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Holiday in Mount Abu
History of Kerela Rajasthan Holiday Tour Packages
Mount Abu

Legends apart, the first set of people who left their footprints on the soil of Kerala can be identified at present only with reference to their burial practices. Though records are lacking, a reasonable assumption is that they spoke an archaic form of Tamil. They constructed strange burial monuments in granite, literate and pottery, most of which are strikingly similar to the megalithic monuments of West Europe and Asia. These monuments are, however, younger than their counterparts in the rest of Asia. Historians have postulated a time bracket between 10th century B.C. and 5th century A.D. for these people. It is clear from the grave relics, including iron tridents and daggers, that the megalithic builders had long emerged out of the stone age into the iron age without passing through a bronze age. In fact, there is very little evidence of the old and the new stone ages in Kerala. It is quite possible that the Mauryan invaders who reached the Mysore borders in their conquest southwards, encountered the megalith making tribes who lived in hill forts and controlled the surrounding countryside. Fortunately, a whole corpus of ancient Tamil literature known to scholars by the name of Sangham literature, has been preserved.

Though the Cheras had their capital at Vanchi in the interior, they had the famous harbour towns of Tyndis and Muziris on the Arabian Sea coast for trade. The Cheras ruled over the central portion of the present day Kerala. They seemed to have attracted a good deal of Roman trade. There are vivid descriptions in Sangham literature of Yavana ships coming to Muziris, laden with gold and waiting for pepper, the black gold of the Romans, at some distance from the shore. The hoards of Roman gold coins unearthed from Kottayam and Eyyal in Kerala authenticity to such statements. There were a number of other minor chieftains who flourished in different parts of Kerala. The sage Agastya is the father of Tamil grammar and literature and the entire social world of Kerala, as part of Tamilakam (Tamil land) is reflected in the rich collection of secular poems which form the characteristic legacy of the Sangham age.


The geographical advantages, ie, the abundance of pepper and other spices, the navigability of the rivers connecting the high mountains with the seas and the discovery of favourable trade winds which carried sailing ships directly from the Arabian coast to Kerala in less than forty days, combined to produce a veritable boom in Kerala's foreign trade. The harbours of Naura near Kannur, Tyndis near Quilandy, Muziris near Kodungallor and Bacare near Alappuzha owed their existence primarily to the Roman trade. Roman contact with Kerala might have given rise to small colonies of Jews and Syrian Christians in the chief harbour towns of Kerala. The Jews of Kochi believe that their ancestors came to the west coast of India as refugees following the destruction of Jerusalem in the first century A.D. The Syrian Christians claim to be the descendants of the converts of St. Thomas, one of the Apostle of Jesus Christ. Arab contacts are also very ancient and Islam came to Kerala as far back as the 9th century A.D.


In the Midland Plains of central region, the hills are not very steep and the valleys are wide. The valleys have been developed as paddy fields and the elevated lands and hill slopes are converted into estates of rubber, fruit trees and other cash crops like pepper , arecanut and tapioca. Tea and coffee estates have cropped up in the high ranges during the last two centuries.


The fourth and fifth centuries witnessed the decline and fall of the western Roman empire. A shriveling of the Roman sea trade followed, leading in its turn, to a decline of the harbour towns like Tyndis and Muziris. Further, political incursions from the north into Tamilakam took place. The traditions of Nambudiris (Kerala Brahmins) recorded in the Keralolpatti chronicle refer to Mayurvarman, the Kadamba king, as their patron during the period the after Parasurama. A Kadamba record of the 5th century at the Edakkal cave in Wayanad bears testimony to the Kadamba presence in Kerala.
The last phase of the Sangham age coincided with a silent revolution that was brewing within the social system in Kerala. By about the 8th century, a chain of thirty two Brahmin settlements had come up, which eventually paved the way for the social, cultural and political separation of Kerala from the Tamil country, in due course. These colonies were capable of producing a great philosopher, Sankaracharya..


The ninth century raised the curtain of a new epoch in Kerala history. The ancient capital of Vanchi fell into the hands of the Pandyas. The vanquished rulers founded a new capital near the old harbour city of Muciri (Muziri), now known as Kodungalloor. The new capital was called Makotai or Mahodayapura and was built around the great Siva temple of Tiruvanchikulam. No trace of the palace at Makotai remains today. The author of the Kokasandesa found it in ruins even in the 16th century. He saw in the ruins yet another example of the fickle nature of the goddess of prosperity.
The beginning of the 12th century marked a period of troubled times for Kerala. The attack by the combined forces of the Cholas and the Pandyas and internal conflicts in the Chera kingdom made Rama Kulasekhara the Perumal, decided to leave the country in the company of some Arab Muslims. He is believed to have been converted into Islam and have died at a place called Sapher in Arabia. This event has been referred to as the partition of Kerala.
The loss of political unity did not lead to the loss of political independence in Kerala during the fag end of 14th century. The ghost of the Chera kingdom haunted the destiny of Kerala as a guardian deity for many centuries to come. Each minor chieftain claimed the gift of the last Cheraman Perumal as the sanction behind his throne. It was essentially a game of power politics.
Within a generation of the decline of Chera power, the governors of Eranad shifted from their interior headquarters at Nediyiruppu to the coastal strip of Kozhikkod. Gradually, the Eradis (rulers of Eranad), now known to the world better as the Zamorins of Kozhikkod, grew in prosperity and power. The locational advantage enjoyed by their new headquarters with its proximity to Kozhikkod was a decisive factor in attracting a growing number of Arab traders. The rulers also exhibited a measure of statesmanship in quarantining religious tolerance to all sects and creeds in the big international mart at Kozhikkod. In due course, they roped in the chieftains of Parappanad and Vettattunad in the south as well as Kurumbranad and Puranad (Kottayam) in the north, within their sphere of influence.
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