Palakkad - History


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There are many views on how Palakkad (or "Palghat" the anglicised version) got its name. One view is that the word 'Pala' (barren land) together with 'Kadu' (jungle) gave the land its name. Yet others believe that it is connected with the ancient Jain temple in the town: 'Pali' being the sacred language of the Jains, giving the land its name as 'Palighat', which over the years changed to Palakkad. However, most believe that Palakkad is derived from 'Pala', an indigenous tree which once densely occupied the land, and hence Palakkad or "the forest of Pala trees."

Not much is known about Palakkad's ancient history. It dates back to the Paleolithic period, and several megalithic relics have been found in the region. At the turn of the first millenium AD, for several hundred years the Perumals ruled the land. Later their governors called Utayavars took possession of this land and divided it among themselves. William Logan, the Scottish author of the celebrated Malabar Manual, suggests that one of the hubs of the Pallavas of Kanchi who invaded Malabar in the second and third centuries was Palakkad.

One of the earliest records about Palakkad has a chronicle of a war victory in A.D 988 when the king of Palakkad, Nedumpurayur Nadudayavar, stopped an invasion by the forces of the King of Kongunadu at Chittur. Even today, a festival is celebrated in memory of this victory at Chittur. The Nedumpurayur royal family was later known as Tarur Swaroopam and finally as Palakkad Raja Swaroopam.

In 1757, to check the invasion of the Zamorin of Calicut, the Raja of Palakkad sought the help of Hyder Ali of Mysore, who freed all parts of Palakkad invaded by the Zamorin. Eventually, Haider helped himself to Palakkad and later his son Tipu Sultan was the unquestioned ruler of this region. But after his defeat to the British, Tipu ceded all his Malabar territories to the British following the treaty with the English East India Company in 1872. Palakkad formed part of the Malabar District of the Madras Presidency thereafter.

 
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