SITUATE AT THE base of the Western Ghats, Palakkad (Palghat) derives its name from the dense forests (kadu) of pale (Aisteria scholaris) trees that once covered the land. Today, however, paddy fields and tobacco plantations have taken their place.

Tipu’s Fort, in the heart of the town, was built by Haider Ali of Mysore in 1766; it was subsequently occupied by the British after they defeated his son and successor, Tipu Sultan some 30 years later. This sombre, granite structure now houses various government offices. The large Vishwanatha Temple, on the banks of the Kalpathy river, is famous for its chariot procession.

On the outskirts of town are the extensive Malampuzha Gardens, laid out above a huge irrigation dam built across the Malampuzha river. Pleasant boat cruises are possible on a large lake, nestling in the foothills.

ENVIRONS: The town of Kollengode is 19 km (12 miles) south of Palakkad and is set in beautiful pastoral surroundings. The Vishnu Temple am. Kollengode Palace are worth a visit. Thirthala, 75 kin (47 miles) west of Palakkad, has a Shiva temple and the ruins of a mud fort. Its most important sight, the Kattilmadam Temple, is a granite Buddhist monument dating from the 9th-10th centuries.

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