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Kanjirapally, a little town on the foothills of the Western Ghats of Kerala, India, is a tribute to the pioneering nature of the intrepid planter and the free spirit of enterprise. This beautiful town resplendent in greenery and plantations, exudes an old world ambience in a fast moving world..

There is also considerable importance attached to Kanjirapally both historically as well as culturally. This place is rightly described as "the Queen of Malanad (The Land of Mountains)" and "the Gateway of Malanad". The name Kanjirapally is probably linked to the tree Kanjiram, once abundant in these places.The geographical position of Kanjirapally ensured that from ancient times it served as an excellent trade junction among the commercial centres of the east and the west.

The earliest inhabitants of Kanjirapally were the "Koyyins", a tribal society. Who had settled in Chotti in Parathodu Panchayat. Around 1000 A.D., a Pandiyan prince managed to extend his power far into the heart of Kerala and established his rule in Pandalam. During the long control of Pandalam over the border lands of Kerala, the Tamils enjoyed freedom of movement and settlement in the high ranges of the Western Ghats and around places like Kanjirapally, Aruvithura (Erattupetta) etc.

The colonisation of tradesmen from neighbouring Tamilnadu is an important landmark in the evolution of Kanjirapally. Since the Pandians were holding the hill areas of the trade routes, the arrival of the trade caravans was speedy, safe and easy. The first Tamil clan to settle down here in Kanjirapally around AD 1150 were the "Kannannur Chetties". Their ancestry can be traced to a village in Chettinad, a few kilometers East of Dindigul. By caste they were vysyas or traders. They traded in cloth, metal-wares, pulses, jewels, grain, tobacco and opium for sale. In return Kanjirapally offered pepper, ginger, coconut, arecanut and other spices.

Kanjirapally later on was to become the commercial centre of the old kingdom of Thekkumkoor with its capital at Vennimala, near today's Kottayam. One trade route ran Eastwards winding through the forest and mountain ranges of Peermade. It passed through Azhutha and Kumaly. A more important route went South East and passed through the spices-rich forests of Erumely, Thiruvampady and Pampavally, crossing the Pamba river at Nilakal, which was the headquarters of a Taluk in erstwhile territory of Pandalam. These ancient lines of communication consisted of narrow trails of pony paths threading through thick forests . Large quantities of cargo moved through them mostly on Ponies or oxen-caravans.

RELIGIONS

HINDUISM

The influence of Hinduism from across the border from Tamilnadu is overwhelming. A beautiful temple Ganapathiyar Koil built in granite stands as a testimony to the early Tamil influence in religion and culture. There is also indications that Tamil rulers of Kanjirapally levied tax on livestock or Pothimadu to supplement income to another temple Bhagavathi Shri Madura Meenakshi. The next batch of Hindu settlers came two centuries later. They too were traders by profession. Hailing from Kumbhakonam, they
were called Vellala Pillas. Though they were merchants, they gradually took to farming. The Vellalas attended the Ganapathiyar Koil for worship but later they built another temple on the northern side of the temple property, called Northern Ganapathiyar Kovil in Pallava style of architecture. During the reign of Thekkumkoor Raja these Vellala Pillas became highly influential and another temple by the side of River Chittar in the name of Madura Meenakshi was built.

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