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Indian Subcontinent >> India >> Kerala >> History of Kerala

History of Kerala

Legend says, the temperamental figure in Hindu mythology, Parsuram, was the one who reclaimed the territory of Kerala from the ocean. It is solely through his efforts that the warrior class of Kshatriyas got off their high horse and restored to primacy the priestly class of Brahmins. Parsuram was promised a stretch of land by the Gods which would be fixed at the point where the axe flung by him landed in the sea. All the myth surrounding the story came out to be actually true when geologists found that the same stretch of land that is now Kerala actually did lie under water!

Kerala was ruled by the Cheras of south India till around 1100 AD. The Cheras, and after their decline the Zamorins of Calicut (present day Kozhikode), were the most powerful rulers of the Malabar before the colonial period. The Zamorins established great trade relations with the Chinese and the Arabs, and were patrons of the arts.

The land of Kerala in earlier times was inhabited by Jews, Christians and Muslims. The first to trade with Kerala were the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Chinese and Babylonians in the 3rd century BC. Christianity came to Kerala when St. Thomas famously landed on Kerala’s windswept shores in 52 AD. The original Jews in Kerala were the Black Jews, fabled descendents of King Solomon! The White Jews came later during the mass exodus from modern day Palestine 2000 years ago. A community of Syrian Christians also adopted Kerala as their homeland. The Arab traders brought in Islam when they established trade relations with Kerala in the 8th century AD.

The "civilised" world's great search for India ended on the coast of Kerala in 1498, with the explorer Vasco da Gama making landfall at present day Kozhikode. The Portuguese, Dutch and the British continually vied for this prized territory on the Malabar Coast. The British finally took control of the entire region in the 18th century AD, outwitting Tipu of Mysore, the Dutch and the Portuguese.

In the year 1957, Kerala got the power of a free elected Communist government. The state of Kerala today comprises of the former princely kingdoms - Cochin and Travancore.

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