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Amritapuri

Trivandrum (Тiruvanantapuram)

   According to the legend, Parashurama after waging the war and slaying evil kings descended from the heavens and offered penance and He threw His axe into the sea and the land emerged from the sea became Kerala. The famous spices of Kerala attracted Romans, Greeks, Arabs and Chinese and gold was traded for spices, ivory and sandalwood. It is a tropical paradise of sandy beaches, sparkling waters, rain forests, blue seas and back-water canals.

   Kerala, historically known as Keralam, is an Indian state in South India on the Malabar Coast. It was formed on 1 November 1956 following the States Reorganisation Act by combining Malayalam-speaking regions.

   The name Kerala has an uncertain etymology. One popular theory derives Kerala from Kera ("coconut tree" in Malayalam) and alam ("land"); thus "land of coconuts", which is a nickname for the state, used by locals, due to abundance of coconut trees. The word Kerala is first recorded as Keralaputra in a 3rd-century BCE rock inscription left by the Maurya emperor Ashoka (274–237 BCE), one of his edicts pertaining to welfare. The inscription refers to the local ruler as Keralaputra (Sanskrit for "son of Kerala"); or "son of Chera[s]". This contradicts the theory that Kera is from "coconut tree". At that time, one of three states in the region was called Cheralam in Classical Tamil: Chera and Kera are variants of the same word. The word Cheral refers to the oldest known dynasty of Kerala kings and is derived from the Proto-Tamil-Malayalam word for "lake".

   The earliest Sanskrit text to mention Kerala is the Aitareya Aranyaka of the Rigveda. Kerala is also mentioned in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the two Hindu epics. The Skanda Purana mentions the ecclesiastical office of the Thachudaya Kaimal who is referred to as Manikkam Keralar, synonymous with the deity of the Koodalmanikyam temple. Keralam may stem from the Classical Tamil cherive-alam ("declivity of a hill or a mountain slope") or chera alam ("Land of the Cheras"). The Greco-Roman trade map Periplus Maris Erythraei refers to Keralaputra as Celobotra.

   Kerala has the lowest positive population growth rate in India, 3.44%; the highest Human Development Index (HDI), 0.712 in 2015; the highest literacy rate, 93.91% in the 2011 census; the highest life expectancy, 77 years; and the highest sex ratio, 1,084 women per 1,000 men. The state has witnessed significant emigration, especially to Arab states of the Persian Gulf during the Gulf Boom of the 1970s and early 1980s, and its economy depends significantly on remittances from a large Malayali expatriate community. Hinduism is practised by more than half of the population, followed by Islam and Christianity. The culture is a synthesis of Aryan and Dravidian cultures, developed over millennia, under influences from other parts of India and abroad.

   Malayalam language is spoken by 97% of Kerala population, and almost 2% speak Tamil. Malayalam is a Dravidian language spoken in India, predominantly in the state of Kerala. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and was designated as a Classical Language in India in 2013. It was developed to the current form mainly by the influence of the poet Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan in the 16th century. Malayalam has official language status in the state of Kerala and in the union territories of Lakshadweep and Puducherry. It belongs to the Dravidian family of languages and is highly influenced by Sanskrit, an Indo-Aryan language, mostly in grammar and vocabulary, and is spoken by some 38 million people (population of Kerala is over 33 million in 2011).

   The capital of the state, Thiruvananthapuram, also the capital of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore, is home to the Padmanabhapuram Palace, Padmanabhaswamy Temple and a Museum.

   Historical sites of Kerala are Thalasseri Fort at Kannur, Bolgatty Palace of Kochi, Kodungallur, where the Jews landed in Kerala, and Kozhikode the port where the Portuguese adventurer Vasco de Gama made shore.

   Religious sites are Krishna Temple at Guruvayur, the Thrissur Temple and its Pooram Festival procession of a large contingent of caparisoned elephants, Sabarimala’s Ayyappa Temple, and those at Aluva, Ettumannur, and Vaikam. Kaladi is sacred as the birthplace of the Hindu sage Adi Sankara. Malayattur, and Kottayam are pilgrim centres of Syrian Christians.

   Kerala is famous for its inland waterways and houseboats. Alappuzha and Kollam are the two termini for the inland waterways of Kerala.

   Ponmudi (1100 meters) near Thiruvananthapuram, Munnar (1532 meters) amid tea gardens, and Pirmed (1070 meters), are the better known hill-resorts of Kerala. Malampuzha dam and the mineral springs at Varkala are popular picnic spots. Kovalam beach is a favourite with tourists.

   Wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are Thekkadi, Peppara, Neyyar, Shenduruny, Kumarakom, Parambikulam.

   Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala is a pionerring centre for Ayurveda, Kerala's traditional system of medicine. Cheruthuruthi is home to the Kalamandalam School of ‘Kathakali’, a native classical ballet form.

   By the 21st century, almost all of the native sports and games from Kerala have either disappeared or become just an art form performed during local festivals; including Poorakkali, Padayani, Thalappandukali, Onathallu, Parichamuttukali, Velakali, and Kilithattukali. However, Kalaripayattu, regarded as "the mother of all martial arts in the world", is an exception and is practiced as the indigenous martial sport. Another traditional sport of Kerala is the boat race, especially the race of Snake boats.