With Nilgiris in the east and the Arabian Sea in the west, Malappuram district presents a treat to the eye. Rich and evergreen forests, ravines, hills and dales, rivers and brookes, sandy surfs and palm fringed coasts, festive mood of the gayful Oonapatt - the district preserves the cultural wealth of the good old days. It has in store, a hoary past with Zamorin's rule, Mamankam festival, Vellattiri's revenge and the resultant Chaver Pada (suicidal squad), the British rule and indiscriminate oppression of the masses in connivance with exploiting landlords, the National and the Khilapthat movement, the Malabar rebellion and the such.
The land of great poets and writers, political and religious leaders, this district has carved a place of it's own in the history of Kerala. The Kings of Valluvanad, the Zamorins, the Kings of Perumpadappu Swarupam and the Kings of Vettathunadu, were the early rulers. The Portuguese, Mysore sultans and the Britishers had their sway over this place, partly or wholly. But the unique social and cultural heritage is preserved.
Amalgamating the distant and backward areas of the erstwhile Kozhikode, Perintalmanna and Ponnani taluks of Palakkad, Malappuram district was formed on the 16 th June 1969. The Nilgiris (blue hills) of Tamil Nadu in the east and the Arabian sea in the west, provide natural boundaries. In the north, it is bounded by Kozhikode and Wyanad and in the south, by Palakkad and Thrissur districts. The district has a geographical area of 3550 Sq. Kms.
TOPOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
The location of Malappuram district is 75 to 77 east longitude and 10 to 12 north latitude, in the geographical map. Like most of the other districts of the state. Malappuram too consists of three natural divisions; lowland, midland and highland. The low land stretches along the sea coast, the midland in the centre and the highland region towards the east and north eastern parts. The topography of the district is highly undulating; starting from the hill tops covered with thick forests on the east along the Nilgiris, it gradually slopes down to the valleys and the small hills , before finally ending on the sandy flat of luxuriant coconut groves in the west.
The district has more or less the same climatic conditions prevalent elsewhere the state, viz. Dry season from December to February, hot season from March to May, the Southwest Monsoon from June to September and the North East Monsoon from October to November. The South West Monsoon is usually very heavy and nearly 75% of the annual rains is received during this season. The climate is generally hot and humid; the range of temperature varying between 30° C and 20° C. The average annual rainfall is 2900 mm.
Four important rivers of Kerala, flow through Malappuram district. They are, Chaliyar (Beypore river), Kadalundipuzha, Bharathapuzha and Tirurpuzha. Chaliyar has a length of 169 kms. and originates from Illambalieri hills in Tamilnadu. Important tributaries of this river are Chalipuzha, Punnapuzha, Pandiyar, Karimpuzha, Cherupuzha and Vadapurampuzha. Chaliyar traverses through Nilambur, Mampad, Edavanna, Areekade, Vazhakkad and flows into the sea at Beypore in Kozhikode district. Kadalundipuzha is formed by the confluence of two rivers, the Olipuzha and Veliyar. Olipuzha originates form Cherakomban hill and Veliyar from Erattakomban hill. They flow by the wild of Silent Valley and traverse through Ernad and Valluvanad regions, before flowing into the sea at Kadlundi Nagaram. It passes through places like Melattur, Pandikkad, Malappuram, Pankkad, Parappur, Kooriyad and Tirurangadi. Kadalundipuzha has a circuit course of 130 kms. Bharathapuzha the Second longest river in Kerala, flows by the southern border of the district and drains into the sea at Ponnani. Its main tributary, Thoothapuzha, originates form the Silent Valley, flow through Thootha, Elamkulam, Pulamanthole and joins the main river at Pallippuram. After a course in Palakkad and Thrissur districts, the Bharathapuzha again enters Malappuram district at Tiruvegapura and from Kuttippuram onwards, the river belongs entirely to Malappuram. Tirurpuzha, 48 km. long, originates from Athavanad hills in Tirur town and flows south west, parallel to the sea, until it joins the Bharathapuzha near Ponnani port.
Of these rivers, only Chaliyar is perennial; all others get dried up in summer and hence Malappuram district is prone to draught. In Tirur and Ponnani taluks, kayals (backwaters) like Biyyamp, Veliyancode, Manur, Kodinhi etc offer fishing and navigation facilities.
FLORA AND FAUNA
The district has a total forest area of 1,03,417 hectares, i.e.,28.47% of total geographical area. The major forest area is concentrated in Nilambur and Wandoor blocks and Melattur in the Western ghats. Of the forests, 80% is deciduous and the rest is evergreen. Teak ,rosewood, venteak, choropin, mahogoni, etc. are the important trees. Other varieties like kulamavu and villapine are used in the plywood industry. Bamboo is extensively grown in all parts of the forest. The district has also several man made plantations, mainly of teak. A mammoth effort under the Nilgiri Biosphere Project is underway to protect and regenerate the natural forests. Afforestation is also being done under the Wasteland Development Programme.
Elephants, deers, tigers, blue monkeys, dears, boars, rabbits etc. are found in the forests along with a variety of birds and reptiles. Forests are the main source of raw material for a number of wood-based industrial units. Besides timber, firewood and green manure, forest produces like honey, medicinal herbs, spices etc. are collected. Minor forest produces are collected by the tribals. A Girijan Society functions for ensuring fair prices for collected items and for arranging supply of essential commodities to the tribal families. Bamboo for pulp factories is mainly supplied form Nilambur forests. The forests are protected by two forest divisions-Nilambur North and Nilambur South. The social forestry division promotes planting of trees outside forest lands, for protecting the forests.
According to the 2001 Census, the district has a population of 3629640. Of the total population 1759479 are males and 11870161 are females, forming a ratio of 1063 females for every 1000 males,the state ratio being 1058 females for 1000 males. The density of population is 1022 per Sq. Kms. Which is higher than the state average (819 per Sq. Kms.). Literacy as per 2001 census is put at 88.61%. Subsequently, Malappuram District was declared 100% literate along with other districts of the state; made possible by in intensive state wide literacy drive.
Headquarters of the administration is at Malappuram, with Collectorate and main offices in the civil station, established in the erstwhile headquarters of the Territorial Army. The district has two revenue divisions with headquarters at Perinthalmanna and Tirur. There are 6 taluks, namely Ernad (headquarters at Manjeri), Perinthalmanna, Tirur, Ponnani, Nilambur and Tirurangadi (headquarters at Parappanangadi). The taluks of Nilambur and Tirurangadi and the revenue division of Tirur, were formed recently.
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