Travel Guide India: Kerala
Kerala is an Indian state in the far southwest of the country. It is mainly characterised by beautiful landscapes and is seen as a model state for a modern and open India. Learn more
Kerala is a state on the Malabar coast in the southwest of India. It covers an area of almost 38,900 km² and has about 33.4 million inhabitants. The capital of Kerala is Thiruvananthapuram, formerly Trivandrum.
The landscape of Kerala is characterized by lush tropical vegetation. The scenery is primarily dominated by rice and cotton fields, coffee, tea and rubber plantations, a multitude of fruit trees and spice plants as well as coconut palms, the state's life trees. Another characteristic: Kerala is regarded as a model state for a progressive, educated and open India.
Kerala (Malayalam കേരളം Kēraḷam)
In the very southwest of India
approx. 38,860 km²
Best travel time
October to April
Kerala's natural landscapes, especially the Western Ghats, are a highlight themselves, but also the Kerala Backwaters are particularly interesting
Location, geography and climate
Kerala is the southernmost federal state in India and is the closest of all Indian states to the equator. The climate is tropical and the landscape is covered with rainforest. The whole region is heavily used for agriculture. In the north of Kerala there is the Wyanad mountain region. The region lies in the mountains of the Western Ghats mountain range. The area has a size of 2,131 km² and an elevation between 700 and 2,100 m.
The Western Ghats mountain range is an important geomorphological feature in the south of India. The mountain range south of the river Tapti at the border to the states Gujarat and Maharashtra takes its exit. The mountain range has a total length of 1,600 km and crosses the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The average altitude is 900 m. The highest elevation is Anamudi (2,695 m) in Kerala. The mountains are a natural barrier to the western monsoon. The water-rich rain clouds of the oceans rain down on the slopes and thus lead to a humid, warm climate on the west side of the mountains. The Western Ghats are also the most important watershed of the region. Here short rivers rise to the west side and longer rivers like the Godavari or Krishna on the east side.
In general, Kerala has a predominantly tropical daytime climate with warm temperatures and relatively high precipitation, especially during the monsoon season. The northern Wyanad region has a rather moderate climate due to its altitude. The temperatures here are between 18°C and 29°C. During the southwest monsoon from June to September, 3,000 - 4,000 millimetres of precipitation fall here. The east of the mountain plateau, on the other hand, lies in rain shadow and has only up to about 300 mm rainfall annually.
Flora and fauna
Due to the humid and warm climate the landscape in Kerala is very fertile. Most of the area is covered with rainforest. In the mountains of the Western Ghats, to the west of Kerala, you will find evergreen wet forests characterised by balsam trees, mallow trees, magnolias, bamboo, ferns, orchids and lianas. The original landscape of the flat coastal strip has been greatly altered by man's agricultural use and hardly exhibits any natural vegetation. There are also numerous sandy beaches with coconut palms and low bush and grasslands.
The Bengal tiger, Indian leopards, elephants, Sambars and Gaure, mungos, otters, beards and many other species of monkeys live especially in the Periyar nature reserve. It is also home to around 320 different bird species, 45 reptile species and almost 30 different amphibian species.
A highlight of Kerala are the Kerala Backwaters. This is a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes that run parallel to the coast of the Arabian Sea.
Backwaters include five large lakes connected by natural and artificial canals. The backwaters are fed by 38 rivers and were originally formed by the power of waves. Here you will find a unique ecosystem – caused by the fresh water of the rivers and salt water of the Arabian Sea. This beautiful water landscape is definitely worth a visit and will show you a completely different side of India.
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