Kerala is called the most advanced society of India due to a number of reasons. 100% literacy rate, world-class health care systems, lowest infant mortality rate, highest life expectancy rates, highest physical quality of life and the cleanest state of India are just some of the few reasons.
These amazing, interesting and jaw-dropping facts about Kerala will leave you speechless:
ORIGIN OF NAME “KERALA”
According to one popular theory, “Kerala” name derives from “Kera” (means “coconut tree” in Malayalam) and “alam” (means land). Thus, it is called “land of coconuts” which also happens to be a nickname for the state due to plenty of coconut trees and its use by the locals. In another theory, the word “Kerala” is first recorded as Keralaputra, which means Cherathala makan or Cheraman in a 3rd-century BCE rock inscription left by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka (274-237 BCE). The inscription indicates to the local ruler as Keralaputra, means “son of Kerala” or “son of Chera”. This is against the theory that “Kera” is from coconut tree.
PEOPLE AND LIFE
Kerala is one of India’s most developing states in respect of social welfare and quality of life. The State takes pride in having one of India’s top literacy rates, top life expectancy and least child mortality rates. The literacy rate for women is one of the top in all of Asia. Enjoying a unique sophisticated viewpoint, the people of Kerala, at all levels of society, have more access to services and opportunities as well as a greater say in their governance.
According to Hindu mythology, the lands of Kerala were recovered from the sea by the axe-wielding warrior sage Parasurama, the sixth avatar of Vishnu. Hence, Kerala is also called Parasurama Kshetram (“The Land of Parasurama”). According to legend, Parasurama threw his axe across the sea, and the water receded as far as it reached. This new area of land extended from Gokarna to Kanyakumari. The land which rose from sea was filled with salt which was unsuitable for habitation. So, Parasurama calls the Snake King Vasuki, who spat holy poison and transformed the soil into fertile lush green land. Thereafter, Vasuki and all snakes were appointed as protectors and guardians of the land.
The history of Kerala is closely associated with its commerce, which till recent times revolved around its spice trade. Acclaimed as the Spice Coast of India, ancient Kerala played host to travellers and traders from all over the world which includes the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, French and the British. Almost all of them have left their imprint on this land in some form or the other – architecture, cuisine, literature.
UNIQUE CELEBRATIONS AND CUISINES
Onam is a harvest festival celebrated by the Kerala people and is a reminiscent of the state’s agrarian past. It is also the State festival of Kerala with public holidays for four days from Onam Eve (Uthradom) to the fourth Onam Day.
There are five unique classical dance forms of Kerala: Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Koodiyattom, Thullaland Krishnanattam, which originated and developed in the theaters of temples during the classical period. Kerala natanam, Thirayattam, Kaliyattam, Theyyam, Koothu and Padayani are other forms of dance associated with the temple culture of the region.
Rice is predominant which is eaten at all times of the day. A majority of the breakfast foods in Kerala are made up of rice, in one form or the other (idli, puttu, appam, or idiyappam), tapioca preparations, or pulse-based vada.
Elephants have been an essential part of the culture of Kerala. It is home to the biggest domesticated population of elephants in India. About 700 Indian elephants are owned by temples and individuals. These elephants are mostly employed for the processions and displays which are associated with festivals celebrated all over the state.
FAMOUS TOURIST DESTINATION
The culture and traditions of Kerala have made the state one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. National Geographic’s Traveler magazine named Kerala as one of the “ten paradises of the world” and “50 must see destinations of a lifetime” in 2012. Travel and Leisure also define Kerala as “One of the 100 great trips for the 21st century”. It overtook the Taj Mahal and became the number one travel destination in Google’s search trends for India in 2012.
The beaches, backwaters, lakes, mountain ranges, waterfalls, ancient ports, palaces, religious institutions and wildlife sanctuaries of Kerala are major attractions for both domestic and international tourists. When we calculated the number of tourists visiting for Kerala tour, then Kochi came out to be the city which receives highest number of footfalls in a year.
Until the early 1980s, Kerala was a comparatively unknown destination as compared to other states of the country. In 1986, the government of Kerala declared tourism an important industry and it was the first state in India to do so.