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God’s Own Country


Kerala, also known as God's Own Country, is blessed with natural beauty, with rivers crisscrossing it, and abundant greenery everywhere. The entire state teems with wildlife, and there are a number of tourist attractions. But aside from all the pretty postcard scenery, Kerala has something much more special and memorable to offer –its culture.

The aesthetically-inclined Malayali

Malayalis are peace-loving people, who believe in living in harmony with one another. People are very aesthetic, and are fond of music, art and dance. Some of the popular dance forms are Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, ChakyarKoothu, Theyyam, and so forth.

Apart from Malayalam, other languages spoken are English, Tamil, Telugu, etc. The Kerala cuisine is very famous the world over – it includes both veg and non-veg food. The Onam Sadya(feast) is one of Kerala's special offerings. With over 60 ingredients, the menu offers 26 types of mouth-watering curries, fried veggies, sweet dishes, and more. There is no Onam without the Onam Sadhya!Other vegetarian delights include Idli Sambar, PuttuKadala, Erissery (pumpkin and lentil stew), Parippucurry, and so on.

But it is the non-vegetarian food that is a foodie’s delight. There is a mind-boggling variety to choose from -- Alleppey Fish Curry, Appam and Crab Masala, Beef Chikki Fry, Beef Ularthiyathu, ChemmeenMuringakka Curry, Chicken Mint Roast, Chilli Garlic Prawns and Dry Fish Curry are just some of the dishes that delight people.

Tourist attractions of Kerala

The state of Kerala has many tourist attractions. Its lush green tea plantations, winding backwaters and coffee and spice plantations are some of the features that define Kerala as one of the most popular tourist destinations of India. People from all over the country, indeed, all over the world, come to the state to experience its breath-taking beauty.

Some of the must-see spots are:


Alleppey backwaters

Alleppey, locally known as Alappuzha, is famous all over the world for its backwaters, which are a network of canals, rivers and lakes that weave through the state. One can cruise down the backwaters in “Kettuvallams”, or house boats, which provide all the amenities one would need. Alleppey also has many temples and churches which add to its picturesque beauty.

Fishing nets of Kochi

Kochi is the economic and cultural capital of Kerala. It is a hub of tourist activity, attracting visitors in droves. From Chinese fishing nets to exotic spice cultivations, there’s a lot to see and experience here. The city is an amalgamation of various cultures, all of them thriving collectively and individually.

Thekkady

Thekkady is home to the popular Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Elephants roam around the sanctuary, and tourists love to see them in their natural habitat. Thekkadyis the perfect destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

Munnar

Munnar is, perhaps, the most beautiful tourist spot of Kerala. Situated in the Western Ghats, it has beautiful tea gardens growing on undulating hills that seem to touch the clouds above. Munnar has something for everyone -- palm-fringed backwaters, beautiful waterfalls, golden beaches, misty mountains and gushing streams.

Thrissur

Thrissur is the cultural capital of Kerala.It has an array of beautiful temples and churches that become a hub of activity during festivals.


Kovalam

Kovalam is counted among the world’s most popular and scenic beaches. The countless coconut trees, lush green vegetation,the calm sea – it is the ideal place for the lazy tourist.

Wayanad

Wayanad is a hill station where temperatures are much lower than in the rest of the state. It boasts of tea, coffee, cardamom and pepper plantations, and is also known for several spices. It has many natural marvels such as waterfalls, caves, lakes and dams, which are enough to keep tourists busy.

There are many other places of tourist interest in Kerala, including the capital city, Thiruvananthapuram, where the world-famous SreePadmanabhaswamy Temple is located.Kerala is also famous for many archaeological monuments, such as Edakkal Caves, Fort Kochi, ThalasseryFort etc.


The religions of Kerala

Religion has played a crucial role in Kerala’s culture. More than four religions are practiced in the state -- Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism are the main faiths. A little more than half of the state’s population is Hindu, with Muslims constituting about 25% of the population and Christians about 20%.

While many states of India have people of different religions, what makes Kerala special is the harmonious co-existence of people of all faiths. Very seldom will you hear of incidents of communal violence. The past decade has seen increasing religious intolerance, and rising incidents of hate crimes and communal frenzy. Even in this charged atmosphere, the state of Kerala stands tall, with people of different faiths not only living peacefully with one another, but inter-mingling freely, and without any reservations.


Festivals are celebrated jointly – it is common to see people of all faiths celebrating Onam, which is the state festival of Kerala. Christmas, Eid, several Hindu festivals pass peacefully, with no signs of intolerance, leave alone violence.

There are several other examples of communal harmony in the state. For instance, a visit to Vavar mosque is a part of the Sabarimala pilgrimage. A visit to the mosque before going to a Hindu temple symbolises unity between the two religions.

There’s another incident that underlines the peaceful co-existence of various religions in Kerala. The Chera King of Kerala, who was motivated to convert to Islam after witnessing the Islamic miracle of the moon splitting in the 7thcentury, ordered the CheramanJuma Masjid to be built in Kodungallur in Thrissur district. Today, the mosque still stands, bearing ancient Buddhist architectural style. Within the mosque hangs an oil lamp, symbolic of Hindu culture, containing the oil donated by countless visitors and pilgrims.Its flames keep burning as an ode to the communal harmony of Kerala.

Kerala, the most literate state of India, is truly an example for other states of the country, which can learn many valuable lessons from the state, as can the world.



By Pam Ooralath Vinod

Grade 9

Rajagiri Public School, Kochi

Author bio: Pam is a bubbly girl, keenly interested in nature, wildlife and photography. Her hobbies include watching TV, reading books, listening to music, and playing badminton. She hopes to become a doctor when she grows up.

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