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The small state of
Kerala, which represents just 1% of the land mass,is considered to be
one of India's most beautiful state. It is a very rural state with most
of the population living in villages but is culturally and scenically
diverse. Kerala has two national parks, ten wildlife sanctuaries and two
Kerala occupies a long (550km), narrow strip of land in the far south of India. Its coastline is on the Arabian Sea ( part of the Indian Ocean) and its eastern border with the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu is the top of the majestic Western Ghat mountains. The landscape varies from long golden beaches to cool hill stations and dense green jungle to bustling cities. Its unique feature is the 1,900km of palm fringed backwaters.
The people of Kerala are warm and friendly and interaction with them is often a highlight of a holiday to
|Kerala. Keralites have a strong culture and are fiercely proud of their state. Some of their art forms (eg Kathakali and Theyyam) and martial arts (kalaripayattu) are unique.|
It is unknown if the
region was inhabited during Neolithic times. Dolmens belonging to this
period have been unearthed from Idukki district. The Edakkal Caves in
Wayanad has inscriptions dating back to the stone age
Kerala finds mention in the annuls of international trade from as early as 3000 BCE, having established itself as the major spice trade centre of the world and traded with the Sumer, and later with Greece and Rome.Kerala and Tamil Nadu once shared a common language, ethnicity and culture; this common area was known as Tamilakam.The first distinct reference to "Kerala" is from a 3rd-century-BCE rock inscription by emperor Asoka the Great which attests to a Keralaputra.
According to legend, Parasurama, an avatar of Mahavishnu, threw his battle axe into the sea; and from those waters, Kerala arose.
During the first century BCE the region was ruled by the Chera Dynasty established by the Dravidian tribe Villavar, whose mother tongue and court language was the ancient Tamil.The capital of Cheras was Vanchi. The southern Kerala was ruled by the Pandyan Kingdom with their capital at Nelcynda. The merchants from China, West Asia and Roman Empire had trade links with Cheras. The Sangam literature from the period has descriptions of the Roman ships coming to Muziris, laden with gold as exchange for pepper.Kerala is represented as the eastern tip of the known world in Tabula Peutingeriana, the only known surviving map of the Roman cursus publicus.:192–195, 303–307 The west Asian-semitic Jewish, Christian, and Muslim immigrantsestablished Nasrani Mappila, Juda Mappila and Muslim Mappila communities. The Jews first arrived in Kerala in 573 BCE. The works of scholars and Eastern Christian writings state that Thomas the Apostle visited Muziris in Kerala in 52 CE to proselytize amongst Kerala's Jewish settlements, however this is widely disputed due to lack of credible historical evidence.Muslim merchants led by Malik ibn Dinar settled in Kerala by the 8th century CE and introduced Islam.
The Later Chera Kingdom (c. 800–1102), also called the Kulasekhara dynasty, was founded by Kulasekhara Alwar who is regarded as a Vaishnavaite saint. Ay kings ruled southern Kerala, but by the 10th century the Ay kingdom declined and became a part of the Chera Kingdom. A Keralite identity, distinct from the Tamils became linguistically separate during this period. The Kulasekhara dynasty came to an end by twelfth century, weakened due to the invasions by Pandyas and Cholas. In the absence of a strong central power, the state became divided under small principalities governed by feudal rulers. The kingdoms of Kochi, Venad and Kozhikode emerged powerful.
After Vasco Da Gama's arrival in Kozhikode in 1498, the Portuguese gained control of the lucrative pepper trade. In 1502, Gama signed a treaty for concession for trading rights with Samoothiri, the local ruler of Calicut over the objections of Arab merchants. On 25 March 1505, Francisco de Almeida was appointed the Viceroy of India with his headquarters at Kochi. In 1506, the Samoothiri's fleet was defeated in a sea battle in the Battle of Cannanore by the Portuguese. The Portuguese established forts at Kannur, Cochin and Kollam .
The Dutch East India Company took advantage of the conflicts between Kozhikode and Kochi and ousted the Portuguese to gain control of the trade. However, the Dutch were defeated by Marthanda Varma of the Travancore Royal Family at the Battle of Colachel in 1741. In 1766, Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore invaded northern Kerala. In the late 18th century, Tipu Sultan, Ali’s son and successor, launched campaigns against the expanding British East India Company, resulting in two of the four Anglo-Mysore Wars. He ultimately ceded Malabar District and South Kanara to the Company in the 1790s. The Company forged tributary alliances with Kochi in 1791 and Travancore in 1795. Malabar and South Kanara became part of the Madras Presidency.
Kerala was comparatively peaceful under the British Raj; only sporadic revolts such as the 1946 Punnapra-Vayalar uprising and the Dewan of Travancore Velayudan Thampi Dalava, Kozhikode navarch Kunjali Marakkar, and Pazhassi Raja, among others, vied for greater autonomy or independence. Many actions, spurred by such leaders as Vaikunda Swami, Sree Narayana Guru and Chattampi Swamikal, instead protested such conditions as untouchability; notable was the 1924 Vaikom Satyagraham. In 1936, Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma of Travancore issued the Temple Entry Proclamation that opened Hindu temples to all castes; Malabar soon did likewise. But Cochin did not do the Temple entry proclamation (1948) until after India's independance. The 1921 Moplah Rebellion involved Mappila Muslims rioting against Zamindari system and the British Raj
After India gained its independence in 1947, Travancore and Cochin were merged to form Travancore-Cochin on 1 July 1949. On 1 January 1950 (Republic Day), Travancore-Cochin was recognised as a state. The Madras Presidency was organised to form Madras State in 1947. On 1 November 1956, the state of Kerala was formed by the States Reorganization Act merging the Malabar district, Travancore-Cochin (excluding four southern taluks, which were merged with Tamil Nadu), and the taluk of Kasargod, South Kanara. Elections for the new Kerala Legislative Assembly were held in 1957; this resulted in the formation of a communist-led government headed by E.M.S. Namboodiripad. Many Indians consider this the first democratically elected communist government in the world; however, both San Marino (in 1948) and Guyana (in 1953) had elected communists to power years earlier. Radical reforms introduced by the E. M. S. Namboodiripad government in favour of farmers and labourers helped change, to a great extent, the iniquitous social order that had prevailed in Kerala for centuries.
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