Parasurama – founder of Kerala, the short-tempered warrior-sage regarded as the incarnation of Vishnu. After defeating the Kshathriya Kings, the sage approached the wise men for penance. As a Self-mortification he was advised to create a land for Brahmins. He readily agreed and meditated at Gokarnam, (considered to be the end of land). After getting the booms from Varuna, the God of the Oceans and Bhumidevi, the Goddess of earth, he proceeded to Kanya Kumari (Cape Comorin) and threw his battle-axe northwards across the waters. The waters subsided and what was left over was called the land of Parasurama, that is today’s Kerala. According to another popular legend, the Asura king Mahabali ruled Kerala in the Golden Age. Vamana, the fifth avatar of Lord Vishnu, sent Mahabali to the netherworld. His return every year to his kingdom is celebrated as Onam.

Geologists have pointed out that the elevation of Kerala from the sea was the result of some seismic activity, either suddenly or gradually. Another Thoughts prevailing in scientific society is the rivers of Kerala emptying into the Arabian seas bring down enormous quantities of silt from the hills. The ocean currents transport quantities of sand towards the shore. The coastal portions could well be due to the accumulation of this still over thousands of years.

The name of the state of Kerala has been taken from the word Keralaputra (land of the sons of Cheras), as mentioned in one of the Ashokan edicts dating back to 273-236 BC. There is not much known about the history of this region of the period after the Ashokan edicts, except the fact that there was extensive trading with the Romans from this region. Chera was the first large empire that took roots in this state, and continued to use Tamil till 7th century as their administrative language. This shows the influence and power that Tamils exerted over this region. Cheras established a wide network of trade links not only with Indian businessmen, but also with countries outside ranging from Sumatra to Cordoba. The Chera power declined in the 10th century AD, after Cholas, the rulers of Tamil Nadu, were successful in overthrowing the dynasty.

After the decline of Cholas in the 11th century, gradually political power in the state went into the hands of the Zamorin of Calicut. In 1496, Vasco da Gama became the first European to find a route to India through sea and started a long-time fight for the power in this region between the Portuguese, British, and Dutch. This fight marginalized the local powers, though the Zamorin made a fight back in the early 17th century when they gained the external support from the Dutch and British in return for trading rights from Kerala.

For a brief period in the middle of 18th century AD, Travancore, with the help of petty kingdoms, tried to control the political power of Kerala. Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan also tried to annex the areas in the south of Travancore, but could not fulfil their dream as they were attacked by the British from the east and had to withdraw. The local chieftains in Kerala looked up to the British to save them from the wrath of Tipu and consequently the British took control of the forts previously held by Tipu. After Tipu’s first defeat by the British, the Seringpatnam Treaty brought all the captured parts of Kerala directly under the British and Travancore and Kochi became princely states under the British.