Ernakulam district was formed on 1st April 1958. The district is named after the erstwhile Ernakulam town the name of which in turn is said to have been derived from the word Rishinagakulam a tank in the famous Siva Temple in the town.
About 38 km. from north to south and 48 km. from east to west, the district is bounded by a 46.2 km. coast line of the Arabian Sea on the west, Kottayam and Alappuzha districts on the south, Idukki on the east and Thrissur on the north. It lies between latitude 90° 42' to 10' 18' 00" north and longitude 76° 12' 00" to 76° 46' 00".
The district is divided into three well defined parts-highland, midland and the lowland consisting of hills and forests, plains and the seaboard respectively.
The hilly or eastern portion is formed by a section of the Western Ghats. Muvattupuzha, Kothamangalam and Alwaye can be called the hilly taluks. Kottanna (1502 feet) and Kurisumudi (1274 feet) lie in the northern portion of the highlands. The midland consists mainly of plain land having natural facilities of drainage via backwaters and canals. Cochin taluk is divided into two blocks by the Cochin Azhi, viz., Vaipinkara island on the northern side and the southern portion from Fort Cochin to Chellanam surrounded on three sides by water. The western portion and part of the southern side of the Kanayannur taluk are divided by backwaters. The Parur taluk lies in the flat delta region of the Periyar river and cut by several canals, which have resulted in the formation of many islands.
Periyar and Muvattupuzha are the main rivers of the district of which the former flows through Thodupuzha, Muvattupuzha, Alwaye, Kunnathunadu and Parur taluks. The Chalakudi river which flows through north of Alwaye also joins Periyar at Alanthikara. The rivers Thodupuzha, Kallai and Kothamangalam join together to form Muvattupuzha river. During rainy season these rivers are full and the low-lying areas on the banks are affected by heavy floods, but in the summer season they generally go dry and narrow.
The seacoast in this district falls entirely in Cochin taluk , Cochin harbour which is a major natural harbour is also situated in this taluk. Malippuram and Njarakkal in Vypeen island are open road stead. The mud bank at Njarakkal extends about 4.5 km. along the shore and 6 km. Out to the sea which helped ships to ride safely and unload cargo in all seasons. But with the rise of the cochin harbour the importance of Njarakkal and Malippuram became lesser. Many islands can be seen scattered in the backwaters in Cochin and Kanayannur taluks. The main islands are Willingdon Island, Vypeen, Ramanthuruth, Cheriyakadamakkkudi, Bolgatty island (Ponjikara), Vallarpadom, Valiyakadamakkudi, Kumbalam, Panangad, Chellanam, Nettur, Pizhala, Kankattuthuruth, Korampadam, Cheranellur and Chathannur. Most of these islands are very small in size extending from less that a sq. km. to 4 sq. km. There are transport facilities to all these islands.
A portion of the Vembanad lake falls within the Cochin taluk. The Kodungalloor Kayal and Varappuzha Kayal are also in this district.
FLORA AND FAUNA
The flora of this district is tropical. The heavy rainfall combined with moderate temperature and fertile soil support a luxuriant vegetation.
Many of the common plants are found in the coastal area which forms the low land region. Coconut is extensively cultivated here.
The midland region is mainly occupied by coconut palms, paddy, plantain, tapioca, sugarcane, pepper and pulses are also cultivated here.
The lower slopes of the highland region are under teak and rubber cultivation. Above 800 metres deciduous and evergreen forests are present. Ernakulam district has an abundant backwater system adjoining which are vast areas of paddy fields which are subject to inundation and movement of water in accordance with the ebb and flow of the tides. This condition is favourable for the growth of large and varied fish population and wading birds and water birds. The Eastern part of the district has dense forests with their characteristic fauna. The mammals are represented by monkeys, carnivores, elephants, ungulates, bats and insectivores. Once 'Khedda' operation in Kodanad forest in Malayattur forest division was a feature every year.
The population is 3,098,378. The decadel growth rate was 9.09 (1991-2001). The traditional feudal society of this district has now almost disappeared. A few decades ago the Hindu like Brahmins, the Kshathiriyas and the Nairs held a dominant position in the society. The progress of education, the spread of liberal ideas, the growing political consciousness among the lower classes, their increasing participation in Government service, the introduction of adult franchise, the growth of industrialisation and the dawn of democratic form of Government have contributed to the new social set up.
The agrarian reforms helped to take away from the people their fascination for land as a source of prestige and economic investment. The modern tendency is to turn away from land to jobs. The new social and economic changes have infused a spirit of independence in all classes of people.
The most important religious communities of the district are the Hindus, the Christians and the Muslims. In Cochin, Gowda Saraswatha Brahmins form an important section of the Hindus. In addition to the major communities the Buddhists, the Jains, the Sikhs and the Jews also form part of the cosmopolitan population. The ancestors of the Jews migrated from Jerusalem in 72 A.D. Now there are very few Jewish families in Cochin with a total strength of less than one hundred members.
All communities celebrate their festivals generally during the months of February and March the duration of which ranges from one day to ten days.
The famous Sivarathri at the Siva temple of Alwaye attracts people from different parts of the country. Other important temples of the district are Chottanikkara, Thrikkakara, Tripunithura, Ernakulam, Ponnurunni, Palarivattom, Chowara, Sreenarayanapuram and Perumbavoor. Kaladi is famous as the birth place of Adisankara. The famous Christian pilgrim centre at Malayattoor is in this district. The St. Thomas Church is built on the Malayattoor hill top. The festival here lasts for ten days from April 10 every year.
St.George Church at Kadamattom is very old and was founded by Mar Abo Metropolitian in 5th century A.D. He brought a cross from Persia which is still preserved in the church. The name of "Kadamattathu Kathanar" is associated with this church. The church is also famous for the "Vellamkudi Vazhipadu".
The festival at the church of Vallarpadom on September 24 every year attracts people belonging to all religions. The icon of Virgin Mary in this church credited with many miracles. St.George's Forane Church at Edappally which was founded in 593 A.D. is considered to be the oldest church in Kerala after the seven churches founded by St.Thomas. St.Antony's church at Kannamally is famous for the feast of St.Joseph on March 19 where a large number of people are fed.
The festival at the church of Vallarpadom on September 24 attracts people belonging to all religions. The icon of Virgin Mary in this church is credited with many miracles. St. George's Forane Church at Edappally which was founded in 593 A.D. is considered to be the oldest church in Kerala after the seven churches founded by St.Thomas. St. Antony's church at Kannamally is famous for the feast of St.Joseph on March 19 every year where a large number of people are fed.
The Easter festival at St. Mary's Church at Piravom is also worth mentioning. One of the ancient mosques in Kerala is at Kanjiramattom which is also located in this district.
Agriculture constitutes the most important segment of the district's economy and it is the biggest source of employment. About seventy per cent of the geographical area is under cultivation.
Rice, coconut, lemongrass, rubber, pepper, ginger, mango, cashewnut, etc., are the most important agricultural produce of the district. Roughly 40 per cent of the total cultivated area is under paddy and 25 per cent under coconut. Usually three corps of paddy are raised annually - viruppu , mundakan and puncha and there is another system called pokkali which is peculiar to the district. Under this system only one crop can be taken in a year. After harvest suitable varieties of fishes are grown in the fields which is more profitable.
The State Agricultural Department provides integrated service in respect of seeds, fertilizers and other aids to the farmers. There are 35 agricultural development offices in the district. Integrated agricultural development services are provided through these centres.
Coconut cultivation, which is next to paddy in importance is done in the coastal area as well as in the highlands. Several schemes are being implemented by the Agricultural Department to maximise the production of coconut by rejuvenation of the existing garden in an intensive manner and by bringing additional areas under the crop. These schemes also envisage extension of institutional finance with departmental subsidy.
Ernakulam district is bestowed with all the geographical factors which help the development of industries and it is in the forefront of all other districts in Kerala in the field of industry. The availability of all types of transport facilities viz., road, rail, canal, sea is a factor which is unique to this district.
Some of the major industrial firms in the district are the Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore, Indian Rare Earths, Hindustan Machine Tools, Premier Tyres, Ogale Glass Works, Carborandum Universal, Hindustan Insecticides, Forest Industries of Travancore, Travancore Cochin Chemicals, Asoka Textiles, Indian Aluminium Company, Cominco Binani Zinc, Periyar Chemicals, Standard Potteries, Kerala Agro Machinery Corporation, Cochin Shipyard, Cochin Refineries, Modern Bakeries, Kerala Electricals and Allied Engineering Company (Mamala), Traco Cable Company (Irimpanam), Transformers and Electricals (Angamali), Travancore Rayons (Perumbavoor) and Periyar Cables (Karukutty).
FISHERIES AND PORTS
The Sea along the entire coast of the district and the backwaters abound in fish of various kinds offering enormous natural facilities for both marine and inland fisheries. Cochin is an ideal place to provide support to fisheries in its various aspect like education, research and development. Various important institutions are located here to serve this purpose like the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Nautical and Engineering Training, Cochin Base of the Exploratory Fisheries Project, Export Inspection Council of India, Integrated Fisheries Project, The Marine Products and Export Development Authority, Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory, Central Institute of Fisheries, Regional Centre of the National Institute of Oceanography (ICAR), Office of the Fisheries Advisor, Office of the Joint Director of Fisheries, Kerala fisheries Corporation, Regional Shrimp Hatchery, Department of Industrial Fisheries, Department of Marine Sciences (University of Cochin), Fisheries Research Unit (Kerala Agricultural University) and the Sea Food Exporters Association of India.
Port: Cochin Port, one of the major ports of the country is blessed with several natural advantages and it lies on the direct route to Australia and the far east from Europe. This port was opened to vessels in 1930-31 and was given the status of a major Port in 1936.
Ernakulam occupies an important place among the districts of Kerala in the point of literacy and educational standards. There are adequate facilities for education from preprimary level to post graduate level and for professional and technical education.
Cochin University which came into existence on 10th July 1971, provides ample facilities for advanced study and research in pure and applied science, technology and developing social sciences and humanities like applied economics, management studies, law, commerce and banking etc.
The Forest Department in this district functions under the Divisional Forest Officer, Malayattoor. Three forest ranges are under this division and located at Ernakukam, Mudickal, Kothamangalam and Varappuzha there are four forest depots.
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