Kerala Geography & History


Kerala, lovingly called "God’s own country" is truly a land of eternal bliss and a tropical Eden with the mesmerizing beauty of its sun bathed golden seashores edged with abundant coconut trees, the zigzag rocky terrain of the Western Ghats, straggling plantations and paddy fields, the cerulean lagoons and the bountiful rivers and mighty waterfalls, fascinating bio-diversity of its flora and fauna. The age-old heritage and tradition, bright festivals and dances, and elating boat races are among Kerala's prime attractions.

Geography of Kerala



Location and Area

-Kerala is located on the southernmost tip of India and embraces the coast of Arabian Sea on the west and is bounded by the Western Ghats in the east. This South Indian state stretches from north to south along the coast line of 580 kms with an approximate breadth of 35 to 120 kms. Lying within east longitudes 74 degree 52' and 72 degree 22' and north latitudes 8 degree 18' and 12 degree 48' this idyllic land of pleasing beauty embraces1.18 % area of the country of India. Kerala also encloses Mahé, Pondicherry’s coastal exclave. With 14 districts and other cities the total area of Kerala is 38, 863 sq km.

Climate

- The coastal state of Keralalying on the Southwestern tip of India has commonly been called the tropical paradise of India. Bounded by Arabian Sea at one side and the Western Ghats on the other, the beautiful land with stunning beauty has an equable and tropical climate offering a pleasing atmosphere throughout the entire year. This coastal state has hot and humid climate during April-May and pleasant, cold climate in December-January. Summer extends from the month of April to June when the temperature reaches to a maximum of 33 degrees centigrade. Summer is followed by South West Monsoon that starts pouring in the month of June and continues till September. With the arrival of winter there is certain drop in the temperature and you can feel a slight chill due to the cold wind. Winter in Kerala lasts from from November to January or February.

The topography and the geographical relief features are marked by distinct changes from east to west and consists of-
  • The Western Ghats- The mighty Western Ghats, a sequence of Rocky Mountains,edges the eastern boundary of Kerala and ascends roughly upto 1,500 m above sea level with the lofty peaks rising upto 2,500 m.

  • Hill and Valleys- The narrow piece of land on the eastern border, close to the Western Ghats, encompasses precipitous hills, deep valleys and gorges which are covered with thick woods. Almost all the rivers of the state originate here.

  • Midland Plains- These plains which lie along central Kerala, are located in the west of the hills and mountains.

  • Coastal Belt-The narrow belt of coastal land along the Arabian Sea is characterized by paddy fields, rows of coconut trees and serene, and backwaters internally linked by rivers and inland waterways.

  • Backwaters and Rivers-The Backwaters consists of lakes and inlets of oceans which straggle out in the land. The largest backwater is the Vembanad Lake which stretches out into the Arabian Sea at Cochin Port. There are 49 river/lakes flowing in the state of Keralaamong them 46 flows to the west and the other 3 flow to the east. They evolve from Western Ghats and rush towards the west into the Arabian Sea.

Rivers, Lakes and Backwaters

- Kerala, the South Western state of Indian Peninsula can be rightly called the land of waterbodies with numerous majestic waterfalls and calm backwaters, 34 lakes with sparkling azure and emerald waters, and 49 rain-fedriver/lakes with copious tributaries and distributaries flowing through the land. A large number of lakes form superb destinations for backwater tours in Kerala. The still waters of the serene lakes offer a feeling of tranquility amidst nature and one seems to get lost in the world of his own thoughts. Some of these lakes are Sasthamkotta Lake, Vembanad Lake, The Ashtamudi Lake, Pookot Lake and Akkulam Lake.

Soil and Vegetation

-The state of Kerala with its wide array of topographical features such as coastlines along the Arabian Sea, hills of the Western Ghats, valleys, abundant waterbodies ,is the reserve of diverse types of soil such as red, ferruginous, sandy, black, peat and loamy soil. There are an assortment of flora and other plantation crops which grow in these soils. The natural vegetation of Kerala comprises 3,872 flowering plants including 900 plants of great medicinal value. The forested regions with an area of 9,400 km² comprises tropical wet evergreen partly-evergreen forests with thick undergrowth in the lower and mid altitudes, tropical damp and arid deciduous forests in the middle altitudes plus mountainous subtropical and temperate (shola) forests in the precipitous hills. Kerala basically thrives on agriculture. The main crops are paddy, coconut, pepper, cashew, cassava and plantation crops like rubber and cash crops are tea and coffee, spices, nutmeg, vanilla and cashew nut.

History of Kerala



Kerala -God’s Own Country lends its name from a very famous old legend. As the legend has it that God Parshuram an incarnation or avatar of Mahavishnu saved Kerala from the raging and belligerent Sea. Since then people believe it to be a land of God. Due to the convenient location, this land established trade contacts with Egypt, Greeks, Assyria, Romans and the Chinese. The Malayalam era 'Kollavarsha' is said to have originated in the 9th century A.D. We have recorded evidence of the first chief kingdom that ruled Kerala. It was the ancient Chera Empire whose court language was Tamil and the founder was Cheraman Perumal. Kerala was first cited in the Sanskrit epic Aitareya Aranyaka which formed the basis of written records. Later Panini mentioned Kerala in his works. Kerala also lured the Greeks, Christians, Arabs and Muslims, Portuguese, Dutch and other communities of the world with its rich culture and natural resources.

Vasco Da Gama's discovery of Kalicut and his arrival in 20th May, 1498 made the Portuguese control the money-spinning pepper trade.

In 1868 the ancient sage Agasthya introduced the Vedic Hinduism to Kerala and South India. Finally the Mauryans and the Grand Mughals consolidated their empires in Kerala. In the mean time the Dutch drove away the Portuguese from Kozhikode (Calicut). Then Mysore’s Hyder Ali invaded north Kerala and Kozhikode in 1766. In 1792 Tipu Sultan surrendered Kerala to the British. It was in 1949 that the three territories Travancore, Kochi and Malabar were merged and in 1956 the state of Kerala came into existence and became a part of the Indian Union.

Last Updated on : 12/06/2013