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Punalur, Kollam Overview

Punalur, lying along the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the district of Kollam, derives its name from two words one Tamil and one Malayalam. Tamil word 'punal' means water and Malayalam word 'ooru' means place together making Punalur the place of water. Indeed Kallada flows right through the heart of the city with the famous suspension bridge hanging over it, stretching for 400 metres across its width. Panalur is known as "Pepper Village of Kerala" and is also houses a major Paper Mill established in 1850's.

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Attractions in Punalur

Panalur has lovely woods of pineapples, coconut and palm trees, cinnamons and other spices and has exciting adventure sports and exotic jungle experiences in the Thenmala Ecotourism Park. Panalur It was the heart of the riots against Diwan back in the days and also the centre of the Keralite industrial revolution that took strength from the establishment of the Punalur paper mills. Historical importance apart, this town is also a proper tourist attraction mainly for the British era bridge and the picturesque beauty all around. 

Since the town is situated in the middle of the Western Ghats, it is also known as the lap of Western Ghats. Tourists visiting the city of Punalur also go to visit other tourist attractions such as Shenthruni Forest. The forest is perfect for hiking, mountain biking and all the other adventure sports one wants to indulge in. Some other very popular places which can be visited include Palruvi and Courtallam waterfalls and the ancient Pattazhi Devi temple.

History of Punalur

Punalur used to be a taluk or an administrative district with several villages from time unknown. The river on which the district stands – Kallada, also known as Shenduruny, has been discovered to have flourished a Mesolithic civilization older than the Indus Valley one. Excavations have led to the unearthing of prehistoric remains from along the banks of the river which date back to 512 BC - 4420 BC.

Punalur was also the centre of the industrial revolution in the state of Kerala. The various revolts and movements against unworthy authority figures in Kerala also built up with Punalur at its centre. The famous Punalur Paper Mills played an essential role in the social and economic reform of the surrounding areas, provided employment and fought in the freedom movement and the revolt against the Diwan rule.

Things To See in Punalur

Kollam-Sengottai Railway trip: Punalur Railway station is an important transit point in the entire track from Kollam to Sengottai. It comprises of big tunnels around 5 of them through the mountain bodies, dotted with majestic, extended arches and bridges over the steep, green valleys. Taking a trip on this train is worth the shot only because of the heartwarming, brilliant view of the Western Ghats, especially when the train passes over the hanging railway bridges, exposing the endless abyss of greenery below and all around. 

The Punalur Suspension Bridge: This bridge was built to prevent wild animals from the other side of river Kallada, in the forest of old Kattupathanapuram from coming to the populated city area. This British era construction is now a major tourist attraction. People take photos of the surroundings and the flowing river from the bridge. It has held on to the colonial feel that was there when it was first built.

Malamel Para: This is a quiet outing within a half an hour distance from Punalur. The word in local Malayalam language means 'top of the hill' and the place is exactly that. There is a famous temple of Lord Shiva which is considered to be very divine and auspicious, and the place is rich with legendary stories. It is said to be located near the location of Jatayupara the rock that the holy Bird Jatayu from Ramayana carried on his wings, which is also a tourist attraction. There is also a dangerous cave which secretly leads to the Kulathupuzha forest and is the abode for venomous snakes.

Thenmala Ecotourism: Situated very close to Punalur, a major tourist attraction spot is the entire region of Thenmala Ecotourism Park - the first of its kind in India in the lap of the old Sahyadri forests. The visitors can enjoy a variety of activities here, starting from leisurely walks to mountain biking, rock climbing and a boat ride in the Shenduruny River to the Wildlife Sanctuary. There is also a Deer Rehab Centre, the Nakshatravanam - a nursery from where you can buy saplings related to your birth star, the Thenmala Dam, a Leisure Zone for relaxation and kids, and several huts situated deep inside the forest for a surreal escapade. The entire experience is a magical one with spiralling walkways through the natural forests and so many exciting activities to pursue.

Courtallam waterfalls and Patazhi Devi Temple are some of the other nearby attractions.

Best Time To Visit Punalur

Punalur is probably the hottest city in Kerala, with summer temperatures rising to 40 degrees Celcius. It is much more pleasant and comfortable during the cooler months. October to March is the perfect time to visit Punalur.

Stay Near Punalur

Even though Punalur is a pretty frequented tourist spot, the number of lodging options is considerably low in the immediate area. There is one 4 star hotel - Kumar Palace, a guest house - Vrindavanam Inn and a speciality lodge with few rooms and meal arrangements - the Kerala Heritage Villa. However, if you plan to go for a day's visit and come back by night, there are several options within 40-50 kilometres of the immediate town.

How To Reach Punalur

The nearest airport to the city of Punalur is in Thiruvananthapuram. From there, buses and cab or hired cars will reach you to Punalur. The city is connected with some major South India by the Kollam Thirumangalam Road NH 208. The city has its own railway station the Punalur Station which falls on the Kollam-Sengottai branch line.

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