The spices from Malabar coast may have landed initially at Gulf of Aden and they eventually were transported to the East African trading ports in and around the city known in Grecian-Roman literature as Rhapta. Merchants then moved the commodities northward along the coast. In Roman times, they traveled to Muza in Yemen and finally to Berenice in Egypt. From Egypt they made their way to all the markets of Europe and West Asia.
The beginning of the trade is hinted at in Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions during the New Kingdom period about 3,600 years ago. The Pharaohs of Egypt opened up special relationships with the kingdom of Punt to the south. Although the Egyptians knew of Punt long before this period, it was during the New Kingdom that we really start hearing of important trade missions to that country that included large cargoes of spices. Particularly noteworthy are the marvelous reliefs depicting the trade mission of Queen Hatshepsut of the 18th Dynasty.
Findings of the earliest times of Kerala include Dolmens from the Marayur town area, which belong to the Neolithic period, dating back 10.000 years. Rockpainting was also prevalent during these ages. The most famous ones were found in the Edakkal Caves in Wayanad. These carvings date back to the early Stone Age period of 5000 B.C. A more recent finding is an Indus script symbol, which appears also in the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilization. The prominent Indus script expert Iravatham Mahadevan said, that these findings were very significant and he called it a "major discovery". A cave near the Edakkal Caves in Thovarimala Ezhuthupara, Wayanad district, known locally as "Ezhuthupara" also carries pre-historic carvings dating back many millennia.
Kerala finds mention in the annals of international trade from as early as 3000 BC, having established itself as the major spice trade centre of the world and traded with Sumer. Kerala and Tamil Nadu once shared a common language and culture; this common area was known as Tamilakam.
During the 1st century BC the region was ruled by the Chera Dynasty established by the Dravidian tribe Villavar, whose mother tongue and court language was the ancient Tamil. The capital of Cheras was Vanchi. The southern Kerala was ruled by the Pandyan Kingdom with their capital at Nelcynda. The merchants from China, West Asia and Roman Empire had trade links with Cheras. The Sangam literature from the period has descriptions of the Roman ships coming to Muziris, laden with gold as exchange for pepper. Kerala is represented as the eastern tip of the known world in Tabula Peutingeriana, the only known surviving map of the Roman cursus publicus. The west Asian-semitic Jewish, Christian, and Muslim immigrants established Juda Mappila, Nasrani Mappila, and Muslim Jonakan Mappila communities. The Jews first arrived in Kerala in 573 BC. The works of scholars and Eastern Christian writings state that Thomas the Apostle visited Muziris in Kerala in 52 CE to proselytize amongst Kerala's Jewish settlements and convert them to Christianity. However, the exact year of his arrival is disputed. Muslim merchants led by Malik ibn Dinar settled in Kerala by the 8th century CE and introduced Islam.
The Later Chera Kingdomwas returned to power (c. 800–1102) with the help of Arab spice Merchants, also called the Kulasekhara dynasty, was founded by Kulasekhara Varman who was also a Vaishnavaite saint. Ay kings ruled southern Kerala, but by the 10th century the Ay kingdom declined and became a part of the Chera Kingdom. A Keralite identity, distinct from the Tamils became linguistically separate during this period. The Kulasekhara dynasty came to an end by twelfth century, weakened due to the invasions by Pandyas and Cholas. In the absence of a strong central power, the state became divided under small principalities governed by Nair Cheftains. The kingdoms of Kochi, Venad, Kolathiri and Kozhikode Samuthiri emerged powerful.
The Colonial Era
After Vasco Da Gama's arrival in Kappad Kozhikode in 1498, the Portuguese began to gain control of the lucrative pepper trade which was revived in the Thirteen century AD to some extend. On 25 March 1505, Francisco de Almeida was appointed the Viceroy of India with his headquarters at Kochi. The period from 1500 to 1571 saw constant battles by the Saamoothiri and his navarch Kunjali Marakkar against the Portuguese until the latter were defeated and their fort destroyed by the Zamorin's forces at Chaliyam. The fall of Chaliyam fort marked the beginning of the end for the Portuguese in the great game of the East. Elsewhere, the Portuguese had established forts at Kannur, Cochin and Kollam.
The Dutch East India Company like the Portuguese before them took advantage of the conflicts between Kozhikode and Kochi and ousted the Portuguese to gain control of the trade. However, the Dutch were weakened by constant battles with Marthanda Varma of the Travancore Royal Family, the most prominent of them theBattle of Colachel in 1741. The Dutch finally surrendered to the British on 20 Oct 1795 when the latter marched from Calicut as part of the larger Napoleonic Warsbetween Holland and England in Europe. In 1766, Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore invaded northern Kerala. In the late 18th century, Tipu Sultan, Ali’s son and successor, launched campaigns against the expanding British East India Company, resulting in two of the four Anglo-Mysore Wars. He ultimately ceded Malabar District and South Kanara to the Company in the 1790s. The Company forged tributary alliances with Kochi in 1791 and Travancore in 1795. Malabar and South Kanara became part of the Madras Presidency.
The major revolts that occurred before independence were the 1946 Punnapra-Vayalar uprising in Travancore and the 1921 Malabar Rebellion in Malabar which was under British rule. The Dewan of Travancore Velayudan Thampi Dalava, and Pazhassi Raja in Malabar, among others, vied for greater autonomy or independence. Many actions, spurred by such leaders as Vaikunda Swami, Sree Narayana Guru and Chattampi Swamikal, instead protested such conditions as untouchability; notable was the 1924 Vaikom Satyagraham, which resulted, Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Varma of Travancore issuing in 1936, the Temple Entry Proclamation that opened Hindu temples to all castes; Malabar soon did likewise. But Cochin did not do the Temple entry proclamation (1948) until after India's independence. The 1921 Moplah Rebellion involved Mappila Muslims rioting against Hindu zamindars Zamindari system and the British Raj.
After India gained her independence in 1947, Travancore and Cochin were merged to form Travancore-Cochin on 1 July 1949. On 1 January 1950 (Republic Day), Travancore-Cochin was recognised as a state. The Madras Presidency was organised to form Madras State in 1947.
Formation of the State of Kerala and beyond
On 1 November 1956, the state of Kerala was formed by the States Reorganisation Act merging the Malabar district, Travancore-Cochin (excluding four southern taluks, which were merged with Tamil Nadu), and the taluk of Kasargod, South Kanara. Elections for the new Kerala Legislative Assembly were held in 1957; this resulted in the formation of a communist-led government headed by E.M.S. Namboodiripad. Radical reforms introduced by the E. M. S. Namboodiripad's government in favour of farmers and labourers helped change, to a great extent, the iniquitous social order that had prevailed in the land for a long time.
To International sensations, the Communist government in 2006 banned the production and sale of Coca Cola and Pepsi after large amounts of pesticides were found in the drinks, later the decision was lifted by a court in the same year.International Herald Tribune: Indian state lifts cola ban In addition, the Government once openly said to the distribution of free software and against Microsoft whom they referred as a monopolist.
References in Hinduism
The Matsya Purana mentions the Malaya Mountains in Kerala as the setting for the story of the Matsya Avatara of Lord Vishnu and King Manu (King Satyavrata).The Vamana Purana also mentions King Mahabali as the righteous and virtuous ruler that has his capital in Kerala. Kerala has been referenced in puranas as created by Parashurama by throwing his axe into the sea. The Aitareya Aranyaka is the earliest Sanskrit work that specifically mentions Kerala.