The Tipu's Fort, also known as Palakkad Fort, stands in the heart of Palakkad town. Palakkad is a small town on the lower edges of the Sahyadri ranges of the Western Ghats, with patches of dense forests and crisscrossed with rivers.
One of the well preserved forts in south India, Tipu's Fort was constructed in 1766 AD and is today a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India. The sober majesty of the laterite walls of the fort reminds one of the old tales of valour and courage.
The fort was built by Hyder Ali (1717 - 1782), the emperor of Mysore province (now part of Karnataka State), supposedly to facilitate communication between both sides of the Western Ghats, (Coimbatore and the West Coast). He had captured the Malabar and Kochi regions which come under the West Coast area. His son Tipu Sultan (1750 - 1799) a warrior as well as a linguist was known as the 'Tiger of Mysore'. Tipu waged a series of wars against the British colonial rule.
In 1784, after an eleven-day seige, the fort was captured by the British under Colonel Fullerton. Though it later fell into the hands of the troops of the Kozhikode Zamorin, it was recaptured by the British in 1790. Tipu Sultan lost his life in 1799 in an encounter with the British and the fort later came to be known in his name.
From the town of Nenmara in Palakkad district, the cloud-caressed peaks of the majestic Nelliyampathy Hill ranges are a sight to behold. The height of the hills ranges from approximately 467 m to 1572 m and it has an extremely calming effect on all who view it. To reach Nelliyampathy, one has to take the road starting from Nenmara that proceeds to the Pothundy Dam. There are about 10 hairpin bends that have to be negotiated on the way to Nelliyampathy.
The Pothundy Dam is a beautiful locale with facilities for boating and is a nice option as a picnic place. As the Ghat road winds its way up to Nelliyampathy, at certain places there are viewpoints from where the vast stretches of Palakkad district are visible with its extensive paddy fields forming a verdant carpet. It also offers a splendid view of the Palakkad Gap, which is a geographical phenomenon in the Western Ghats formation in this region, bringing into view, parts of the adjoining State of Tamil Nadu.
On the way up, those interested in bio farming can take a close look at the privately managed farms and also vast expanses of tea estates managed by different plantation companies. The hills of Nelliyampathy are also well known for its orange cultivation.
Privately owned hotels and resorts are located at various points, as one goes up the hills of Nelliyampathy. The bio-farms located here are a major landmark as one proceeds up before reaching the topmost point at Palagapandi Estate. The estate has a quaint bungalow, built during the British rule in India, and has now been converted into a private owned resort. At Kaikatty, a community hall is available, which is usually used as a base by those interested in trekking.
Not far away from Palagapandy is Seetharkundu where one can have a fantastic view of the valley and a 100 m high waterfall providing an added attraction. From Palagapandy, one can trek or go by jeep to reach Mampara; another breathtaking vantage point at Nelliyampathy. The area in and around Palagapandy Estate has tea, cardamom and coffee plantations with adjoining hills allowing one to catch a glimpse of the wildlife in the form of Indian Gaur, elephants, leopards, Giant Squirrel etc. and is also a paradise for birdwatchers.
The Silent Valley National Park with an area of 237. 52 sq km is located in the Northeastern corner of Palakkad district. It rises abruptly to the Nilgiri Plateau in the North and overlooks the plains of Mannarkkad in the South. Extremely fragile, a unique preserve of tropical evergreen rain forests which is a veritable nursery of flora and fauna, some of which are found nowhere else in the world.
The core of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is the Silent Valley National Park. Despite its name, the Silent Valley (the clamour of Cicadas is conspicuously absent here) is a rich storehouse of biodiversity. It is a true Garden of Eden for students of life sciences, professional scientists and field biologists.
Perhaps, nowhere else can one find such a representative collection of Western Ghats biodiversity - more than 1000 species of flowering plants which include about 110 species of orchids, more than 34 species of mammals, about 200 species of butterflies, 400 species of moths, 128 species of beetles of which 10 are new to science, about 150 species of birds including almost all the 16 endemic birds of southern India.
The River Kunthi descends from the Nilgiri hills, from an altitude of 2000 m above sea level, and traverses the entire length of the valley and rushes down to the plains through the deep gorge. The River Kunthi never turns brown and is always crystal clear, perennial and wild.
The evapo-transpiration from these forests is much higher than from any other surface. This cools the atmosphere, helps easy condensation of water vapour, causing summer rains in the plains.
Choolannur Pea Fowl Sanctuary (Mayiladumpara) is a grove at Nedungathpara takes its name from the large number of peacocks (mayil) found here that can be sighted often at dawn and dusk. About 200 peacocks inhabit the extensive forests of the Choolannur Pea Fowl Sanctuary at Nedungathpara near Palakkad. Not bound by gates, the sanctuary which has been home to peacocks since ages, allows free access to visitors.
Olappamanna Mana, located at Vellinezhi in Cherplassery, Palakkad district of Kerala, is the ancestral home of feudal lords belonging to the priestly Namboodiri Brahmins of Cherplassery, who have made significant contributions in the fields of Kathakali, percussion, classical music, literature, vedic education and Sanskrit learning. This heritage house is patronised by Pattikkamthoti Ravunni Menon who developed the modern Kathakali - Kalluvazhi Chitta. Reputed patrons of the arts and the progenies of the clan preserve their heritage including the 300-year-old mana.
Situated on the western suburbs of Palakkad town, not far from the railway station, this historic 32 feet long, 20 feet wide granite temple displays images of the Jain Thirthankaras and Yakshinis. Located on the southern bank of the Kalapathy River, the region around the temple, known as Jainamedu or Jainimedu, is one of the few places in Kerala where the vestiges of Jainism have survived. Palakkad was once home to a community of 400 Jain families, but only a few families remain today. It is at a Jain house here that Malayalam poet Kumaranasan wrote his monumental poem Veenapoovu or The Fallen Flower.
The reservoir at Siruvani was built for Tamil Nadu by the Kerala Government to meet the drinking water requirements of Coimbatore. It is located 46 km north of Mannarkad and 48 km from Palakkad. The gateways on either side of the road across the dam are typical of the Kerala and Tamil architectural styles. Siruvani is also home to certain tribals like the Mudugars and Irulars.
'Mana' means family house of the Namboothiri. Poomully Mana is a Namboothiri family home, having a history of more than 500 years. The members of Poomully Mana were famous as practitioners of ayurveda, kalari, yoga, music and other such performing arts. Sri. Poomully Raman Namboothiripad, the exceptionally talented student of the famous Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar and Sri. Poomulli Neelakandan Namboothiripad (Aramthampuran) the inimitable Ayurveda practitioner, are better known among them. The Poomully Mana's buildings and structures are in traditional Kerala style architecture. They were reconstructed under the initiative of the Late Poomully Narayanan Namboodirippad, who was the father of Poomully Aramthampuran. The authentic design of the Poomully manor makes it a brilliant piece of architecture and a much sought after mana.
Legend has it that the Namboothiri (while residing in Peruvanam village) went to Kanchipuram to visit the Kamakshi Amman Temple. Happy with the devotion of the Namboothiri, the Goddess Kanchi Kamakshi decided to come to Kerala, atop his palm leaf umbrella, unknown to him. Subsequently, it was revealed that Kanchi Kamakshi was still stationed upon that umbrella. That night, the Goddess came to the Namboothiri in his dreams and let him know that he was required to make a temple for Her, and then leave ?rakam altogether. She also let him know that he was to go forth and find an idol in a well far away, and invoke the goddess from the umbrella top, into that idol. Namboothiri did as the goddess had said and after he built the temple, he gave all his worldly possessions to it. Later The Poomully Mana family, grew to be one of the richest and most powerful Namboothiri families in Kerala and one of the biggest landlords of the Malabar.
The Poomully family encouraged research in the sciences, especially in Ayurveda. The Mana's library still has a huge collection of ancient manuscripts and books on Ayurveda and other sciences. The last Kutipraveshika treatment to be recorded, took place at Poomully Mana. Ayurveda and Kalari treatments have been practiced here since time immemorial and numerous people have benefitted from this. The Poomully Mana Ayurveda Centre also houses a museum with exhibits of rare collection of items once used in Kerala. They include rare bronze brass vessels, potteries, old musical equipments, coins, ivory carvings, martial art equipments etc.
After the passing away of Neelakandan Namboothiripad in 1997 a trust was formed in his name, and the subsequent efforts of the trust led to the establishment of Poomully Mana Ayurveda Centre, which has become a heritage center for Ayurveda, Kalari, Yoga and other traditional art forms with facilities to meet with the needs of its visitors.
With the expertise of Poomully Aramthampuran and the other members in ayurveda and related subjects, Poomully Mana became renowned as the "Mana for Ayurveda". All the treatments are carried out in a very special and authentic style, now known as the "Poomully Way". Today, it is being used as a heritage centre for ayurveda treatments, kalari, yoga etc., providing all the amenities that suit a contemporary lifestyle, without losing traditional values and principles which heighten the processes.
Besides an authentic center for undergoing Ayurveda treatment, special workshops and training programmes in classical art forms, martial arts, Panchakarma, Yoga and meditation are also offered at the Poomully Mana Ayurveda Centre. The centre also has a private herbal garden, which consists of rich vegetation of herbs and medicinal plants.
For those with a bent for traditional architecture, the design and style the Poomully Mana Ayurveda Centre would be an added attraction.
Malampuzha, a little township on the foothills of the Western Ghats takes its name from the River Malampuzha. Nurtured by this tributary of Kerala's longest river, the Bharathapuzha, Malampuzha is a lush green town is a major tourist attraction for its trekking trails and the large irrigation dam.
Around the reservoir of the dam are beautiful gardens and amusement parks. Boating facilities are available on the lake. Other attractions in the Malampuzha garden are the beautiful rock garden, the fish-shaped aquarium, the snake park, the ropeway which takes you on an aerial tour of the park, and the gigantic Yakshi (an enchantress) sculptured by Kanai Kunhiraman, a renowned sculptor of Kerala.
The most interesting feature of the rock garden is that the whole place is made of unwanted and broken pieces of bangles, tiles, used plastic cans, tins and other waste materials. The garden is a master work of sculptor Padmasree Neck Chand Saini. His rock garden in Chandigarh is world famous and attracts thousands of tourists every year.
Dhoni hills in Palakkad is popular picnic spot with a small and beautiful waterfall. It takes a three hours trek from the base of the Dhoni hills to reach this reserve forest area.
A festival celebrated annually in the Nellikulangara Bhagavathy Temple in Palakkad, Nenmara Vallangi Vela has everything a quintessential festival enthusiast looks for- a spectacular display of colours, art forms, fireworks and to top it all, there is intense competition as well.
Organised by two geographic divisions or deshams, namely Nenmara and Vallangi, the festival is celebrated in the aftermath of the season. The friendly duel between these two neighbouring villages makes the festival all the more captivating and grand as they compete to outdo each other in all ceremonies.
The festival offers a unique opportunity to witness the grandeur of folk art forms such as Kummatti, Karivela and Andivela. On the twentieth day of the festival, magnificent processions with caparisoned elephants are taken out from the two villages to the Nellikulangara Temple.
As soon as the procession reaches the temple, the two deshams present panchavadyam (the traditional Kerala orchestra). The villagers of these two deshams stand facing each other beneath the utsavapandal (festival marquee) and perform several traditional percussion ensembles in a bid to outshine each other. Another element of fancy here is the Aana Pandal, or elephant pavilion, an arch-like ornate structure illuminated by multi-coloured electric lights which is erected to accommodate the caparisoned elephants.