Self-proclaimed to be 'God's own country', the coastal state of Kerala in south west India at least has some justification for the boast. A region brimming with highlights, within this sunkissed strip of fertile land visitors will find exquisite ancient Hindu temples and a rich legacy of European colonial architecture. Here too are uncrowded and unspoilt white sand beaches and warm seas and a host of traditional and welcoming villages, towns and cities each with its own charm and character and surrounded by some of India's most breath-taking scenery from mountain ranges and rainforests to rice paddies and inland lakes and waterways.
Archaeological findings suggest that Kerala has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and from the earliest eras of civilization the area was renowned for its abundant spices and the prosperous trade that grew from their export. Numerous ancient Indian empires, dynasties and kingdoms fought for, won and lost Kerala in the centuries leading up to the arrival of the first European colonists, the Portuguese, in the late fifteenth century. Each of these successive occupiers, including the Dutch and British that followed the Portuguese, helped to shape and enrich Kerala's culture and history, creating the remarkable and compelling destination that exists today.