Kerala, popularly known as God’s Own Country. The word Kerala means “The land of Coconuts”–

-”Kera”, means coconut tree in Malayalam (the local language). Kerala is a beautiful state in the south-west region, on the Malabar coast in South part of India, bordered by Karnataka state to the north and north east, Tamil Nadu state to the east and south, and the Arabian Sea to the west. Kerala enjoys unique geographical features that have made it one of the most sought after tourist estinations not only in India but in entire Asia. The state of Kerala has a coast of 590 kms and the width varies between 11 kms to 121 kms . A long shoreline with serene beaches, tranquil stretches of emerald backwaters. And lakes, lush hill stations and exotic wildlife, waterfalls, sprawling spice plantations and paddy fields, Ayurvedic message therapies health, enchanting art forms, magical festivals, historic and cultural monuments, tropical greenery and exotic cuisine all of which makes Kerala a unique tourist destination and each of these charming destinations is only a 2-4 hrs drive from the other.

With the Arabian Sea in the west, the Western Ghats rising 500 metres to 2,695 metres in the east and networked by 44 rivers. Out of Kerala’s forty-four rivers, Periyar river (224 kms)is the longest river of Kerala . Anamudi Hill ( In Eravikulam national park, western Ghats – Munnar/ Kerala) is the highest peak in South India, at an elevation of 2,695 metres (8,842 ft). It is also the highest peak in India outside the Indian Himalayan mountain range. The state capital is Thiruvananthapuram or Trivandrum; other major cities include Kochi, Kozhikode, Thrissur, and Kollam. Kerala is divided into 14 districts (provinces). Most of these districts offer all the tourism products typical of the State.

Kerala has a population of 33.3 million. Malayalam is the most widely spoken and official language of the state. Kerala leads the nation with a literacy rate of more than 95%. Kerala is the state with the lowest positive population growth rate in India (3.44%) and has a density of 819 people per km2. The sex ratio in South India is fairly equable at 997; Kerala is the only state in India with a favorable sex ratio of 1,083 women per 1000 men. Kerala has a reputation of being, communally, one of the most tolerant states in India. According to the 2001 Census of India figures, 56% of Kerala residents are Hindus, 24% are Muslims, 19% are Christians, and the remaining follow other religions including Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Various tribal people in Kerala have retained various religious beliefs of their ancestors. Kerala has one fourth of all Christians, the highest number of Christians, of all the states in the Indian Union and are particularly noted for St. Thomas Christians. Production of pepper and natural rubber contributes to a significant portion of the total national output.

The state’s largest lake Vembanad, dominates the Backwaters; it lies between Alappuzha also know as Alleppey and Kochi and is more than 200 km2 found in Kerala.

Pre-independence Kerala was basically split into the princely states of Travancore & Kochi in the south, and Malabar district in the north. Kerala held a considerable position in the commercial map of the ancient world. By around 3000 B.C., Kerala had trade relation (spice exporter) with Indus Valley Civilization. The southern coastline from Karwar to Kodungallur near Kochi was the most important trading shore in the Indian subcontinent resulting in intermingling between locals and traders. The South Indian Malabar Coast and the people of the Sangam age traded with the Graeco-Roman world. They were in contact with the Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Syrians, Jews, and Chinese.

The spices of Kerala and commodities like Sandalwood, Ivory, Teakwood etc. were exported to many countries of the west. It is believed that the Peacocks, Monkeys, Ivory and spices which King Solomon received, were imported or were the gifts from Kerala. It was by 700 B.C. that the Dravidians migrated to south India from the Mediterranean region. The Aryans entered Kerala from north India by 300 B.C. During 270 B.C. to 240 B.C. saw the spread of Buddhism in Kerala. The oldest record about Kerala is found in one of the rock edict by emperor Asoka dating back to B.C. 257. (77 sq mi) in area. Around 8% of India’s waterways are Arrival of the Europeans marked the beginning of another era in the history of Kerala. In 1498, Vasco da Gama reached Kappad, near Kozhikode. This was followed by the arrival of a number of Europeans. Though the main aim of their visit was trade and discovery of a shorter sea route to the Malabar Coast, the prevailing political instability paved way for their entry into the administration. Making use of the rivalry between the provincial rulers, they started by providing military assistance to one ruler against the other. By and by, their influence increased to such an extend that they began running the administration with the rulers acting as puppets in their hands. Wars and skirmishes still continued between various native rulers and this provided the Europeans more and more opportunities to interfere into the administration. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to establish a stronghold in Kerala. This was later followed by the Dutch and the British. The rule of the British saw many changes in the social and cultural life of Kerala. Slavery was slowly abolished. English missionaries played an important role in improving the living standard of the people. During this period a number of educational institutions and hospitals were opened. Many railway lines , roads and bridges were constructed by the British. In a way, Kerala is indebted to the British for its modernization.

The Paradesi Synagogue at Fort Kochi (Kerala) is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth Nations. St. Francis church at fort Kochi ( cochin), built in 1503 by Portuguese francisan is the oldest European church In India.The cuisine of Kerala is linked in all its richness to the history, geography, demography and culture of the land. Kerala cuisine has a multitude of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes prepared using fish, poultry and red meat. Coconuts grow in abundance in Kerala, and consequently, coconut kernel, (sliced or grated) coconut cream and coconut milk are widely used in dishes for thickening and flavoring in most of the Keralan dishes. Rice and cassava (Tapioca) form the staple food of Kerala and rice are eaten at all times of day. All main dishes are made with them and served along with Kootan; the side dishes which may be made from vegetables, meat, fish or a mix of all of them. The main dish for lunch and dinner is boiled rice with Curry, Rasam, pulisherry , sambar or Kerala fish Curry/ beef curry, egg curry. The Kerala breakfast shows a rich variety; the main dishes for which are made from rice flour, or fresh or dried cassava including idli, puttu, idiyappam, vada. These may be accompanied by chutney ( home made fresh sauce), kadala, payasam, payar pappadam. Owing to the weather and the availability of spices, the Kerala cuisine is richly spicy especially the hot ones -chili, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, ginger, star anise and cinnamon. Sadhya is a vegetarian meal that is served on a banana leaf and followed with a cup of payasam. Popular snacks include banana chips, yam crisps, tapioca chips, unniyappam and kuzhalappam. Sea food specialties include karimeen, tiger prawn, shrimp , King fish and other crustacean dishes.

Altogether, 24% of Kerala is forested. There are more than 1,000 species of trees in Kerala. Most of the biodiversity is concentrated and protected in the Western Ghats of Kerala. Out of the 4,000 flowering plant species 900 species are medicinal plants; 1,272 of which are endemic to Kerala and 159 threatened. Other plants include bamboo, wild black pepper, wild cardamom, the calamus rattan palm, and aromatic vetiver grass. 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

Kerala’s fauna are notable for their diversity and high rates of endemism: it includes 102 species of mammals (56 of which are endemic), 476 species of birds, 202 species of freshwater fishes, 169 species of reptiles (139 of them endemic), and 89 species of amphibians (86 endemic). Indian Elephant, Bengal Tiger, Indian Leopard, Nilgiri Tahr, Common Palm Civet, and Grizzled Giant Squirrel are also found in he forests. Reptiles include the King Cobra, viper, python, and Mugger Crocodile. Kerala’s birds include legion—Malabar Trogon the Great Hornbill, Kerala Laughing thrush , Darter, Southern Hill Myna and several emblematic species. In lakes, wetlands, and waterways, fish such as kadu; stinging catfish and Choottachi; Orange chromide are found. of the vast Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.

Kerala produces 97% of the national output of black pepper and accounts for 85% of the area under natural rubber in the country. Coconut, tea, coffee, cashew, and spices—including cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg are the main agricultural crops. Onam ( August / spetember) – is a harvest festival celebrated by the people of Kerala. t is also the state festival of Kerala with State holidays. Kerala has a large number of Hindu temples. Many of the temples have unique traditions and most hold festivals on specific days of the year. the most famous of these being the Thrissur Pooram. richly caparisoned elephant as part of the festivities.

Kerala is home to a number of performance arts. These include five classical dance forms: Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Koodiyattom, Thullal and Krishnanattam, originated and developed in the temple theatres during the classical period under the patronage of royal houses. The classical dances illustrates the rich contribution that temple culture has made to the arts of Kerala.

Kalaripayattu, regarded as “the mother of all martial arts in the world”, as an exception is still practiced as indigenous martial sport from kerala. Another traditional sport of Kerala is the boat race, also famous as the Snake Boat race. These vary from 100 feet to 138 feet in length and resembles like a snake.

Kerala’s culture and traditions, coupled with its varied demographics, have made it one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. 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”. In 2012, it overtook Taj Mahal ( Agra / North India) to be the number one travel destination in Google’s search trends for India.

Kerala’s serene beaches, tropical greenery , emerald backwaters, lush hill stations with spice plantions, tea gardens, exotic wildlife sanctuaries, waterfalls, paddy fields, Ayurvedic therapies, enchanting art forms, Magical festivals,historic and cultural monuments, exotic cuisine, all of which offer you a unique experience for both domestic and international tourists. It is a place with, each of these charming destinations is only a two- four hour drive from the other – a singular advantage no other destination offers. So come and experience the beautiful state of kerala with Summit Safari India….!