Palghat or Palakkad is one of the fourteen revenue districts of Kerala. Its geographical position, historical background, rural nature, educational status, tourist attractions and above all, the developmental activities are wide and varied.
This district, situated almost in the centre of the State, has no coastal line. The district opens the State to the rest of the country through the Palakkad gap. This 32 to 42 km. wide natural gap in the 960 km. long Western Ghats, is perhaps the most influential factor for the unique characteristics of the district such as climate, commercial as well as cultural exchanges between the State and the rest of the country. Palakkad witnessed invasions of historical importance that have left indelible impressions on the history of Kerala. Bharathapuzha, the longest river in Kerala, originates form the highlands and flows through the entire district. Forests, numerous streams, several dams and the gardens have made this district a tourist paradise.
The district is one of the main granaries of Kerala and its economy is primarily agricultural. Agriculture engages more than 65 per cent of the workers and 88.9 per cent of the district's population is rural in nature. The proximity and easy approach to Tamil Nadu have caused the admixture of Malayalam and Tamil culture, here.
This district is perhaps the foremost in fostering Carnatic music. Great musicians like Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar and Palakkad Mani Iyer, who have enriched carnatic music by their contributions, hailed from this district.
Historical too, Palakkad district has its own special characteristics. The fort of Hyder Ali tells us the story of Mysore invasions and the advent of the British to this part of the country. The Victoria College, started in 1866, marks the beginning of higher education in Malabar. The Jain temple near Chunnamputhara speaks of the magnanimity of the King of Palakkad who provided shelter to the people who escaped the religious persecutions of the King of Mysore, five hundred years ago.
The ancient history of Palakkad is shrouded. According to William Logan, the author of the Malabar Manual, the Pallava dynasty of Kanchi might have invaded Malabar in the second or third century. One of their headquarters was a palace called Palakadu which could be the present-day Palakkad. Malabar had been invaded by many of the ancient South Indian rulers. For many centuries, it was ruled by the Perumals. They had under them some powerful Utayavars who held authority in their own respective territories. After the rule of the Perumals , the country was divided among these chieftains. The Valluvakonathiri (ruler of Valluvanad), the rulers of Vengunad (Kollengodu Rajas) and Sekhari Varma (Raja of Palakkad) were the prominent rulers of this region, after the Perumals .
When the Zamorin of Kozhikkode invaded Palakkad in 1757, the Raja of Palakkad sought the help of Hyder Ali of Mysore.Hyder Ali's help forced the Zamorin to retreat. Later Hyder Ali subjugated all territories in Palakkad which were under the possession of Zamorin. Thus the whole area possessed by the Raja of Palakkad passed in to the hands of the Mysore rules - Hyder Ali and his son, Tippu Sultan. The war between Tippu and the East India Company ended with the treaty of 1872 and all the possessions of Tippu in Malabar were ceded to the British. Gradually these formed part of the Malabar district of the Madras Presidency.
Based on the physical features, the district is divided into two natural divisions-midland and highland. The midland region consists of valleys and plains. It leads up to the highland which consists of high mountain peaks, long spurs, extensive ravines, dense forests and tangled jungles. While Ottappalam taluk lies completely in the midland region, all other taluks in the district lie in the midland and highland regions. The road and rail links between Kerala and Tamil Nadu pass through the Palakkad gap.
The Western Ghats has an average altitude of 5000ft. except for two peaks of more than 6000ft. The important peaks above an altitude of 4000ft. - are Anginda peak (7628 ft.), Karimala peak (6556 ft.), Nellikotta or Padagiri peak (5200ft.) and Karemala Gopuram (4721 ft.).
TOPOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Palakkad district lies between north latitude 10° 46` and 10° 59` and east longitude 76° 28` and 76° 39`. It is bounded on the east by the Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu, on the north and northwest by Malappuram district and on the south by Thrissur district.
The climate of the district is tropical. The obvious fact which strikes an observer, according to William Logan, is the uniformity of temperature in the Malabar area. During dry weather, hot winds blow form the bringing plains of Coimbatore through the Palakkad gap. Palakkad district has uniform rainfall as well.
The total population of the district according to 2001 census is 2,617,072 of which the male population is 1,265,794 and female population is 1,351,278. The density of population is 584 per sq.km.
As in any other part of the State, the social and economic status of the people in the district is undergoing changes. The breaking up of the joint family system and the increasing partition of old tharavads have led to the disappearance of the importance of high-cast Hindus in the society. A survey of the social and economic scene shows that the values based on caste and land have been replaced in recent times by those of education, employment, trade, commerce and industry.
The present Palakkad district, as an administrative unit, was formed on the first of January 1957, comprising of Palakkad, Perinthalmanna, Ponnani, Ottappalam, Alathur and Chittur.
When the Malappuram district was formed on the 16 th June 1969, Ponnani taluk excluding Thrithala firka and the villages of Vadakkekad, Punnayur and Punnayurkulam and Perinthalmanna taluk consisting of Manarkad firka and Perinthalmanna firka excluding Karikadamkunnu and Chethalloor amsoms were transferred to Malappuram district. A new taluk, namely Mannarghat, was formed by grouping 19 village of the erstwhile Perinthalmanna taluk. While retaining the Thrithala firka with Ottappalam taluk, the villages of Vadakkekad, Punnayur and Punnayurkulam were brought under Chowghat taluk of Thrissur district. The Paradur village of Tirur taluk was added to Ottappalam taluk. Recently some portion of Karvarakund village of Malappuram district were also added to Palakkad.
At present the Palakkad district consists of two revenue divisions, five taluk and 145 villages. The revenue divisions are Palakkad and Ottappalam, Palakkad, Alathur and Chittur taluks form the Palakkad revenue division and Ottappalam and Mannarghat taluks from the Ottappalam revenue division. There are thirteen development block and 89 panchayats in the district. The total area of the district is 4480 sq. km.
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