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KERALA - History
Legends, myths and archeological findings combine to provide interesting evidence regarding the early history of Kerala. According to Prof. K V Krishna Ayyar, the famous Kerala historian, "the discovery of microliths or small stone implements near Kozhikode and Cochin point to the presence of man in Kerala as far back as 4000BC."
According to popular legend, Lord Vishnu ,after slaying the evil Kings, descended from the heavens in his incarnation of Parasuram. He did penance for waging the terrible war and threw his axe into the sea. The place where the axe landed, from shaft to blade ,rose from the sea as the rich and beautiful Kerala a land of plenty and prosperity. The factual history of Kerala and its Malabar cost - is closely linked with its commerce and trade. The geographical position of Kerala has also contributed to its commercial and economical prosperity. The strip of land found a natural barrier in the hills which sealed off one longitudinal section, leaving it open to access from the sea alone.
Lord Parsuram

The Phoenicians were the pioneer in the sea trade with Kerala. in 100BC King Solomon's ships visited 'Ophix'(the modern Puvar, South of Thiruvanathapuram) to trade in ivory, apes, sandalwood and peacocks. The fame of Kerala spices brought the Romans in 30AD,who were followed soon after by the Greeks, Arabs and the Chinese. The spice trade also brought Vasco da Gama to Kozhikode in 1498, who paved the way for a fresh wave of trading history starting with the Europeans. Traders from the Malayan peninsula ,the Philippines, Java and Sumatra also visited the ports of Kerala. Gold was traded by these countries from the east and west, for spices, ivory, sandalwood and peacocks.

The rulers of Kerala and the Zemorins of Kozhikode, gave these traders all facilities and permitted them to settle down on Kerala soil. The Portuguese gained trading rights in 1516, followed by Dutch merchants who obtained a stronghold in 1602. But the Portuguese were forces out of the area by 1663,and in 1795,the Dutch too had to move out ,as the British traders had already become the strongest power in India by that time.

The recorded history of Kerala dates back to a third Century BC inscription on Ashoka's rock edict. It is interesting to note that till the beginning of the 11th Century, the people of Kerala and there eastern neighbors, the Tamils, shared a common language and culture. The trade with the Roman empire and China filled the land with gold and the people were prosperous and happy.

Constant political feuds and wars between the Cheras, Cholas, Pandyas and Pallavas, finally culminated in 1120AD,with the breaking up of Kerala into many pretty kingdoms. These kingdoms were ruled by Thampurans or chiefs, under whom Kerala attained its most brilliant period in history. The people of Kerala broke away from the Tamils and formed a distinct culture of there own. A common code of conduct based on chivalry, tolerance and ancient moral codes came into exstance. Malayalam suppressed Tamil as the language of Kerala and Sanskrit became the badge of learning culture. Along with trade, literature, philosophy, and science too flourished during this period.

The Thampurans were succeeded by the Zemorins of Kozhikode, during whose regn the portugese set foot in kerala in 1498. A succession of invasions by various powers finally ended in 1705 as the British established their supremacy. Known as Malabar coast and Cochin-Travencore, Kerala experienced both prosperity and strife under the British rule.
Kerala contributed a lot to the nation during these formative years, till the country gained independence in 1947. Nine years later in 1956,the present state of Kerala was formed, comprising the Malayalam speaking tracts of south India. Kerala is today one fully literate state in India, which has contributed its mite to the nation in the form of eminent writers, scientists and famous personalities.
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