Kerala has had the distinction o being an independent geographical and political entity from the early days. Its unique geographical position and peculiar physical features have invested Kerala with a distinct individuality. The land of Kerala comprises the narrow coastal strip bounded by the Western Ghats on the east and the Aribian Sea on the west in the southern part of the Indian Peninsula. Paradoxical as it might seem, this geographical position has helped to ensure, to some extent, its political and cultural isolation from the rest of the country and also facilitated its extensive and active contacts with the countries of the outside world. A study of the geographical factor in relation to Kerala history assumes special significance . The Western Ghats which range along the eastern boarder constitute the highland. Geographical Position of Kerala has its own uniqueness and its landscape its own beauty. . In the poetic language of Mahakavi Vallathol, Mother Kerala “Sleeps with her head on the lap of the Sahyadri clad in gren” and “her feet pillowed on the crystal ocean sand, Kumari at one end and the Lord of Gokarna on the other.” This geographical position of Kerala as the narrow strip o land hemmed in between the Western Ghats on the one side and the Arabian Sea on the other has considerably influenced the course of its history. The State has from the drawn o history enjoyed a kind of insularity which has given it welcome immunity from the political convulsions which shook Northern India. Kerala seldom felt the impact of the many foreign invasions that took place in the northern part of India from across the border. It took longer time for Brahmanism, Buddhism and Jainism from the north to penetrate into Kerala than into the other parts of Penisular India.
Kerala was also able to evolve its own way of life and
social institutions unhampered by excessive interference from outside. This
factor has helped the growth of peculiar social institutions like the Marumakkathayam or the matrilineal system
of inheritance, polyandry etc, in Kerala. Even Brahmins and Muslims who as a
rule follow everywhere the Makkathayam or
patrillienal system of inheritance have Marumakkathayis
among them in Kerala, viz, the Namboothiris of Payyannur Gramam and the
Mappilas of North Malabar. Kerala could
also evolve its own distinctive styles of art and architecture which are in
many respects different from those in other parts of India. Such arts as Kathakali, Chakiar Kuthu, Ottam Thullal and Mohini Attam developed in Kerala in an
atmosphere of splendid isolation.