Specialties of Kerala
India is chock full of places and cultures that have accrued worldwide repute. Kerala is one such place which has lots of interesting titbits and cultural history. In this blog, we go over the specialties of Kerala which makes it a favourite place for tourists both domestic and international.
GOD’S OWN COUNTRY…
Although a lot of people know Kerala is referred to as God’s Own Country, few know the actual backstory behind it. A lot of tourists simply attribute this saying to the enormous treasure of natural beauty and religious depth that Kerala inhabits. But believe it not, there’re actually several mythological stories that gives Kerala this glorious nickname.
The first story follows the tale of Lord Parashurama, the sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu. He once threw his axe across the sea (you know, like us mortals throw stones over lakes to see how many times they skip). Powerful as He was, the sea parted as far as the axe travelled. From this new chasm, land which was underwater arose and swallowed the sea. You guessed it; this was the land where Kerala now rests, between Gokarna and Kanyakumari. However, this land was barren, and too salty to sustain life. Seeing this, Lord Parashurama invoked Vasuki, the Snake King (who some believe is coiled around Lord Shiva’s neck). Vasuki sprayed and spat holy poison all over the land, making the land fertile, giving way for some truly marvelous scenery. Now Vasuki and his underlings stand guard over the land of Kerala, as a favour for Lord Parashurama.
Another story talks about Mahabali, the Supreme Asura (demon), the ruler of the earth. He ruled all land from his formidable throne in Kerala. In an epic battle with the Gods / Devas, he got the upper hand and sent the Devas into exile. The Devas, rattled and shaken under Mahabali’s rule, united and appeased to Lord Vishnu to return and squash this tyrant. Lord Vishnu conceded, and returned to earth as the Vamana avatarand finally bested Mahabali. As penance, Lord Vishnu ordered Mahabali to reconcile with the Devas, through worship and obedience. Mahabali obeyed, and so righteously so, that Lord Vishnu was impressed. The Lord himself now guards Kerala, as a mark of respect for Mahabali and his grace under defeat.
THE PADMANABHASWAMY TEMPLE
Following in the vein of Hindu mythology, let us talk about the wealthiest Hindu temple in all of India. Based in Thiruvanantapuram, the Padmanabhaswamy Temple basks in a full gold-plated exterior. The temple was built in reverence to Lord Pabmanabha, yet another avatar of – no surprises there – Lord Vishnu Himself. Some devotees believe it has existed since the very first day of the Kali Yuga, which was 5000 years ago. There is even a mention of the temple in the Holy Bhagvad Gita. The Gita says it was a place of frequent comings and goings of Lord Balarama, the oldest brother of Lord Krishna.
THE BEDROCK OF AYURVEDA
Kerala is a frontier in the development of Ayurvedic medicine. In fact, Kerala is believed to be among the very first places which started implementing Ayurveda as a medicinal practice. Even today, Kerala locals think of Ayurveda as a go-to treatment for most major ailments. Recently, studies have begun in Kerala to find out how Ayurveda can be used to treat arthritis.
Moreover, Kerala also houses the Somatheeram, the world’s first Ayurvedic resort. Keralans also use Ayurveda for beauty, physical and mental wellbeing, and peak body conditions.
It is remarkable how this age-old tradition has continued in God’s own country, even in the face of modern medicine, even as we develop the thinking that drugs and chemicals can solve all problems. Which leads us to our next specialty of Kerala…
KERALA DEFIES MODERNIZATION
Unfortunately, we live in a world in which capitalist greed trumps delicate beauty. Most serene places in India have fallen prey to giants of cement and glass. All in the name of progress. However, Kerala refuses to be victimized. It still boasts of breath-taking hills, mesmerising beaches, waterfalls, lagoons, rivers… you name it. These places have remained pristine due to the diligent efforts of its locals who strive hard to keep it clean. The contribution of these efforts have enhanced a land already blessed with bountiful natural wealth.
Kerala is the highest of all states in many aspects.
It has the highest female to male ratio. Kerala has 1084 females for every 1000 males, which makes its female to male ratio 1.084. The national figure is 0.940, making Kerala higher than the national average.
Kerala is also the highest gold consumer in India. It consumes about 20% more gold than the entire nation. (Ladies, if you are planning for a destination wedding, you know where to go if you want to flaunt gold from head to toe.)
Another of the specialties of Kerala is its literacy rate, which is 93.91%. The rest of the nation stands at 74.04%.
Lastly, Kerala celebrates the highest number of festivals in India. Not only the number of festivals, but also the number of types of religions and sub-religions are vast. Kerala exemplifies the idea of unity and religious harmony. These were 5 specialties of Kerala which make it a unique place. Of course, there are the backwaters and the rich palette of the people which huge number of tourists fall in love, but those are some of the better-known qualities of Kerala. But all in all, Kerala is a lovely place to visit, and should definitely be on everyone’s itinerary at least once in a lifetime!