Kerala

Kerala is having 14 Districts. Kerala's color green is its mood festive. Lush Plantations rise from the sea and sweep the entire state in verdant glory, swathing the countryside, the only relief being backwaters along which coconut palms stretch to the skies; the culmination is in the upward fling of the hills where tea and coffee plantations nurture the greens to a denser, monsoon-washed, forest palette. In this entrancing state, a mere strip of south-western India hugged by the coast on one side, by hills on another, a fascinating voyage of discovery awaits travelers. Splendid festivals with mysterious rituals, full of color and open to participation; herds of elephants leading processions, or in the wild; exotic handicrafts and seafood preparations fresh from the Arabian Sea; cosmopolitan cities where the past is always at hand, and small town where time has stood still; all this and more makes Kerala the ideal holiday destination, far removed from the cares of the everyday world.

With the Arabian Sea in the west, the Western Ghats towering 500-2700 m in the east and networked by forty-four rivers, Kerala enjoys unique geographical features that have made it one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Asia. A long shoreline with serene beaches, Tranquil stretches of emerald backwaters. Lush hill stations and exotic wildlife waterfalls, Sprawling plantations and paddy fields, Ayurvedic health holidays, Enchanting art forms. Magical festivals, Historic and cultural monuments. An exotic cuisine... All of which offer you a unique experience. And what's more, every one of these charming destinations is only a two-hour drive from the other. A singular advantage no other destination offers.

Kerala is also the heartland of Ayurveda, the ancient holistic healing science. Ayurveda aims at nurturing physical, mental and spiritual well-being and treats each person individually.

The region's bounty of spices, coconuts and seafood is reflected in its cuisine and visitors to the state can also look forward to savoring a unique and flavorful cuisine.



Kerala General Information

  • Area: 38,863 sq. km.
  • Capital: Thiruvananthapuram
  • Population: 33,387,677
  • Annual Rainfall: 3,055mm
  • Average Temp: 290C
  • Language: Malayalam, English
  • Climate: Tropical
  • Religion: Christians, hindu, Muslim
  • Best Time To Visit: Sep-Mar
Climate Tropical
Summer Feb - May (24-33 C)
Monsoon Jun - Sep (22-28 C)
Winter Oct - Jan (22 - 32 C)

High season: December to May

Monsoon Rejuvenation Programme: June to November

By Air

International Airport

  • Thiruvananthapuram International airport
  • Kochi International airport

International flights (direct): From / To: Colmbo, Maldives, Dubai, Sharjah, Bahrain, Doha, Ras-al-Khaimah, Kuwait, Riyadh, Fujairah, Singapore and many more other countries

Domestic Airports

  • Karipur Airport, Kozhikode (Calicut)

Domestic Flight comingfrom / To: Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Goa, Hyderabad, Kozhikode (Calicut), Kochi (Cochin), Trichiand Coimbatore

By Rail

There are direct trains from Cochin and Trivandrum to all the main town of Kerala as well as other adjoining states and major cities in India.

By Road

Kerala state is well connected with all internal 14 districts and good highway link with all major states/cities of south India: Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka.

Art & Cultural

Kerala specializes in bell metal, wood, cane, fiber and coconut shell craft. Kathakali models in wood, painted in the vibrant colors of the art form are popular souvenirs, as are rosewood elephants, miniature models of snake boats, baskets, trays and furniture made of cane, coconut shell cups, vases and spoons. Necklaces and bead curtains fashioned out of sea shells, bell metal lamps and sculptures, exquisitely crafted jewellery boxes, incense burners, betel boxes, nut crackers, screw pine articles, lacquer ware, terracotta, wooden toys and dolls, intricate gold Jewellery appreciated by women of taste all over the worlds. The Aranmula kannadi, the unique metal mirror craft of Kerala has no parallel in the world.

  • Performing Arts
  • Ritual Arts
  • Martial Arts

Performing Arts

KOOTHU

Kerala specializes in bell metal, wood, cane, fiber and coconut shell craft. Kathakali models in wood, painted in the vibrant colors of the art form are popular souvenirs, as are rosewood elephants, miniature models of snake boats, Koothu is a socio-religious art performed in the Koothambalam or the Koothuthara of temples, either independently or as part of Kootiyattam. It is a solo narrative performance interspersed with mime and comic interludes. The Chakkiar dons the role of ' Vidushaka' or the wise jester. Through his inimitable narration of stories from the epics (The Ramayana and The Mahabharata), the Chakkiar satirises the manners and customs of the time. No one is above the butt of his ridicule. His wit ranges from innocent mockery to veiled innuendoes, barbed pun and pungent invectives. Koothu is intermittently accompanied by the percussion instrument Mizhavu.

The Nangyar Koothu is a variation of the Koothu performed by the Nangiars or the female members of the Chakkiar community. This is a solo dance drama mainly centered on the legends of Sree Krishna. Verses are sung and interpreted through mime and dance. The madras, though the same as in Kootiyattam, are even more elaborate. The art form is still performed in temples like Vadakkumnatha temple at Thrissur, Sri Krishna temple at Ambalappuzha, Koodal Manikyam temple at Irinjalakkuda and Kumaranalloor temple at Kottayam

KATHAKALI

Kerala owes its transnational fame to this nearly 300 years old classical dance form, which combines facets of ballet, opera, masque and the pantomime. It is said to have evolved from other performing arts like Kootiyattam, Krishnanattam and Kalarippayattu. Kathakali explicates ideas and stories from the Indian epics and Puranas.

Presented in the temple precincts after dusk falls Kathakali is heralded by the Kelikottu or the beating of drums in accompaniment of the Chengila (gong). The riches of a happy blending of colour, expressions, music, drama and dance are unparalleled in any other art form.

KUTIYATTAM

Kootiyattam literally means, "Acting together". This is the earliest classical dramatic art form of Kerala. Based on Sage Bharatha's 'Natyasasthra' who lived in the second century, Kootiyattam evolved in the 9th century AD.

Kootiyattam is enacted inside the temple theatre; there are two or more characters onstage at the same time, with the Chakkiars providing the male cast and the Nangiars playing the female roles. The Nangiars beat the cymbals and recite verses in Sanskrit, while in the background Nambiars play the Mizhavu, a large copper drum.

Vidushaka or the wise man, a figure parallel to the Fool in Shakespearean plays, enacts his role with the liberty to criticize anyone without fear. The costume of the jester sets him apart from the rest. The Kutiyattam performance lasts for several days ranging from 6 to 20 days. Themes are based on mythology.

The Koodal Manikyam temple at Irinjalakkuda and the Vadakkumnatha temple at Thrissur are the main centres where Kutiyattam is still performed annually. Ammannoor Madhava Chakkiar is an unrivalled maestro of this rare art.

MOHINIYATTAM

The sinuous dance of the enchantress, this is a distinctive classical dance form of Kerala. Slow, graceful, swaying movements of the body and limbs and highly emotive eye and hand gestures are unique to this dance form. The simple, elegant gold-filigreed dress, in pure white or ivory, is akin to the traditional attire of the women of Kerala. The origin of Mohiniyattom is rooted in Hindu mythology. The gods and demons to extract the elixir of life and immortality churned once the ocean of milk. The demons made away with this divine brew.

Lord Vishnu came to the rescue of the panicky gods and assumed the female form of an amorous celestial dame Mohini. Captivating the demons with her charms, Mohini stole the elixir from them and restored it to the gods. The Devadasi or temple dancers adopted this dance, hence also the name 'Dasiattam' which was very popular during the Chera reign from 9th to 12th century.

Ritual Arts

THEYYAM

Theyyam also known as Kaliyattam, it is a ritual dance popular in north Kerala or the erstwhile Kolathunadu. Theyyam incorporates dance, mime and music and enshrines the rudiments of ancient tribal cultures, which attached great importance to the worship of heroes and the spirits of ancestors. Of the over 400 Theyyam performed, the most spectacular ones are those of Raktha Chamundi, Kari Chamundi, Muchilottu Bhagavathy, Wayanadu Kulaveni, Gulikan and Pottan. Persons belonging to the Vannan, Malayan and other related castes perform these in front of shrines, sans stage or curtains.

'Thudangal' (the beginning) and 'Thottam' (the invocation) are the introductory rituals of the Theyyam or the Thira, as it is known in south Malabar. The headgear and other ornamental decorations are spectacular in sheer size and appearance. Karivalloor, Nileswaram, Kurumathoor, Parassini, Cherukunnu, Ezhom and Kunnathoorpadi in north Malabar are places where Theyyams are performed annually from December to April.

PATAYANI

Patayani is a week- long ritual dance, held in Kali temples on the banks of the Pamba River during the Malayalam months of Meenam and Medam (March - April). The choice theme of the dancers is the slaying of the demon Daarikan by the goddess Kaali. The steps and movements of the dance vary according to each Kollam or character. Thappu is the major percussion instrument accompanied by a few Chendas. Patayani masks are made with the fresh spathe of arecanut palms. Bhairavi (Bhadrakaali), Yakshi, Pakshi (bird) and Kaalari (Siva) are the main characters. Various communities targeted for criticism are represented by jestures. Kadammanitta, Kadalimangalam and Othara in Pathanamthitta district are famous for annual Patayani performances.

PAANA

Paana or Pallippaana, as it is sometimes called, is a ritual art to propitiate the goddess Bhadrakaali. The art form is popular in the districts of Thrissur, Palakkad and Malappuram. Paana is part of a three-day festival. A canopy is supported by 64 posts of cut out from the Paala tree (Alstonia scholaris) and adorned with tender palm fronds is erected near the shrine of the goddess. A stump of this tree is ceremonially brought to the site and planted there for the occasion and a non-figurative kalam is drawn in the centre using colored powders. A ceremonial sword is placed on a red silk cloth under the tree stump to signify the presence of the goddess.

At the end of a series of rites, the oracle arrives and moves in a trance around the kalam and the pandal (canopy). The para, a variation of the chenda is the main percussion accompaniment. The dream beats work up to a frenzy to match the steps of the oracle. Performed during the night, the ritual lasts for about three hours.

Martial Art

KALARIPAYATTU

Kalaripayattu the martial art form of Kerala is regarded as the oldest and most scientific in the world.

Training in combat is given at the kalari (Training school). The principles of kalari education stipulate that training in martial arts begins with an oil massage of the body which goes on until the body is agile and supple. Feats like chattom (jumping), ottam (running), marichil (somersault) etc. are then taught, followed by lessons in the use of weapons such as daggers, swords, spears, maces, the bow and arrow and so on.

Kalaripayattu training aims at the ultimate co-ordination of the mind and body. The traditional training in a kalari includes specialization in indigenous medical practices too. Kalaris are also centres of religious worship. The general guidelines to be followed in Kalaripayattu demand that once the course is complete, a person should undergo oil massage and engage in the practice of the feast at least once a year to help him keep in shape.

Kerala cuisine

Also known as the spice cost of India, Kerala is known for its aromatic spices such as cardamom, ginger, pepper, cinnamon, curry leaves, nut meg, tamarind, chillies and many more. It is the Flavour that these spices lend, that makes the cuisine of Kerala, an epicurean delight.

The food of Kerala is not just famed for its taste but also for its nutritive value. For the health-conscious, there are several breakfast dishes such as idli, puttu, idiyappam, and paalappam which are completely oil free and steam-cooked. Baked tapioca with fish curry is also a favorites snack. There are also some steamed sweet dishes such as Kozhukatta and Ada which are made by steaming rice flour balls with a stuffing of grated coconut, and jaggery. The nadan (traditional) chicken curry and fish moli are also some famous dishes. Kerala is well known for its sea food specialities such as Karimeen Pollichathu, and Kallumekkaaya. However, it is the Naadan Sadya (Traditional Feast) which is the most popular. The main course is rice and there are several vegetable dishes complementing it. The Sadya served in plantain leaves is a sumptuous affair with dishes such as Sambar, Avial, Thoran, Pullissery, Puli Inji, Pachadi, Kaalan, Pappadam and several types of pickles.

Location& Map

Kerala is on the southernmost tip of India. It stretches along the coast of the Arabian Sea and is separated from the rest of the sub continent by the steep Western Ghats. The state lies between 80 18 ' and 120 48 ' north latitude and 740 52' and 770 22' east longitude. The breadth of the state varies from 32 kms in the extreme north and south to over 120 kms in the middle.

Shopping

The mall cultural is fast taking over Kerala. No wonder Kerala is slowly turning into a shopper’s paradise. Apart from the glossy boutiques in the cities that sell the best western and ethnic wear there are numerous small scale industries that deal that deal in handicraft, Pickles, tea, chocolates, honey snacks, bamboo products and spices.

Kasargod, Kozhikode and Cochin ae known as the main spice trading hubs since the ancient times, Balaramapuram in Thiruvananthapuram is famous for its handloom, Kasavukadas across the estate sell beautifully embroidered Kerala Sarees and Mundus. While Kollam is well known for its cashews, Kozhikode is famed to its snacks, Malabar Biriyani and chips

The people of the hilly regions like Thekkady, Kattapana and Wayanad trade in bamboo products and tribal artifacts. The tea estates of Munnar are known world over. Here you can buy the finest tea made at the tea processing units. The cottage industries here produce delicious Chocolates and natural honey

Bell metal brassware and bronze are made at Alappuzha and Irinjalakkuda. The temple town of Guruvayur is known for its sandalwood artefacts, mural arts and Ramachchan mattresses. And if you have a penchant for gold ornaments you will find them in the varius Jewellery showrooms across Kerala Happy shopping