Gods Own Country" or "The Land Of Coconut Trees", Kerala,
is the most beautiful place on earth.. It is blessed
with endless beaches, lush green forests, waterfalls,
fertile land and palm fringed lakes and backwaters.
Kerala is situated between the Western Ghats and the
Arabian Sea with an area of approximately 39,000sq.km.
It has 14 districts and it's capital is Thiruvananthapuram.
There is no unanimity among historians about the history
of ancient Kerala, since so little written
accounts exist. Much of the history is cloaked in myths
and conjectures One such myth centres around the legend
of Parasurama, the warrior-sage who is regarded as the incarnation
of Lord Vishnu . After destroying the Kshathriya kings,
goes the legend, the warrior-sage asked an assembly
of learned men a way of penance for his past misdeeds.
On being advised to hand over the lands he had
conquered to the Brahmins to save his soul from eternal
damnation, he readily agreed and sat in penance
at Gokarnam, those days considered to be land's end.
There having got boons from Lord Varuna, the God
of the Oceans and Bhumidevi, the Goddess of earth, he
proceeded to Kanya- Kumari and threw his battle axe
northwards across the waters. The waters subsided and
what was left over was called the land of Parasurama,
or what is Kerala today.
Since geologists have pointed out that the elevation
of Kerala from the sea was the result of
some seismic activity, either sudden or gradual there
is also another theory. The rivers of Kerala
emptying into the Arabian seas bring down enormous quantities
of silt from the hills. the ocean
currents transport quantities of sand towards the shore.
The coastal portions could well be due to
the accumulation of this silt over thousands of years.
Ancient Kerala occupied a unique place in the
commercial world. The teak found in the ruins of Ur
must certainly have come from the Malabar Coast. This
means trade flourished around 3000 BC. Cotton
from this region was favourite in Egypt, The Phoenicians
visited the coast of Malabar around the
same time to trade in ivory, sandalwood and spices.
King Solomon is said to have sent his commercial
fleet to Ophir which is said to be somewhere in southern
Muziris (Kodungalloor or Cranganore) was reputed to
be the ancient world's greatest trading centre in
the East for such highly prized possessions as pepper,
cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and other
spices. Pliny , the younger is said to have lamented
the fact that trade with the East was
draining the treasury of Rome. The trade flourished
through ships riding on the monsoon winds
from Africa and back to Arabia, from where overland
caravans took these prized items to the
markets along the Mediterranean ports.
By common consent among the historians, the earliest
inhabitants of Kerala were the Pulayas,
Kuravas and Vetas . It is at a much later time that
migratory populations from the north subjugated
them and ultimately enslaved them, a state to which
they were in till the abolition of untouchability.
By the beginning of the Christian era, there was a noticeable
increase in the influence of the Chera
dynasty from across the Western Ghats and into the political
and cultural life of ancient Kerala. The
armies of the northern empires of the Mauryas could
not enter the lands of the Cheras, but Buddhism and
Jainism did enter in a big way. But it was the entry
of Brahmins from the boundaries of modern day
Karnataka which really changed the power structure of
Kerala for the next millenium .
From Payyannur in north Kerala, they gradually
moved south and occupied the most fertile lands .
By the time of the terminal decline of the Cheras started,
it coincided with the rise of the Brahmins
in Kerala. By the 10th century, they were a powerful
entity from Gokurnum (north Kerala ) to Kanyakumari.
divided into 32 Brahmin or 'Namboothiries' communities.
Soon thereafter, the Buddhists and the Jains had
to beat a retreat from the social landscape of Kerala.
These land owning class of Brahmins were well on their
way to great wealth and power. To make their sway complete,
strict segregation between classes of people came
into being. In their practice, the caste system of Kerala
found no equal anywhere else in the country . The
edicts even include what distance a person of lowest
caste must keep from the Brahmins, even considering
the shadow of the persons concerned and avoiding even
looking at a Brahmin.
The Christians who had arrived from the middle East
in the 3rd century AD and the Muslims who arrived
in the 8th century were generally traders and were not
involved in this social segregation and generally
kept aloof from the ambit of caste politics of those
days. The Jews who arrived in Kerala in the early
years of the Christian era were given privileges to
trade and became an influential part of the melting
pot of Kerala's population.
The Namboothiries also were the landowners ( janmi)
of most lands in Kerala. Lands being leased out to
next higher castes for share cropping, and these in
turn would further be leased out to those lower on
the caste hierarchy and to non-Hindus. The lowest castes
of course were only labourers and were
traded along with the land . In such a rigid hierarchy,
the all powerful Namboothiries were the
By and by Kerala entered a phase of feudal chieftains
or warlords (naduvazhis). Some were
anointed by the Namboothiries, but most just walked
into a power vacuum existing at the time. Hence,
Kerala at the turn of the 11th century AD had power
triangle in the caste system supported by the
landlords and ruled by the warlords. This in turn gave
rise to instability in the absence of a strong
central leadership. Wars and conflicts were therefore
common for control of turf.
Ultimately, three war lords emerged with some semblance
of authority in their regions - the
Zamorin of Calicut (Samuthiri of Kozhikode) to the North,
Moopins of Perimpadappu (near modern day
Kochi) in the central region and chieftain of Kollam.
It is also interesting to note that these kingdoms were
centred around the ancient ports of Kozhikode,
Kochi ( a small harbour appeared in present day Kochi
in 1341 after a natural calamity closed the
ancient port of Muziris or Kodungalloor) and Kollam.
The name Kochi comes from the word 'kochu thura' meaning
a small port or opening out to the sea. The combination
of caste, feudalism and warfare ultimately took
its toll. The landlords lived in supreme luxury, while
the peasantry toiled to keep them in comfort. The
endless feuds also impoverished the country side and
was ripe for outsiders to come and take over. This is
precisely what the Europeans who found a sea lane to
the fabled land of spices and gold did. There was
nothing anyone could do to stop the next five centuries
of colonial rule In the 15th century,
when the semitic monopoly of the spice trade became
for the European markets to bear, Portugal financed
Vasco da Gama to discover the sea route to the
spice lands of Kerala. The Portuguese were followed
by the Dutch in to Kerala, then by the
French in a limited way, and finally by the British
who stayed on in India till 1947. This
multi-layered international history has left traces
throughout the state. The Arabs and Chinese also
made their mark on Kerala and some fishermen still use
Chinese fishing nets to this day. One can find ancient
Hindu temples sitting serenely nearby gaily painted
colonial-style churches and splendid mosques.
Crumbling Portuguese ruins by the sea- side soften the
harsh memories left behind by colonisers, while
British residences and English town squares remind one
of the recent colonial past.
Kerala has also had Christians as long as Christianity
has been in Europe. The Portuguese
were more than a little surprised to find Christianity
already established along the Malabar
coast when they arrived here 500 years ago. Christianity,
Judaism and Islam found their way
into Kerala. A tolerant people welcomed them. Kerala
has an amazing mixture of religions -Hindus,
Christians and Muslims. Communal harmony and religious
toleration are an essential part of
Kerala's culture and heritage.
Among the modern line of traders - the Portuguese, Dutch,
French and the English, it was the English that presided
over the fate of Kerala from 1791, to the end of British
rule in 1947. During the first eighty years of British
rule life changed very little. Caste structure and the
matrilineal joint family systems continued in the three
units that were to become Kerala. By the end of the
eighteenth century, tea and coffee plantations developed.
An industrial revolution began in the 1850s - textiles,
tiles, coir etc. Modern education took root. The influx
of missionaries contributed to western education. Democratic
institutions were formed in 1888, and political activity
which began during the following decade, intensified
during the 1920s when the Indian National congress spearheaded
the national independence movement. This was a period
when the communist movement gathered momentum especially
As India itself was edging towards independence from
Britain in 1947, Travancore, Cochin and Malabar all
entered India as separate units. This was a period when
the communist movement gathered momentum especially
All communities in Kerala share a common language, Malayalam.
Malayalam is a Dravidian language closest to the Tamil
language. It has it's own script which is slightly different
from Tamil. It is also different from the Devanagari
script used in Hindi, the national language. The vocabulary
of Malayalam is a mixture of Tamil, Sanskrit and it's
Kerala is one of the most advanced states in India in
the fields of education, transportation, communication
and health care delivery. Most of the advancement since
independence has come in the field of education. Industrial
development has lagged behind some other centers in
India due to labour unrest, lack of power resources
and government ineptitude.
Vast pools of highly trained technical people from Kerala
are serving elsewhere in India or overseas.
Profound economic changes are taking place in India
and there is no doubt Kerala too is very eager to be
part of that development with major initiatives in a
variety of fields such as airports, electronics and
Chronology from the formation
of Kerala state
Nov. 1, 1956 Birth of Kerala (Kerala Piravi)
March 1957. First Assembly Election
April 5, 1957. E.M.S. ministry (Communist ) sworn in
July 31, 1959 . E.M.S. ministry dismissed after 'Vimochana
samaram under Mannathu Padbanabhan leader of the Nair
community. Main reasons were an unpopular education
bill which reduced the role of the private sector. An
agricultural bill also met with opposition. There were
also charges of nepotism , corruption in rice purchase
from Andhra and charges of making the police force ineffective.
Feb. 1960. Election to assembly
February 22, 1960 :Pattam Thanu Pillai (Congress- P.S.P.)
ministry sworn in.
September 25, 1962: Pattam ministry falls. Pattam appointed
as governor of Punjab.
September 26, 1962: R.Sankar ministry (Congress ) sworn
September 10 , 1964: Sankar ministry falls
Sankar and P.T.Chacko had conflicts. P.T.Chacko resigned
from the ministry. T.A.Thomman replaced him. Internal
strife in Congress became worse. !5 Congress MLAs resigned
from Congress and formed a special group under K.M.George.
That paved he way for the formation of Kerala Congress
March 1965. Assembly election (non-productive)
Feb.1967 Election to the assembly
March 6, 1967: Second E.M.S ministry (Communist )sworn
October 24, 1969: E.M.S. ministry falls
November 1, 1969 Achuta Menon ministry
(Left United Front ) sworn in
June 26, 1970 Assembly dissolved
August 1, 1970 :Achuta Menon ministry resigns
September 1970 Assembly election
October 4, 1970 Second Achuta Menon ministry sworn in
March 1977: Election to the assembly
March 25, 1977 :Karunakaran ministry (Congress ) sworn
April 25, 1977 :Karunakaran resigns
April 27, 1977: A.K.Antony sworn in as chief minister
October 29, 1978 : Antony resigns
October 29, 1978: P.K.Vasudevan Nair ministry (LDF)
October 7, 1979: Vasudevan Nair ministry falls
October 11, 1979: C.H.Mohamed
Koya ministry (Right democratic front )sworn in
December 1, 1979: Mohamad Koya ministry falls
January 1980: election to the assembly
January 25, 1980 :E.K.Nayanar (LDF ) ministry sworn
October 20, 1981: Nayanar minisry falls.
December 21, 1981: Karunakaran ministry (United democratic
front ) sworn in
March 17, 1982: Karunakaran ministry falls.
May 19, 1982: Assembly elections
May 24, 1982 :Karunakaran ministry (United Democratic
Front ) sworn in
March 23, 1987: Assembly election.
March 26, 1987: E.K.Nayanar ministry (LDF) sworn in
June 24, 1991: Karunakaran ministry (UDF) sworn in
March 16, 1995: Karunakaran ministry falls
March 22, 1995: A.K.Antony ministry (UDF) sworn in.
April 22, 1996: Elections to assembly.
May 20, 1996: E.K.Nayanar ministry (LDF) sworn in May10,
2001: Elections to assembly.
May 17, 2001: A.K.Antony ministry (UDF) sworn in
Chief ministers of Kerala-- In one glance
March 24, 1948 : First democratic government(Congress)
under Pattam Thanu Pillai. -October 7, 1949: Pattam
-October 22, 1949 :Paravur T.K.Narayana Pillai ministry
(Congress ) sworn in. -February 24, 1951: Paravur T.K.
ministry falls due to friction between Panampilli Govinda
Menon and E.John Philipose.
-March 1951: C Kesavan ministry with A.J.John and T.K.Narayana
Pillai sworn in. -December 1951: A.J.John ministry
-September 23, 1953: A.J.John ministry falls.
-February 22, 1954: Pattam Thanu Pillai (minority P.S.P)
ministry sworn in.
-February 14, 1955: Panampilli Govinda Menon ministry
-Nov. 1, 1956 Birth of Kerala
P.S. Rao administrator rules
-April 5, 1957. E.M.S. ministry (Communist ) sworn in
-July 31, 1959 . E.M.S. ministry dismissed
-February 22, 1960 :Pattam Thanu Pillai (Congress- P.S.P.)
ministry sworn in. -September 25, 1962: Pattam ministry
falls. Pattam appointed as governor of Punjab. -September
26, 1962: R.Sankar ministry (Congress ) sworn in.
-September, 1964: Sankar ministry falls
-March 6, 1967: Second E.M.S ministry (Communist )sworn
-October 24, 1969: E.M.S. ministry falls
-November 1, 1969 Achuta Menon ministry
(Left United Front ) sworn in
-August 1, 1970 :Achuta Menon ministry resigns
-October 4, 1970 Second Achuta Menon ministry sworn
-March 25, 1977 :Karunakaran ministry (Congress ) sworn
-April 25, 1977 :Karunakaran resigns
-April 27, 1977: A.K.Antony sworn in as chief minister
-October 29, 1978 : Antony resigns
-October 29, 1978: P.K.Vasudevan Nair ministry (LDF)
-October 7, 1979: Vasudevan Nair ministry falls
-October 11, 1979: C.H.Mohamed Koya ministry (Right
democratic front )sworn in -December 1, 1979: Mohamad
Koya ministry falls
-January 25, 1980 :E.K.Nayanar (LDF ) ministry sworn
-October 20, 1981: Nayanar minisry falls.
-December 21, 1981: Karunakaran ministry (United democratic
frnt ) sworn in
-March 17, 1982: Karunakaran ministry falls.
-May 24, 1982 :Karunakaran ministry (United Democratic
Front ) sworn in
-March 26, 1987: E.K.Nayanar ministry (LDF) sworn in
-June 24, 1991: Karunakaran ministry (UDF) sworn in
-March 16, 1995 : Karunakaran ministry falls
-March 22, 1995: A.K.Antony ministry (UDF) sworn in.
- May20, 1996: E.K.Nayanar ministry (LDF) sworn in
-May20, 1996: E.K.Nayanar ministry (LDF) sworn in -May
17, 2001: A.K.Antony ministry (UDF) sworn in
KERALA TO DAYPopulation-30 millionComparison:-
Libiya-4 million Kenya-21 million
In this group only France has a bigger population than
Comparison:- Belgium-30,000 Sq.Kilometers
Cypress-9000 Sq.Kilometers Kuwait-24,000 Sq.Kilometers
In this group SriLanka, Holland and Switswerland are
larger than Kerala.
Among India's states Kerala is 18th in area.
In population among India's 25 states there are eleven
states bigger and
thirteen states smaller compared to Kerala.
The often used expression 'KOCHU KERALAM' is a misnomer.