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Malappuram is a hilly terraced tract. The innumerable streams that meander through these hills reach the coconut fringed and picturesque sea coast. In many places, these streams are linked with backwaters which facilitate a network of inland waterways. The midland region is fertile with thick coconut groves while the hilly tract has dense forests and extensive teak plantations apart it being the source of innumerable streams and rivers.
Vavil or Vayutmala - 2339.73 Metre
Vellarimala - 2335.58 Metre
Chakkumala hills -- 600.46 Metre
Urothmala - 477.60 Metre
Pandalur hills - 610.20 Metre
Chaliyar or Beypore river
Chaliyar or Beypore river, one of the major rivers of the State, takes its origin from Elembileri hills of Wayanad taluk.
Kadalundi river, also known as Karimpuzha or Oravanpurampuzha, originates from the Silent Valley reserve forests at an elevation of 1219 metres above the sea level. This river forms a part of the west coast navigation system from Palathigal in the south to Mannur in the north. It has a length of 130 metres with a catchment area of 1114 sq. km.
Purapparamba, a small river of 8 Km., originates from the tail end of Purapparamba cut. It flows in the western direction and crosses the Madras - Mangalore railway line between Tanur and Parappanangadi station. The canoli canal connects this river with other rivers in the district.
Arising from the Athvanad village of Tirur taluk, Tirur river (length 48 Km.) flows south-west up to Thiruvnavaya and flows upto Elamkulam in the north western direction. Then it turns south-west and finally joins Bharathapuzha to reach the sea near Ponnani. This river is navigable by motor boats which ply between Tirur and Ponnani. It also forms part of the west coast water transport system.
Bharathapuzha also known as Nila nadi or Ponnani river, has its source in the Anamalai hills at about 982 metres above the main sea level. After flowing through Pollachi taluk of Coimbatore District, it enters the Palakkad district of Kerala state. During its course, it forms the boundary between Palakkad and Thrissur Districts.
Sea - Coast
The sea - coast of the district extends to 70 Km with a minor port at Ponnani. The Port is tidal since it is very shallow, most of the vessels have to be anchored out in the sea. There are a large number of fishing centres on this coast line.
There are no major backwaters in this district. The Veliyancode lake situated 5 km south-east of Ponnani, opens to the sea at Veliyancode. A regulator is installed there to prevent the spilling of salt particles into the lake. Maniyar kayal, Valancherry Kayal and Maravancherry kayal, all in ponnani taluk, are the other minor backwaters in the district.