Malappuram offers calm, quietude and rich cultural traditions that date back to its own monarchy
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Atop the hills in Malappuram
Malappuram, a northern district in Kerala literally means ‘atop the hills.’ Its grand cultural legacy and architectural wonders bring history back to life.
Malappuram carries battle scars from wounds inflicted during the Khilafat movement and Mappila riots. Malappuram is where the storm of struggle in Kerala gained momentum. For years, the Zamorins of Kozhikode made Malappuram their military headquarters.
Malappuram’s rustic beauty is enhanced by three rivers that flow through it: the Chaliyar, the Kadalundi, and the Bharathapuzha.
Mosques and Temples
Surrounded by the Nilgiri hills on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west, Malappuram offers calm and quietude. Its rich cultural traditions date back to its own monarchy. The residents of Malappuram have managed to preserve their unique heritage which remains untouched by British social and cultural reformation. Its ancient mosques and traditional houses reflect the splendor of Muslim architecture. Malappuram also is a renowned center of Hindu Vedic learning and Islamic philosophy, and well known for its lively festivals. It also has a number of wildlife sanctuaries, museums, and other natural trails that are worth visiting.
Nilambur- The Splendor of Muslim Architecture
The nearest tourist destination in Malappuram is Nilambur. From a sightseeing bungalow in the heart of the Nilambur forest, visitors can enjoy an unparalleled view of the Nadukani Churam. It’s a spectacular road that winds through the western ghats alongside meandering paths of the mountain pass. The bungalow near the Chaliyar River was built to keep a watchful eye on the Tipu Sultan’s army.
Nilambur is known for its abundant teak plantations, surrounded by hillocks, forests, and waterfalls. Its dense forests are home to several tribal settlements. It’s famous for a unique architectural wonder, the Nilambur Kovilakams, where tribals perform the famous Nilambur Paattu.
The Teak Museum of Nilambur on the Nilambur-Gudallur route provides insights into the scientific, cultural, historic, aesthetic, and natural aspects of the teak tree. The museum was established in 1995 by the Kerala Forest Research Institute in association with the Kerala Forest Department. The teak plantation in Nilambur was set up to ensure a steady supply of teak timber to Britons during colonial times, making Nilambur synonymous with the finest teak wood in the world.
The museum is a haven for various species of flora and fauna, especially endangered medicinal plants, and trees. It is also home to many resident and migratory birds and hundreds of species of butterflies, moths, and insects. The 800-meter-long nature trail filled with thick shrubs, reptiles, and colorful butterflies, is yet another major attraction at the Teak Museum.
The Teak Museum houses around 55 types of bamboo and an arboretum with the biggest teak in the world. The biggest ‘planted teak’ in the world is grown at Conoli’s Plot at Nilambur. Explore the museum for a new perspective on the intricacies of teak wood and its evolution into various forms. Kannimara Teak, which is said to be the world’s largest living teak, is situated at Parambikulam National Park in Palakkad.
The museum displays a 480-year-old teak tree stump, a teak root system, and the logs of a 116-year-old teak tree. Other exhibits include miniature teak models of ships and boats and a mini-theatre with more information on teak.
Visitors to Nilambur can also choose to visit Adayanpara Falls, Vellamthode Falls, Bio-Reserve Park, and Butterfly Park.
Wagon Tragedy Memorial
A terrible tragedy that helped the Independence Movement gather steam, happened just 23 kilometers from Malappuram in the Malabar region. During the Mappila Rebellion against British colonial rule, prisoners were taken into custody and sent by train to Tirur. On November 20, 1921, 67 rebels suffocated to death in the closed wagon. This incident is referred to as the “wagon tragedy.”
At a height of 1050 ft., Arimbra Hills offers scenic views, gushing rivulets, and vast expanses of greenery. Nicknamed ‘Mini Ooty’, the Arimbra Hills are often touted as a replica of the famous South Indian hill station. On the hill roads that spiral upwards towards the hilltop, visitors can stop to enjoy sugarcane from small roadside shops.
An ancient seaport
A visit to Ponnani is a must for a glimpse of rustic Kerala and the remnants of an ancient seaport. At Ponnani, an hour’s drive from Malappuram, the Bharathapuzha, Kerala’s second-longest river in Kerala, finally joins the Arabian Sea. One can view the scenic merger from the secluded and tranquil Padinjarekkara Beach. Nearby Biyyan Kayal is a popular lake destination for tourists interested in water sports. Several ancient mosques and mausoleums prove that Ponnani was a favorite destination for Arab traders, for over two millennia.