Malayalam (mala-yaa-llam) is the official language of the South Indian state of Kerala. According to some historians, the earliest form of the language was derived from Tamil, has an abundance of Sanskrit. It is perhaps this unique amalgam that led to Malayalam having the largest number of letters in an Indian language. Malayalam has a rich literary tradition that extends from religious treatises, translated epics, drama, poetry and fiction. Thunchaththu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan, as the last word in his name implies, is regarded as the 'father of the Malayalam language' as we know it today. Besides his contribution to literature like the translations, Adhyathma Ramayana and Mahabharata, he is said to be the first person to give shape to the Malayalam alphabet. Some of the noted names among numerous in Malayalam literature include Irayimman Thampi, Thakazhi Sivasankaran Pillai, M.T. Vasudevan Nair, Vaikkom Mohammad Basheer, Lalithambika Antharjanam and Madhavikutty. According to the 2001 Indian census, there are 33,066,392 speakers of Malayalam in the country.
An edited version of the article was published in Culturama's October 2012 Issue.