft), the eastern portions of the Nilgiri and Palni Hills include such formations as Agastya Mala and Anamala.

Kerala’s western coastal belt is relatively flat, and is criss-crossed by a network of interconnected brackish canals, lakes, estuaries, and rivers known as the Kerala Backwaters. Lake Vembanad, Kerala’s largest body of water, dominates the Backwaters; it lies between Alappuzha and Kochi and is more than 200 km2 (77 sq mi) in area. Around 8% of India's waterways (measured by length) are found in Kerala. The most important of Kerala’s forty-four rivers include the Periyar (244 km), the Bharathapuzha (209 km), the Pamba (176 km), the Chaliyar (169 km), the Kadalundipuzha River (130 km), the Valapattanam (129 km) and the Achankovil (128 km). The average length of the rivers of Kerala is 64 km. Many of the rivers are small and entirely fed by monsoon rains. These conditions result in the nearly year-round water logging of such western regions as Kuttanad, 500 km² of which lies below sea level. As Kerala's rivers are small and lack deltas, they are more prone to environmental factors. The rivers also face problems such as sand mining and pollution. The state experiences several natural hazards such as landslides, floods, lightning and droughts. The state was also affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
 
With 120–140 rainy days per year, Kerala has a wet and maritime tropical climate influenced by the seasonal heavy rains of the southwest summer monsoon In eastern Kerala, a drier tropical wet and dry climate prevails. Kerala's rainfall averages 3,107 mm (122 in.) annually. Some of Kerala's drier lowland regions average only 1,250 mm (49 in.); the mountains of eastern Idukki district receive more than 5,000 mm (197 in.) of orographic precipitation, the highest in the state.

During summer, Kerala is prone to gale force winds, storm surges, cyclone-related torrential downpours, occasional droughts, and rises in sea level The mean daily temperatures range from 19.8 °C to 36.7 °C Mean annual temperatures range from 25.0–27.5 °C in the coastal lowlands to 20.0–22.5 °C in the eastern highlands.

 Much of Kerala's notable biodiversity is concentrated and protected in the Western Ghats. Almost a fourth of India's 10,000 plant species are found in the state. Among the almost 4,000 flowering plant species (1,272 of which are endemic to Kerala and 159 threatened) are 900 species of medicinal plants. Its 9,400 km² of forests include tropical wet evergreen and semi-evergreen forests (lower and middle elevations—3,470 km²), tropical moist and dry deciduous forests (mid-elevations—4,100 km² and 100 km², respectively), and montane subtropical and temperate (shola) forests (highest elevations—100 km²). Altogether, 24% of Kerala is forested. Two of the world’s Ramsar Convention listed wetlands—Lake Sasthamkotta and the Vembanad-Kol wetlands—are in Kerala, as well as 1455.4 km² of the vast Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Subjected to extensive clearing for cultivation in the 20th century, much of the remaining forest cover is now protected from clearfelling. Kerala's fauna are notable for their diversity and high rates of endemism: 102 species of mammals (56 of which are endemic), 453 species of birds, 202 species of freshwater fishes, 169 species of reptiles (139 of them endemic), and 89 species of amphibians (86 endemic). These are threatened by extensive habitat destruction, including soil erosion, landslides, salinization, and resource extraction.



Eastern Kerala’s windward mountains shelter tropical moist forests and tropical dry forests, which are common in the Western Ghats. Here, sonokeling (Dalbergia latifolia), anjili, mullumurikku (Erythrina), and Cassia number among the more than 1,000 species of trees in Kerala. Other plants include bamboo, wild black pepper, wild cardamom, the calamus rattan palm (a type of climbing palm), and aromatic vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides). Living among them are such fauna as Indian Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus), Bengal Tiger, Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca), Nilgiri Tahr, Common Palm Civet, and Grizzled Giant Squirrel. Reptiles include the King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), viper, python, and Mugger Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) . Kerala's birds are legion—Malabar Trogon, the Great Hornbill, Kerala Laughingthrush, Darter, and Southern Hill Myna are several emblematic species. In lakes, wetlands, and waterways, fish such as kadu (stinging catfish) and Choottachi (Orange chromide—Etroplus maculatus) are found.

 Kerala's fourteen districts are distributed among Kerala's six historical regions: North Malabar (Far-north Kerala), South Malabar (northern Kerala), Kochi (central Kerala), Northern Travancore, Central Travancore (southern Kerala) and Southern Travancore (Far-south Kerala). Kerala's modern-day districts (listed in order from north to south) correspond to them as follows:

Note that these subdivisions are historical and unofficial, that there was no official subdivisions such as South Malabar-North Malabar, or South-Central-North Travancore
  • North Malabar: Kasaragod, Kannur, Mananthavady Taluk of Wayanad, Koyilandy and Vadakara Taluks of Kozhikode
  • South Malabar: Wayanad except Mananthavady Taluk, Kozhikode except Vadakara and Koyilandy Taluks, Malappuram, Palakkad District except Chittur and Alathur Taluks and a part of Thrissur
  • Kochi: A part of Ernakulam, Chittur Taluk and Alathur Taluks of Palakkad, and a majority part of Thrissur.
  • Northern Travancore: Part of Ernakulam, and Idukki.
  • Central Travancore: Southern part of Idukki, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta and northern part of Kollam.
  • Southern Travancore: Southern part of Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram. Nanchinad in Kanyakumari, which is now in the state of Tamil Nadu, was also part of southern Travancore before formation of Kerala.
Kerala's 14 districts, which serve as the administrative regions for taxation purposes, are further subdivided into 63 taluks; these have fiscal and administrative powers over settlements within their borders, including maintenance of local land records.Taluks of kerala are further divided into 1453 revenue villages and 1007 Gram panchayats.Mahé, a part of the Indian union territory of Puducherry (Pondicherry), is a coastal exclave surrounded by Kerala on all of its landward approaches.

 Kerala's Government is based on rules and regulations determined by the Government of India. The State is governed via a parliamentary system of representative democracy; universal suffrage is granted to state residents. There are three branches of government. The unicameral legislature, the Kerala Legislative Assembly, comprises elected members and special office bearers (the Speaker and Deputy Speaker) elected by the members from among themselves. Assembly meetings are presided over by the Speaker and in the Speaker's absence, by the Deputy Speaker. Kerala has 140 Assembly constituencies. The state sends 20 members to the Lok Sabha and 9 to the Rajya Sabha, the Indian Parliament's upper house. The Governor of Kerala is the constitutional head of state, and is appointed by the President of India. The executive authority is headed by the Chief Minister of Kerala, who is the de facto head of state and is vested with extensive executive powers; the Legislative Assembly's majority party leader is appointed to this position by the Governor. The Council of Ministers, which answers to the Legislative Assembly, has its members appointed by the Governor on advice of the Chief Minister. Auxiliary authorities known as panchayats, for which local body elections are regularly held, govern local affairs.The judiciary comprises the Kerala High Court (Located at Ernakulam has a Chief Justice combined with 26 permanent and two additional (pro tempore) justices) as the apex court in the state and a system of lower courts. Kerala High Court also hears cases from the Union Territory of Lakshadweep.

Kerala hosts two major political alliances: the United Democratic Front (India) (UDF—led by the Indian National Congress)and the Left Democratic Front (Kerala) (LDF—led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)). Strikes, protests and marches are ubiquitous in Kerala due to the comparatively strong presence of labour unions.

 Kerala has 145,704 kilometres (90,536 mi) of roads (4.2% of India's total). This translates to about 4.62 kilometres (2.87 mi) of road per thousand population, compared to an all India average of 2.59 kilometres (1.61 mi). Virtually all of Kerala's villages are connected by road.

 The Indian Railways' Southern Railway line runs through the state, connecting most major towns and cities except those in the highland districts of Idukki and Wayanad. The railway network in the state is controlled by three divisions of Southern Railway, namely Trivandrum Railway Division, Palakkad Railway Division and Madurai Railway Division. Trivandrum Central is the busiest railway station in the state and second busiest in the Southern Railway Zone after Chennai Central. Kerala's major railway stations are Kannur, Kozhikode, Shornur Junction, Palakkad Junction, Thrissur, Ernakulam Junction, Kottayam, Kayamkulam Junction, Kollam Junction and Thiruvananthapuram Central.

Kerala has major international airports in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode. A fourth international airport is proposed at Kannur. Thiruvananthapuram's Trivandrum International Airport is the first International airport in an Indian non-metro city. The Cochin International Airport is the busiest and largest in the state, and was the first Indian airport to be incorporated as a public limited company; funded by nearly 10,000 Non Resident Indians from 30 countries.

Kerala, with numerous backwaters, is one of the States in India, where waterways are successfully used for commercial Inland Water Transport. The transportation is mainly done with country craft and passenger vessels. There are 41 navigable rivers in Kerala. The total length of the Inland Waterways in the State is 1687 km. The main constraints to the expansion of Inland Water transport in the State are lack of depth in the waterway caused by silting, lack of maintenance of navigation system and bank protection, accelerated growth of the water hyacinth, lack of modern inland craft terminals and cargo handling system. A 205 km canal, National Waterway 3, runs between Kottapuram and Kochi.

Kerala's culture is derived from both a Tamil-heritage region known as Tamilakam and southern coastal Karnataka. Later, Kerala's culture was elaborated upon through centuries of contact with neighboring and overseas cultures. Native performing arts include koodiyattom (a 2000-year-old Sanskrit theatre tradition, officially recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity), kathakali—from katha ("story") and kali ("performance")—and its offshoot Kerala natanam, Kaliyattam -(North Malabar special), koothu (akin to stand-up comedy), mohiniaattam ("dance of the enchantress"), Theyyam, thullal NS padayani. Kathakali and Mohiniattam are widely recognized Indian Classical Dance traditions from Kerala.

Other forms of art are more religious or tribal in nature. These include chavittu nadakom and oppana which combines dance, rhythmic hand clapping, and ishal vocalisations. Margam Kali is a traditional group dance form traceable back to 17th century, originally performed during Syrian Christian festivals. However, many of these art forms are largely performed for tourists or at youth festivals, and are not as popular among most Keralites. Contemporary art and performance styles including those employing mimicry and parody are more popular.Kerala's music also has ancient roots. Carnatic music dominates Keralite traditional music. This was the result of Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma's popularisation of the genre in the 19th century. Raga-based renditions known as sopanam accompany kathakali performances. Melam (including the paandi and panchari variants) is a more percussive style of music; it is performed at Kshetram centered festivals using the chenda. Melam ensembles comprise up to 150 musicians, and performances may last up to four hours. Panchavadyam is a different form of percussion ensemble, in which up to 100 artists use five types of percussion instrument. Kerala has various styles of folk and tribal music. The popular music of Kerala is dominated by the filmi music of Indian cinema. Kerala's visual arts range from traditional murals to the works of Raja Ravi Varma, the state's most renowned painter.
Kolla Varsham or Malayalam Era, which is assumed to have been established by King Udaya Marthanda Varma in 825 CE, serves as the official calendar of Kerala. The Malayalam calendar is used to plan agricultural and religious activities. Kerala's most popular dish is Rice and curry.The sadhya (feast) is traditionally served on green banana leaves. Such dishes as idli, payasam, pulisherry, puttukadala, or PuttuPayarPappadam, puzhukku, rasam, and sambar are typical. Keralites—both men and women alike—traditionally don flowing and unstitched garments. These include the mundu, a loose piece of cloth wrapped around men's waists. Women typically wear the sari, a long and elaborately wrapped banner of cloth, wearable in various styles. Presently, North Indian dresses such as Salwar kameez are also popular among women in Kerala.

Elephants are an integral part of daily life in Kerala. Indian elephants are loved, revered, groomed and given a prestigious place in the state's culture. They are often referred to as the 'sons of the sahya.' Elephant is the state animal of Kerala and is featured on the emblem of the Government of Kerala.

Malayalam literature is medieval in origin and includes such figures as the 14th century Niranam poets (Madhava Panikkar, Sankara Panikkar and Rama Panikkar), and the 17th century poet Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan whose works mark the dawn of both modern Malayalam language and indigenous Keralite poetry. Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar and Kerala Varma Valiakoi Thampuran are noted for their contribution to Malayalam prose.

In the second half of the 20th century, Jnanpith awardees like G. Sankara Kurup, S. K. Pottekkatt, Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, M. T. Vasudevan Nair and O. N. V. Kurup have made valuable contributions to the Malayalam literature. Later, such Keralite writers as O. V. Vijayan, Kamaladas, M. Mukundan, and Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy, whose 1996 semi-autobiographical bestseller The God of Small Things is set in the Kottayam town of Ayemenem, have gained international recognition.
Malayalam cinema carved a niche for itself in the Indian film industry It has been producing both parallel and mainstream cinema of great acclaim for years. Directors like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, John Abraham, G. Aravindan have been some of the great names in the Indian parallel cinema. Kerala has also given birth to numerous acclaimed actors such as Bharat Gopi, Prem Nazir, Mammotty, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, Murali, Oduvil Unnikrishnan, Cochin Haneefa, Thilakan and Nedumudi Venuu.

Wikipedia page of Kerala

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