is one of the smallest states in the Indian union. Its area 38.855
square kilometers is just 1.3 percent of the total area of India.
The land of
the narrow coastal strip bounded by the Western Ghats n the east
and the Arabian Sea on the west. In the words of Sreedhara Menon
unique geographical position and peculiar physical features have
invested Kerala with a distinct individuality. Hence it has played
a vital role in the commercial and cultural history of India.
Kerala has been describes as the favorite child of nature. Like
Kashmir in the north, Kerala in the south is famous for its breath-taking
its evergreen mountains, dense forests stately palms, swift flowing
rivers, extensive backwaters and blue lagoons, it looks like a
fairyland. This atmosphere of beauty and peace has nurtured religion
and art in Kerala and enabled her to become a precious gem in
the necklace of Indian culture. Indian poets of eminence have
showered their praises for the abundance of its peppers, the fragrance
of its sandal and the wealth of its coconuts. No part of India
is so widely known or has played so important a part in world
history as Kerala.
Natural Divisions: Physical features demarcate the state into
three natural divisions. They are the lowland adjoining the sea,
the midland consisting of the undulating country east of the lowlands
and the forest -clad highland on the extreme east. The lowland
bordering the sea is dotted with innumerable coconut palms and
the expansive stretches of paddy crops. The midland regions comprise
valleys, punctuated here and there by isolated hills.
rich and fertile region bears the largest extent of agricultural
crops. The Western Ghats which range along the eastern border
constitute the highland. They form a natural wall of protection
to the state. Extensive tea and cardamom plantation dominate the
higher elevations; while ginger, rubber, pepper, and turmeric
flourish at the lower elevations. The hilly portion is broken
up by long spurs, deep savines, dense forests and tangles jungles.
Geographical Isolation: The geographical position of Kerala as
a narrow strip of land ensconced between the Arabian Sea and the
Western Ghats has considerably influenced the course of its history.
From the dawn of history it has created a kind of insularity.
As a result, Kerala seldom felt the impact of many foreign invasions
which had ravaged North India form time to time. Owing to this
insularity, it took nearly two centuries for Buddhism to reach
Kerala. She also evolved its own way of life and social institutions
unhampered by excessive interference from outside.
ago in the mists of time as it were, Lord Vishnu descended from
the heavens in his incarnation of Parashuram. After slaying the
evil kings 21 times over to repeal their force from earth, he
did penance for waging the terrible war, and threw his axe into
the sea. The area where the axe land- ed, from shaft to blade,
rose from the sea as Kerala, a land of plenty and prosperity.
Its geographical position has been responsible too for Kera- la's
historic ebb and flow. The strip of land found a natural defense
in the hills that sealed off one longitudinal section, leaving
it open to access from the sea alone.
Sea trade started with the Phoenicians, and in 1000 BC Kerala
was visited by King Solomon's ships that travelled to `Ophir'
in all probability the modern Puvar, south of Trivandrum. Then
followed the galleys of other far-off countries : Greece, Rome,
Arabia, China. A fresh wave of trading history started with the
Europeans : the Portuguese were forced out of the area. By 1795,
however, the Dutch too had to move out, for the British traders
had become the strongest power in India by that time. In all this
period of prosperity and strife, the region's identity existed
as the Malabar Coast and Cochin Travancore. It was only in 1956
that it gained recognition as an independent state, Kera- la.