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Malabar Manual Vol 2
William Logan

By C. Kunhi Kannan

Position, Boundaries, Soil and Area.—The Kurumbranad taluk is bounded on the North by the Kottayam taluk, on the east by the Wynad taluk, on the south by the Calicut taluk, and on the west by the Arabian Sea. The soil of the interior is generally red and much impregnated with laterite, which gradually assumes a rich loam in parts cultivated with paddy, whilst towards the coast it is brown loose earth.

The Kurumbranad taluk comprises the old taluks of Kadattanad and Kurumbranad.

The area of the taluk, according to the census returns of 1881, is 538 square miles. This is only an approximate calculation as accurate figures are not available, the district not having been surveyed. Of this extent about 175,613 acres or about 274 square miles, are under cultivation. The demand of land revenue for fasli 1295 (1885-86) was Rs. 2,13,565, giving an average of Rs. 1¼ nearly per acre of cultivated area.

Population.—The population of the taluk, inclusive of floating population as ascertained by the census of 1881, was, 261,024, being 129,394 males and 131,630 females. The population returned by the census of 1871 was 244,166. The population of 1881 may be classified as follows :-

which give an average of 485 persons per square mile.

Education is backward in the taluk as will appear from the fact that under the head of “instruction" the census returned 7,944, ‘‘instructed’’ 20,206, and “illiterate including not stated" 232,874 persons.

There were 56,471 houses (48,440 occupied and 8,031 unoccupied) in 1881 against 45,597 houses in 1871. The average number of persons per occupied house in 1881 was 5.4.

Division of Taluk for Administrative Purposes.— The taluk comprises 57 amsams each with an adhikari on Rs. 5¼, a menon on Rs. 6 and two peons on Rs. 3 each per mensem.

Prior to 1866 there were 63 amsams in the taluk, but in that year 6 amsams were transferred to the Calicut taluk. The names of these amsams will be found in the Note on the Calicut taluk.

The old Kadattanad taluk comprised 21 hobalis and the old Kurumbranad 10 hobalis. As already observed, these two taluks were amalgamated into the present Kurumbranad taluk.

Government Establishments of different kinds maintained in the taluks and where located.—The taluk kacheri of Kurumbranad, including the Sub-jail and Police station, is at Badagara, where there is also a District Munsif’s Court and a Sub-Registrar’s office. The District Board maintain a middle school, a dispensary on a small scale, a travellers' bungalow and mussafer khana at Badagara.

There are two other District Munsifs’ Courts in the taluk, one at Nadapuram in Kummangod amsam, 9 miles north-east of Badagara, and the other at Payanad in Quilandi, 14 miles south of Badagara. There is a Deputy Tahsildar’s kacheri at Quilandi. There are Sub-Registrars at Nadapuram, Payoli, Quilandi, Naduvannur and Kuttiyadi. There are combined Post and Telegraph offices and Sea Customs offices at Badagara and Quilandi. There are Police stations at Chombal in Aliyur amsam, Nadapuram in Kummangod amsam, Badagara, Payoli in Iringatt amsam, Quilandi in Viyur amsam, Tiruvallur, Kuttiyadi, Perambra, Naduvannur and lyad.

Short Descriptive Notices of Towns, etc.—There are no Municipal towns in Kurumbranad. Kadattanad is one of the ancient chieftainships (nads) into which Malabar was formerly divided. It stretches from the sea coast up the western declivity of the Western Ghats. The level tracts near the sea are very fertile. The eastern hilly parts are well wooded and contain indigenous cardamom plants. The petty State is said to have been founded in 1664 by a Nayar chief who inherited it in the male line from the Tekkelankur (southern regent) of the Kolattiri kingdom.

Badagara (Vadakkekara = the north bank) is the chief town in the taluk. According to the census of 1871, there were 1,037 houses with a population of 7,718 souls in Badagara amsam. At the census of 1881, there were 1,643 houses and a population of 8,336 persons. Of these 3,849 are Mappillas. Badagara is situated on the sea coast at the northern extremity of the Elattur-Badagara backwater and on the trunk road from Calicut to Cannanore, 30 miles from the former and 12 miles south of Telhcherry.

There is a fort at Badagara which originally belonged to the Kolattiri Rajas, and it is said to have been acquired by the Kadattanad Raja in 1564. On passing into the possession of the Mysoreans it was made the chief export customs station on the coast. In 1790 it was taken from Tippu by the English, and having been restored to the Kadattanad Raja, it was converted by him into a Brahman feeding-house, which was afterwards transferred to the Paravantala temple in Badagara amsam. The raja has since built a thatched house in the fort. The fort is 246 feet square with bastions at each corner, and immediately west of it is a tank 168 feet long and 144 feet broad.

Badagara is a straggling but busy Mappilla town with several irregular streets or lanes. On the beach there are several substantial storehouses. There is a Jamatt mosque here as well as minor mosques. The Jamatt mosque is 114 by 42 feet.

In Paravantala desam in Badagara amsam is a well 66 feet in circumference and 42 feet deep. This well is said to have been jumped across by Tachcholi Odenan, the hero of a folk song noted in North Malabar.

In Badagara amsam, Paravantala desam, there is a temple dedicated to Subramanyan. It is 76 feet long and 66 feet broad. Attached to the temple is a tank 73 feet square. The temple, said to be an ancient institution, was renewed by the Kadattanad Raja about the year 1864, The roof of the shrine is covered with copper plates. The raja maintains a Brahman feeding-house here.

In Kuttipuram amsam, 10 miles to the north-east of Badagara, is the fortified palace of the Kadattanad Porlatiri Valiya Raja, and in Purameri amsam, 8 miles from Badagara, is the Porlatiri Ilaya Raja's house. The remaining two branches of the raja’s family live in Ayancheri Kovilakam and Edavalatt Kovilakam in the same amsam.

Kottakkal, 3 miles south of Badagara, is a sea customs sub-port subordinate to Badagara. It was once a large town inhabited by Mappillas. There is a mosque of some note on the southern bank of the river at Kottakkal. Kottakkal was formerly the stronghold of a Mappilla pirate called Kunhali Marakkar, who committed depredations in the surrounding country which are described in a folk song. Hardly any vestige of the stronghold now remains.

The Sacrifice Rock is opposite the Kottakkal sub-port in Lat. 11° 29' 45" N., Long. 75° 31½ E., bears S. ½ E. from Tellicherry 5¼ leagues, and is distant 4¾ miles from the land opposite ; it has a white aspect, 40 feet in height, and is discernible 3 and 3½ leagues from a large ship, the deck being elevated 15 or 20 feet above water. It is called Velliyankallu or the white or silvery stone by the natives of Malabar. This rock or island is steep all round, having 12 and 13 fathoms close to it, 16 fathoms 2¾ miles outside, 10 fathoms within it, to 7 fathoms about midway between it and the mainland in a very good channel. Ships passing through the inside channel ought to give the point a berth of 3 miles by borrowing towards the rock ; and in working should heave the lead quick, if they come under 6 fathoms standing in shore. Passing outside Sacrifice Rock in the night, ships should not come under 16 or 17 fathoms water.

Nadapuram is a rising Mappilla town in Kummangod amsam 9 miles from Badagara. The amsam has a population of 5,328 souls. The recent establishment of a Munsif's Court has increased the importance of this place. There is a Jamatt mosque here, which is 104 by 33 feet in size.

At Kuttiyadi, which was once a strong military post, 17 miles from Badagara, there is an old redoubt as well as a small Mappilla village. The Kuttiyadi Ghat begins here. There is a Sub-Registrar's office and a Police station here. There is also a Jamatt mosque, 53 by 27 feet.

The Kuttiyadi Pass, in the Western Ghats, leads from Kurumbranad taluk into Wynad. It is steep and only practicable for foot-passengers and beasts of burden. The Kuttiyadi river is navigable from Badagara up to 30 miles. Large quantities of timber are floated down the river to Elattur in Calicut, and to Badagara.

In Ponmeri amsam, 5 miles from Badagara, is a Siva temple which is 124½ feet by 87 feet. It is sculptured. The roof of the shrine is covered with copper. There is a granite slab at the eastern entrance with an inscription in unknown characters. The temple is very old and was destroyed by Tippu's soldiers.

In Edacheri amsam, 5 miles from Badagara, is Vengoli temple in which Ganapati is worshipped. It is 70 by 53½ feet. The Kadattanad Raja mamtains a Brahman feeding-house here. Not far from the temple to the north there is a Bhagavati temple called Kaliyampalli temple. It is 97 feet long and 86 feet broad. There is an inscription on a slab in unknown characters.

In Muttungal amsam, Vellikulangara desam, 4 miles north of Badagara, there is a Siva temple, 54 by 41 feet. Outside the temple, there is a slab with inscription in an unknown language. At Karshkad in this amsam, there is a Muhammadan mausoleum over the grave of one Siti Koya, who is alleged to have migrated to Malabar from Arabia about 200 years ago. The mausoleum is held in great veneration by Mappillas, who flock to it in large numbers from different parts and make offerings.

In Velam amsam, 12 miles south-east of Badagara, there is a reservoir of fresh water locally known as Tura, which is 1,080 feet long by 218 feet wide. There is a similar Tura in Kuttiyadi amsam, which is 684 feet by 72 feet with a depth averaging 22 feet. These are fabled to have been excavated by the Pandus in pre-historic period.

Chombala in Aliyur amsam is a Basel Evangelical station. The mission was started there in 1849, and the number of church members in the colony on the 1st January 1885 were 309. There is a girls’ orphanage here, which was transferred from Cannanore in 1872. A branch weaving establishment has existed here since 1883. There are three schools for boys and girls with an average attendance of about 200 pupils. The Chombala Mission has an out-station at Badagara and Muvaratt. The station at Quilandi, opened in 1857, is subordinate to the mission at Calicut. The congregation at Quilandi numbers 68.

In Melati amsam, 10 miles from Quilandi, there is a Siva temple known as Kilur, which has its shrine roofed with copper. The temple is 93 by 70 feet. In the month of Vrischikam (November-December), a festival is celebrated here with great pomp. During the festival an important cattle market is held close to the temple over a large area. Divers other articles also find ready sale here on the occasion. More than 60,000 head of cattle are brought here from different parts of the district and Coimbatore, etc., and more than 10,000 people assemble during the festival.

Quilandi, the headquarters of the Deputy Tahsildar, is in Viyyur amsam. There are besides a District Munsif’s Court, Sub-Registrar’s office, Sea Customs office, a combined Post and Telegraph office, Police station, Subsidiary jail, travellers’ bungalow and mussaferkhana at Quilandi. The population of the amsam in 1871 was 10,367 and in 1881, 10,259. In 1881 there were 2,095 houses against 1,757 in 1871. Of the former, 1,752 were occupied and the rest unoccupied.

Quilandi was a large flourishing port and town, of which many substantial buildings remain. It had also the advantage of being in the neighbourhood of the Kollam mud bank resembling those at Alleppey and Narakkal. Towards the close of the last century, the port was suddenly destroyed by a cyclone.

It was close to Quilandi (Capocate) that Vasco da Gama’s fleet first cast anchor in 1498. Close to the seaport on the north is one of the nine original Muhammadan mosques established on the Malabar Coast by Malik Ibn Dinar. The mosque (recently renewed) is at Kollam, sometimes called northern or Pantalayini Kollam. This mosque appears to have been built in imitation of one at Mecca. The dome is covered with sheets of copper which Arab vessels passing down the coast never failed in former days to salute, and all Muhammadan seamen offered prayers on coming abreast of it. Three festivals are annually celebrated in the mosque. In Kollam, there is a Jamatt mosque in which there are three granite slabs containing inscriptions.

In the town of Quilandi there is an old mosque 130 by 70 feet. It is very high, having three storeys. The Government have granted lands yielding annually Rs. 1,800 for the support of this mosque. A brief account of the circumstances of this endowment will not be uninteresting.

The mosque appears to have been founded in 1779 by Saiyid Abdulla Bin Saiyid Ahamad Hadi. In 1780 voluntary engagements were entered into by the Muhammadan and Hindu merchants of different villages in Tinnevelly, by which they bound themselves to pay for the mosque a trilling fee upon each man’s load or bullock load of merchandise which passed through their respective villages. A payment analogous to this was also in due course secured in Malabar in behalf of this mosque. The above collection was continued until 1803 when Regulation XII of that year put a stop to the practice.

In 1810, Saiyid Ali Hadi, the founder’s son, brought to the notice of Government the difficulties experienced in regard to the up-keep of the mosque by the enforcement of Regulation XII. An enquiry was instituted into the matter in 1826 which eventully resulted in the grant of an allowance of Rs. 1,800 per annum, payable by monthly instalments, for the support of the mosque and establishment, and an additional payment down of Rs. 2,000 for repairing the mosque (G.O., dated 29th February 1828).

The mosque was described by the Sub-Collector, Mr. Wheatley, to be a magnificent structure affording accommodation to travellers and to a largely attended school where instruction was imparted to Muhammadan youths. It was also stated that pilgrims to Mecca and visitors from Arabia were entertained here. The Government consequently directed the allowance to be continued as long as the institution was kept up on a proper footing and found to be beneficial to that portion of the public which had been accustomed to resort to it for lodging, entertainment or religious purposes.

In their despatch of 15th June 1831, the Court of Directors approved the grant and the proviso laid down for its continuance, and observed that what was intended was a degree of utility not altogether disproportionate to the allowance made. The Inam deed pertaining to this confirmed the grant to the present Inamdar for the purpose of the Inam as long as he continues to be loyal.

In 1841 Government withdrew from all connection with religious institutions, and in 1846 the Government accepted the Collector’s proposal to make over to the Quilandi mosque as Sarvamanyam certain escheated farms in Ernad producing a net revenue of Rs. 1,800 per annum. In 1848, 199 pieces of paddy fields and nursery plots and 16 gardens measuring in all 306 cawnies, 828 koles, and assessed at Rupees 1,176-10-1 with proprietor’s share of Rs. 623-5—11 aggregating Rs. 1,800 were made over to the Inamdar. These lands lie in the amsams of Manjeri, Karakunnu, and Trikalangod in Ernad taluk. The Inamdar now squeezes from his tenants more than Rs. 3,200 per annum.

A festival is annually performed in the month of Ramullan on Mayath Kunnu (grave-yard hill) in Kollam. There are several ancient tombs on the hill, some of them with inscriptions.

In Kollam desam is the Vishari Kavu temple, dedicated to Bhagavati and Siva. The roof of the Bhagavati shrine is covered with copper. The temple is 93 by 84 feet. The Dasra festival is celebrated here with pomp in Kanni (September-October), and in the month of Minam (March-April), a festival takes place for 8 days which attracts many pilgrims and calls into being in its neighbourhood at Kannadikkal a fair for diverse articles aggregating in value about Rs, 10,000.

The temple possesses inam lands in the amsams of Viyur, Mudadi Tiruvangur, Arikkulam, Kilariyur and Melur, the revenue of which amounts to Rs. 343.

There is a tank 920 feet by 502 feet at Kollam.

There are inscriptions in illegible characters in the minor temples of Maralur, Pantalayini and Taliyil in Viyur.

In Edakkara amsam, 10 miles from Quilandi, there is a hill called Vallikkat-Mittal Kunnu crowned by a small shrine. There is a perennial flow of water from the top of the hill which is considered to be tirtham or holy water and to which a large number of pilgrims flock in the month of Tulam (October-November). In Velur desam, Manikottaparamba, there is a hat-stone 36 feet in circumference on an upright stone about 3 feet high and 4 feet thick. There was a similar circular stone in the same compound which has fallen from its prop.

In the neighbourhood of these hat-stones there is a stone-cut cave with a central column and raised platforms on sides similar to those found elsewhere in the district.

Naduvannur is an important village and was the headquarters of the old Kurumbranad taluk. It has a population of 3,386 souls, of whom 2,616 are Hindus and 770 Muhammadans. There is a Sub-Registrar’s office here as well as a Police station. There is also a travellers’ bungalow. A market is held every Saturday.

In Karayad amsam, Tiruvangur desam, 6 miles from Quilandi, there is a Siva temple called Tiruvangur perched on a rock-hill called Kappa mala. There are sculptures in the temple. It is 109 feet by 63 feet. The Sivaratri festival is celebrated here annually in the month of Kumbham (February-March). On the north and south of the temple as well as within the precincts of the temple, there are as many as nine quasi tanks varying from 6 to 60 feet in circumference, excavated on the top of the rocky hill which are never dried up. They are esteemed for ablutions. On a granite rock at the temple there is an inscription in unknown characters.

In Meppayur amsam, Eravattur desam, there are two ponds known as Narikkilapula and Tiyarapula. The former is 600 feet long and 90 feet broad and the latter is almost as broad. They are used for washing. A local legend imputes their excavation to the Pandavas.

In Pompiri desam of the same amsam is a garden called Kudakottiparamba, in which there is a hat-stone 30 feet in circumference supported by an upright column about 3 feet high and about 5 feet thick. The circular stone is a little damaged on one side. This is 9 miles north-east of Quilandi.

Payoli in Iringatt amsam is a rising town. The population of the amsam is 3,408, being 2,508 Hindus, 892 Muhammadans and 8 Christians. There is a Sub-Registrar’s office at Payoli and a Police station as well as a travellers’ bungalow on an eminence overlooking the river. A weekly market on every Monday is held here. There is a lock at Payoli on the canal which connects the Akalapula backwater with the Kuttiyadi river, and thus provides an uninterrupted line of inland navigation from Elattur in Calicut to Badagara. Fees are levied on boats passing the lock. Payoli is 10 miles from Badagara and 11 from Quilandi.

The rivers of the taluk are—

1 . The Kottakkal or Kuttiyadi river

2. The Mahe or Mondole river.

3. The Naduvannur river.

A list of ferries in the taluk is subjoined:-

Second Class

1. Murat kadavu.

Commentary                MMVol 1               MMVol 2

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