According to the mythology, Parasurama- a warrior-sage and an incarnation of Lord Vishnu- threw his axe to the ocean and created Kerala. The myth goes like this: after defeating the Kshatriyas Parasurama was seeking for penance and to gain self-mortification he was asked to create a land for Brahmins. He got the boons from Varuna, the God of Oceans, and Bhumidevi, the Goddess of Earth. He went to Kanyakumari ( Cape Comorin ) and threw his axe northwards into the ocean. The waters made way and thus Kerala originated.
Early Civilisation of Kerala
The Pulayas, Kuravas and Vetas were the first to live in Kerala.Then came Aryans from the North who introduced the caste system. In the beginning of the Christian era the Cheran Dynasty dominated the land up to Western Ghats. After their decline came the Brahmins. They controlled the wealth, land and power. They leased out land to lower castes and thus heirarchy developed. In this heirarchy, the Namboothiris were the rulers. Later Christians, Muslims and Jews came as traders and became a major part in Kerala’s population. By the 11th Century Kerala had feudal chiefs or ‘naduvazhis’ who constantly clashed against each other for supremacy and leadership and the outcome was instability. European Conquests of Kerala
Trade in Kerala flourished by 3000 BC and it became a potential trading hub on the commercial map of the world. The world started eyeing Kerala much more seriously now. It became famous for its spices, sandalwood, ivory, cotton, teak and much more. It is said that King Solomon sent his commercial fleet to Southern Kerala and Kodungalloor was considered as ancient world’s largest trading centre in the East. Reaching India was a major dream for many European voyagers at that time. In 1498, the Portuguese naval captain Vasco da Gama landed at Kappad in Calicut. That was the turning point for the East. The Portuguese began trade with the Zamorin (Samuthiri). They had rivalries from other local kings and the Arabs. Kunjali Marakkar became a hero in Kerala history during this period.
Then came the Dutch who finally drove the Portuguese out of India by 1663. They set up the East India Company and got control of the coastal areas of Kannur and Kochi. They were defeated by Marthanda Varma and by 1795 the British drove them out of Kerala permanently. Some of the crops in Kerala like pineapple, papaya, rubber and modern farming techniques for coconuts were introduced by the Dutch and Portuguese. Even today many farmers depend upon these for their survival. The Dutch Palace, the Bolghatty Palace and many other tourist attractions were built by the Dutch during their reign. In 1799 after the defeat of Tipu Sultan of Mysore the British became the ultimate power of North Kerala. Some of the chieftains who opposed the British were the famous Pazhassiraja and Velu Thambi Dalawa, but they were all crushed by the British. India’s Freedom Struggle and Kerala
After the first world war, India’s freedom movement started and it had a huge bearing on Kerala. The idea of salt satyagraha originated from Kerala. In Vaikom there was a satyagraha for allowing the lower castes into the temples. It was a major challenge to the British rule. Later many organisations were formed to express their rights: like the Samyukta Rashtriya Congress consisting of hindus, muslims and christians and the the Travancore State Congress led by Pattom Thanu Pillai.
After Independence the states of Travancore and Kochi were regrouped as ‘Thirukochi’. On 1st November, 1856 the Kerala state was formed uniting all the people who spoke Malayalam, from Malabar area to Thirukochi.