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Kerala

The state Kerala has an area of 38,863 km2 (15,005 sq mi) and is bordered by Karnataka to the north and northeast, Tamil Nadu to the east and south, and the Arabian Sea on the west. The width of the state varies from 11km to 121km. The city of Thiruvananthapuram is the state capital. Kollam, Kottayam , Kochi, Thrissur, Palakkad and Kozhikode, are other major cities. According to a survey by The Economic Times, five out of ten best cities to live in India are located in Kerala.[4] Kerala is a popular tourist destination for its backwaters, yoga, Ayurvedic treatments and tropical greenery.

Kerala has the highest Human Development Index in India, slightly higher than that of most developed countries, but with a much lower per capita income. The state has the highest literacy rate in India with 99 percent. It hopes to be the first e-literate state in India through the state run Akshaya project. The state recently became and is currently the only one to have banking facilities in every village. A survey conducted in 2005 by Transparency International ranked Kerala as the least corrupt state in the country. Kerala has witnessed significant migration of its people, especially to the Persian Gulf countries during the Kerala Gulf boom and is heavily dependent on remittances from its large Malayali expatriate community.

Kerala is often referred to as Keralam by the natives (Malayalis). Scholars agree that Kerala transliterates Classical Tamil Cheralam ("Land of the Cheras") or chera-alam, ("declivity of a hill or a mountain slope/range"). The state was anciently called Cheralam and Cherala Nadu. A 3rd-century BCE rock inscription by Emperor Asoka the Great references Kerala as Keralaputra. The Graeco-Roman trade map Periplus Maris Erythraeireferences Kerala's Chera territory as Cerobothra. Another popular view is that 'Keralam' is derived from the Sanskrit word 'Kera' which means coconut and the Dravidian word 'Alam' which means place or land, as Kerala is and has been famous for the coconut trees it grows.

Tourism in Kerala – God's Own Country

Kerala, a small state situated on the tropical Malabar Coast of southwestern India, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Named as one of the "ten paradises of the world" By the National Geographic Traveler, Kerala is famous especially for its eco tourism initiatives. Its unique culture and traditions, coupled with its varied demography, has made Kerala one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Growing at a rate of 13.31%, the tourism industry is a major contributor to the state's economy.

Until the early 1980s, Kerala was a relatively unknown destination, with most tourism circuits concentrated around the north of the country. Aggressive marketing campaigns launched by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation—the government agency that oversees tourism prospects of the state—laid the foundation for the growth of the tourism industry. In the decades that followed, Kerala Tourism was able to transform itself into one of the niche holiday destinations in India. The tag line "Kerala- God's Own Country" was adopted in its tourism promotions and became a global super brand. Kerala is regarded as one of the destinations with the highest brand recall. In 2010, Kerala attracted 0.66 million foreign tourist arrivals.

Popular attractions in the state include the beaches at Kovalam, Cherai and Varkala; backwater tourism and lake resorts around Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom and Alapuzha; hill stations and resorts at Munnar, Wayanad, Nelliampathi, Vagamon and Ponmudi; and national parks and wildlife sanctuaries at Periyar and Eravikulam National Park. The "backwaters" region—an extensive network of interlocking rivers, lakes, and canals that centre on Alleppey, Kumarakom, and Punnamada — also see heavy tourist traffic. Heritage sites, such as the Padmanabhapuram Palace, Hill Palace, Mattancherry Palace are also visited. Kochi, followed by Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) ranks among the top tourist destinations of Kerala in 2010. These cities are also popular for shopping and traditional theatrical performances.

The state's tourism agenda promotes ecologically sustained tourism, which focuses on the local culture, wilderness adventures, volunteering and personal growth of the local population. Efforts are taken to minimise the adverse effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment, and enhance the cultural integrity of local people.

Kerala Beaches

Kovalam

This internationally renowned beach resort of Kerela has been a favorite haunt of tourists since the 1930s. Kovalam consists of three adjacent crescent beaches. The southernmost , known as the Lighthouse beach, is the most popular, Kovalam offers accommodation options to suit all the budgets.

Varkala - Papanasham Beach

Vakala is a seaside resort and spa, as well as an important Hindu centre of pilgrimage. High cliffs with rich mineral springs rise majestically from the coastline. The 2000 year old Sree Janardhana Swamy Temple and the Nature Care Centre are the two main attractions there

Cherai

This is a new-generation tourist hot-spot very near to North Paravur town with golden beaches, coconut groves and backwaters. This beautiful, very quiet beach bordering Vypeen island is ideal for swimming. The maritime friend of humans, the Dolphins can occasionally be sighted. Cherai is famous for sea food and coconut toddy. The sea on the western side and the backwaters on the east give a uniqueness here which can be found only in Kerala.

Fort Kochi

The Fort Kochi Beach is located 12 Km far from Ernakulam city. It is originally a fishing village that became the first European township in India. The historic fort with its eventful colonial history, is the main attraction on this beach. There is a colourful Carnival on New Year eve.

Kappad

Kappad, where the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama landed on May 27, 1498, located 16 km away from the Calicut (Kozhikode) city. Vasco Da Gama's expedition gave the Europeans a sea route to reach the Malabar coast, and resulted in European domination of India for about 5 centuries. The main attraction in the beach is the sprawling rock that protrudes into the sea. The temple on the rock is about 800 years old.

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