Kerala district

Kerala state

Gandhi is the first South Indian restaurant in Iceland and its head chefs, Sam Haridas and Rajesh Paul both come from Kerala state in the southwest of India.

Kerala is blessed with a long coastline and the state is streaked with rivers and streams. Fish and other seafood are therefore common in Kerala’s cuisine, which is also known for its extensive and innovative use of spice. Food in Kerala is vivid and spicy; known for its black pepper, mango, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, tamarind, cardamom and turmeric. Rice and coconuts are the most common accompaniments.

The Green Palm Tree State, Kerala occupies a narrow strip of the southwest coast of India, which the Ghats Hills naturally separate from the interior. From the beginning, Kerala has always had a strong independent streak. The state’s people speak Malayalam.

Trivandrum is the capital of Kerala and just eight kilometres to the south of the city lies Kovalam – one of the best beaches in India.

The road northwest out of Trivandrum leads to Quilon, where Roman, Arabic, Portuguese and Dutch ships used to dock. The city of Kottayam further inland is the centre of the India rubber industry. The city boasts a large number of old Syrian churches – a real magnet for Christians.

Cochin on the Malabar coast was once the most important spice port in the world. Cochin is three hours drive from Kottayam and is almost like three cities, built on beautiful islands (one of which is manmade) and a spit of land out into the Arabian Sea, cut off from the mainland by a lagoon. Old Christian churches dot the city, including St. Francis’s church, which was the first resting place of the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama. Da Gama was the first European to travel to India via the Cape of Good Hope in 1538 and died in the country of a fever. His earthly remains were transported to Portugal in 1538 and buried near Lisbon. St. Francis’s is surrounded by beautiful large houses from the Portuguese and Dutch periods.

Hotel Secret Garden is in Fort Cochin, which is the ancient gate into the spice lands of Kerala, and is owned today by Icelanders.


Mohandas Mahatma Karamchand Gandhi (2nd October 1869 – 30th January 1948) was an Indian political leader who fought for Indian independence and pioneered the successful non-violent protest which led to Indian freedom from the British Empire.

Gandhi was born in the town of Porbander in Gujarat state on the 2nd October 1869. His education began in the town of Rajkot, where his father was an adviser to town leaders.

Gandhi lost his father shortly before finishing his studies. He met his wife Kastarbu at the age of 13; and she was even younger. In 1888 Gandhi set off to study in the UK and left behind an infant son when he returned home to India in 1891. His stay in London changed him profoundly – not least because that was where he became a lawyer and a very highly skilled lawyer at that.

A year after graduating, Gandhi accepted a short-term job offer in South Africa; but at 20 years, the trip was much longer than he ever anticipated. The poor treatment of Indians in South Africa made a very strong impression on him.

Over the coming years Gandhi became a champion of the disadvantaged and repressed within India and was usually at the centre of instability when it erupted. It was during these times that Mahatma Gandhi, Political and Religious Leader, was really born.

In April 1919 an anti-British rally in Amritsar saw four Europeans lose their lives. The retaliation was swift and in the ensuing bloodbath, British forces killed over 400 Indians. A wave of anger swept the country. The Amritsar massacre is often seen as the beginning of India’s awakening towards independence.

Gandhi encouraged people to protest in a non-violent manner; for example by refusing to sell goods to Britons and ignoring the orders of colonial authorities – in other words, acting as if the British did not even exist.

Gandhi’s programme of civil disobedience was so successful that it was outlawed in 1922 and he was sentenced to six years in prison. He was released due to poor health in 1925, with the British afraid of a widespread revolt in the event of his death behind bars.

His release did not serve to quell the growing sense of national pride in India and Gandhi’s fight continued and gathered pace; culminating in the publishing of Gandhi’s book on Indian independence which landed him another prison sentence.

India finally declared its independence in 1947, Gandhi died in 1948 and the Republic of India was formally born in 1950.