From the times of great dynasties of Cholas, Pandiyas and Cheras to the European rule and till date, the cultural significance of Tamil Nadu has always been on rise. Be it the temple building traditions or the eternal Tamil literature, this southernmost state of India has always enthralled the world. Music, dance, art and architecture of the state are celebrated around the world and attract thousands of tourists from all over the world. No wonder that Tamil Nadu tourism industry ranks at second position in India.
Compilation of hundreds of classic Tamil poems that are acclaimed as Sangam Literature, stylized Dravidian architecture of Tamil Nadu Temples and Tamil performing arts are some of the most astonishing examples of what the state has given to the world. Going further, people from various religions like Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and Buddhism form important parts of the populace in the state, making the cultural heritage even vaster.
The eye-pleasing dance forms like karakattam, mayilattam and Bharatanatyam form inseparable parts of Tamil Nadu heritage. Another worthwhile art form is Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art form that has inspired the origination of marital art forms in various countries. Carnatic music is the classical Tamil music which is counted among the world’s richest art forms. At the same time, the state is home to Kollywood, one of the top film industries in the country.
great deal of diversity can be seen among Tamil people in terms of languages they speak and the religions they practice. While Tamil is the official language, English is widely spoken which facilitates the foreign tourists. Telugu, Kannada and Urdu are other languages used for communication. Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jains and people from other religions live in harmony, contributing towards the ever-flourishing Tamil culture.
Rice being Tamil Nadu’s staple food forms a major part of the state’s cuisines. Idly, sambar, pongal, vadai and uthappam are among the most relished cuisines that are served in a unique style using banana leaves. The discussion remains incomplete without the mention of captivating festive celebrations of Tamil Nadu. Many popular temples in the state act as sites for the colorful celebrations. There are many Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu that have been the part of the state’s heritage from the past many centuries. The stylized Dravidian architectural style showcased by these temples attracts the Hindus and the Non-Hindus alike.
The cultural history of Kerala is as fascinating as that of Tamil Nadu. In fact, a lot has been borrowed or inspired from the Tamil Nadu traditions and art forms. The rich and intriguing cultural heritage of Kerala also bear the influences from neighboring Indian regions and many parts of the world. Civilized lifestyle is prominently showcased by the people of Kerala and their traditions. It is not only the natural magnificence of Kerala beaches and backwaters that attract the tourists, but also its temples, festivals, art forms and cuisines.
Koodiyattom the Sanskrit theater form originating in Kerala has been acclaimed by UNESCO. The classical dance forms like Mohiniaattam and Kathakali enjoy exceptional statuses in the richest Indian traditions. The group dance form called Margam Kali is equally enthralling. Many fold and tribal dance forms like Kummattikali and Oppana too are the celebrated forms of art. Talking about music, Carnatic music and percussive music form called Melam have huge numbers of admirers. Malayalam Cinema and martial art forms too contribute towards the state’s cultural heritage
Malayalam is the official and the most commonly spoken language in Kerala. Just like other Indian states, English is being widely adopted in Kerala for various purposes. Other common languages spoken in the state include Konkani, Kannada, Tulu and Tamil. More than half of the population follows Hinduism, while there are a good percentage of Muslim residents as well. Christianity is another religion followed in Kerala.
The Kerala cuisines consist of vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian dishes. Coconut is widely used for the purpose of flavoring. As the region is known for huge spice cultivation, one can find the use of varieties of spices like cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom and others in various preparations. With an array of Hindu Temples present in Kerala, the state celebrates numerous temple festivals throughout the year. Makaravilakku, Kodungalloor Bharani and Sivarathri are among the most popular of these festivals.
Apart from temple festivals, Kerala is also popular among the tourists for the snake boat races and competitions conducted by the state. These races are conducted during the harvest season celebrations of Onam. Some of the most popular lakes in the state act as the venues for these races. An important aspect of the cultural heritage of Kerala is the reverence that the local residents have for elephants. Embellished elephants take part in most of the cultural celebrations that are organized in the state. The temple elephants are carefully chosen, trained and decorated with ornaments to make them take part in religious ceremonies.
Visit Kodanad Elephant training centre - it is 60 Km away from Cochin.
At Periyar National park- there are various activities like Jeep safari (full day activity- 05.30 am – 05.30 pm), Boat ride & Nature walk (3 hrs); outside the park- one can do Spice tour, Elephant ride, Elephant experience (1 hr or 2 hrs or half a day package) & Kalaripayattu show.
At Cochin- Harbour cruise, Kathakali show, cultural show (a combination of various dance performances can be arranged at Greenix village)