Palakkad History

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Origin of name
How Palakkad derived its name is a bit of a matter of choice since there are so many opinions and views tracing its etymology. According to one version, “Pala” (barren) along with “kadu” (jungle) joined together to give the land its name.Yet another version says that it was with respect to the Jain Temple of the place that led to its name, Palighat, since Pali is the sacred language of the Jains. Palighat subsequently gave way to Palakkad. The most believed version is the third one according to which Palakkad owes its name to the Pala trees that once occupied its major portion. As for the history of Palakkad goes, very little is known about it. Evidence in the form of relics suggests that Palakkad existed during the Paleolithic age. First millennium AD saw the Perumal rulers exercising their control over the land. This control was later disintegrated into smaller divisions by the Perumal governors. Accounts of William Logan, the Scottish author of the Malabar Manual also mentions Palakkad as one of the Malabar regions that was captured by the Pallavas of Kanchi.

Another record describes a war that was fought by the king of Palakkad in 988 AD to stop the invading army of King of Kongunadu at Chittur. The victory of Palakkad in that war is still celebrated in the form of a festival. In 1757, yet another invasion by the Zamorins made the then Raja seek the help of Mysore ruler, Hyder Ali. Hyder Ali obliged and eventually secured Palakkad for himself and later his son, Tipu Sultan. However, with the defeat of Tipu in the third Anglo Mysore war of 1792, Palakkad, along with other Malabar territories (belonging to Tipu) passed off to the British. The British made Palakkad a part of the Malabar District of Madras Presidency which post independence became a part of the Madras state. In 1956, when Kerala came into existence, Palakkad became a part of it.

Strategic position
Palakkad is supposed to have derived its name from the “Pala tree” (Alsteria Scholaris) and “kadu” (forest). Palakkad, due to its geographical position, has a strategic role in Kerala. Before the commissioning of Konkan Railway along the Western coast, Palakkad was the gateway to Kerala from the country.The 32 to 40 km gap in the 960km Western Ghats functions as an inlet for northeast monsoon and dry winds. N H 47, a major artillery of Kerala, passes through this Ghat section.The  whole area is said to have been once covered by pala trees.

Palakkad, the largest producer of rice is known as the granary of Kerala. As many as eight rivers originate from the Palakkad hills. Among the rivers include Bharathapuzha, the longest river in the state. The hilly district has 136257 hectares of reserve forest including Silent Valley . The district which lies at the foot of the colossal Western Ghats has only midland and highland areas. Palakkad had witnessed several alien invasions that had left indelible impressions on the history of Kerala. The Palakkad Fort of Hyder Ali speaks volumes of Mysore invasions and the advent of the Britishers to the region.