Short visitor guide to Palakkad region in Kerala. Palakkad is probably the most traditional of all Kerala regions.
Area: 4480 sq. km Population: 2,382,235 Altitude: Above sea level
East borders Tamil Nadu, south Thrissur, west Malappuram and north Malappuram and Wayanad districts. Trade and commerce friendly town.
Attractions in Palakkad
Tipu’s Fort: One end of the town occupies Tipu’s Fort, the Palakkad’s motif. The landscaped Fort is an ideal place to meander and inhale cool breeze in the shady evenings. There is a children’s park where children make merry of the things. Elsewhere Forts are generally shields against fighting enemy. Here it was for communication between Palakkad and Coimbatore. The Fort was built by Haider Ali in 1766. British Colonel Fullerton stormed it in 1784 and subsequently Zamorin captured. In 1790 British re-captured it and remained in their hands till their last day in India. Declared as a monument, the Fort is now under the custody of Archaeological Survey of India. It houses a small museum and an open air auditorium.
14-km from Palakkad. Malampuzha is a popular picnic spot. The Dam authorities have set up beautiful Gardens. A sculpture of bare bodied Yakshi (demon) with head flung back and raised fisted hands positioned close to ears welcomes the visitors to the gardens. The landscaped gardens at the bottom of Western Ghats have many pluses. A rose garden with over 100 species of roses is a rare sight....Click here to see more
Nelliyampathy Wildlife Sanctuary
54 km from Palakkad. The baby hills below lined with coffee, tea and orange plantations look exceedingly smart. The mother hill, Nellliyampathy, heads-up at 4600 ft from sea level. 23 hair-pin bends – enough to beat the heart – but worth taking. Pothundy reservoir below compels to copy her in film from the top.
The Padigiri at 5200 ft altitude heads the list of other peaks. Vellachimudi, Valiyavana, Vela Vanchan and Mayanmudi – all are peaks. All the peaks are hangouts of backpackers.
All the hills are favourite habitat of wildlife and birds.
Seetharagundu: 8-km away from Nelliampathy. Lord Rama’s consort Sita had rested here on her return journey from Srilanka, it is believed. A gnarled tree which gave shade to the tired Sita is now tall and aged. On the top of nearby Kollengode hill a small Devi temple calls the faithfuls. Between Seethargundu and the hill, orange plantations thrive. Here Nelliampathy’s own produces – orange (and squash), tea, coffee and guava preserve are available on bargain prices.
Trekking Tracks: Seethargundu, Palakapandy, Kesavanpara and Karapara are inter-connected with trekking paths. A local guide is advisable for trekking.
Bird and Animal Watching: The Indian woodpecker, Malabar hornbill, red jungle fowl, Malabar squirrel, owls and varied species of parrots and other wildlife favourite habitat is Nelliampathy. Keep a binocular as handy to have an amazing reward for the visit.
Pothundy Reservoir: The Reservoir lies in between Nelliampathy and Nenmara village. Surrounded by a landscaped garden and beautiful hills, the Reservoir with cool and silent water offers an amazing experience – a lifetime chance. The Machandy, Kalchandy and Challa tributaries of Bharatapuzha gladly feed the Reservoir and the Reservoir, in turn, fulfils its duty by generously feeding the Gayatri River.
Kollengode Kovilakam: No camparison will suit to this magnificent Kovilakam, also known as Kollengode Palace. Cluster of stately buildings, fretted woodwork, huge sparkling pillars, stained glass panes, a small temple for family deity Bhagavathi, bathing ponds, the list does not end.
The glorious past of the Kovilakam began fading. Dilapidation started setting in. Fortunately a larger Hotel chain stepped in. They, the CGH Earth Group of Hotels, restored the glory of the Kovilakam after owning it. They changed the name to Kalari Kovilakam. 18 good old rooms ordered to give top-class ayurvedic treatments ranging from 3 to 28 days. The location of the Kovilakam in exceedingly suitable for ayurvedic treatments. Wafer-thin waterfalls bearing blue ghats and lovely paddy fields around offer soothing effects. The hotel lovingly imposes certain disciplines on the guests. No cigarettes, no mobiles, no colas, no meats and no drinks allowed. Cooking is done according to the individual guest’s needs. The Spartan life-style elicits no whispering as the treatment and the setting in and around compensate anything. The tariff is Rs 18,500.
Maampara Peak: At a height of 5249 ft from sea level, it is absolutely breathtaking. The view from the top en-greens the soul. The reservoir and rivers below look sashes of silver and the dams like green banked ponds.
Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary: 47 km from Palakkad. A fine location for straight sight of elephants, gaurs, chitals, sambhars, deers, Nilgiri langurs, wild dogs, leopards and the like.
Parambikulam has hilly terrain with many peaks and valleys. The tallest peak is Karimala with 4718 ft altitude. The next is 3675 ft Vengoli peak. Other peaks rank below....Click here to see more
Attapadi: An extensive mountain valley nestled in the ghat ranges. The numerous rivulets winding in and out of many hills. A beautiful location to enjoy the beauty of nature.
Silent Valley National Park: 65 km away. An ecological oasis. The park has a vast area. Huge concentration of wildlife. Hills, jumbo trees, streams, rivulets add glamour. Guide is a must.
Jain Temple: Located 3-km away from the town, on the south bank of Kalpathy River in Jainmedu. The temple was built by Inchanna Satur, a Jain. The idol is of a Jain saint, Chandranatha swamy. There are some ancillary idols. The four division temple allots first division to Chandranathaswamy idol, 2nd division to the idols of Vijayalaxmi and Jwalamohini, 3rd to Rishabhanathan and the 4th to Parswanathan. All are Jain gods. Palakkad had once more than 400 Jain families migrated from Rajasthan or Gujarat in India. Now only few have there. The Jains mostly are in Rajasthan and Gujarat. There is no community bar for entrance to Jain temples.
Vadakkanthara Temple: Located near Chunnambuthara, on the away to Jainmedu. The deity is Bhagavathi who is the incarnation of Karnagi. Every day at 6 pm sharp there is a mini firework by detonating Kathana (a 6” long 2.5” dia iron cylinder with 1/2” dia centre hole upto 5” length, filled with explosive inputs). In most of the temples in Kerala this practice is there.
Kumarapuram Temple: Located near Kalpathy bridge. The deity is Lord Prasanna Venkatachalapathy. Lords consorts, Alamelu and Mangalambal flank the idol. The famous Lord Balaji of Tirupati (in Andhra Pradesh) and Lord Venkatachalapathy, it is believed, have equal powers. The rites performed in both the temples are similar. The temple is also known as a reputed centre for vedic studies.
Emoor Bhagavathi Temple: Situated at Kallekulangara, 8-km away from Palakkad. The deity is Bhagavathi. There is a sticking legendary tale to the temple. The goddess had once agreed to appear before a devotee on the condition that he will not disclose it to anyone. The excitement led the devotee to disclose to others. When the goddess appeared before the devotee, she noticed many people along with him. The displeased goddess vanished suddenly. The devotees had seen only her upraised hand and in the temple worshipped is the upraised hand.
It is believed, the deity takes three forms a day – in the morning as Saraswathi, in the noon as Laxmi and in the evening as Durga. The rituals conducted are accordingly to their individual tastes.
Palakkad Gramam (Village): The gramam or agraharam in Brahmin terms has a romantic story behind. A prince of royal dynasty of Kochi fell in love with a tribal girl of Palakkad. The family ostracised him for his relation with an outcast. The prince, in turn, settled in Palakkad. The high-cast Namboodiri Brahmins left the region as they do not want to be a party in conducting the ceremonies of an excommunicated prince. The unrelenting prince sought and got the help of Brahmins on the other side of Palakkad, Taminnadu. The Tamil Brahmins came for the ceremonies settled here and the area came to be known as gramam or agraharam.
Kalpathy, Kumarapuram, Ramanathapuram, Ambikapuram, and Chokkanathapuram are Brahmin centres. Vedas and Sasthras are in the blood of Brahimins. The knowledge of Vedas and Sasthras they pass on to generation to generation.
Chittoor Konganpada: Celebrated soon after the new moon in the month of Kumbham (February-March). This festival is conceived to propitiate Devi considered as protector. Kummatti performances and mock war are the spotlights of the celebrations....Click here to see more
Manapullikkiavu Vela: The Vela (festival) in the 1200-year old Manapullikkavu Bhagavathi temple is organized by four Karas (villages) on competition spirit. Elaborate rituals and fireworks form essential part of the festival. The festival is held twice in a year – during Vrichikam (November-December) and Kumbham (February-March).
Chenakathur Vela: Held in Kumbam (February-March). The venue is near Ottapalam. 41-day rituals precede the Vela. There is a ritualistic peculiarity. The participants march with the cries of “Aiyyo, nhangale kollunne” (Hear, we are being killed). The festival lasts 17 days. Puppetry shows and Kathakali are the main show-stopper items. Sixteen effigies of horse will be put on display during all these days.
Ottapalam Nercha: The Nercha (offering) is in commemoration of the death of saint Uthaman Auliya. Offerings of rice and coconuts brought to the Ottapalam mosque in procession. The event held in Makaram (January-Febrruary) draws big crowd.
Pattambi Nercha: This Nercha is as a tribute to saint Aloor Valia Pookunjikoya Thangal. People from all communities participate in this grand event held during Makaram.
Puthunagaram Theruvath Palli Nercha: The Nercha conducted in Aloor mosque is in commemoration of Tipu Sultan’s bravest troops who sacrificed their lives for their master. The great crowd-pulling event takes place during Kumbam.
Kunchan Smarakam: Smarakam means memorial. Located 32-km away in Lakkidi (there is another Lakkidi in Wayanad district), more popularly known as Killikurshimangalam. This is the birth place of renowned Malayalam poet Kunjan Nambiar, the inventor of Kerala’s own dance form, Ottamthullal. An elaborate library and an auditorium form the part of Smarakam. A 3-year course in Ottamthullal, Parayan Thullal and Seethamkan Thullal conducted here. May 5 is celebrated as Thunchath Day. Navarathri festival celebrated here with pomp and show.
Thunchan Gurumadom: 15-km away from Palakkad town. The 16th century Malayalam poety Thunchath Ramanujan Ezhuthachan had stayed here for some time. It was during this stay Ezhuthachan translated Sansckrit epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata to Malayalam. A Srichakra, few idols worshipped by him, some manuscripts and his wooden slippers have put on display. On Vijayadashami day hundreds of children get inititation to letters here.
Kattayi: 20-km from Palakkad. The late Shri Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, the king of Carnatic music, was born here. The living doyen of Carnatic music in Kerala, Yesudas, was learned Carnatic music from Chemba Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar. At his memorial here reputed singers display their talents very often.
Silent ValleySilent Valley National Park located 40kms from Mannarkkad in the Palakkad district, echoes with the sounds of teeming wildlife. The denizens of this sprawling habitat of endangered virgin tropical forests include Rare Birds, Deer and Tiger. Perhaps, nowhere else can one also find such a representative collection of peninsular mammals as in this park, which was declared a National Park in 1980....Click here to see more
Ottapalam: Located 35 km from Palakkad town, Ottapalam town is known for several temples and festivals connected thereto.
Emoor: Emoor, located 8 km from Palakkad town beyond Olavakod junction, has a Bhagawathi temple. This temple is circumvented by an interesting past. Goddess Bhagawathi agreed to an ardent devotee that she will appear before him one day on a condition that he will not disclose this to anyone. The excitement prompted him to tell to few. The goddess as promised appeared before the devotee when she noticed some others around him. The goddess disappeared suddenly. The devotee could see only her raised hand. That is why only the hand is worshipped in Emoor Bhagawathi temple. Contrary to practices elsewhere, here the worship is centred on three goddesses. Saraswathi is worshipped in the morning, Laxmi in the noon and Durga in the evening.
Nenmara: Nenmara town, small in size, is located about 40 km south of east of Palakkad town. Nenmara’s fame stemmed from Nenmara-Vellangi Vela (festival) in Nellikulangara Bhagwathi temple. The Vela is on the 20th day of Meenam (March/April). Five villages taking part Vela is a very famous.
Killikurssimangalam: This place, located near Lakkidi 32 km away from Palakad town, is the birth place of Kunjan Nambiar, the great exponent of Ottam Thullal. His house is preserved as a monument by the archaeological department of Kerala government as Kunjan Smarakam (memorial).
Mangalam Dam: Mangalam Dam is located 50 km south east of Palakkad town. The dam is built across Cherukunnath Puzha (river). It is a popular verdant picnic handout.