India - Kerala
Deep in the Cardamom Hills, Kumily is an important spice trading town and a popular tourist destination. Visitors come in great numbers to tour the local plantations and shop at the spice trading market in the town. A number of spice themed products are on sale from chocolate to preserves to tea and coffee as well as the spices themselves. You can also buy jute and bamboo products, traditional pickles and Keralan hand woven textiles.
The Cardamom Hills are named thus after cardamom spice that grows so well at elevation in the cool air. Pepper and coffee crops also thrive here. The Western Ghats including the Cardamom Hills, is under consideration for selection as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The crest of the hills marks the boundary between Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The capital of Kerala and its largest and most populated city, Thiruvananthapuram, formerly known as Trivandrum is also considered India's cleanest city.
The name Thiru-anantha-puram, means "Abode of Lord Ananta'; and derives from the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Hindu temple (The temple of Vishnu reclining on Anantha), which is at the heart of Thiruvananthapuram. It is an iconic landmark. It is said to have been described by Gandhi as the "Evergreen city of India". Set on the west coast, near the southern tip of mainland India, it is built over seven hills. It is a thriving centre for commerce and for tourism in Kerala.
Thiruvananthapuram is also the political centre of Kerala and home to a number of academic and science and technology institutions, such as the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology. The climate here borders between a tropical savanna and monsoon climate. There are no distinctive seasons.
Temperatures range from 34 °C and 21 °C. The humidity is high and the city gets heavy rainfall of around 1700 mm per year. The dry season begins in December. December, January and February are the coldest months, while March, April and May are the hottest.
Cochin, or Kochi, has a beautiful coastal location with the Western Ghats to the east and the Arabian Sea to the west. Near to the equator and overlooked by mountains Cochin has a moderate balmy climate. The town is referred to as the 'Queen of the Arabian Sea' and the 'Gateway to Kerala'.
Kochi was an important spice trading centre on the west coast of India from the 14th century, and was known to the Yavanas (Greeks and Romans) as well as Jews, Syrians, Arabs, and Chinese since ancient times. Kochi was the first of the European colonies in India. Occupied by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British.
With over 600 years of international links Kochi has a rich mixed heritage, and features diverse cultural and architectural elements.