All about Kerala: Location : Southwestern tip of India. Area : 38, 863 sq km. Population : 3,18,38,619 Capital : Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) Language : Malayalam;English is widely spoken. Religion : Hinduism, Christianity, Islam Time : GMT +5:30 Currency : Indian Rupee Climate : Tropical. Summer : February - May (24 - 330C) Monsoon : June - September (22 - 280C) Winter : October - January (22 - 320C) Names of Districts Old New Trivandrum Thiruvananthapuram Quilon Kollam Alleppey Alappuzha Trichur Thrissur Palghat Palakkad Calicut Kozhikode Cannanore Kannur Major Cities : Thiruvananthapuram,Kochi (Ernakulam district)and Kozhikode. Taluks : 61 Revenue Villages : 1452 City Corporations : 5 Grama Panchayat : 991 Block Panchayat : 152 District Panchayat : 14 Population Population : 318.39 lakhs as per the latest 2001 Census (31.839 Millions) Density of Population : 819 per sq kms Kerala's Share in the National Population: 3.1 per cent District Average : 22.74 lakhs (2.274 millions) Sex Ratio : 1058 women for 1000 men Literacy Literacy Rate : 90.92 per cent. Male Literacy Rate : 94.20 per cent Female Literacy Rate ; 87.86 per cent Educational Infrastructure Lower Primary Schools (I – IV classes) : 6712 Upper Primary Schools (V – VII classes) : 2951 High Schools (Eighth - Tenth classes) : 2608 Total number of Schools : 12271 Higher Education Higher Education Universities : 7 Arts and Science Colleges : 286 Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI) Kerala has had a commendable record in terms of the Physical Quality of Life Index. Indicators of PQLI like infant mortality (11%), female literacy (87.86%), and life expectancy at birth for males (68.23) and females (73.62), are well above all India levels. The major reason for this achievement is Kerala's focus on the service sector. About 37% of the total annual expenditure of the State is earmarked for health and education. Another reason for this is the existence of a larger network of hospital infrastructure under the Directorate of Health Services with 933 primary health centres and 5094 sub-centres Health Care Infrastructure Immunization has been near total in the year 2002 - 03. T.T for Pregnant Women : 86.1% T.T for 5 year old : 89.2% T.T for 10 year old : 98.1% T.T for 16 year old ; 95% DPT : 95.8% BCG : 103% Polio : 95.3% Anti-measles : 90.6% Rate of Diseases per 1000 People - Leprosy : 0.66 Malaria : 0.36 Filaria : 1.28 Tuberculosis : 0.70 Transport Air: There are three international airports in the state. They are at Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode and Nedumbassery (Kochi) and operate international flights and domestic flights. Road and Rail : The state is well connected by rail and road. Seaports Major : Kochi Minor : Beypore (Kozhikode), Alappuzha, Kollam. Major Beaches Kovalam, Varkala, Fort Kochi, Kappad and Bekal. Major Wild Life Sanctuaries: Thekkady (Periyar), Parambikkulam, Wayanad, Silent Valley, Aralm, Peechi-Vazhani, Chimani, Shenduruny, Idukki, Chinnar, Peppara, Neyyar. Bird Sanctuary Thattekad, Kumarakom. Major Hill Stations Ponmudi, Peerumade, Thekkady, Munnar and Wayanad. Farm / Cash Crops Rubber, Coffee, Tea, Spices, Pepper, Cashew, Coconut, Arecanut and rice. Exports Marine, Coir, Handicrafts, Spices, Food and other Products. Major Industries Tourism, Information Technology, Fertilizer, Oil Refining and Power Generation, Ship Building, Machine Tools, Electronics, Cables, Rubber. Visa We request you to carry your visa for entry to India/Kerala on your holiday.For clarification please contact the Indian High Commision/Embassy.For visa registrations and extensions,contact the Commisioner of Police (in cities) and the District Superintendent of Police (in districts). Visa Requirements: In the cities of Kozhikode, Kochi, and Thiruvananthapuram, the Police Commissioners function as the Foreigners' Registration Officers (FRO). In other district headquarters, the Superintendents of Police (SP) hold the charge of FROs. For more information on obtaining Indian visas and Indian embassies and consulates, please visit the following Web site of India's Ministry of External Affairs and select "Missions and Posts Abroad": http://www.meaindia.nic.in/ For Indian visa, visa extension, visa registration rule, registration forms, etc., please visit the following Web site of the Bureau of Immigration which functions under the Ministry of Home Affairs: http://immigrationindia.nic.in/ For information on Kerala Police, nearest police stations, and police officials, please visit the following Web site: http://www.keralapolice.org/contactingus1.html Money There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency that visitors can bring. Banks Banks are open for transaction from 10:00 - 14:00 hrs on week days and from 10:00 - 12:00 hrs on saturdays. Credit cards Main hotels, restaurants and shopping centres honour major credit cards. Time (Hours fast (+), slow (-) on IST) USA: -10.30, Germany: - 4.30, Canada: - 10.30, France: - 4.30, Australia: + 4.30, Spain: -4.30, UAE: - 1.30, uk:-5:30 Travel Kit Cotton outfits, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen lotion etc. Drugs Heavy penalities including imprisonment for possession of narcotic drugs. Ayurveda Go only to those Ayurveda centres that are classified/approved by the Department of Tourism Food All standard restaurants offer a variety of cuisines including Continental, Chinese, Indian and typical Kerala fare. Water Tap water is purified and quite safe to drink. It is not advisable to drink water from slow moving streams, lakes or dams. Bottled water is also available. Emergency numbers Police control room: 100 Fire station: 101 Ambulance: 101 Temple codes Some temples do not permit entry to non-Hindus. Strict dress codes are followed in most of the temples. Footwear is banned inside the temple premises Nudity Nudity is not allowed in any Kerala beach. Smoking Smoking is banned in public places Footwear in houses Visitors to most Kerala houses leave their footwear outside before entering the house. Demonstrativeness in public Behaviour demonstrating affection in public like hugging or kissing is not an accepted practice in Kerala. Wildlife sanctuaries To visit a wildlife sanctuary, prior permission has to be taken from the concerned authority of the sanctuary. Best time to visit High season: December - May Monsoon Rejuvenation programmes: June – November Monsoon The Monsoons in Kerala do not take the pattern of incessant rains continuing for weeks. Virtually it rains for a few hours with sunny interludes. Occasionally the rains might stretch on for a few days but the respite of sunshine is never far away. People look forward to seeing the sun peep through the wet palm fronds and rain drenched green. These golden interludes provide an equilibrium to life’s natural flow. Kerala has mainly two rainy seasons. The Southwest Monsoon that arrives in the month of June is called Edavappathy, as it comes in the middle of the month of Edavam on the Malayalam Calendar. Mid October witnesses the arrival of the Northeast Monsoon. In the Malayalam calendar this month is called Thulam and hence the name Thulavarsham meaning the ‘The Rains in Thulam’. Now the gathering rain clouds are from the Bay of Bengal. These bearers of rain hurry to Kerala through the Palakkad Gap in the Western Ghats. The swirling, jostling, billowing dark messenger of life sailing on the wings of northeast winds is a breathtaking sight to behold. The art forms of Kerala demand the utmost dedication and training. These native art forms require complete control over each nerve of the body. As part of this training the artists undergo ayurvedic therapies. Special herbal oils and medications are applied on the body of the artist during the Monsoon time to ensure muscle flexibility and dexterity of movement. As nature recoups with the rains, it is rejuvenation time for humans too. According to Ayurveda, Monsoon is the best season for rejuvenation therapies. During the Monsoon season, the atmosphere remains dust-free and cool, opening the pores of the body to the maximum, making it most receptive to herbal oils and therapy. Best Season to Visit Kerala Every tourist has an individual requirement or expectation from a destination that he/she travels to. With a destination like Kerala the natural boon of so many tourism opportunities can perhaps come across as a bit of a drawback to some. Does one plan a trip to the beaches? Or does pack up for a challenging trek at a hill station? For long the time of the year between August to March has been considered a good time to travel in Kerala, while April to August is considered the best time for getting Ayurvedic treatments. Over time the trends have changed and Kerala has become an all-season destination. In fact, June and July which used to be considered dull months for Tourism due to the heavy monsoons, have also started to see a good influx of tourists. Monsoons are also of course a good period for ayurvedic treatments. Contrary to earlier conceptions, Monsoon is considered the best time to visit Kerala and people are ready to forgo the discomfort of travel, preferring to see Nature at its freshest. The lush green expanses of Kerala suddenly start to look even more vibrant, and are infused with a new life. Another factor one may keep in mind is, since Monsoons are considered off-season, the prices of hotels and resorts are low. Temperature and Rainfall Chart - Trivandrum Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Max °C 31 32 33 32 31 29 29 29 30 30 30 31 Min °C 22 23 24 25 25 24 23 22 23 23 23 23 Rainfall (mm) 20 20 43 122 249 331 215 164 123 271 207 73 Temperature and Rainfall Chart - Cochin Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Max °C 31 31 31 31 31 29 28 28 28 29 30 30 Min °C 23 24 26 26 26 24 24 24 24 24 24 23 Rainfall (mm) 9 34 50 139 364 756 572 368 235 333 184 37 The above charts give the average temperature and rainfall in Trivandrum and Cochin. Places on the coast are always slightly cooler and less humid as they benefit from a sea breeze and hill stations or places high in the Western Ghats are considerably cooler. Weather in Kerala Kerala is blessed with varied geographical features that ensure the climatic condition of Kerala is as varied as the topography. In Kerala, weather is usually tropical with almost no dry spells. Kerala weather and climate remain pleasant throughout the year and one does not experience extremes in weather conditions as in the plains. Neither is it too hot nor is it too cold, though it rains heavily there. Read on further for information on weather conditions of Kerala. Weather in Summer Kerala experiences hot summer months. Since the south of India lies near the equator, the temperature in summers usually goes up. Since Kerala is located on the coast, the on-shore winds cool off the temperature as evening settles in. Also, the greenery in Kerala keeps the temperature moderate. The maximum temperature in Kerala goes upto 35o Celsius. The evening and nights are relatively cooler. Weather in Monsoons It pours almost throughout the year in Kerala. Almost all months experience one good rainfall. This helps in keeping the heat from turning into dry spells. Kerala experiences monsoons twice a year. The southwest monsoons winds bring heavy rainfall in the months of May to July. In the months of October-November, Kerala receives another good dose of rainfall from northeast monsoons. Going to Kerala during monsoons is an experience in itself. Weather in Winters Kerala hardly has cold winters. Mornings are pleasantly warm and evenings are mildly chilly. The minimum temperature does not go below 20o Celsius. People do not wear woolen clothes. Just full sleeved shirts are enough for sustaining the chill. District Travel Guide Place :Alappuzha Area: 1414 sq. km Population: 21,05,349(2001 census) Altitude: Sea level With the Arabian Sea on the west and a vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers crisscrossing it, Alappuzha is a district of immense natural beauty. Referred to as the Venice of the East by travellers from across the world, this backwater country is also home to diverse animal and bird life. By virtue of its proximity to the sea, the town has always enjoyed a unique place in the maritime history of Kerala. Today, Alappuzha has grown in importance as a backwater tourist centre, attracting several thousands of foreign tourists each year. Alappuzha is also famous for its boat races, houseboat holidays, beaches, marine products and coir industry. A singular characteristic of this land is the region called Kuttanad. A land of lush paddy fields, Kuttanad is called the Rice Bowl of Kerala and is one of the few places in the world where farming is done below sea level. Ernakulam Travel Guide Place :Ernakulam Area: 2408 sq. km. Population: 27,97,779 (2001 census) Altitude: Sea level Ernakulam is located on the coast of the Arabian sea with Kottayam and Alappuzha districts on the south, Idukki on the east and Thrissur on the north. The commercial capital and the most cosmopolitan city of Kerala, Kochi, in Ernakulam, is also known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea. With one of the finest natural harbours in the world, this was once a major centre of commerce and trade with the British, Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch etc. Idukki Travel Guide A landlocked district, Idukki is one of the most nature rich areas of Kerala. High ranges and wooded valleys are girded by three main rivers - Periyar, Thalayar and Thodupuzhayar - and their tributaries. The river Pamba also has its origin here. As a tourist destination, Idukki offers diverse attractions like wildlife sanctuaries, hill stations, spice plantation tours, mountain treks, elephant rides etc. Idukki Arch Dam : This is the world's second and Asia's first arch dam, constructed across the Kuravan and Kurathi hills. 550 ft. high and 650 ft. wide, the Dam lies close to the Cheruthoni barrage. To its west is the Kulamavu Dam. Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is located closeby. The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary : This sanctuary extends over the Thodupuzha and Udumpanchola taluks of Idukki district, spreading over 77 sq. km and is about 450 - 748 m above sea level. The Idukki Reservoir formed by three Dams - Cheruthoni, Idukki and Kulamavu extends to 33 sq km. Idukki has a large population of tribals, the main tribes being Muthuvan, Malayarayan, Mannan, Paliyan, Urali, Ulladan, Malavedan and Malampandaram. The tribes of Kerala have unique customs and beliefs and maintain an ethos which is distinctly different from that of the mainstream culture. Kannur Travel Guide Place :Kannur Area: 2997 sq. km. Population: 2,251,727 (2001 census) Altitude: Sea level With the Western Ghats in the east (Coorg district of Karnataka State), Kozhikode and Wayanad districts in the south, Lakshadweep sea in the west and Kasaragod in the north, Kannur district is bounded by a wealth of natural beauty. The district itself which shares much of this natural splendour has been a key contributor to the cultural, religious, political and industrial heritage of the State. In addition, Kannur enjoys the credit of having been the cradle of many a colourful folk art and folk music of Kerala. Beaches Ezhimala Beach : The Ezhimala Mountain and Beach lie at the northern boundary of Kannur. Rare medical herbs (Ramayana) with mythological significance grow on Ezhimala, the strange seven- peaked range. Around 50 Kms from here, is the Mount Deli Lighthouse, an old tower of great antiquity. It's maintained by the Navy and is a restricted area. The beach sand is of a different texture and the sea is bluer that in other areas. At the Ettikulam bay one could enjoy watching dolphins. Payyambalam Beach : 2kms from Kannur. Payyambalam, the long, lovely beach is a local picnic spot. Flat lateric cliffs jut into the sea at one end. Picturesque and incredibly beautiful, the beach is only walking distance from Fort St. Angelo. The Naura Cafeteria and well laid out gardens greet the visitor to Payyambalam. Kizhunna Beach : 11 Kms From Kannur. This beautiful stretch of sand is one of the most secluded beaches in Kerala. Others Dharmadam Island : A Buddhist stronghold, Dharmadam Island is located beside the Muzhappilangad beach, 100 metres offshore surrounded by rivers and sea. A conjunction of beach & island, it was earlier known as Dharmapattanam. Kasaragod Travel Guide The northernmost district of Kerala, Kasaragod is world renowned for its coir and handloom industries. Fishing is a prime source of livelihood. Kasaragod is known as the land of gods, forts, rivers, hills and beautiful beaches. The fort at Bekal is the largest and best preserved in the State. Kasaragod displays a variety of styles in temple architecture - the unique style of the Madhur Mahaganapathy Temple, the typical Kerala style of the historic Malik Deenar Great Juma Masjid and so on speak volumes about the rich cultural heritage of the region. Spectacular pageants of Theyyam, Yakshagana, Kumbla (buffalo race), Poorakkali, Kolkali etc. enchant visitors. Kollam Travel Guide Place :Kollam Area: 2579 sq. km. Population: 25,84118(2001 census) Altitude: Sea level Located 71 km to the north of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam is the centre of the country's cashew trading and processing industry. One of the oldest ports on the Malabar coast, Kollam was once the port of international spice trade. Thirty per cent of this historic town is covered by the renowned Ashtamudi Lake, making it the gateway to the magnificent backwaters of Kerala. The eight hour boat trip between Kollam and Alappuzha is the longest and most enchanting experience on the backwaters of Kerala. The district also has some interesting historic remnants and a number of temples built in the traditional ornate architectural style. Situated on the edge of the Ashtamudi Lake, Quilon has a rich history with the town being known as Desinganadu, Kollam and Quilon at various points of time. There was a flourishing Chinese settlement in the city in the 14th century with the rulers of Quilon and China maintaining diplomatic relations and exchanging embassies with each other during that period. The great Venetian traveler Marco Polo visited the city in 1275 in his capacity as a Chinese Mandarin. From the beginning of the 16th century, the Portuguese, Dutch and British came in quick succession to establish trading centres at Quilon. The British stationed a garrison at Quilon in pursuance of a treaty between Travancore and British in the 18th century. The eight hour boat ride from Kollam to Alappuzha is the longest and the most enchanting expirence of backwaters in Kerala. Kottayam Travel Guide Place :Kottayam Area: 2203 sq. km Population:18,20,000 Altitude: Sea level Bordered by the lofty Western Ghats on the east and the Vembanad Lake and paddy fields of Kuttanad on the west, Kottayam is a land of unique characteristics. Panoramic backwater stretches, lush paddy fields, highlands, extensive rubber plantations and a totally literate people have given this district the enviable title: The land of letters, latex and lakes. This land also boasts the first Malayalam printing press which was established by Benjamin Bailey, a Christian missionary, in 1820 AD. Kottayam is the ideal take-off point for visits to Peermede, Munnar, Idukki, Thekkady, Ernakulam and the temple city of Madurai. Kozhikkode Travel Guide Place :Kozhikode Area: 2,206 sq. km. Population: 2,613,683 (2001 census) Altitude: Sea level Once the capital of the powerful Zamorins and a prominent trade and commerce centre, Kozhikode was the most important region of Malabar in the days gone by. Today, lush green countrysides, serene beaches, historic sites, wildlife sanctuaries, rivers, hills, a unique culture and a warm, friendly ambience make Kozhikode a popular destination. Malappuram Travel Guide Malappuram (literally, a land atop hills) is situated 50 km southeast of Kozhikode. Bounded by the Nilgiri hills on the east, the Arabian sea on the west and Thrissur and Palakkad districts on the south, Malappuram is enriched by three great rivers flowing through it - the Chaliyar, the Kadalundi and the Bharathapuzha. Malappuram has a rich and eventful history. It was the military headquarters of the Zamorins of Kozhikode since ancient times. This district was the venue for many of the Mappila revolts (uprisings against the British East India Company in Kerala) between 1792 and 1921. The hill country has also contributed much to the cultural heritage of Kerala. It was a famous centre for Hindu-Vedic learning and Islamic philosophy. Palakkad Travel Guide Place :Palakkad Area:4480 sq. km Population:2,382,235 (2001 census) Altitude: Above sea level The district of Palakkad known as the granary of Kerala, is a land of valleys, hillocks, rivers, forests, mountain streams, dams and irrigation projects. Situated at the foot of the Western Ghats, this is the gateway to Kerala from the north. Palakkad derives its name from the Malayalam words Pala ( Alsteria scholaris) and Kadu (forest) which goes to prove that this place was once a beautiful stretch of forests covered with the sweet scented flowers of the Pala tree. Pathanamthitta Travel Guide Place :Pathanamthitta Area: 2731 sq. km Population: 12,31,577(2001 census) Altitude: 500 - 1000 mt. above sea level Pathanamthitta, a hilly terrain of pristine beauty is popular as the headquarters of pilgrim worship in Kerala. More than fifty per cent of the total area of this land of temples, rivers, mountain ranges and coconut groves is covered by forests. The district is frequented by visitors from India and abroad often for its water fiestas, religious shrines and the cultural training centre. Pathanamthitta is bordered by the Western Ghats on the east, Kollam district on the south, Alappuzha district on the west and Kottayam and Idukki districts on the north. Thiruvananthapuram Travel Guide The capital of the state of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram or the City of the Sacred Snake, is built over seven hills. Named after Anantha, the thousand - headed serpent of Hindu mythology, the city once formed a part of the Travancore kingdom, its capital at Padmanabhapuram, now a part of Tamil Nadu. Thiruvananthapuram is, decidedly, one of the cleaner and well-planned cities of the country. The city's scenic appeal, its enchanting beaches, and overwhelming greenery only add to its uniqueness. It embodies the magical feel of Kerala, as a whole, and lends terrific insight into the culture of the state. The red-tiled roofs, the never-ending stretches of palm trees, the maze of narrow, winding streets and above all, the sea, make for a fascinating mixture. There is an element of understated and effortless elegance about the city, which leaves a lasting impression on the visitor. Located at the southwestern tip of India, Thiruvananthapuram district is bounded by the Arabian Sea on the west and Tamil Nadu on the east. The wooded highlands on the Western Ghats in the eastern and northeastern borders give Thiruvananthapuram some of the most enchanting picnic spots. A long shoreline, with internationally renowned beaches, historic monuments, backwater stretches and a rich cultural heritage make this district a much sought after tourist destination. Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of Kerala. Thrissur Travel Guide Place :Thrissur Area: 3032 sq km Population: 2,733,311(2001 census) Altitude: Sea level Thrissur, with its rich history, cultural heritage and archaeological wealth is called the cultural capital of Kerala. From ancient times, this district has played a significant role in the political history of South India. Many rulers and dynasties beginning with the Zamorins of Kozhikode, Tipu Sultan of Mysore and Europeans inluding the Dutch and the British have had a hand in moulding the destiny of this region. Raja Rama Varma popularly known as Sakthan Thampuran was the architect of the present Thrissur town. Today Thrissur is world famous for its Pooram festival. A cultural centre, the Kerala Kala Mandalam, the Kerala Sahitya Academy and Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy are located here. Wayanad Travel Guide Wayanad is one of the districts in Kerala that has been able to retain its pristine nature. Hidden away in the hills of this land are some of the oldest tribes, as yet untouched by civilisation. Wayanad is known for its picturesque mist clad hill stations, sprawling spice plantations, luxuriant forests and rich cultural traditions. The leading tourist centres of South India like Ooty, Mysore, Coorg, Kozhikode and Kannur are around this region. Accessing Wayanad Air: Nearest airport: Kozhikode Rail: Nearest railway station: Kozhikode Road: Well connected by roads from Kozhikode, Kannur, Ooty (175 km from Kalpetta) and Mysore (140 km from Kalpetta).