Kanhangad Knowledge Guide
It was cited in old folklore that the area of Kanhangad was under the reign of king Nanda Raja of Mushaka Rajya, headquartered in Ezhimala Kannur region during the Sangam period. The historic region was known as Poozhinadu and later Paduvanadu. However, the history of Kanhangad can be clearly understood only by the 8th century. During this period the area was a part of the 2nd Chera Dynasty. It was one of the 32 Tulu villages under the administration of Payyannur kazhakam of Chera Dynasty. The illustrations of a Chera King, Bhaskaran Ravi Varman II obtained from Pullur shows the political sovereignty of the Chera Kingdom in this region. Later, when Kolathunadu of Kolathiri dynasty from Kannur administered the region, Kolathiri appointed Kanhan as the baron of the region. So the name Kanhante Naadu, meaning 'Kanhan's Province' contracted to Kanhangad. Due to the collapse of the Kolathiri Dynasty, the reign of Elamkoor came to an end and the powerful elite barons renowned as Ettadukkal lords gained the strength. Among them, the mightiest was Allohalan, whose reign was concentrated around Madiyan Kovilakam. With the help of the Zamorin, Kolathiri has assassinated him and established a new dynasty at Neeleswaram headquarters. Earlier Kanhangad was a crucial port in all sense. Hence the Vijayanagara kings attacked Kanhangad too during their conquest of Tulu Nadu. After the fall of the Vijayanagara dynasty, the Ikkeri Kings have been attacking this area since the 1630s.Since Kanhangad became a part of Nileshwaram kingdom following the reign of the Kolathunadu, the land witnessed frequent conflicts between Nileshwaram kingdom and Ikkeri Nayaks of Bednore. When the Ikkeri Nayaks defeated the Nileshwaram kingdom, the region came under the Keladi Nayaka Kingdom. In 1713 Somashekara Nayaka constructed a new fort to resist further attacks from Nileshwaram kingdom. The fort is now known as Puthiyakotta or Hosdurg, meaning 'New Fort' in Malayalam and Kannada respectively. In the 1760s Haidar Ali captured the land from Ikkeri Nayaks and the region came under the Mysore Kingdom which was later forcibly merged with the south Kanara district. In 1799, soon after the death of Tipu Sultan the entire region came under the control of East India Company. Till 1862, Kanhangad was in Bekal Taluk under Bombay Presidency. On 15 April 1862 when the Dakshina Kannada region shifted to Madras Presidency, the region came under Kasaragod taluk. After the formation of Kerala State, Kasaragod taluk was divided and Kanhangad came under Hosdurg taluk on 1 January 1957.
Kanhangad hosts a number of significant and important tourist sites. A separate administrative unit called Bekal tourism development Corporation has been set up under KTDC to improve the tourism facilities in the region. Major tourist sites include: Sree Madiyan Koolom Temple- is a 500-year-old temple situated in Ajanur panchayat. It is about five kilometres from Kanhangad, the headquarters of Hosdurg Taluk. The main deity of the temple is Bhadrakali; but there are also other deities like Kshetrapalan, Bhagavathi and Bhairavan. A peculiarity of this temple is that a Brahmin priest performs pooja only in the noon, while the morning and evening poojas are performed by a sect called Maniyanis. The festivals in the temple include Kalasham which falls during the months of Edavam (May, June) and Paatulsavam during Dhanu (December, January) and on these days all the poojas are performed in connection with this festival. The temple is known for its sculptures and wooden carvings which depict the ancient stories from Ramayana and other epics. It also has a depiction of many mythical characters. The use and combination of natural colours obtained from unique plants and trees enhance the aesthetics of the carvings. A mural painting of the Narasimha avatar of Lord Vishnu is another attraction. The temple houses two ponds. Unfortunately, the temple paintings and carvings are in the stage of complete deterioration due to recklessness and negligence of the Malabar Devaswom board. Nityananda Ashramam, which is situated on the hillock about half a kilometre south of the Hosdurg taluk office, was founded by Swami Nityananda. The spot was at first part of a forest area. Here Swami Nityananda constructed 45 guhas (caves) on a mountain slope. There is a temple built in 1963, after the style and design of the Somanatha Temple in Gujarat. A full-size statue of Swami Nityananda in sitting posture made of panchaloha is one of the attractions of the asramam. Ananda Ashramam, situated about five kilometres east of the Kanhangad Railway Station, was founded in 1931 by Swami Ramdas, a great Vaishnava saint of modern times. The main ashram and other buildings are set in the midst of shady mango, coconut and other groves. There is a hill to the east of the asramam, to which the devotees retire for quiet meditation and from its west, the surrounding landscape can be seen. Manjapothi Hills - Manjapothi or popularly called as Manjapathi derived its name from two words Manju which means snow and Pothi means to cover in Malayalam. Thus it literally translates to 'hill covered by snow', even though this happens only during winter season considering the tropical climate of the region. It is near Kalyan road in Mavungal, located 5 km from Kanhangad railway station. Its scenery attracts people from in and around the place; who usually come to view the sunset. Its proximity to the nearby pilgrim centre Anandashram increases its prominence. This reason also accounts for the fact that people from ashram sometimes prefer it as a place for meditation. A temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman also increases its importance. Chirutheyi Cave here is another attraction and some other smaller caves are used for generating drinking water. Amrita Vidyalam is also near to this hill. Due to lack of maintenance and ignorance by the authorities, there had been instances of destruction of some parts of the hill. It is usually visited during Monsoon season accounting for its greenery and sometimes during the winter season. Guruvanam - A forest area with a serene atmosphere with a temple at the centre of the forest. It also has a cave built by Swami Nityananda and a stream of water called Papanasha Ganga that originates from the hills surrounding the temple. It is also blessed with biodiversity and has unique herbal plants. It is now vulnerable to the recent development activities in the surrounding areas which are posing a threat to the biodiversity. Hosdurg Fort, Known for its chain of forts built by Somashekara Nayak of Ikkeri dynasty, Hosdurg Fort is the landmark of Kanhangad in Kasaragod. Also known as Kanhangad Fort, the fort with its round bastions looks imposing from a distance. There is a temple attached to the fort, Karpooreshwara temple. The place was made well known by the Nithyanandashram, an internationally recognized spiritual centre with 45 caves. Every year many tourists visit this fort. Art gallery of Kerala Lalithakala Akademi at Kanhangad which arranges exhibitions of paintings and sculptures by various artists. Bekal Fort- built by Shivappa Nayaka of Keladi in 1650 AD, at Bekal. It is the largest fort in Kerala, spreading over 40 acres (160,000 m2). It is 11 km from Kanhangad town. Pallikkara Beach Park - A park at Pallikkara, Bekal near to the historical Bekal Fort is a preferred location by the people of the localities for enjoying with the family. It also has children parks and restaurants. There are also star hotels near the park. Our Lady of Sorrows Church - It is the oldest church in the district built in 1890 CE. It lies 15 km north of Kasargod. This Gothic-style Roman Catholic church which is under the Mangalore Diocese has celebrated its centenary recently and also renovated. Kareem Forest- situated at Puliyam Kulam, Parappa (23 km from Kanhangad). 32 acres filled with medicinal plants, birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians and small animals. Ranipuram - A hill station located 45 km from Kanhangad. It is known as "Ooty of Kerala". Ranipuram is adjacent to Kottancheri-Talakaveri mountain range and is a protected area in the Western Ghats of Kasaragod. Until the 1970s, Ranipuram was known as Madathumala. Kottancheri Hills- Located 45 km eastwards of Kanhangad.The Talakaveri Hills are very near to Kottancheri Hills.
Kanhangad is known for the unique Theyyam festivals of North Malabar. It also has various folklore art forms like Poorakkali and Maruthukali,a kind of literary debate between two scholars conducted in accordance with Poorakkali. It is rich with temples which host Theyyam festival every year. Most of the rituals and culture has its roots and connection with agriculture. Ottakkolam and Kalasham are the most prominent temple festivals and Kaliyattam being the most important Theyyam festival where a series of different Theyyams. will be performing for consecutive days. Kanhangad has one of the Art galleries of Kerala Lalithakala Akademi which has been a platform for showcasing the art of various artists.
The cuisine of Kanhangad is the same as the rest of Kerala but Kanhangad being a part of the North Malabar and lies in Kasaragod district, which is often called as land of 7 languages; has a cuisine which evolved with a blend of the culture of people who migrated here. Rice is the common and staple diet of the people. Being a coastal area, there are a variety of fish dishes too. During the Summer season, there is a festival of Jackfruit dishes which is a very common tree in the region. The unique dishes here include "Kanal Ada" which is made of stuffed jaggery and coconut in rice and roasted instead of the typical steam cooking style in Kerala; which is usually prepared as a part of a ritual called Kaidu or as an offering to the Theyyams or the main deity (Of Family or Kuladaivam) in Tharavadu. The Malabar Biryani which is common throughout the Malabar region also has its tastes here. There are also drinks like Avil Milk which is basically a squashed banana drink with peanuts and Kulukki sarbat, a unique kind of Mocktail in the region.
Kanhangad is well connected to Kannur, Kozhikode, Kasaragod, Madikeri and Mangalore through Road. NH-66 (previously known as NH-17), which runs from Panvel (in Maharashtra) to Kanyakumari (in Tamil Nadu), passes through Mavungal which is 3 km east to Kanhangad town in a north–south direction and connects with Kasaragod, Mangalore, Udupi, etc. in north and Kannur, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, etc. in the south. SH 57, a 29.0 km State Highway connects Kasaragod to Kanhangad via Bekal and Udma in the north and it merges with the NH-66 at Kanhangad south. Kanhangad is connected to Madikeri, Coorg, Mysuru and Bangalore via Kanhangad - Panathur - Madikeri Highway which is planned to be upgraded as National Highway. NH-66 meets with Kanhangad-Panathur-Madikeri Highway and forms a junction in Mavungal, thus making Mavungal as one of the busiest transport hubs in the region. Kanhangad has one of the Regional Transport Offices in the district with KL60 registration. (See List of RTO districts in Kerala) Kanhangad boasts one of the biggest bus terminals in Kerala with state of art facilities and introduced the first ever She Lodge in the state. The Kerala RTC Sub Depot at Mavungal ensures seamless transportation in the area. Many Kerala RTC and private owned buses connects Kanhangad with important cities like Bangalore, Mangalore, Kasaragod, Kannur, Mysore, Kozhikode etc.
Kanhangad Railway Station is one of the major railway stations that lies in the Shoranur - Mangalore Section of the Southern Railways. The station comes under A - category stations of Palakkad Division. Now it has a growing prominence as a gateway to major tourist and pilgrim destination and an upcoming educational hub. The station has 3 platforms and 4 tracks. The proposed railway line between Kanhangad and Kaniyuru which connects Bangalore is under review. If implemented, Kanhangad station will be upgraded as a Railway Junction and a special train service from Kanhangad to Bangalore will be a major push for the station and this will also accelerate the development of the city and entire North Malabar region.
Mangalore International Airport, Bajpe at a distance of 85.7 km and Kannur International Airport at a distance of 89.4 km are the nearest airports from Kanhangad via NH66. A proposed Air Strip at Periya is under review which if materialised will ensure a never before domestic air transport that will boost the tourism sector in the region.
The government has plans to introduce a waterway from Kovalam to Bekal. Proximity of Kanhangad with Nileshwar too increases the significance of the region.