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  Kerala Districts  
 
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM
“God’s own capital city”
Area: 2,192 sq km
Population: 32,34,707 (2001 census)
Altitude: Sea level
 
  Thiruvananthapuram, known formerly as Trivandrum is the capital city of ‘God’s Own Country’ and has a tradition dating back to years before Christ.  It became the capital of the Raja of Travancore in 1750.  The word ‘Thiruvananthapuram’ means the city of Anantha, the sacred serpent on which Lord Vishnu rests, according to the Hindu mythology.  So the Sri Padmanabha Swami Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is the main attraction here.  Located at the southwestern tip os India, this district is bounded by the Arabian Sea on the west and Tamil Nadu on the east.  It spreads over a total of 2,193 sq km  
 
Being the capital, Thiruvananthapuram is the hub of political developments.  The wooded highlands on the Western Ghats in the eastern and northeastern borders have some of the most enchanting picnic spots.  A long coastline, with internationally renowned beaches, historic monuments, backwater stretches and a rich cultural heritage make the district a much sought after tourist destination
 
  The district has a lot ot offer the discerning tourist Shanghumugham Beach, Kovalam Beach, Varkala, Akkulam Tourist Village, Veli Tourist Village, Neyyar Reservoir, Kuthiramalika (Puthenmalika) Palace Museum, Sree Chithra “Art Gallery, napier Museym and Art Gallery, Vizhinjam, Rock cut Cave, Koyikkal Palace at Nedumangad, Padmanabhapuram Palace, Parasurama Temple at Thriruvallam, Secretariat, Aruvikkara Dam, Sree Mahadeva Temple, Ponmudi hill station  
  CVN Kalari, India School of Martial Arts (ISMA) at Vazhuthacaus, margi Koodiyattam and Kathakali centres, Kallar, Zoological Garden, Technopark etc. are some of the important tourist destinations in the district  
 
The Ays were the leading political power till the beginning of the 10th century AD.  However, the disappearance of the Ays as a major political power synchronized with the emergence of the rulers of Venad
 
 
The East India Company which reigned supreme during the time of Umayamma Rani in 1684, obtained a sandy spit of land at Anchuthengu (Anjengo) on the sea coast about 32 km north of Thiruvananthapuram city, with a view to erecting a factory and fortifying it.  The place had earlier been frequented by the Portuguese and later by the Dutch.  It was from here that the English gradually extended their domain to other parts of Thiruvithamcore (Travancore)
 
 
Modern history being  with Marthanda Varma (1729-1758 AD) , who is generally regarded as the Father of modern Travancore.  Maharaja Swathi Thirunal’s reigh (1829-1847 AD) ushered in an epoch of cultural progress and economic prosperity.  In 1836, an observatory and a charitable hospital were ser up in the state
 
 
The Sri Moolam Assembly came into being in 1904.  The Temple Entry Proclamation (1936) was an epochal event that underlined social emancipation.  In 1937, a separate University for Travancore came into being.  This was later renamed as University of Kerala following the formation of Kerala State in 1956.  The first popular ministry headed by Sri. Pattom A Thanu Pillai was installed in office on March 24, 1948.  The State of Kerala came into being on November 1, 1956
 
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KOLLAM
“ Land of Old World Charm”
Area: 2,579 sq km
Population: 25,84118 (2001 Census)
Altitude: Sea level
 
 
Kollam, an old sea port town on the Malabar coast, is the centre of the country’s cashew trading and processing industry
 
 
About thirty per cent of this district is covered by the Ashtamudi Lake, thereby making it the gateway to the backwaters of the state.  Kollam, the erstwhile Desinganadu, sustained commercial reputation from the days of the Phoenicians and the Romans. Fed by the Chinese trade, it was regarded by Ibn Batuta as one of the five chief ports which he had seen in the course of his travels during a period of twenty-four years in the 14th century.  The rulers of Kollam (Desinganadu) and China exchanged embassies and there was a flourishing Chinese settlement at kollam.  Merchant Sulaiman of Siraf in Persia (9th century), on his way from Canton to the Persian Gulf, had found Kollam to be the only port in India touched by the huge Chinese junks.  Marco Polo, the great Venetian traveller. Who was in the service of Kubla Khan in 1275, visited Kollam and other towns on the west coast in his capacity as a Chinese mandarin
 
 
For an enchanting experience on the backwaters of Kerala an eight-hour boat trip, opne of the longest such cruises, is available between Kollam and Alappuzha.  Kollam has a variety of interesting historic remnants and a number of temples built in the traditional architectural style
 
 
Other places of interest include Thirumullavatam Beach, Palaruvi Waterfall, Picnic Village, Shenduruny Wildlife Sanctuary, Green Adventure, Thangasseri, the Cave Temple, Rameshwara Temple, Mayyanad, Ochira Temple, the Sasthamkotta fresh water lake, Thenmala, Jatayupara, Kulathupuzha, etc
 
 
Velu Thampi Dalawa of Travancore did much for the improvement of Kollam town.  He built new bazaars and invited merchants from Madras and Tirunelveli to settle here.  Kollam later became the capital of the enlightened and liberal rulers of Desinganad.  It was also the nerve centre of the rebellion organized by Velu Thampi against the British
 
 
Once a city of palaces, Kollam has been known to the outside world by the time-honoured saying ”Once you have seen Kollam you will no more need your illam (home)”.
 
 
The district is bounded on the north by Alappuzha district, on the northeast by Pathanamthitta district, on the east by Thirunelveli destrict of Tamil Nadu, on the south by Thiruvananthapuram district and on the west by the Arabian Sea.  The area of the destrict is 2,579 sq km.  Area wise, the district ranks seventh in the state
 
 
The district has a humid tropical climate, with an oppressive summer and bounteous seasonal rainfall.  The hot season, lasting from March to May, is followed by the southwest monsoon from June to September.  The northeast monsoon occurs from October to November.  The rest of the year is generally dry
 
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ALAPPUZHA
" The land of Backwaters”
Population: 21,05,349( 2001 Census)
Altitude: Sea level
 
 
Referred to as the Venice of the East by visitors from around the world, Alappuzha is a veritable maze of bridges, lakes, lagoons and canals.  A place immersed in natural beauty, this unique destination enjoys  a dignified position in the maritime history of Kerala due to its proximity to the sea
 
 
Alappuzha stands foremost among the districts of Kerala with regard to the density of population.  It also ranks first among other districts of Kerala in respect of the literacy rate.  Kuttanad, the Rice Bowl of Kerala is in Alappuzha district.  The total production of rice here is almost ten percent of the total production in the state.  The state’s coir industry is centered here.  Almost 80 per cent of the coir factories in the State are in this district
 
 
Alappuzha, which was once a trade centre, has now grown as a backwater tourist destination.  The famous boat races, which take place annually, are a major attraction.  In addition to this are the traditional houseboat holidays, beaches, marine products and coir industry. Pathiramanal, a small island on the backwaters of Alappuzha, is a haven for hundreds of rare birds migrating from different parts of the world a mahor tourist attraction
 
 
Alappuzha has carved a niche for itself as the most preferred backwater tourist destination in the state.  Other places of  tourist interest include Q S T and R block kayal, Alappuzha beach, Krishnapuram Palace, Vijaya Beach park, Mannarsala Sree Nagaraja Temple, Edathua Church, Chettikulangara Bhagavathy temple, Alappuzha Aquatourism, Champakulam Church, etc
 
 
Alappuzha came into being as a district, on August 27, 1957.  Before it’s a formation, a major part of a this area was shared between Kollam district and Kottayam district.  Alappuzha is famous for the first labour upsurge against the autocratic regime which is known as the Punnapra-Vayalar agitation
 
 
History abounds aplenty regarding the construction of the port at the palace.  The port was built by a Great Administrator of the erstwhile Travancore, Raja Kesavadas, the Dewan of His Highness the Maharaja Rama Varma.  He constructed the two main canals, running parallel to each other through the heart of the town, linking the backwaters with the seashore.  The port was opened for foreign trading 1972 and it remained the commercial metropolis of Travancore for over a century.  The lighthouse in the western coast was put up in1862 under the supervision of a European engineer Mr. Crawford.
 
 
Alappuzha district can be proud of being the centre of the snake boat races.  The Nehru Trophy boat race at Punnamada, the Payippad boat race at Payippad near Harippad, the Thiruvandor, neerettupuram, Karuvatta and Thaikkoottam boat races are all held around the Onam holidays.  Thousands of people from all parts of the worlds come and witness these races
 
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PATHANAMTHITTA
“Land of cultural unity”
Area: 1,731 sq km
Population: 12,31,577 (2001 Census)
Altitude: 500-1,000 m above sea level
 
 
Situated near the Western Ghats and bordered by hills, Pathanamthitta district is a visual feast with its vast unending stretches of forests, rivers and rural landscape.  Blessed by nature, the district is famous for its scenic beauty, fairs and festivals
 
 
Pathanamthitta is a true tropivcal diversity adorned with fertile agricultural land, plantations and forest.  A hilly terrain of pristine beauty, this is the land of temples, rivers, mountain ranges and coconut groves, Paddy, tapioca, various kinds of vegetables and spices like cardamom and pepper are extensively cultivated.  The district also abounds in extensive rubber plantations.  Pathanamthitta is bordered by the Western Ghats on the east, Kollam district on the south, Alappuzha district on the west and Kottayam and Idikki districts on the north
 
 
It is presumed that the regions presently under the district were formerly under the Pandalam reign which had connections with the Pandya Kingdon.  Pathanamthitta now includes portions of the erstwhile Kollam, Alappuzha and Idukki districts.  Pathanamthitta, Adoor, Ranny, Konni and Kozhencherry are some of the important places taken from Kollam district, whereas Thiruvalla and Mallappally are the major places taken from Alappuzha district
 
 
Popular as the headquarters of pilgrim worship in Kerala, the district is frequented by visitors from India and abroad, often for its water fiestas, important shrines and centres of  culture.  Sabarimala, the famous temple of Lord Ayyappa situated atop a hill near River Pampa is the most famous pilgrim centre of the Hindus in Kerala
 
 
Pathanamthitta is a combination of two words ‘Pathanam’ and ‘Thitta’ which mean ‘an array of houses on the river side’.  This district was formed on November 1, 1982 with the objective of hastening the process of development.  Plaves of interest include Perunthenaruvi, Kaviyoor, Aranmula, Niranam, Malayalapuzha, Sabarimala, Thiruvalla, Mannadi, Cherukolpuzha, Manjanikara Church, Maramon, Omallur, Kadammanitta, Konni, Muloor Smarakam, Kodum Chilanthiyambalam, Pamba, Parumala, Vasthuvidya Gurukulam, etc
 
 
The district consists of three natural divisions, viz, the lowland, the midland and the highland.  The highland stretches through the Western Ghats and descends to the midland in the centre, down to the lowland and coconut gardens on the westen borders of Akappuzha district.  The topography of the district is highly undulating.  It starts from the tall hillslopes covered with thick forests in the east along the mountains, down to the valleys and small hills to the flatland of coconut trees in the west
 
 
The district has more or less the same climatic conditions as prevalent elsewhere in the state, viz., a dry season from December to February and a hot season from March to May
 
 
Timber is the most important forest produce in the district.  In fact, the forests are the main source of raw material for wood-based industrial units.  Teak, rosewood, jack tree, manjakadambu, anjili, pala, etc. are some of the important varieties of timber seen here.  Apart form providing raw materials for rayon, newsprint, plywood etc., these forests are the source of other useful products like herbs
 
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KOTTAYAM
‘Land of language and literature’
Area: 2,203
Population: 18,20,000
Altitude: Sea level
 
 
Panoramic backwater stretches, lush paddy fields highlands, extensive rubber plantations and a totally literate people have given this district the enviable title, ‘Land of letters, Latex and Lakes’.  Bordered by the lofty Western Ghats on the west, Kottayam is a land of unique characteristics.  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
 
 
Kottayam is a compound word – ‘kotta’ + ‘akam’ which means ‘interior of a fort’.  The rulers of Munhanad and Thekkumkur had their headquarters at Thazhathangadi in the present Kottayam town.  Marthanda Varma of Travancore attacked Thekkumkur and destroyed the Palace and the Thliyil Fort, though the remnants of these are still seen
 
 
Other places of interests include Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Ilaveezhapoonchira, Bay Island Driftwood Museum, Poonjar Palace, Siva Temple at Thalikkotta, St. Mary’s Church at Cheripalli, Thangalppara, Vazhikkadavu, Kurisumala, Vayaskara and Chirattamon Ayurvedic rejuvenation centres, Anchuvilakku, Pathiramanal, Reservoirs at Nattakom and Panachikad, Aruvikkuzhi Waterfalls, Karimbukayam-Meloram, Erumeli, Kayyoor at Bharananganam, illickal Mala, Mankallu Mudikal, Marmala Stream, Kannadipara
 
 
Kottayam occupied a pre eminent position in the cultural life of the Travancore princely court, the main reason being the migration of Ramapurathu Warrier, the famous poet of Vadakkumkur to Thiruvananthapuram, following the annexation of Kottayam by Marthanda Varma
 
 
Kottayam has played its role in all the political agitations of modern tines.  The “Malayali Memorial” agitation is said to have had its origin in Kottayam.  The Malayali Memorial sought to secure better representation for educated Travancoreans in the Travancore civil service as against outsiders.  The Memorial, which was presented to the Maharaja Sri Mulam Thirunal(1891) was drafted at a public meeting held in the Kottayam Public Library
 
 
It was here that the famous Vaikom Satyagraha, (1924-25) an epic struggle for eradication of untouchability, took place.  Scheduled castes and other backward classes in Travancore were denied entry not only into temples, but also access to temple roads.  Vaikom, not only the seat of celebrated Siva Temple, was the venue of the symbolic satyagraha.  It is of immense historic significance that national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, C Rajagopalachari, Acharya Vinoba Bhave and E.V Ramaswami Nayker, were associated with this struggle.  The ‘Nivarthana’ agitation of the early thirties to secure adequate representation for the non-caste Hindu, Christians and Muslims in the State Legislature, enjoyed considerable support from this district
 
 
The district was also a centre of the agitation led by the State Congress for responsible Government in the erstwhile state of Travancore.  The agitation had a triumphant end, with the overthrow of Sir. C.P. Ramaswami Iyer,n the  Dewan of Travancore
 
 
Kottayam has a humid tropical climate with an oppressive hot season in the plains and plenty of rainfall throughout the year
 
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IDUKKI
‘Pristine Beauty of its Best’
Area: 5,019 sq km,
Population: 1,079,369
Altitude: 2,200m above the sea level
 
 
The word “Idukki” means ‘gorge’.  The perennial river Peiyar flows through a narrow gorge between two granite hills, the legendary Kuruvan and Kurathi where the idukki Arch Dam is constructed
 
 
Though the district cannot boast of a history of the rise and fall of a few dunasties, it played a significant role in the spiritual development of the country, especially the south.  The Ramayana fives a graphic desctiprion of the flora of the Pamba Valley
 
 
Idukki has a large population of tribals, the main tribes being Muthuvan, Malayarayan, Mannan, Paliyan, Uralii, Ulladan, Malavedan and Malampandaram.  The tribes here have unique customs and beliegs and maintain an ethos which is distinctly different from others.  Their medicines and treatment methods are capable of challenging modern medicine
 
 
Places of interest include Keezharkuth, Pattumala, erafvikulam National Park at Munnar, Vagamon, Pullumedu, Echo point, Ramakalmedu, Peermede, Munnar, Thrissangu and Peeru hills, Rahamala, Pandikuzhi, Marayoor, Idukki Wild life Sanctuary, Periyar Wild life Sanctuary, Chinnar Wild life Sanctuary, Tea Museum, Cheeyappara, Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary, Devikulam and Thommankuth, the Idukki Arch Dam, Mangala Devi Temple, Thekkady, Ilaveezhapoonchira, tribal settlements in Peermede, Pothanmedu, Nyayamakad, Mattupetty, Power House Waterfalls, Palkulamedu, Thumpachi Calveri Samuchayam, Anayirnakal, Sahyadri Ayurvedic Centre and Gavi
 
 
The district was formed on January 26, 1972 carving out Devikulam, Peerumede and Udumbanchola taluks from Kottayam district and Todupuzha taluk from Ernakulam district.  It extends 115 km from south to north and 67 km from east to west. From revenue administration, the district is subdivide into four taluks, viz, Devikulam, Peerumed, Udumbanchola and Todupuzha.  For purpose of development activities is it divide into 8 blocks Arudai, Devikulam, Elamdesom, Idukki, Kattappana, Adimali, Nedumkandom and Thodupuzha.  The district is bounded by Kottayam and Pathanamthitta on the south, Thrissur and Coimbatore on the north, Madurai, Ramanad and Thirunelveli on the east and Ernakulam and Kottayam on the west
 
 
It is believed that Sabarimala, were the Lord Ayyappa Temple is situated, derived it is name form Sabari Ashram located at Sabari Peedom nearby.  The Lord Ayyappa Temple is on the most famous Hindu pilgrim centre.  There is also a belief that it was a place where a great Jain or forest speaks of an equally shrouded antiquity.  With its undulating hills and valleys and the perennial rivers, the district probably formed a recluse for the spiritual seekers of ancient India
 
 
In modern times, Idukki is a favourite destination for tourist because of its diverse attractions like wildlife sanctuaries, hill stations, spice plantations, mountain treks, elephant rides, etc.  All kinds of wild animals with the exception of lions abound in the forests of Idukki.  Bison, wild bear, langur and monkeys are a few other common denizens of the jungle.  The Thar (striped goat) seen in Marayur region and Rajamala is found nowhere else in the world.  The forests of Idukki include the small wild parrots, mynas, red-horned sparrows and a host of other nondescript species
 
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ERNAKULAM
“Business Capital”
Area: 2,408 sq km
Population: 27,97,779 (2001 Census)
Altitude: Sea level
 
 
Ernakulam, known popularity as the ‘Queen of Arabian Sea, is identified with the outside world as the commercial capital and the most cosmopolitan city of Kerala. It 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
 
 
Foreign nationals like the British, /arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, etc., made use of the natural harbour here to carry out trade.  Later several industries were set up.  The Chinese fishing net is still largely used here
 
 
Lakshadweep, a Union Territory of India, is a group of 36 islands lovated in the Arabian Sea about 300 km off Kochi.  Important among these islands are Androt, Amini, Agatti, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadamat, Kalpeni, Kava, etc
 
 
The main tourist spots in the district are Cherai Beach, Bhoothathankettu, Thattekkadu Bird Sanctuary, Maritime Museum, Indo-Portuguese Museum of Kerala History, Thani Illam, Synagogue, Fort Kochi, Vasco da Gama Square, Mattancherry Palace, Bolghatty island, Hill Palace Museum at Thripunithura, Madhavan Nayar Foundation at Edappally, Chendamangalam, antique sellers of Jew Street, Dutch Palace at Mattanchery, St.Francis Church at Fort Kochi, Pierce Leslie Bungalow, Loafer’s Corner/PrincessStreet at Fort Kochi, Dutch Cemetry, Willingdon Island, Kaladi, Malayattoor Church, etc
 
 
Eranakulam district was formed on April 1,1958.  The ditrict is nbamed after the erstwhile Ernakulam town, the name of which in turn is said to have been derived from the word Rishinagakulam, a tank in the famous Siva Temple in the town
 
 
About 38 km from north to south and 48 km from east to west, the district is bounded by a 46.2 km coastline of the Arabian Sea on the west, Kottayam and Alappuzha districts on the south, Idukki on the east and Thrissur on the north.  It lies between latitude 90 ° 42’ and 10’ 18’ 00”north and longitude 76 ° 12’00” and 76 ° 46’00”
 
  The seacoast in this  districts falls entirely in Kochi taluk.  Kochi harbour which is a major natural harbour, is also situated in this taluk.  The main islands are Willington island, Vypeen, Bollghatty island (Ponjikkara). Vallarpadom, Kumbalam, Cheranallur and Chathannur.  Most of these islands are very small in size extending from less than a sq km to 4 sq km.  There are transport facilities to all these islands  
 
The districts is divided into three well defined parts, highland, midland and the lowland, consisting of hills and forests, plains and the seaboard respectively.  The hilly or eastern portion is formed by a section of the western ghats.  The midland consists mainly of plain land having natural facilities of drainage via backwaters and canals.  Kochi taluk is divided into two blocks by the Kochi Azhi, viz., Vaipinkara Island on the northern side and the southern portion form Fort Kochi to Chellanam bounded on three sides by water.  The western portion and part of the southern side of the Kanyakumari taluk are divide by backwaters
 
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THRISSUR
“Cultural Capital”
Area: 3,032 sq km
Population:2,733,311( 2001 Census)
Altitude: Sea Level
 
 
With its rich history, a cultural heritage and archaeological wealth, Thrissur is called the cultural capital of Kerala.  The team Thrissur was derived by the English from the Malayalam word ‘Thrissivaperur” which means the place of Siva.  The town is built around the famous Vadakkumnathan temple
 
 
Today Thrissur is world famous for its Pooram festival.  Thousands gather to see rows of caparisoned of elephants.  The fireworks at the Pooram are an experience beyond  imagination
 
 
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