Explore Kerala

Art forms

Kerala is known for traditional arts, cultural forms and festivals. There are various communities in Kerala who contribute diverse forms of performing arts and colorful culture.


Kerala's celebrated classical ballad with use of large costumes and elaborate make-up. It is a dance drama, noted for wide range of characters, each character with special kind of costumes and make-up with special movements, particularly extensive expressions, refined gestures and innovative themes. The dance is accompanied with anchor, playback music and precise drumming. The Kathakali Music is unique as it varies in accordance to expressions and reactions. Whilst traditional Indian epics constitute the main story-boards for the dance drama, many international versions like Shakespearian-Homer-Biblical works are now taken as themes.


Said to be the “mother of all martial arts”, it is one of the oldest martial arts in existence and is said to be the precursor to Kungfu in China. According to the legend, Kalaripayattu was taken to China by an Indian Buddhist monk Bodhi Dharma in the 5th or 6th Century CE. Kalaripayattu is a battlefield and combat art form, originated in Kerala and practiced in northern and central parts of the state. This martial art is famous for its attacking and defensive patterns. The knowledge of vital spots, known as Marmas, in the human body helped Kalaripayattu warriors, make blows that can freeze or kill a person. Today, it is a popular sport and exercise option which gets international attention. There are many cultural centers which showcase Kalari techniques as well as schools in many places of Kerala where one can learn the martial art.