Malayalam is a Dravidian language with about 38 million speakers spoken mainly in the south west of India, particularly in Kerala, the Laccadive Islands and neighboring states, and also in Bahrain, Fiji, Israel, Malaysia, Qatar, Singapore, UAE and the UK.
Malayalam was first written with the Vatteluttu alphabet (വട്ടെഴുത്ത് Vaṭṭeḻuttŭ), which means ’round writing’ and developed from the Brahmi script. The oldest known written text in Malayalam is known as the Vazhappalli or Vazhappally inscription, is in the Vatteluttu alphabet and dates from about 830 AD.
A version of the Grantha alphabet originally used in the Chola kingdom was brought to the southwest of India in the 8th or 9th century and was adapted to write the Malayalam and Tulu languages. By the early 13th century it is thought that a systemised Malayalam alphabet had emerged. Some changes were made to the alphabet over the following centuries, and by the middle of the 19th century the Malayalam alphabet had attained its current form.