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District of Kerala :: Palakkad

How to get there

Air: The nearest airport is Coimbatore, 55 km away. To the south is Cochin Airport, 160 km away and Trivandrum International Airport 382 km away.

Road: good motorable roads to all the major towns of Kerala and neighbouring Tamil Nadu connect Palghat. There are long-distance KSRTC bus services to Trichur, Guruvayoor, Cochin, Calicut, Kottayam and Trivandrum.

Inter-state services, including those of the Tamil Nadu government’s Thiruvalluvar Transport Corporation, operate to Chennai, Madurai, Trichy, Ootty, Palani and Pollachi.

Local transport: For local transport there are yellow-top taxis, tourist taxis, buses and autorickshaws.

Hilly, Fertile and Productive

Among the more fertile and thicklyt forested districts of Kerala, Palghat, close to the Tamil Nadu border, is supposed to have derived its name from the pala (Alsteria Scholaris) tree and kadu (forest). The whole area is said to have been once covered by pala trees.

The district, which lies at the foot of the colossal Western Ghats, has only midland and highland areas. Much of the area is made up of plains, interspersed with a few hillocks. The plains are fertile and productive, so much so that the district is considered the granary of Kerala.

Along with Idukki, Palghat is the other district in Kerala, which has the rare distinguishing characteristic of not having a seacoast. The highland features the great Palghat Gap, a huge opening nearly 32.2 km wide, which is a break in the Western Ghats. Through this gap hot land-winds rush into the district every January and April.

Kerala’s longest river Bharathapuzha flows through the district. During the hot season its wide sandy bed is nearly totally dry, except for some miles from its mouth. Being too shallow and rocky for water transport, the Bharathapuzha has little commercial significance, but holds a special place in the cultural psyche of the state.

In the heart of Palghat town, there is a well-preserved fort, which dates back to 1766 A.D. Hyder Ali of Mysore built it, supposedly to facilitate communication between Coimbatore and the west coast, In 1784, after
a siege lasting eleven days, the British colonel, Fullerton, stormed the fort. It fell into the hands of the Zamorin’s troops but was recaptured by the British in 1790.

One of the few existing Jain temples in Kerala is the Jain Temple at Jainamedu in the Vadakkanthara village on the western border. With granite walls devoid of any decorations, this temple comprises four divisions and is 32 feet long and 20 feet long and 20 feet broad. Legend has it that the temple was built about 500 years ago by a jain head named Inchanna Satur for the Jain sage Chandranathaswamy.

A low quadrangular building on the banks of the Kalpathy River, the Kalpathy Temple, dedicated to Lord Siva, dates back to 1425 A.D. It is build as a replica of the Kasi temple at Benares. The ratholsavam (‘chariot festival’), held every November, is Palghat’s biggest festival and attracts thousands of devotees.

An extensive mountain valley above the crest of the ghat ranges, with numerous rivulets of the Bhavani River draining it; Attapadi is populated mainly by tribes (mostly Irulas) and some settlers from Tamil Nadu. Hardly affected by ‘development’ work, Attapadi offers forests in their elemental grandeur. It is about 38 km from Mannarghat from where there are frequent buses to Anakkatti. Accommodation is available at Mannarghat and at Agali, the most important town in Attapadi, there is a PWD Rest House and a VIP Guest House.

Nelliampathy, a forest range area 75 km from Palghat, comprises a chain of ridges cut off from one another by valleys of dark evergreen forests in which can be found very valuable teak of extraordinary height and girth. The highest peak is Nellikota or Padagiri, 15,232 meters above sea level. A hill with cool climate, Nelliampathy is accessible by bus from Palghat. On the way, about 17 km en route, there is a dam and park at Pothundi.

At Lakkidi is the place called Killi Kurussimangalam, the birth-place of Kerala’s famous poet Kunjan Nambiar, the father of the traditional solo dance ottanthullal.

Malampuzha, a scenic spot just a short drive from Palghat (14 km), is the site of a large irrigation dam built across the Bharathapuzha. The town is set at the base of the hills of the Western Ghats and around the large reservoir are beautiful landscaped rose gardens and amusement parks for children as well as facilities for boat cruises on the reservoir. Illuminated on Saturdays and Sundays, the gardens and the fountains offer a picturesque sight. Also on display in the gardens is Yakshi, a well-known work of art by the illustrious Kerala sculptor Kanai Kunhiraman. (Timings: 10 a.m. to 12 noon; 2 p.m. to Entry fee: Rs 8 per head.)

Malampuzha also features a passenger ropeway designed to carry 400 passengers per hour in each direction from Hermit’s End near the Government Guest House to the KTDC hotel over a distance of 625 metres at a height of about 6 feet above the gardens.

Another sanctuary, one of the best Kerala, sprawling over 285 sq km, the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary is part of the neighbouring Anamalai Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. It has a rich diversity of flora and fauna. It has a large population of gaur (bison), sambar and spotted deer, Nilgiri langur, jungle cat, lion-tailed macaque, sloth bear and otter along with some tigers and leopards. The Cannimare teak tree, said to be Asia’s largest, stands about 5 km from Thunakadavu, the headquarters of Parambikulam.

Forest rest houses and inspection bungalows are available at Thunakadavu, Thellikkal and Elathode. There are two watch towers in the sanctuary, one at Anappadi and the other at Zungam.

About 86 km from Palghat (46 km north- east of Mannarghat), is the Silent Valley National Park. The Silent Valley was saved from destruction and made world-famous by a sustained campaign to protect its unique natural environment. It contains India’s last substantial stretch of tropical evergreen rain forests. Spread over 90 sq km, it is also perhaps the closest to a near virgin forest in the entire Western Ghats. Among the animals found here are the lion-tailed macaque, elephants, tigers, wild boars, flying squirrels and wild dogs.

There are frequent buses from Palghat to Mannarghat (40 km). From Mannarghat vehicles are allowed up to Mukkali from where one has to walk at least 24 km to reach the source of the river Kuntipuzha that flows through the valley. Mannarghat has a PWD Rest House and a few small lodges. Admission to Silent Valley is restricted and prior permission is required to visit the park. For details, contact the Divisional Forest Officer, Palghat.

On the banks of the Bharathapuzha, 75 km away from Palghat, is Thrithala where can be found the ruined remnants of a large fort around which is a deep moat hewn from laterite. Some historians believe it belonged to a forgotten Raja of Kuttanad. The Kattil Madom temple, a domed structure of granite slabs, on the Pattambi-Guruvayoor road has archaeological importance. It is supposed to display Buddhist influence and was probably built in the 9th or 10th Century and marks the transition from the Chola to the Pandya style of architecture.

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