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MALAPPURAM

Facts About Malappuram

 

How to get there:
Air: The nearest airport is at Calicut, 36 km away. Cochin Air port is 169 km and Trivandrum International Airport is 395 km to the sough.

Rail: The main railway station is at Calicut. There is another smaller station at Tirur, 44 km south of Calicut.

Road: Malappuram is linked by motorable roads to several towns in Kerala, Karnataka an Tamil Nadu.

Local transport: For local transport there are buses, taxis, and autorickshws.

Heroic symbol of the freedom struggle
The district of Malappuram, which literally means a terraced place atop hills, was carved out of the districts of Calicut and Palghat in 1969. Malappuram figures prominently in history as the place which frequently questioned British Colonial authority. Most of the famous Mappilla revolts of Malabar, which took place between 1792 and 1921, occurred in areas now under Malappuram district. In fact, it was to tame the Mappillas that the Malabar Special Police, symbol of British colonial oppression and tyranny, was formed in 1852.

Home of the Valluvanad dynasty of chieftains who ruled over the are in ancient and medieval items. Malappuram has always enjoyed the status of a military headquarters. The Zamorin of Calicut, for instance, consolidated his conquests and built a palace at the then important Malabar sea port of Ponnani in Malappuram.

Although Malappuram lags behind the state's other districts in terms of standards of literacy and education, paradoxically, the district has contributed in no small measure to Kerala's cultural traditions. It has been a centre for Vedic learning and teaching and Ponnani enjoyed a similar status as an important centre for education in the philosophy of Islam. Celebrated Mappilla poets and the famous dance, 'opana pattu' of Mappilla women originated here.

The father of Malayalam literature, Thunchath Ezhuthachan, the classical epic poet, was born in Trikandiyoor in this district. Also born in this district was VallatholNarayana Menon, often called the poet laureate of Kerala.

Among contemporary personages, the Marxist political leader E.M.S. Namboodiripad, was born at Elamkulam in Perinthalmanna, a taluk of Malappuram district.

The Chaliyar and Kadalundi rivers are two of the six which flow through this district. On top of the hill overlooking the Kadalundi river is the old Haig barracks, founded by the British, now the headquarters of the district administration.

At the foot of the Cantonment Hill is the maidan called Kottappadi ('fort gate'), though today there are only traces of the old fort built by the British to protect Malappuram from the occupation of Malabar by Mysore.

The Jama-at mosque here is important to Kerala's Muslims. The annual 'nercha' festival of the mosque is celebrated for four days in April. Adjoining the mosque is a mausoleum of the Malappuram Shaheeds whose brave exploits have been immortalised in Mappilla was ballads.

An important religious centre for both Muslims and Hindus, Angadippuram has the Tirumandhankunnu Temple dedicated to Goddess Durga as well as the Puthanangadi Mosque which has Arabic inscriptions engraved on one of its planks.

Further away is the small town of Kottakal, 12 km south-west of Malappuram and 168 km from Cochin, home of the famed Kottakal Arya Vaidyasala, pioneering cenre for Ayurveda, Kerala's traditional system of health and medicine. Among the best run Ayurvedic centres in the state, this institution runs an Ayurvedic research centre, a nursing home and a hospital.

Founded in 1902 by Vaidyaratnam P. S. Varier, it has branches all over the state as well as in Delhi and Madras. The treatment if offers for various ailments attracts a large number of patients. Appointments with the chief physician have to be looked well in advance.

On the way to Malappuram, 18 km east of Manjeri, is Kondotti a prominent pilgrim centre for Muslims. The Valia Nercha festival at the 500-year old Pazhayangadi Mosque, celebrated for three days in February-March, draws large crowds.

Those interested in nature and wild life should head for Nilambur, an extensive forest area well known for its bambooms. It is home to the world's oldest teak plantation, known as 'Canolly's Plot'. The Cholanaickans, said to be among the oldest aboriginal tribes of Kerala, live in the Nilambur forests.

Further back in time, the small coastal fishing town of Tanur was one of the earliest settlements of the Portuguese. It is believed that St. Francis Xavier visited the place in 1546 and converted the local chieftain to Christianity. About 3 km south of Tanur town is Keraladesapuram Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu and said to be one of Kerala's oldest temples.

The birth place of Thunchath Ezhuthachen, now called Thunchan Parambu, is in Tirur. It is the hallowed ground where hundreds of Malayalee children are initiated into the wonders of writing when they first trace the letters of the Malayalam alphabet in sand taken from theat revered spot.

On the banks of the river Bharathapuzha, 8 km south of Tirur, is Tirunavai, a place of historical and religious significance. In olden days, the Mamamkam festival here was a grand assembly of the rulers of Kerala, held once in 12 years. Believed to have been founded by Cheraman Perumal, it was last performed in 1755. Today the Sarvodaya Mela is held in the Nava Mukunda Temple every January. This temple is said to be founded by the nine great saints and is also called the Benares of the South.

 

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