The Unseen Kerala.
Palakkad or Palghat is a city in the state of Kerala and quite a contrasting one from how the normal cities in Kerala are. The city is known by plenty of different, but very much appropriate names. The "Granary of Kerala", "The Gateway of Kerala", "Land of Palmyra Trees" and the "Land of Paddy Fields", being some of the most popular ones among others. Palakkad is located at a distance of 350 kilometres north from the capital of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. The city lies in the wide low gap in the Western Ghats, that seperates Kerala from the state of Tamil Nadu. The presence of this Palakkad Gap is the reason why it is known as the "Gateway to Kerala". Nearly eight rivers originate from Palakkad, including the longest river of Kerala, Bharathapuzha, as well as the tributaries of these rivers. Hence, the plenteous number of dams across the city.
A major producer of rice, owning the title of the chief granary of Kerala, this small city has quite a huge importance. Ample amount of invasions and rules of different Kingdoms have had a great impact on the culture and history of the place. The remnants of the fort of Tipu Sultan are still maintained and is a must visit, if you come to Palakkad. The lavish flora and fauna of the city add to the beauty of the place. Palakkad is home to the prolific amounts of mountains, fertile valleys, and forests. The close proximity with the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border is the reason behind the Tamil influence, with a huge impact in the flavours. The place is totally detached from the coasts of Kerala and hence a truly different side of Kerala.
Hotel rooms are quite cheap in and around the city. Room rent ranges from as low as 100 INR to around 3000 INR. Railway Retiring Rooms in Olavakkod offer lockable, air conditioned rooms for 200 INR per night. Hotel Chanakya offers rooms from 500 INR to 1500 INR. India Lodge, near the Palakkad Railway station has rooms for 100 INR per night, while Hotel Kairali has rooms for 1000 INR to 3000 INR per night.
South Indian cuisine is what is mostly available. Idli, Dosa, Sambar, Sadhya, Rasam, Appam, Brown Dosa and many more dishes are available. You can have Idli with Sambar and four different chutneys or a simple dish of rice and chicken curry, both of which are available almost everywhere in Palakkad. Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian restaurants, both are there in plenty of numbers in the city. Tamil influenced flavors are also quite predominant because of the close proximity of Palakkad with Tamil Nadu.
Top things do in Palakkad
How to reach
Palakkad or Palghat is well connected by all possible means of transportation. You can reach Palakkad quite comfortably whether you are travelling by air, train, bus or by road. The train is the best possible means to reach the city. Although, travelling by road can also be a good option. Cochin International Airport is the nearest airport and Palakkad Town Railway Station is the nearest Railway head. Rental cars, Cab/Taxi can be hired to help you reach the Hotel from your respective airport or rail station. Regular buses are available from many of the major cities.
How to Reach by Flight
The nearest airport from Palakkad is the Coimbatore International Airport at a distance of about 50 kilometres from the city. Other airports nearby are the Cochin International Airport at a distance of about 111 kilometres and the Calicut International Airport at a distance of 110 kilometres from the heart of the city. Taxis or buses will help you reach your destination from the airport.
How to Reach by Train
There are two major railway stations connecting Palakkad to the major cities. The Palakkad Junction is at a distance of four kilometres from the main city, while the Palakkad Town Railway Station is located at the heart of the city. The broad gauge line that is the Palakkad Junction connects from places like Coimbatore, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Erode, Salem, Kollam, Mangalore, Madurai, Pollachi, Dindigul to Palakkad. Taxi, Autorickhaws and Rickshaws are available from the station to help reach the Hotel.
How to Reach by Bus
Kerala State Transport buses pry regularly to and from Palakkad, to connect to some major cities like Coimbatore, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram, Mangalore, Bangalore, Chennai, Salem, Kochi, Calicut, Thrissur. Public and Volvo buses are also available from Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore and Chennai. Direct buses from Hyderabad is however, not available.
How to Reach by Road
Palakkad is at a six hour and thirty six minutes drive away from Thiruvananthapuram, two hour and fifty six minutes drive away from Kochi and about an hour and a half drive away from Thrissur. The National Highway 47 keeps Palakkad well-connected to most of the important cities.
How to travel within
Travelling within the city can be achieved by buses, taxis, autorickshaws and rickshaws. The best way to travel within the place, is like always, on foot. There is nothing like discovering a place on foot when you are somewhere for the first time.
The origin of the name Palakkad and how it came to be known by this name has three versions. According to the first, the name was given by joining two Malayalam words, Pala, meaning barren and Kadu meaning forest. The second version states that the name Palighat was given as a sign of respect to the Jain temple. Pali was the sacred language of the Jain and hence the name. Ultimately, Palighat became Palakkad. The third and most believed version is that the name was given because of the huge number of Pala trees that once was stood among the forests of Palakkad. It is proven that Palakkad existed in the Paleolithic Age. After passing the reigns of the kingdom from one ruler to another, it finally fell in the hands of the British under which it became a part of the Malabar district of Madras Presidency. Palakkad was a part of Madras until 1956, when Kerala came into existence and Palakkad became a part of it.
When travelling on the southern terrains of Kerala, you have to be very careful as there are frequent maoist attacks near the area. Always travel in groups and never travel alone.
The Palakkad Fort can be visited in the morning, which is around a one-hour visit. After that one can go for the trek to the Dhoni Waterfalls.
The Malampuzha Dam and the Fantasy Park can be completed on the same day as they literally located side by side. There are many different parks, gardens and an aquarium apart from the Fantasy Park that you can give a visit to.
Drop by the Kalapathy Temple and the Jainmedu Jain Temple on your last day in Palakkad.
If you have more time in hand, then you can go see some of the other dams across Palakkad, like the Kanjirapuzha or the Parambikulam Dam. You can also take a stroll around the city for a more closer look to the local life of Palakkad.