Kerala is a great destination for nature-lovers. It is located in the south western part of India and is also called as Keralam. The territory was officially given a status of an independent state of the Union of India in 1956.
Thiruvananthapuram is the capital city. It shares its northern border with Karnataka and a north-eastern border with Tamil Nadu. The area is nicknamed as the ‘God’s Own Country’ because of the splendid natural beauty it is gifted with.
Geographical factors, climate and vegetation
Kerala ranks 21st in the country with respect to geographical area and is one of the smallest in the country. It is divided into 14 divisions or districts. It lies at the extreme south of the Indian sub-continent and has a coastline of around 600 km. The territory is wedged by Western Ghats and Lakshadweep Sea. The three prime physical divisions of the state are the eastern highlands, the western lowlands, and the central midlands.
There are more than 40 big and small rivers flowing through the region. The prime ones are Periyar, Pamba, Chaliyar, Bharatapuzha, Kadalundipuzha, Achankovli, Valapattanam, Kottayam, Kannur, and Chalakudy. The area covers more than 8% of the waterways in the country.
Climate here is of a typical nature. Monsoons are of two types as south west and north east. The south west monsoons occur in the months of June to September while the north east type occur in the months of October, November, and December. Summer season is experienced from February to May and the environment is hot and humid with the mercury level shooting up to 40 degree Celsius. Winter season occurs during November-end to February and the temperature vary in the range of 18-28 degree Celsius.
Kerala is rich in vegetation with more than 24% of the area covered by dense forest cover. The main types of covers are tropical wet evergreen, tropical dry deciduous, tropical moist deciduous, and mountain sub-tropical. Coconut tree is the official tree of Kerala.
Kerala ranks 12th in India in the category of population and and has a population density of about 860 persons per km square. Malayalam is the official language and is spoken by more than 96% of the people. The other spoken languages include English, Tamil, and Hindi. With a literacy rate of around 94%, it is the most literate state in the country. The sex ratio here is excellent at around 1084 females per 1000 males. The three main religions followed by people here are Hinduism (57%), Islam (25%), and Christianity (19%).
Famous beaches and backwaters
Kovalam is the most popular beach and tourist spot in the state. It is located near Thiruvananthapuram and is beautifully bordered by innumerable coconut trees. The area is sub-divided into the three main beaches of Lighthouse, Samudra, and Hawah. Ashoka is another beach nearby. The best season to visit the site is from September to May.
The beach at Alappuzha (also known as Alleppey) is another hotspot for tourists. Some other eminent sites in the category include Cherai, Muzhappilangad, Kappad, Nattika, Varkala, Vadanappilly, and Marari.
The noted backwater areas in the state are Kollam, Munroe Island, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Kasargod, Kozhikode, Kuttanad, Kochi, and Thiruvallam. The area of Aranmula is highly popular for the traditional boat race.
There are more than 500 temples and around 100 churches in Kerala. Padmanabhaswamy Temple, the richest religious center in the world, is located in the Thiruvananthapuram. The monument is more than 1000 years old and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Guruvayur Temple in the town of Guruvayur is another important holy place for Hindus. It is dedicated to Lord Krishna and is also known as ‘Bhuloka Vaikunta’. The area is also appreciated for elephants and coconut trees.
Some other holy places worth visiting are Sreekanteswaram Mandir (Thiruvananthapuram), Venkatachalapathy Temple (Thiruvananthapuram), Maha Ganapathy Mandir (Kottarakara), Kottaram Devi Temple (Kottayam), Vaikom Mahadeva Temple (Kottayam), and Shree Ramaswamy Temple (Palakkad). The noted churches open for tourism are Niranam Church (constructed in AD 54 and the oldest in the state), Kadamattom (Muvattupuzha), St Thomas Church (Palayoor), and Vallarpadam Church (Vallarpadam).
The hill-stations of Munnar, Ponmudi, Chembra Peak, Lakkidi, Vythiri, Idukki, Nellyampathy, Wagamon, Devikulam, Mattupetty, Wayanad, Peermade, and Peruvannamuzhi offer a great view of the natural beauty of the state. The architecture of Padmanabhapuram Palace in Thiruvananthapuram is a classic example of ancient art of the state. Bolghatty Palace (built in 1744 AD) and Mattancherry Palace (built in 1663 AD) in Kochi are a beautiful creation of Dutch architects of the time.
Kerala is a pioneer in providing Ayurvedic treatments and has benefited millions of tourists throughout the world. Some of the renowned methods include Abhyangam, Dhara, Kizhi, Vasthi, Pizhichil, Thalam, Kativasthi, Yoni Prakshalanam, Udvarthanam, Nasyam, Urovasthi, Lepanam, Dhanyamla Dhara, and Snehapanam. The sites of Bekal Fort, Napier Museum, Fort Kochi, and Edakkal Caves should not be missed out.
The prominent wildlife spots here are Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary, Silent Valley National Park, Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary, Eravikulam National Park, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kumarkom Bird Sanctuary, and Wayanad Wildlife sanctuary. They aptly exhibit the rich flora and fauna of the territory.
Kerala is rightly known as nature at its best. It provides a range of tourism options to choose from and the tourism industry here is well-equipped to offer you the best hospitality services at an affordable rate. Winter and monsoon season is the best time to explore the dazzling beauty of the area.