Kerala – sometimes referred to as Keralam – is a state in the south-western region of India. It is the thirteenth largest state (by population) in the country, and it combines various Malayam-speaking regions. Malayam is the official – and most widely spoken – language in the state. The state can be proud of having the highest literacy rate in India (93.91%), as well as the highest life expectancy and the lowest homicide rate in the country. Besides, it is the least corrupt state in the country – I wonder if the local foods have anything to do with these.
Chinese Fishing Nets in Cochin photo by Anoop Negi via Flickr
Kerala is home of a series of dishes that are mostly unknown in the West. Among them we can find an incredible variety of spicy, hot and vegetarian dishes, which are as colorful as one might expect. Although coconut is present in the majority of local dishes – given the high production of coconut in the region this is not a surprise – but the Keralan cuisine is incredibly rich.
Lady boating in Kerala Backwaters photo by -Reji via Flickr
The locals also use high quantities of spices, also a traditional local product. Traditional – they have centuries of history that have made these dishes unique and as entertaining for the Western eyes as they are tasty. First-time visitors will be impressed by the cheerful, jolly looking foods available here, as well as of the incredible variety of street food that is sold all over the place.
Fishing in Kerala by Thangaraj Kumaravel via Flickr
Kerala was a relatively unknown tourist destination until the early 1980s, as most well-known circuits concentrating on the Northern regions of India. This all changed when the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation – a state-owned company/government agency that oversees tourism in the state – has triggered the growth of the local tourist industry.
Picking Tea in Munnar Kerala by Stefano Ravalli via Flickr
Today Kerala is an established destination, with hundreds of thousands of visitors hosted each year, well known for its beaches, mountain ranges, and wildlife sanctuaries. The state promotes “ecologically sustained tourism”, focusing on local culture, wilderness adventures, personal growth and volunteering of the local population, with efforts taken to keep the adverse effects of tourism on the local culture to a minimum.
Thaiyyam / Theyyam is a traditional Art from Kerala photo by Sreejith Kenoth via Flickr
Besides its incredible sights and tasty, spicy dishes, Kerala also provides visitors with traditions and ancient art forms to observe. Some of the local performing arts include koodiyattom, kathakali—from katha (“story”) and kali (“play”)—and its offshoot Kerala Natanam, koothu (akin to stand-up comedy), mohiniaattam (“dance of the enchantress”), thullal, padayani, and theyyam, and other – more religious and tribal-themed – performances.
Kathakali, The Art Of Story Telling Through Expressions and Hand Gestures photo by Pranav Bhasin via Flickr
The region has an incredible variety of new experiences to discover – traditions, tastes, and adventures – and it also has high-quality lodging and accommodation for visitors.