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States of India: Kerala

Kerala is located in southern India and was created on November 1, 1956.


The name Kerala has an uncertain etymology. The word 'keralam' may stem from an imperfect Malayalam word combination that fused 'kera' meaning 'coconut tree' with 'alam' meaning 'land' or 'location'.

State Symbols:
State Animal: Indian Elephant
State Bird: Great Hornbill
State Flower: Golden Shower Tree
State Tree: Coconut

Capital: Thiruvananthapuram

Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Idukki, Kannur, Kasargod, Kollam, Kottayam, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad, Pathanamthitta, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Wayanad.

Area and Borders:
The state covers an area of 38,863 square kilometres and is bordered by Karnataka to the north, Tamil Nadu to the south and east and the Arabian Sea to the west.

Malayalam is the main language of the state.
Learn to Speak Malayalam:
  • How are you?: Sukhamaano?
  • What is your name?: Ninte perentaanu?
  • What did you do?: Nee/ningal entaanu cheytatu?
  • What should I do?: Nyan entu cheyyanam?
  • What can I do?: Enikku entu cheyyan kazhiyum?

Kerala experiences a humid equatorial tropical climate. During the summer, Kerala is prone to harsh winds, storms, cyclone-related torrential downpours, occasional droughts and rises in sea level. The daily mean temperature ranges from 19.8 to 36.7 degree Celsius

Kerala receives copious amounts of rain, averaging 3,000mms a year.

Nearly half of Kerala's population is dependent on agriculture alone for its income. Kerala's most important staple food and cereal crop is rice. Some 600 varieties of rice are harvested in Kerala. Other key crops include coconut, tea, coffee, rubber and cashew. Spices include pepper, cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.

The state has a large number of industrial units that manufacture machine tools, synthetic drugs, pharmaceuticals, heavy electrical machinery, fertilisers, electronic equipment, aeronautical parts, cement and cement products, chemicals, asbestos, glass and watches. Tourism is also a major contributor to the state economy.

The Thrissur Archaeological Museum is an architectural wonder that is famous for its collection of murals and relics from all over Kerala. The museum showcases models of ancient temples and monuments. An interesting artefact is the Olagrandhangal, which is a manuscript written on dried palm leaves.

Arts and Crafts:

Kerala is known for its metal, rosewood, sandalwood, granite and coconut shell carvings and also for its coir products. Local craftsmen make beautiful ornamented headgear for elephants from coir.

Traditional Clothing:
Women in Kerala wear a mundum neriyathum or a set-sari while men wear a mundu, a type of lungi, with a shirt.

Rasam, appam, puttu, tapioca and fish curry are some of the traditional food items prepared in Kerala. Desserts form an essential part of traditional meals in Kerala and are served midway through the meal. Payasam is a popular dessert in Kerala.

  • Onam is the most famous festival of Kerala.
  • The Aranmula boat race takes place on the last day of the seven-day festival.
  • Pooram is another festival which is celebrated across Kerala.
  • The festivities in Thrissur are especially famous and include a parade of 50 richly- ecorated elephants that passes through the very centre of the town. The elephants are accompanied by percussion ensembles from various neighbouring temples.
Important Personalities:
  • A K Antony served as the Defence Minister of India in 2010. He was also the former Chief Minister of Kerala.
  • Anju Bobby George made history when she won the bronze medal for long jump at the 2003 World Championships in Athletics in Paris.
  • Arundhati Roy is the first Indian citizen to win the prestigious Booker Prize and a million-dollar book deal.
The State is Famous for:
  • Ayurveda, which originated in India 5,000 years ago and has gained global recognition for its holistic approach to the treatment of diseases. The principles of Ayurveda are based on living in strict harmony with nature.
  • Kalarippayattu, which is the traditional martial art of Kerala. 'Kalari' means 'arena' and 'payattu' means 'fight'. Kalarippayattu includes fighting with empty hands and with handheld weapons. The weapons include short staffs, long staffs, short knifes, swords and belt swords.
  • The Kerala backwaters, which are a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea. The network includes five large lakes linked by natural and manmade canals. These canals are fed by 38 rivers and extend virtually through half the length of Kerala. One can travel  across the backwaters and even stay in the houseboats that sail across these waters.
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