Central Kerala covers 3 districts located middle of Kerala state. Central Kerala was part of erstwhile Kingdom of Kochi. Today its one of the most leading economic powerhouse of Kerala with several industries and trading firms located. The 3 districts that form Central Kerala are Ernakulam, Thrissur and Palakkad. The most important city in this region is Kochi (commercial capital of Kerala) which is a major gateway to Kerala.
Here are some of the most notable cities.
- 1 Aluva — The Riverside town
- 2 Chavakkad — a small beach-side town, known as Mini-Gulf for its large number of Middle East based NRIs
- 3 Cherai — is the beachside.
- 4 Guruvayoor — the famous temple town of India, known as Bhoolokavaikuntha (Home of Lord Vishnu in Earth)
- 5 Kalady — It is notable as the birthplace of Shankara, commonly known as Adi Shankaracharya.
- 6 Kochi — The commercial capital of Kerala and major gateway to the state.
- 7 Kodungallur — major of christian family originated.
- 8 Kunnamkulam — major centre of Orthodox Christianity in Kerala, this town has lots of old churches as well as beaches
- 9 Marottichal — famous for its many chess players
- 10 Nelliampathy — Forests, farms, cliffs, waterfalls, orange farms, its loved by adventurists, naturists and honeymooners.
- 11 North Paravur — a suburb of Kochi, is a major heritage site and farm tourism
- 12 Paipra —
- 13 Palakkad — the rice granary of Kerala, famous for its agricultural fields and industries
- 14 Paniyeli Poru —
- 15 Pattimattom — The WonderLa, Kochin refinary, FACT, InfoPark etc. are situated outskirts of pattimattom
- 16 Perumbavoor — Is the town crowded with Indian workers in Kerala. Several thousands of Bengalis, Biharis and Assamese live in this tiny town.
- 17 Thrissur — the cultural capital of Kerala, famous for large festivals, museums, temples and performing arts institutions.
- 18 Valapad — a village about 24 km from Thrissur city.
- 4 Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary — thickly forested with bamboo and other trees is home to a large variety of fauna and flora
- 5 Peechi Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary — one of the India’s most famous wildlife sanctuaries and has rich collections of flora and fauna
- 6 Silent Valley National Park — largest national park in Kerala that is virtually an undisturbed natural area that is home to several endangered or rare species of birds, plants and animals. Sairandhri hosts the visitor center for this park
Central Kerala was once the cradle of Imperial Chera civilization, established in 300 BC with the capital at Muziris (today's Kodungallur- 40 km from Kochi). At height of Chera glory, they established an empire reaching to the Ganges in North India. Chera's capital city, Muziris, was one of the largest seaports in the Ancient world and had regular trade with Greeks, Roman, Mesopotamian and Chinese civilizations. With the decline of Chera powers by the mid-11th century and the choking of Muziris port due to the great floods of Periyar, Central Kerala turned into pressure pot of various social and political turmoils. The Chera Dynasty was replaced by Kochi Kingdom and its capital with the newly formed Kochi City. Trade relations with the West and Arab world enabled Europeans to come to Kochi and form a major political power in Kerala. By the 18th century, British dominated the political sphere. British influence over Kochi Kingdom brought several British institutions to this area. When Kochi Kingdom merged with India in 1949, this area came under new state of Thiru-Kochi (Travancore-Kochi). The area was renamed as a zone when Kerala State was formed in 1957.
Today its a major economic center with several industries located here. Along with this, Central Kerala is famous for its varied cultural potpourri, several famed festivals, tourists locations and agricultural areas.
As elsewhere in the state of Kerala, Malayalam is the native language. 3 dialects of Malayalam language are spoken here. In Kochi one can feel the strong influence of Portuguese and Dutch in local dialects. Sanskritic Malayalam is spoken in the Thrissur area with lot of poetic expressions, whereas in Palakkad, which borders on Tamil Nadu, the Malayalam spoken has lot of Tamil influence.
Tamil is widely understood and spoken in Palakkad, whereas English and Hindi are popular in Kochi and Thrissur. Arabic also understood in few pockets of Thrissur where Muslims are in majority like Chavakkad.
- Cochin International Airport (COK IATA), located in Nedumbasserry is a major Indian Airport with regular international connections by leading international airlines and is well connected with various national destinations. The Airport is located 30 km from Kochi City, 60 km from Thrissur city.
- Calicut International Airport (CCJ IATA), located in Karipur, this is an important international airport with regular connections from Middle East cities. The airport is located 100 km from Thrissur city, 85 km from Palakkad town and 200 km from Kochi. Cochin International Airport became the first fully solar powered airport in the world with the commissioning of 13.1 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic power station built at COK airport, India, by the company Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL).
- Coimbatore Airport (CJB IATA), located in Coimbatore in the neighboring Tamil Nadu State, this airport has regular connections from many major Indian cities and few international connections from Singapore and Middle Eastern cities. The airport is located just 45 km from Palakkad city, 110 km from Thrissur town and 170 km from Kochi.
Most of the trains bound to Kerala have various stops in many places in Central Kerala. Major stations are
- Ernakulam South, located in Ernakulam (Kochi City) is a major Indian Railways station with regular connections to all over India.The Station consists of 7 platforms. Google provides free open high-speed wifi facility in this railway station.
- Thrissur Town - a leading station for all Non-Konkan railway train services.The public transport bus facility is near by this railway station.Google provides free open high-speed wifi facility in this railway station.
- Shornur Junction - The biggest railway station in Kerala.
- Aluva Town - The Railway station near the banks of river periyar. All major trains have stops here. The Cochin Airport is near by this Station helps passenger to get down here and travel to Airport via Public Transportation like low floor AC Buses, Taxis and vice versa.
- Palakkad Junction - A Major rail station and head office for Palakkad Railway Division
National Highway 47, 17 passes through this stretch
- Chottanikkara Temple - It is the most important Temple among the 393 shrines spread over 3 Districts of Kerala and is under the administration of Cochin Devaswom Board. The Divine Mother known as Rajarajeswari (Adiparasakthi) is worshipped here in three forms: Saraswathy in the morning, Lakshmi at noon and Durga in the evening. There is an Idol of Mahavishnu on the same pedestal and so the Deity is called Ammenarayana, Devinarayana, Lakshminarayana and Bhadrenarayana also. Along with Lakshmi & Narayana there are idols of Brahma, Siva, Ganapathi (Ganesh), Subramanya and Sastha on the same pedestal. Apart from the main deity, the temple complex consists of Kizhukkavu Bhagavathy temple, temples for Sastha, Siva, Ganapathi, Nagas and other Upa-Devas. The pleasant atmosphere in the temple give mental peace and harmony to devotees.
- Korattymuthy or Koratty. Koratty is one of the biggest Christian pilgrimage destinations in India. It is also known as the Lourdes of South India and Vailankanni of Kerala. Korattymuthy shrine is also known as 'Our Lady with Poovan Bananas'. This Marian apparition is situated in Central Part of Kerala. Offering of 'Poovan Bananas'- a special variety of plantain and 'Muttilizhayal' are major offerings in this pilgrim centre. In the month of October, during the Feast of Korattymuthy, major pilgrimage travel is seen on this Holy Place.
- The Synod of Diamper:- Udayamperoor- 19km from Kochi city; is a historic church that made Kerala Syrian Christians declare the loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church. The Church of Diamper (Latin name of Udayamperoor) is the place where Christians formally renounced their Syriac rites and adopted Latin Rites in Catholic Church formats.
Makom Thozhal (worship on the Makom day) is the most important festival of the temple which is celebrated in the month of Kumbham. (Feb / March) It is believed that Bhagavathy, in her full attire, gave darsan to Vilwamangalam Swamiyar on the Makom day and appears on the same day every year to give darsan to the devotees. The Bhadrakaali at Kizhukkavu is believed to exorcise evil spirit from devotees, after conducting bhajanam.
Due to its strong trade relations, central Kerala's cuisine is a blend of many influences, particularly English, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese. Seafood is very popular, as well as freshwater fish from Kerala's rivers and backwaters. Prawn and squid are considered essential for most celebrations and festive occasions. Vegetarian entrees are also widely available, though the emphasis remains on seafood.