Palakkad district is found in the center of the state of Kerala, reaching from Tamil Nadu to nearly the coast of the Arabian Sea. Palakkad covers 4,480 square kilometers, and contains 2,376,160 people.
Palakkad is one of the most densely forested districts in the state of Kerala. Palakkad is supposed to have gotten its name from the pala tree and the kadu forest; supposedly, pala trees once covered the entire area. Click here to see some pictures of the landscape.
Palakkad holds one of the only accessible routes through the Western Ghats (the mountain range that seperates Kerala from Tamil Nadu); this access is the result of a 32 to 40 meter wide gap. This gap was historically and continues to be the major land trade route between Kerala and the rest of the country. As a result, many outside influences can be seen in Palakkad.
The district contains only midland and highland areas, and is one of two districts that have no coastal boundaries. It is an extremely fertile area of Kerala; some of the major crops grown there are tapioca, coffee, tea, and paddy.
The district of Palakkad is also home to the mountain valley area of Attappadi (atta meaning leaches, ppadi meaning land of) which is where we spent most of our time while in Palakkad.
Attappadi is inhabitted mainly by tribes. Many different tribal hamlets are found scattered throughout the highlands of Attappadi. Most of these are not accessible by motorized vehicle and must be reached by way of foot. Some exist as far as 40 kilometers from any roads, accessible only by footpath through dense forests.
Attappadi has much forest, which was previously inhabited by the tribes, but now belongs to the government and animals such as wild elephants, monkeys, peacocks, etc. The effects of development and industry has however effected these forests and many have become rubber plantations and such.
Attappadi is also the dwelling place of the Bhavani river a very sacred river to the tribal people. Silent Valley National Park is one of the most spectacular components of Palakkad. Spread over 90 square kilometers Silent Valley National Park contains a nearly unnaffected forest, probably the best example in all of the Western Ghats. It also contains India's last substantial stretch of tropical evergreen rainforest. Like Attapadi, a large number of wild animals can be found here.