KERALA INFO: Alappuzha District Information
Alappuzha District Information
by by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author) (Feedback)
Density per km2
317 cm (Annual)
The name Alappuzha is derived from the geographical position and physical features of the place. It means the land between the sea and network of rivers flowing into it.
This district was formed on 17th August 1957, from the erstwhile Kottayam and Quilon districts. Initially, it had seven taluks, namely Cherthala, Ambalappuzha, Kuttanad, Thiruvalla, Chengannur, Karthikappally and Mavelikkara.
The district is bounded on the north by Kochi and Kanayannur taluks of Ernakulam district, on the east by Vaikom, Kottayam and Changanassery taluks of Kottayam district and Thiruvalla, Kozhencherry and Adoor taluks of Pathanamthitta district, on the South by Kunnathur and Karunagappally taluks of Kollam district and on the west by Lakshadweep sea.
The present Alappuzha district comprises of six taluks namely Cherthala, Ambalappuzha, Kuttanad, Karthikappally, Chengannur and Mavelikkara. Total area of this district is 1414 sq. kms.
The history of the district in the palaeolithic age is assumed that the coastal taluks of Cherthala, Ambalapuzha and Karthikappally were under water and these areas were formed by the accumulation of silt and sand later than the other parts of the district.
Kuttanad was well known even from the early periods of the Sangam age as the early Cheras had made their home in Kuttanad and they were called 'Kuttuvans'. The literary work "Unninili Sandesam" and some archeological antiques like stone inscriptions, historical monuments etc. found in the temples, churches, rock-out caves etc., give some insight into the ancient period of this district.
The famous travelers Pliny and Ptolemy of the first and second centuries have mentioned about Purakkad (Barace) in their classical works. The Christianity had set a strong foot-hold in this district even from the Ist century A.D. The church located at Kokkomangalam or Kokkothamangalam was one of the seven churches founded by St.Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. It is generally believed that he landed at Maliankara in Muziris Port, presently known as Cranganore or Kodungallur in 52 A.D and preached Christianity in South India.
Between 9th and 12th century AD, the district flourished in the field of religion and culture under the second Chera Empire. Sakthibhadra, a scholar from Chengannur gramam wrote a famous Sanskrit drama ‘Ascharya Choodamani’ during this period.
During 16th century small territories like Kayamkulam (presently Karthikappally and Mavelikkara taluks), Purakkad which was often called Ambalappuzha or Chempakasseri (present Ambalappuzha and Kuttanad taluk) and Karappuram comprising of two territories called Moothedath and Iledath (present Cherthala Taluk) emerged into power.
The king, a great scholar and a poet, Pooradam Thirunal Devanarayana ruled the region and the kingdom of Chempakasseri was at its zenith during his reign. He has also written ‘Vedantha Retnamala’, a commentary on the first verse of Bhagavat Geetha.
It is believed that the Sreekrishna Swami temple at Ambalappuzha was built and the idol of Lord Krishna installed during the same period. Many eminent scholars like Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri, Sri Neelakanta Deekshithar and Sri Kumaran Namboothiri were patronized in the court of Pooradam Thirunal Devanarayana.
The Portuguese also came into prominence in the political scene of the district. The Christianity became popular in all parts of the district and they built several churches of which Churches located at Purakkad and Arthungal are well known. In the 17th century, the Portugese power declined and the Dutch gained a prominent position in the principalities of this district. As a result of several treaties signed between the Dutch and the Rajas of Purakkad, Kayamkulam and Karappuram, the Dutch built factories and warehouses in various places of the district for storing pepper, ginger etc. They also interfered in the political and cultural affairs of the district.
The Maharaja Marthandavarma, the ‘Maker of modern Travancore’ became prominent and through his annexure of the Kingdoms of Kayamkulam, Ambalappuzha, Thekkumkur, Vadakkumkur and Karappuram gave the Dutch a setback from the political scene of the district. The king played a remarkable role towards the internal progress of the district. He gave special attention to the development of Mavelikkara as an administrative as well as a commercial centre.
The Krishnapuram plalace, which is now a protected monument of the State Archaeology department, was constructed during this period. Even the great and talented poet Kunjan Nambiar was patronised in the court at Trivandrum.
During the freedom struggle, a campaign for the eradication of untouchability was organized in this district by T.K. Madhavan, a fearless journalist. In 1925, the approach roads to the temples, especially to Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Swami temple were thrown open to the Hindus of all castes. The district also witnessed the ‘Nivarthana’ movement which was started as a protest against the constitutional repression of 1932.
The first political strike in Kerala was held at Alappuzha in 1938. The Diwan of Travancore, Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer was removed during the historic struggles of Punnapra and Vayalar in 1946. The district came into existence as a separate administrative unit on the 1st August 1957.
Places of Interest
Aranmula, Pathiramanal Island, Kuttanad, Ambalappuzha Pilgrim Centre, Mannarasala, Krishnapuram Palace, Karumadi, Arthunkal (Pilgrim Centre), Punnapra
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