Our Karma Guide to Kerala
Our Kerala guide is a little of a pick 'n' mix cornucopia. Temple histories jostle with nature guides and our stories from the KarmaKerala village. Regions are described and some of the unusual traditions exposed. Dip or dive in and enjoy yourself.
God's Own Country
You will hear Kerala called "God's Own Country" which has become the tourist slogan and something a cliche. It is amusing that in the rest of India the whole phrase runs as "God's own country, the devil's own people". Why this should be the case is unclear to a visitor as this ancient and very traditional part of India is also mercifully free from the castism and communalism that bedevils much of the rest of India. The religious mix here is the most "masala" of all India with each main religious group making up one third of the population.
Kerala's location facing the Arabian Sea in the tropics give the land a warm tropical climate every month of the year with the average coastal plain temperature never dropping below 20 degrees celsius. A climate like that tends to make the people a little sleepy and restful and so it is even if the politics which is a constant feature of life is a tempestuous debate all the time. With the Western Ghats souring to the sky in the east of the state, it is also a land of rivers and water, most famously experienced in the backwaters aboard a Kettuvallom - the traditional rice boats that plied the canals and rivers in the past.
Such a diverse landscape provides an wide range of different experiences from the tropical jungle in the mountains with their tea and spice gardens clinging to the steep slopes to the beaches of the coast. Between them lies the traditional paddies and plantations of Coconut and rubber. Everywhere you look something is growing up something else. The fecundity results in a local cuisine that is steeped in fresh ingredients whether they are the fish from backwaters or the fat kerala rice of local vegetables and the refreshing sweet coconut water.
The strong religious traditions of each sect provide an insight into their history whether it be visiting one of St Thomas's churches that have been the seat of christian worship for as long as anywhere on the planet to Hindu temples whos founding is lost in the mists of time.
Many colonial visitors have left their mark on Kerala but the tradition is very local. Both the Portuguese and British conquered here but it was never strictly part of the Raj like the North as it kept its kings until 1950.
Our guide is a reflection of the Kerala you will experience: a little disorganised, gems spread throughout and filled with often fascinat.ng fact and anecdote.
- LANGUAGE: Malayalam basically is the official language of the region, but English and Hindi are also common in Cochin.
- CLIMATE: Tropical and dry during the summer. Torrential rains are expected in monsoon season.
- CURRENCY: Indian rupee.