Munnar's panoramic landscape captured by Shelton Pinheiro, Creative Director of Kerala Tourism's Golden Gate Award-winning ad film

Where nature's grandeur meets vibrant cultural heritage

Legend has it that Kerala was formed when Parasurama, an incarnation of the Hindu god Lord Vishnu, threw his battle axe into the sea and commanded the waters to retreat. The land that emerged became Kerala, a narrow strip of land on India’s southwestern coast. Since the reclaimed land was saline and not suitable for vegetation, Parasurama invoked the Snake King Vasuki, whose holy venom turned the soil into lush, fecund land crisscrossed by 44 rivers.

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This could be why Kerala, India’s southernmost state, seems to have won the lottery when it comes to natural beauty. Pristine backwaters, lush hill stations, fabulous beaches (but of course, with a coastline that stretches about 370 miles), emerald lagoons, tropical rainforests, craggy mountains reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands…sandwiched between the Lakshadweep Sea and the colossal mountain range that makes up the Western Ghats, Kerala has it all.

But it is not merely scenic beauty that fascinates first-time as well as repeat visitors to Kerala. Here, you find unique art forms, exquisite cuisine, vestiges of a rich historical past, summery climes that last all year, and a chance to experience Ayurveda—one of the oldest healing systems in the world, making this state a truly multidimensional tourist destination.

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Believe it or not, Kerala is also known for its marked difference from the rest of India. As of 2014, Kerala boasts a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.790, the highest in the country, and a consumption-based HDI of 0.920, which trumps that of many developed countries. Kerala also lays claim to extremely high literacy rates, low infant mortality rates, and birth rates that are lower than America’s.

Kerala is regarded as one of the first cosmopolitan societies in ancient India. Its treasure trove of spices drew traders from as far as Greece, Rome, China, West Asia, and Egypt. Following the 15th century, Portuguese, Dutch, and British traders made a beeline for Kerala as well. While in Kochi, stroll along the narrow streets of Fort Kochi and you will see the remnants of this heritage.

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Come, visit Kerala and discover why this narrow, emerald strip of land has cast a spell on the likes of Paul McCartney, Heather Mills, and even Salman Rushdie.

“The Jeep-road to the Spice Mountains bumps & grinds past rice-paddies, red-plantain trees, and roadside carpets of green and red capsicums laid out to dry in the sun; through cashew and areca-nut orchards (Quilon is cashewtown, just as Kottayam is rubberville); and up, up to the kingdoms of cardamom and cumin, to the shadow of young coffee plants in flower, to the terraces of tea that look like giant green tiled roofs, and to the empire of Malabar pepper above all. Early in the morning the bulbuls sing, working elephants amble past, munching amiably at the vegetation…”

—From The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie

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