Geography : Kerala is located on the southwestern coast of India, a narrow strip of fertile tropical land stretching about 600kms north south. Bordered by the Arabian Sea on the west and the Western Ghats in the east.

Weather : Warm and humid year round on the plains. Pleasant and bracing in the hills.
  Day temp Night temp
Plains 30 - 34° C 21 - 25° C
Hills 20 - 24° C 04 - 14° C

The monsoon rains are from June to September.

Language : Malayalam. But most people understand English. A good percentage can converse in English too.

Clothing : Light cottons in the plains and light woollens on the hills. Recommend that a cap or hat is used or kept handy at all times to protect the head from the sun. Sandals will get you through in most places but for trekking in the hills, suitable footwear is needed.

Kathakali which literally means a " Story play " is Kerala's most popular classical dance form and has become synonymous with Kerala. Traditionally performed in the open temple grounds in conjunction with festivals these performances go on throughout the night. The elaborately made up actors do not utter a word but instead enact the dialogue being sung by the musicians from behind the curtain. Two percussion instruments - the "Chenda", an upright drum with curved drumsticks and the "Maddalam", a horizontal hand drum provide the background music together with the cymbals. The actors convey the dialogue using hand gestures, facial expressions and movements. Themes are from the ancient Hindu epics, the "Ramayana" and the "Mahabharatha". The elaborate application of make up and donning of the costumes and headgear are as interesting as the actual performance. Short performances of 1-2 hrs are staged at centres in Cochin & Trivandrum.

This dance form is called " the dance of the enchantress ". Mohiniyattom is performed by women. Hindu mythology has it that enchantresses were used by the gods to prevent the Asuras and powerful earthly beings from completing their rituals to make them more powerful. Mohiniyattom is considered to be a fusion of Bharathanatyam and Kathakali.The dancer is dressed in traditional Kerala aristocratic attire, with plenty of brocade and gold ornaments. The hairdo is also traditional with jasmine flowers. The artist attempts to create a mood of seduction using her movements, eye and hand gestures. Unfortunately there are no regular performances of Mohiniyattom but various schools of dance can provide a recital on prior request.

One of the oldest, ritual dances of Kerala, Theyyam is native to the temples of Malabar - the northern districts of Kerala. Theyyam dances are always by males sometimes dressed as women. Themes are centered around the goddess Bhagwati and her exploits and victories over the demons. Predominant colours used in the make up are red and black. The Theyyam dancers often have headgear 40ft high made out of palm leaves & cloth. The musical accompaniment is mainly the Chenda drum. Performed in the temples of north Kerala as part of the daily rituals and festivals one can watch a recital if requested early enough. Watch the dramatic and colourful ritual dance form "Theyyam" performed in its natural surounding in near by temple.

Kalaripayattu is believed to be the fore-runner of Martial arts such as Judo, Karate and Tae-kwon-do.It is said to have originated in the 12th century AD and the word Kalaripayattu translates as " Combat inside the arena ". This tradition still continues and is conducted in specially constructed arenas or Kalaris where this art is taught by the Gurukkal or the master. While training the Gurukkal institutes a strict regime of physical training and self discipline among the disciples. In fact one is said to require several years of rigorous training before the master is confident of his abilities. Kalaripayattu is still practised in the Malabar region and there is also a kind of treatment exclusive to this art called Kalari chikilsa which is a type of oil massage similar to traditional Ayurveda but which evolved for the specific needs of the performers. One can watch performances of Karipayattu at the Kalari centers in Trivandrum, Cochin and Calicut.