Kerala is a state on the Malabar Coast of India. It was formed on 1 November 1956, following the passage of the States Reorganisation Act, by combining Malayalam-speaking regions of the erstwhile regions of Cochin, Malabar, South Canara, and Travancore. Spread over 38,863 km ^2, Kerala is the twenty-first largest Indian state by area. It is bordered by Karnataka to the north and northeast, Tamil Nadu to the east and south, and the Lakshadweep Sea to the west. With 33 million inhabitants as per the 2011 census, Kerala is the thirteenth-largest Indian state by population. It is divided into 14 districts with the capital being Thiruvananthapuram. Malayalam is the most widely spoken language and is also the official language of the state.
The culture of Kerala is composite and cosmopolitan in nature and it is an integral part of Indian culture. It is a synthesis of Aryan, Dravidian, Arab, and European cultures, developed over millennia, under influences from other parts of India and abroad. It is defined by its antiquity and the organic continuity sustained by the Malayali people. It was elaborated through centuries of contact with neighbouring and overseas cultures. However, the geographical insularity of Kerala from the rest of the country has resulted in the development of a distinctive lifestyle, art, architecture, language, literature and social institutions. Over 10,000 festivals are celebrated in the state every year. The Malayalam calendar, a solar sidereal calendar started from 825 CE in Kerala, finds common usage in planning agricultural and religious activities. Malayalam, one of the classical languages in India, is Kerala’s official language. Over a dozen other scheduled and unscheduled languages are also spoken. Kerala has the greatest consumption of alcohol in India.
The development of classical music in Kerala is attributed to the contributions it received from the traditional performance arts associated with the temple culture of Kerala. The development of the indigenous classical music form, Sopana Sangeetham, illustrates the rich contribution that temple culture has made to the arts of Kerala. Carnatic music dominates Keralite traditional music. This was the result of Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma’s popularisation of the genre in the 19th century. Raga-based renditions known as sopanam accompany kathakali performances. Melam; including the paandi and panchari variants, is a more percussive style of music: it is performed at Kshetram-centered festivals using the chenda. Panchavadyam is a form of percussion ensemble, in which artists use five types of percussion instrument. Kerala’s visual arts range from traditional murals to the works of Raja Ravi Varma, the state’s most renowned painter. Most of the castes and communities in Kerala have rich collections of folk songs and ballads associated with a variety of themes; Vadakkan Pattukal (Northern Ballads), Thekkan pattukal (Southern Ballads), Vanchi pattukal (Boat Songs), Mappila Pattukal (Muslim songs) and Pallipattukal (Church songs) are a few of them.
DANCE – Kerala is home to a number of performance arts. These include five classical dance forms: Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Koodiyattom, Thullal and Krishnanattam, which originated and developed in the temple theatres during the classical period under the patronage of royal houses. Kerala natanam, Thirayattam, Kaliyattam, Theyyam, Koothu and Padayani are other dance forms associated with the temple culture of the region. Some traditional dance forms such as Oppana and Duffmuttu were popular among the Muslims of the state, while Margamkali and Parichamuttukali are popular among the Syrian Christians and Chavittu nadakom is popular among the Latin Christians.
Kerala’s culture and traditions, coupled with its varied demographics, have made the state one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. In 2012, National Geographic’s Traveller magazine named Kerala as one of the “ten paradises of the world” and “50 must see destinations of a lifetime”. Travel and Leisure also described Kerala as “One of the 100 great trips for the 21st century”. In 2012, it overtook the Taj Mahal to be the number one travel destination in Google’s search trends for India. CNN Travel listed Kerala amongst its ’19 best places to visit in 2019′.
Kerala’s beaches, backwaters, lakes, mountain ranges, waterfalls, ancient ports, palaces, religious institutions and wildlife sanctuaries are major attractions for both domestic and international tourists. The city of Kochi ranks first in the total number of international and domestic tourists in Kerala. Until the early 1980s, Kerala was a relatively unknown destination compared to other states in the country. In 1986 the government of Kerala declared tourism an important industry and it was the first state in India to do so. Marketing campaigns launched by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, the government agency that oversees the tourism prospects of the state, resulted in the growth of the tourism industry.