The name, Kasaragod, is said to be derived from the word Kusirakood meaning Nuxvomica forests (Kanjirakuttom).It is with the intention of bestowing maximum attention on the development backward areas that Kasaragod district was formed on May 24, 1984. With the formation of the new district, comprising the erstwhile Kasaragod and Hosdurg taluks, it has become possible to develop this coastal area fruitfully.
A BRIEF HISTORY
Lying on the north western coast of the State, Kasaragod was famous from time immemorial. Many Arab travellers, who came to Kerala between 9 th and 14 th centuries A.D., visited Kasaragod as it was then an important trade centre. They called this area Harkwillia. Mr. Barbose, the Portuguese traveller, who visited Kumbla near Kasaragod in 1514, had recorded that rice was exported to Male Island when coir was imported. Dr. Francs Buccanan, who was the family doctor of Lord Wellesly, visited Kasaragod in 1800. In his travelogue, he has included information on the political and communal set –up in places like Athipramba, Kavvia, Nileswar, Bekkal, Chandragiri and Manjeswar.
Kasaragod was part of the Kumbala kingdom in which there were 64 Tulu and Malayalam villages. When Vijayanagar empire attacked Kasaragod, it was ruled by the Kolathiri king who had Nileswar as his headquarters. It is said that the characters appearing in Theyyam, the ritualistic folk dance of northern Kerala, represent those who had helped king Kolathiri fight against the attack of the Vijayanagar empire. During the decline of that empire in the 14 th century, the administration of this area was vested with the Ikkeri Naikans. They continued to be the rulers till the fall of the Vijayanagar empire in 16 th century. Then Vengappa Naik declared independence to Ikkeri. In 1645 Sivappa Naik took the reins and transferred the capital to Bednoor. Thus they came to be known as Bednor Naiks. Chandragiri fort and Bekkal fort are considered to be parts of a chain of forts constructed by Sivappa Naik for the defence of the kingdom.
In 1763 Hyder Ali of Mysore conquered Bednoor and his intention was to capture entire Kerala. But when his attempt to conquer Thalassery for was foiled, Hyder Ali returned to Mysore and died there in 1782. His son, Tippu Sulthan, continued the attack and conquered Malabar. As per the Sreerangapattanam treaty of 1792, Tippu surrendered Malabar except Talunadu (Canara) to the British. The British got Canara only after the death of Tippu Sulthan in 1799.
Kasaragod was part of Bekkal taluk in the south Canara district of Bombay presidency. Kasaragod taluk came into being when Bekkal taluk was included in the Madras presidency on April 16, 1882. Though Vengayil Kunhiraman Nayanar moved a resolution in 1913 on the floor of Madras Governor's Council demanding the merger of Kasaragod taluk with the Malabar district, it had to be withdrawn because of the stiff convention held at Kozhikkod, passed a resolution stressing the above demand. In the same year, an organisation titled Malayalee Seva Sangham was constituted. Thanks to the efforts made by many eminent persons like K.P.Kesava Menon, Kasaragod became part of Kerala following the reorganisation of states and formation of Kerala in November 1, 1956.
Kasaragod district between 11 ° 18' and 12 ° 48' north latitudes and between 74 ° 52' and 75 ° 26' east longitudes. The district is marked off from the adjoining areas outside the State by the Western Ghats which run parallel to the sea and constitute almost continuous mountain wall on the eastern side. The Ghats dominate the topography. The coastline is fringed with low cliffs alternating with stretches of sand. A few miles to the interior, the scene changes and the sand level rises towards the barrier of the Ghats and transforms into low red laterite hills interspersed with paddy fields and coconut gardens.
The district is bounded in the east by the Western Ghats, in the west by the Arabian Sea, in the north by the Canara district of Karnataka and in the south by the Kannur district.
Based on physical features, the district can be divided into three natural divisions - the lowland bordering the sea, the midland consisting of the undulating country and the forest-clad highland on the extreme east.
The diversity of the physical features results in a corresponding diversity of climate. In the plains, the climate is generally hot. Though the mean maximum temperature is only around 90 ° F, the heat is oppressive in the moisture laden atmosphere of the plains. Humidity is very high and rises to about 90 per cent during the southwest monsoon. The annual variation of temperature is small; the diurnal range is only about 10 ° F.
The southwest monsoon starts towards the end of May or the beginning of June, heralded by thunder-storms and holds till September when the rain fades out. October brings in the northeast monsoon. Dry weather sets in by the end of December, January and February are the coolest months of the year. March, April and May are generally very hot. The district has an average annual rainfall of 3500 mm.
Kasaragod district has a forest area of 5625 sq. kms falling under the Wayanad Forest Division. Reserve forest stretches to 86.52 sq. kms. And vested forest, to 28.57 sq. kms. It stretches in two ranges- Kasaragod and Kanhangad. The forest produces are shegaibark, sheakoy, cardamom, canes, fibres, etc. Sambar, the fastest deer, is seen in some areas. Wild boars are a nuisance to the cultivators of hilly areas.
There are 12 rivers in this district. The longest is Chandragiri (105 kms.) originating from Pattimala in Coorg and embraces the sea at Thalangara. The river assumes its name Chandragiri from the name of the place of its source Chandragupta Vasti; where the great Maurya emperor Chandragupta, is believed to have spent his last days as a sage. The second longest river is Kariankod (64 kms.), across which a dam is being built at Kakkadavu. Shiriya (61 kms.), Uppala (50 kms.), Mogral (34 kms), Chitari (25 kms), Nileswar (47 kms), Kavayi (23 kms), Manjeswar (16 kms), Kumbala (11 kms), Bekkal (11 kms) and Kalanad (8 kms) are the other rivers. These rivers provide ample irrigation facilities.
Kasaragod district has a population estimated at 1203342 as per 2001 Census. The male population is reckoned at 5,87,763 and the female, at 6,15,579. The density of population per sq. km. is at 604 and the per capita income in the district is around Rs.3,702 which is rated sixth in the state.
For the purpose of revenue administration, Kasaragod district is divided into two taluks, five firkas and 75 villages. The collectorate functions at the civil station, at Vidhya Nagar, Chengala panchayat, five kms. from Kasaragod town. Kasaragod Revenue Division is the only revenue division in the district. The Revenue Divisional Office is at Kanhangad.
Agriculture forms the mainstay of the population of the district. The soil in the three natural divisions generally fall under three types. In the highland region it is laterite. In the midland, the soil is a red ferruginous loam of lateritic origin with an admixture of clay and sand. The coastal strip is sandy. Diversity of crops and heterogeneity in cultivation are the key notes of agriculture here.
The eastern tract comprises of forests and hilly areas. The forests comprise of a variety of timber with teak and other plantations. The hilly areas are mostly cleared and put to private cultivation; the important crops being rubber, cashew and ginger. In the skeletal plateau areas, cashew trees are cultivated, while in some patches, arecanut, pepper and cocoa are grown. In the coastal tract, paddy, coconut, arecanut, cashew, tobacco, vegetables and tapioca are cultivated.
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