Aerial view of a boat in Kerala, India
© Ebin Francis/Shutterstoc
Kerala, India's southernmost state, has been the spice hotspot of the world since ancient times. This beautiful state is full of lush green landscapes and almost 600 kilometres of Arabian Sea shoreline. The name is derived from “kera”, the local Malayalam word for coconut, and there is certainly an abundance of palm trees across the state. The coconut doesn’t just lend its name to Kerala, but also acts as a ubiquitous and adaptable natural resource from which countless products, such as coir, a versatile fibre, and toddy, a famous – and potent – local brew, are derived.
The nickname affectionately given to the area, God’s Own Country, invokes the stunning natural beauty for which Kerala is renowned, of course, but also alludes to the variety of faiths that thrive here. The coexistence of Hindus, Muslims, Christians and even some Jains is apparent across every city, town and village. With a much slower pace of life than many other regions of India, Kerala is a popular eco-tourism destination. Travel inland from the palm-lined beaches, through the state’s network of canals, and you’ll find a mountainous landscape dominated by coffee and spice plantations, as well as diverse flora and fauna.