Palakkad, a dazzling jewel in the emerald necklace of Western Ghats, is blessed with great scenic splendor and abundant natural resources. Situated at the foot of the magnificent Western Ghats; a cornucopia of exotic flora and fauna, Palakkad conjures to life a blissful paradise of lush green valleys, verdant hills and picture postcard scenery. Palakkad, with its mist covered rolling hills, wild flowers blooming in tropical wilderness, green paddy fields set against an azure sky and kids frolicking and playing in the streets offer a perfect rural escapade to unwind your body and soul.
Palakkad is often acclaimed as the granary of Kerala due to the plethora of rice fields dotting the landscape. The town of Palakkad still retains a tint of its old bucolic charms in its slow moving bullock carts transporting goods, people lazing around huge banyan trees in the temple compounds, children flying kites in the countryside et cetera. Palakkad derives its name from Pala and Kadu; Pala (Alstonia Scholaris) is a tree found abundantly in the region and Kadu meaning forest. Palakkad is also an entryway to Kerala from the eastern side of the Western Ghats. Palakkad beckons a traveler to revel in its opulent natural delights. Being at the border with Tamil Nadu, the culture here is a rich mix of both lands.
Places To See
Palakkad Fort: The majestic Palakkad Fort sits in a sprawling 15 acres on the western border of the town. This strategic fort was built by Hyder Ali, the Sultan of Mysore, in 1766 AD. This fort, a witness to the history of Mysore invasions in Kerala and the advent of British rule, survives in its original glory and grandeur. This fort was in and out of control of the British and Mysore sultans till 1790 AD; when it was used by the British as a base for the final battle of Srirangapatnam which paved way for the complete annihilation of the Mysore Sultanate. The fort was renovated by the British in the European style with thick stone walls and strong bastions. The Fort offers panoramic views of the town of Palakkad. The Fort is currently a protected monument under the Archeological Survey of India.
Malampuzha Dam and Gardens: Tranquil waters shimmering in sunlight, velvet green lawns, endless flower beds gently swaying in the cool breeze, magnificent mountains towering in the backdrop, sweet fragrance of roses in the air – these are just some of the snapshots that greet you in “Natures own Malampuzha”. Often referred as the “Vrindavan of Kerala”, Malampuzha epitomizes a picture perfect scenic paradise. This exemplary display of natural splendor is a must see to revel in the myriad bounties of Mother Nature. The dam, built across river Bharatapuzha, has a vast catchment area flanked by beautifully landscaped gardens and picturesque scenery. The sparkling waters and gardens could be best enjoyed by taking boat rides through the reservoir. There is an aquarium, snake park, toy train, Japanese garden, ropeway, telescopic tower, thread garden, amusement park and rock garden located inside the main garden.
Nelliyampathy: This hilly paradise at a distance of 52 km from Palakkad is well renowned for its tea gardens, cardamom plantations, orange orchards, sparkling silver waterfalls and dense forests. Situated on the Western Ghats High Ranges, Nelliyampathy offers dashing views of the plains, cliffs, valleys, rivers and the forests around. Its breathtaking natural opulence and salubrious climate draws hoards of visitors to enjoy this hill station. The waterfall at Seethakundu, tangerine orchards scattered around the landscape and fascinating jungles make Nelliyampathy an ideal spot for enjoying a quite vacation in the midst of natures abounding glory. For adventure lovers Nelliyampathy is an ideal spot for trekking. The hill ranges vary from a height of 467 meters to 1572 meters.
Silent Valley National Park: The Silent valley biosphere sprawls to a fascinating 90 sq. km area. It is acclaimed to be the only remaining evergreen forest in the Western Ghats This tropical evergreen forest still remains pristine primarily because of its remoteness and inaccessibility. Every year researchers identify new species of plants and birds in this untamed wilderness. The rolling mountains and verdant valleys crisscrossed with sparkling silver rivulets gurgling through the rocky terrains offer an ideal setting to enjoy nature in all its pristine glory. This paradise with undulating mountains and lush greenery is also an ideal place to spot some of the most rare and endangered animals and birds. The region is home to the rare Lion Tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Langur, Tigers, Leopards, Indian Bison, Elephants, Bears, Squirrels and a wide variety of deer. The breathtaking panoramic views of the valleys with silver cascades and perennial wild rivulets will stay etched in the minds of a visitor forever.
Attappady: Some treasured moments, a true tribal experience, is what Attappady has in stock for a tourist. The three villages of Agaly, Sholayur and Puthur are located inside the remote jungles of Silent Valley National Park, at a distance of about 50 km from Palakkad. These small tribal hamlets nestled in the picturesque Western Ghats are one of the few areas still frozen in the olden times. The natural beauty of these small hamlets is further enhanced by the many frothy brooks that crisscross the mountainous terrains. This is where one can truly experience the tribal lifestyle untouched by urban developments. The inhabitants of the area make their livelihood by hunting and gathering honey, fruits and herbs from the dense forests around, pretty much the same way their ancestors have done from times immemorial.
Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary: This sanctuary nestled in the tropical wilderness and spread over a 285 sq. km area, is a haven for many species of wild animals, reptiles and birds. Several wild rivulets gushing down the mountainous terrains and sandalwood and rosewood growing in profusion sets a picture perfect stage to revel in the many wonders of nature. The sanctuary is located in the Western Ghats in between the Nelliyampathy mountain range and the Nilgiris mountain range. The dense forests are sparsely populated with just a couple of tribal hamlets scattered across the wilderness. The prime attraction here is the 360 year old teak tree “Kannimari”- the oldest and largest teak tree in the world. The park is home to Indian bison, crocodiles, tigers, leopards, sloth bears, snakes, deer and birds. The park is said to be an Ornithologists delight with a wide variety of birds in the region. The Western Ghats is one of the World’s 34 Acclaimed Bio Diversity Hotspots, which makes it a must visit destination to make your Kerala experience a truly complete one. The sanctuary is at a distance of 125 km from Palakkad town.
Dhoni Reserve Forests: This reserve forest is located at a distance of 15 km from Palakkad. There is a bedazzling petite waterfall on top of the Dhoni hills, which could be reached by a three hour long trek from the bottom of the hills. Dhoni is a lush green tropical paradise elaborately draped in a splendid green garb, guaranteed to hold you captivated in its rich natural beauty. Trekking is the best way to explore the splendor of this hilly terrain. Dhoni is famous for its farmhouse with exotic rare breeds of cattle.
Pothundy: It is a small dam set in a picturesque surrounding, making it a perfect place to enjoy the beauty of nature and to unwind yourself. This dam is located at a distance of 42 km from Palakkad at the foot of Nelliyampathy hills. The Dam constructed in 1800 AD is braced with a unique jaggery and quicklime mortar. It is an ideal place to make a stopover on your way to Nelliyampathy.
Chittur Gurumadam: It is a memorial to Thunchath Ezhuthachan, the author of the much celebrated “Adhyatma Ramayana”. The memorial is located in Thekkegramam on the banks of the picturesque Sokanasini River which when literally translated means the destroyer of sorrows. Ezhuthachan, widely acclaimed as the father of Malayalam language, is said to have spent his last days in this picturesque village. The memorial houses his wooden slippers, some old palm leaf manuscripts, a stylus and a couple of idols worshipped by him.
Thenaruvi: It is a natural spring located near the famous Sri Rama temple in Palakkad. It is believed that the water from this natural spring is as sacred as the water from the River Ganges. Pilgrims flock to this natural spring to taste the holy water.
JP Smirthivanam and Deer Park: This Park, sprawling across 100 acres of untamed wilderness, is located inside the Walayar Reserve Forest Range on the TamilNadu-Kerala border. The park is a safe haven for a variety of deer and other wild animals. Elephant safaris are the best way to explore the remotest parts of the park and to catch a glimpse of the exotic wildlife. The park is located at a distance of 22 km from Palakkad town.
Choolanur Peacock Sanctuary: This sanctuary, the only one of its kind in Kerala, is located at a distance of 30 km from Palakkad town. The sanctuary, spread over a 500 hectare reserve forest land, has a peacock population numbering above 200. The place is also a haven for a wide variety of exotic butterflies and bird species. The hilly terrain dotted with shrubs and wild streams make it an ideal spot to catch a glimpse of these majestic birds and butterflies in their natural habitat.
Jain temple: This temple is one of the very few existing Jain temples in Kerala. This historic temple built in granite has carved idols of the Jain Thirthankeras and Yakshinis. Although it is difficult to establish the correct age of the temple, it is estimated that the temple was built over 500 years by a Jain sage. The Jain inhabitants in the region fled during Tipu Sultans invasions.
Kollengode: The timeless village of Kollengode is located at a distance of 19 km from Palakkad. The village is famous for its natural splendor, the ancient Vishnu temple and the magnificent Kollengode Palace constructed in the traditional Kerala architecture style. This palace has now been converted into a luxury hotel complete with an Ayurvedic spa. The place is also home to the famous Indian writer Shashi Tharoor.
Things To Do
Wildlife Safaris: Indulge yourself with a safari in the tropical wilderness of Palakkad. You can choose any one of the many national parks in the district. Feel yourself getting refreshed by the exotic going-back-to-nature experience. The trip would help you to better understand the deep mysteries of nature and appreciate the myriad facets of Mother Nature.
Trekking: A trip to Palakkad is never complete without a trekking expedition. Trekking is the closest you can get to the beauty of Palakkad. Many of the reserve parks in Palakkad are ideal for trekking.
Boating: It is the best way to enjoy most of the waterways in the district. The dams and surrounding gardens are best experienced with a boating trip.
Ayurvedic Spas: Refresh and rejuvenate amidst the serene, tranquil emerald greenery of Palakkad. The place offers the perfect setting to enjoy an Ayurvedic treatment. There are many good quality spas located in and around this quaint town.
Kalpathy Ratholsavam: The annual chariot festival called ‘Ratholsavam’ is the seven day festival of Kalpathy Viswanathaswamy temple. On the last three days of the seven day festival thousands of devotees pull beautifully decorated chariots through the streets of Kalpathy. The temple built in 1425 AD by the ruler of Palakkad is the oldest Siva temple in the Malabar province. The festival traces its origins to the Tamil Brahmins of Kalpathy. This annual fiesta is usually celebrated in the month of November.
Manappullikavu Vela: The Vela is held every year in the last week of February at the Manappullikavu Bhagavathy temple. This temple which is considered to be over 1200 years old is quite different from other temples dedicated to goddesses in its rites and rituals. Several cultural programs are organized in connection with the celebrations and the fireworks display is simply breathtaking.
Nemmara Vallengi Vela: Nemmara is a small village in the Chittur Taluk of Palakkad. This quaint village is famous for the festival of Nemmara Vallengi Vela celebrated after the harvest season in the month of April. The ten day festival starts with a procession of around 30 caparisoned elephants accompanied by traditional percussion music. This festival bears uncanny resemblance to the Thrissur Pooram. Several cultural programs are organized in association with the celebrations. The magnificent festival ends with a splendid fireworks display.
Chinakkathur Pooram: The charming little town of Palappuram sits at a distance of 4 km from Ottapalam between Palghat and Shoranur. This town is famous for its Chinakkathur Pooram held during the March-April period every year. This Pooram is the main festival of Chinakkattoorkkavu temple dedicated to goddess Durga. The main attraction is the procession with caparisoned elephants accompanied with traditional percussion music and the man-made huge, brightly colored horses.
Location: Palakkad, the biggest district in Kerala, is completely landlocked with Thrissur in the South, Wayanad in the North and Tamil Nadu in the east
Climate: The district enjoys a uniform temperate tropical climate most of the year with usually hot summers.
Best Time To Visit: From November to April
There are a number of good eateries located in the city. This is the ideal place to try out some authentic Kerala vegetarian cuisines. You can enjoy a variety of vegetarian curries including Sambar, Rasam, Morukootan, and Vattal Kozhambu along with rice. Since Palakkad is a center for Tamil Brahmins, you can also try out their cuisines which are quite different to the Kerala style of cooking.
Palakkad is a traditional small town ideal to buy handicrafts and handloom stuff. Palakkad is also famous for indigenous tribal artifacts, which would make a nice souvenir of your trip to this fabulous land. Make sure that you buy some of the exquisitely carved wooden idols of Hindu gods, which can be bought from all the handicraft emporiums.
How to Reach Palakkad
By Air: The nearest airport is located in Coimbatore at a distance of 55 km towards East and the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) is at a distance of 160 km south.
By Road: Palakkad, being one of the important gateways to Kerala, is well connected to all important cities in India through a wide network of Highways and roads. KSRTC and private buses ply to different parts of the state and to Tamil Nadu.
By Rail: Palakkad is a divisional headquarters in the Southern Railways. Regular train services are available from Palakkad Junction Railway Station to almost all Indian Cities.