Palakkad: Gateway to Kerala

Palakkad is the main gateway to Kerala, which is bounded in the east by a mountain range. At Palakkad, the there is a 25-mile wide pass between the Anamalai and Nilgiri hills in the mountain range. While invaders raided Palakkad through this pass in olden days, road and rail lines pass through it these days.

Kalpathi Gramam in PalakkadAt the other end of the pass lie Tamilnadu and many Tamilians have made Palakkad their home. There are several Tamil Brahmin gramams here, such as Kalpathi (see pic right), where you could still find the typical Tamil Brahmin style row houses. Kalpathi is famous for an annual Rathotsavam meaning Temple Car Festival.

Bull in KalpathiYou might find a peaceful bull in front of a house, like the one in pic left. Cows are holy to Hindus, and they (and their consorts) roam freely along the roads (as do a goat in the pic right). Kalpathi has been notified as a heritage village.

Temples proliferate in this temple town, which also hosts mosques and churches and even an abandoned Jain temple. Tamil Muslims, known as Rowthers, are peculiar to Palakkad. All the different communities - Hindus, Muslims, and Christians, Malayalis and Tamilians, reside in harmony in this traditional town.

Major Landmarks

Palakkad FortKalpathi is only one among the major landmarks in Palakkad. Palakkad Fort, shown in pic right, is the most notable among the landmarks. Constructed by French engineers under orders from the eighteenth century Mysore ruler Hyder Ali, the strctures sprawls over more than eight acres of land. The fort has a wide moat all around it, and from its ramparts you could see far into the town on all sides.

The fort represents the several battles fought in Palakkad. Hyder Ali built it to help the erstwhile ruler of Palakkad from Zamorin of Calicut. The fort changed hands several times among Mysore rulers, the British and Zamorin, with the British finally gaining control of the whole of Malabar including Calicut of Zamorin.

Valiya Angadi or Big BazaarYet another landmark is the valiya angadi (big bazaar) that forms the commercial centre of Palakkad. The crowded bazaar retains its traditional flavor, with stalls for everything from vegetables to antiques. The vegetable stall in the pic left is an unusually neat shop in an otherwise ramshackle environment of dirty roads, haphazardly parked vehicles and stored packages, and garbage of all kinds.

Twelve kilometres from Palakkad, the Malampuzha dam with a beautiful garden, a ropeway and animal park is a favourite tourist attraction.

The world famous rain forests of Silent Valley lie within motoring distance from Palakkad. So are Attapadi hills with its tribal people.

Rice Bowl of Kerala

Palakkad district is renowned for paddy cultivation, and has come to be known as the rice bowl of Kerala. Sugar cane, groundnuts and other crops are also cultivated in the district.

Railway Stations

Though not strictly part of the old Palakkad, the important railway junction station at nearby Olavakode carries the official name of Palakkad. From this railway junction you could travel south to Thiruvananthapuram and Kanniyakumari, north to Kozhikode and Mangalore and east to Coimbatore, Madras or Rameswarem in Tamilnadu. There is a smaller station on a separate railway line in Palakkad proper.

How to Reach Palakkad

The Coimbatore airport in Tamilnadu is 54 miles north-east of Palakkad. Once in Coimbatore, you can get into one the many trains or buses to Palakkad, or hire a taxi for a quicker ride. Inside the town, the most popular travel mode is the Auto-rickshaw(motorized rickshaw).

For accommodation, you have several hotels in most budget ranges. These include star hotels, heritage resorts, homestays and hill resorts in suburbs. Prices range from less than INR1000 per day to near INR6000.