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Sunday, January 01, 2012

Kerala India

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Kerala is situated on the lush and tropical Malabar Coast. Kerala is one of the popular tourist destinations in India. Its unique culture and traditions, coupled with its varied demographics, has made Kerala one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. National Geographic's Traveller magazine names Kerala as one of the "ten paradises of the world" and "50 must see destinations of a lifetime". Travel and Leisure names Kerala as "One of the 100 great trips for the 21st century".

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Kovalam, Kerala

Until the early 1980s, Kerala was a relatively unknown destination; except for Kovalam, which was in the Hippie circuit and was a major destination of Hippies. Aggressive marketing campaigns launched by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, the government agency that oversees tourism prospects of the state, laid the foundation for the growth of the tourism industry. In the decades that followed, Kerala's tourism industry was able to transform the state into one of the niche holiday destinations in India. The tagline Kerala- God's Own Country has been widely used in Kerala's tourism promotions and soon became synonymous with the state. In 2006, Kerala attracted 8.5 million tourist arrivals, an increase of 23.68% over the previous year, making the state one of the fastest-growing destinations in the world. The state's tourism industry is a major contributor to the state's economy which is currently growing at a rate of 13.31%.

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Kerala is known for its ecotourism initiatives. Kerala was the first state in India to make tourism an industry. The most popular tourist attractions in the state are beaches, backwaters and hill stations. These include the beaches at Kovalam, Varkala, Kappad, Muzhappilangad and Bekal; the hill stations of Munnar, Wayanad, Wagamon, Peermade, Nelliampathi and Ponmudi; and national parks and wildlife sanctuaries at Periyar, Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary and Eravikulam National Park. The "backwaters" is an extensive network of interlocking rivers, lakes, and canals that center around Alleppey, Kumarakom, Kollam and Punnamada .

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Heritage sites, such as the Padmanabhapuram Palace and the Mattancherry Palace, are also visited. Cities such as Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode are popular centres for their shopping and traditional theatrical performances respectively. During early summer, the Thrissur Pooram is conducted, attracting foreign tourists who are largely drawn by the festival's elephants and celebrants. The main pilgrim tourist spots of Kerala are Sabarimala Temple, Padmanabhaswamy Temple (Thiruvananthapuram), Guruvayoor Temple, Chettikulangara Temple, Vadakumnathan Temple (Thrissur), Sarkara Devi Temple, Padanilam Parabrahma Temple(Oachira), Beemapally mosque, Malayattor Church and Parumala Church.

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