God’s Own Country! The phrase is now synonymous with Kerala, at least for us folks in India. Kerala Tourism has built one of the strongest tourism brands in the country and is well on its way to building a robust international presence. The best time to visit Kerala is anytime and the things to do in Kerala are endless. They definitely have the highest brand recall under the ‘Incredible India’ banner with Gujarat now catching up.
So where did the phrase actually spring up from? The earliest recorded use of the phrase is attributed one Thomas Bracken, a bloke from New Zealand who in 1980 wrote a poem titled “God’s Own Country”. It was, (quite obvioulsly), an ode to his homeland in Oceania. It was subsequently published again in 1893 in a book entitled ‘Lays and Lyrics: God’s Own Country and Other Poems’. God’s Own Country as a phrase was often used and popularised by New Zealand’s longest serving prime minister, Richard John Seddon. He last quoted it on June 10, 1906, leaving Sydney to return home to New Zealand. “Just leaving for God’s own country,” he wrote. He never made it, dying the next day on the ship Oswestry Grange.
The Kiwis have since used for more than a hundred years now to refer to Kiwiland. Bracken’s ‘God’s Own Country’ is less well known internationally than his ‘God Defend New Zealand’ which was declared the country’s national hymn in 1940. No one really knows how or when it managed to reach the shores of India. Somewhere in between, it scraped past Australia, Rhodesia, Yorkshire and even the Americas.
From ‘Wakatipu’s deep dark waters’ and ‘Mount Cook in icy armour (as he) guards his pyramids of snow’ to the ‘tranquil emerald backwaters’ and ‘untouched pristine wilderness’, “God’s Own Country” has indeed travelled the far corners of the globe. Of all those places, somehow, Kerala seems to be the best suitor. God’s Own Country is here to stay!