is a green strip of land, in the South West corner of
Indian peninsula. It has only 1.1 8 per cent of the total
area of the country but houses 3.43% of the the country's
In 1956, when the states were reorganized, Kerala was
formed after tying the princely states of Travancore and
Cochin with Malabar, a province under Madras state.
may be divided into three geographical regions: (1)
High lands, (2) Midlands and (3) Lowlands. The Highlands
slope down from the Western Ghats which rise to an average
height of 900 m, with a number of peaks well over 1,800
m in height. This is the area of major plantations like
tea, coffee, rubber, cardamom and other spices.
The Midlands, lying between the mountains and the lowlands,
is made up of undulating hills and valleys. This is
an area of intensive cultivation. Cashew, coconut, areca
nut, cassava (tapioca), banana, rice, ginger, pepper,
sugarcane and vegetables of myriad varieties are grown
in this area.
is a purified world in Kerala, the land of trees. A
big, spreading tree purifies as much air as a room air-conditioner.
And the former is never switched off. The prolific,
bustling, vegetation acts like a massive, biological,
air-filtration plant working round the clock, round
the year. Hence spending days in Kerala countryside
is as if spending in an air- purified environ; some
times better than it. So is the rejuvenating effect
of the lush greenery of the state.
wanton growth of trees makes Kerala a herbarium. The
four month-long, copious monsoon and recurrent flurry
make this land a perfect nursery for all living beings.
Loitering under the canopy of the foliage, you will
feel blossoming the dreams. Thus, on a sojourn in Kerala,
away from the rough and tumble of cities, you're breathing
freshly purified air all the time.
Another piece de resistance of Kerala is the meandering
rivers which criss-cross the state physique like blood
veins. Besides, water bodies tucked away in thick forests
also enhance the amazing beauty of the state. They fertilize
the' land, turn waste into the wealth of the rich, black,
alluvial soil on which the agrarian state thrive.
Lowlands or the coastal area, made up of river deltas,
backwaters and the Arabian coast, is essentially a land
of coconuts and rice. Fisheries and coif industry constitute
the major industries of this area.
Kerala is a land of rivers and backwaters. Forty-four
rivers (41 west-flowing and 3 east-flowing} criss-cross
the state physique along with countless runlets. During
summer, these monsoon-fed rivers will turn into rivulets
especially in the upper parts of Kerala.
Backwaters are an attractive, economically valuable
feature of Kerala. These include lakes and ocean in
lets which stretch irregularly along the Kerala coast.
The biggest among these backwaters is the Vembanad lake,
with an area of 200 sq km, which opens out into the
Arabian Sea at Cochin port.
Periyar, Pamba, Manimala, Achenkovil, Meenachil and
Moovattupuzha rivers drain into this lake.The other
important backwaters are Veli, Kadhinam kulam, Anjengo
(Anju Thengu),Edava, Nadayara, Paravoor. Ashtamudi (Quilon)
Flora: Kerala has over 25% of India's 15,000 plant species.
Among them include endangered and rare species, flowering
plants, fungies, lichens and mosses. The state's forest
wealth include tropical wet evergreen, semi-green and
tropical most deciduous. Teak, Mahagoney, Rosewood and
Sandalwood are common, the forests abound with orchids,
anthirium, balsam, and medicinal plants. banyan figs,
bamboo as well as 40,000 years old grasslands. Mangroves
are seen in coastal areas and low, morass lands. So
fertile is the state, thanks to rivers and dams that
are replenished by copious rain in Western Ghats.
If you havent, make sure you do. This ones
really an absolutely wonderful, unforgettable experience!
houseboats of today - huge, slow moving, exotic barge
used for leisure trips - are the reworked kettuvalloms
of olden times. The original kettuvalloms were used
to carry tonnes of rice and spices - a standard kettuvallom
can hold up to 30 tonnes - from Kuttanad to the Kochi
kettuvallam or boat with knots- was so called
because the entire boat was held together with coir
knots only - not even a single nail is used during the
construction. The boat is made of planks of jack-wood
joined together with coir. This is then coated with
a caustic black resin made from boiled cashew kernels.
With careful maintenance, a kettuvallom can last for
portion of the kettuvallom was covered with bamboo and
coir to serve as a restroom and kitchen for the crew.
Meals would be cooked on board and supplemented with
fresh fish from the backwaters. Today, the tradition
is still continued and the food from the local cuisine
is served by the Kuttanad localites, on board.
When the modern trucks replaced this system of transport,
some one found a new way that would keep these boats,
almost all of which were more than 100 years old, in
the market. By constructing special rooms to accommodate
travelers, these boats cruised forward from near- extinction
to enjoy their present great popularity.
these are a familiar sight on the backwaters and in
Alleppey alone, there are as many as 120 houseboats.
While converting kettuvallams into houseboats, care
is taken to use only natural products. Bamboo mats,
sticks and wood of the aracanut tree are used for roofing,
coir mats and wooden planks for the flooring and wood
of coconut trees and coir for beds. For lighting though,
solar panels are used.
Today, the houseboats have all the creature comforts
of a good hotel including furnished bedrooms, modern
toilets, cozy living rooms, a kitchen and even a balcony
for angling. Parts of the curved roof of wood or plaited
palm open out to provide shade and allow uninterrupted
views. While most boats are poled by local oarsmen,
some are powered by a 40 HP engine. Boat-trains - formed
by joining two or more houseboats together - are also
used by large groups of sight-seers.
is truly magical about a houseboat ride is the breathtaking
view of the untouched and otherwise inaccessible rural
Kerala that it offers - while you float! Now, wouldnt
that be something?
The Legend about Kerela
One of the persistent beliefs about the origin of Kerela
is an ancient lore. Lord Vishnu, the protector in his
6th incarnation as Parashurama slayed 21 evil warriors
and after the ferocious battle he prayed to Gods for
a secluded place to perform his penance. The Gods designed
to give him the land he chose. On hearing that, Parashurama
threw his axe into the sea in a wide arc and commanded
the water in the area to retreat. The land that rose
dripping from the sea became Kerela, the land of prosperity
and land of God's.
eventful history of this city began when a major flood
in AD 1341 threw open the estuary at Kochi, till then
a land locked region, turning it into one of the finest
natural harbours in the world. Kochi thus became a haven
for seafaring visitors from all over the world and became
the first European township in India when the Portuguese
settled here in the 15th century.
Dutch wrested Fort Kochi from the Portuguese in AD 1663
and later in the last phase of the colonial saga, the
British took over, the town in 1795. During 1660's,
Fort Kochi peaked in stature as a prime commercial centre
and its fame spread far and wide - variously as a rich
trade centre, a major military base, a vibrant cultural
hub, a great ship building centre, a centre for Christianity
and so on. Today, centuries later, the city is home
to nearly thirteen communities.
A few interesting sites included in the tour are the
Chinese fishing nets along the Vasco Da Gama Square,
Santa Cruz Basilica, St.Francis Church, VOC Gate, Bastion
Bungalow etc. Apart from these architectural splendors,
an array of restaurants serving fresh seafood are also
popular among tourists. The Chinese fishing nets erected
on teak wood and bamboo poles work on the principle
of balance. Records say they were first set up here
between AD 1350 and 1450. Vasco Da Gama Square, the
narrow promenade that parallels the beach, is the best
place to watch the nets being lowered and pulled out
of the sea.
The Santa Cruz Basilica, a church built originally by
the Portuguese and elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul
1V in 1558, was spared by the Dutch conquerors who destroyed
many Catholic buildings. Later the British demolished
the structure and Bishop Dom Gomez Vereira commissioned
a new building in 1887. Consecrated in 1905, Santa Cruz
was proclaimed a Basilica by the Pope John Paul II in
Kochi is also home to one of India's oldest churches
- the St.Francis Church. This was a Roman Catholic Church
during the Portuguese rule from 1503 to 1663, then a
Dutch Reformist Church from 1664 to 1804, and Anglican
church from 1804 to 1947. Today it is governed by the
Church of South India (CSI). Another important fact
about the church is that Vasco Da Gama, who died in
1524, was buried here before his mortal remains were
returned to Portugal 14 years later... Each and every
structure, street, door, window and brick in Fort Kochi
has several stories to tell.
Kochi is accessible by bus or ferry. The bus ride from
Ernakulam town, which is nearly 13 km away, takes about
an hour and the ferry ride from Main boat jetty at Ernakulam
about 20 minutes.