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Kerala History

Legends, myths and archaeological findings combine to provide interesting evidence regarding the early history of Kerala.

The most popular legend is that Kerala was raised from the depths of the ocean. Parsurama, one of the Avatars of Vishnu had waged an unique series of vengeful war on the Kshatriyas. A time came, when Parsurama was struck by remorse at the wanton annihilation he had wrought. He offered severe penance atop the mountain. In a mood of profound atonement the sage threw his mighty axe into the distant ocean.

The recorded history of Kerala dates back to 3rd century BC on Ashoka's rock edict. Later constant wars between Cheras, Cholas, Pandyas and Pallavas culminated in 1120 AD into the breaking-up of Kerala into many petty kingdoms. These kingdoms were ruled by the Thampurans or chiefs under whom Kerala attained its most brilliant period in history.

The phoenicians in 1200 BC were the pioneer in the sea trade with Kerala. In 1000 BC King Soloman's ships visited 'Ophix', (the modern Puvar, south on Thiruvananthapuram) to trade in ivory, apes, sandalwood and peacocks.. The fame of Kerala spices brought the Romans in 30 AD who followed soon after by the Greeks. The spice trade also brought Vasco da Gama to Kozikode in 1498 who paved the way for a fresh wave of trading history with the Europeans. Traders from the Malayan peninsula, the Philippines, Java and Sumatra also visited the ports. of Kerala.

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