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Kunnamkulam is big market for arecanuts
Town / city
Kunnamkulam bus stand
Kunnamkulam bus stand
Kunnamkulam is located in Kerala
Location in Kerala, India
Coordinates: 10°39′N 76°05′E / 10.65°N 76.08°E / 10.65; 76.08Coordinates: 10°39′N 76°05′E / 10.65°N 76.08°E / 10.65; 76.08
Country  India
State Kerala
District Thrissur District
 • Total 34.18 km2 (13.20 sq mi)
Elevation 57 m (187 ft)
Population (2001)
 • Total 54,071
 • Density 1,600/km2 (4,100/sq mi)
 • Official Malayalam, English
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 680503

Kunnamkulam is a municipal town situated in the Thrissur District of Kerala in India, spread over an area of 34.18 km2. It is an old commercial town, with an ancient history, famous for its printing and book binding industry. It is the chief centre of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Christians in the Kerala state. In the past, the town was called Kunnankulangara and references can be seen in a lot of British Archives about a neat and prosperous town which was predominantly Christian. Over the years Kunnamkulam has become a meeting point for all religions.


The word Kunnamkulam can be derived from the words kunnu (mountain) and kulam (ponds). There are several small hills in this area(Aduputty, Cherukunnu, Kizhoor, Kakkad Mission Kunnu, etc.) interspersed with the numerous ponds of the area(Eeenjakulam, Ayyankulam, Madurakulam, Chattukulam, etc.). One of the major spots within the town is the Parayil Angadi (market among rocks). The terrain condition and geological aspect of the area has led to the name. Kunnamkulam town has its own remote antiquity as is evident from the history. It was a part of Mahodayapattanam, the capital of Chera Dynasty.

History tells about the cross installed by Thomas the Apostle, at Chattukulangara (a part of Arthat in Kunnamkulam). During the invasion of Tippu Sultan the Christians from Chattakulangara migrated to Kunnamkulam town.[1]

Manakulam, Cheralayam and Kakkaad (the suburbs of Kunnamkulam) were the seats of the Nambidis of Manakulam, Ayinikur and Kakkad Karanavappad respectively. They were collectively known as Thalappilli Rajas and belonged to three branches of the same dynasty.

The history of Kunnamkulam goes back to the Paleolithic age. The Kakkaad cave and Chowannur cave support this fact. It is said that this place was part of ‘MahodayaPattanam’ and was known as ‘Kunnamkulangare’. C. Achutha Menon in the Cochin State Manual says that, “it is in fact the chief center of the Orthodox Christians of the State, and there are several of their old churches in the town and its neighborhood”.[2]

Moreover, “Most of the oldest and wealthiest Christian families are to be found in Kunnamkulam”.[citation needed] Cheruvathoor, Pulikkottil, Chungath, Kollannoor, Panakkal, Paramel, Thengungal, Cheeran, Kanjirathingal, Moolapath, Tholath and Kakkassery are the most prominent among them. The competition for ascendancy between these wealthy families, opened up new dimensions in the development of printing and other literary activities. Panakkal Chakku, Cheru, Thengungal Ittoop, Varu and Koothur Paramel Iyyu Uttoop were arbitrators of some of these families. It is said that the Christian families were settled earlier at Chattukulangare shifted to Kunnamkulam after the invasion of Tippu in 1789. They were invited by the Thalappilli Rajas, provided residences and places of worship. They resided on both sides of the street. This may have helped to avoid threat from Tippu against Thalappilli Rajas.

Those settled on both sides of the street started trade and business, and began a new era of transaction.[2]


A cyber campaign was started that resulted in the changing of the often-misspelt name കുന്ദംകുളം, to കുന്നംകുളം

Apparently the wrong spelling " കുന്ദംകുളം " was being used for the city name on the Buses, Sign boards, Publications etc. This issue was brought into the social medias, where people unanimously opined to correct the spelling to കുന്നംകുളം kunnamkulam. This online debate further developed into a great discussion amongst the public and in all the other medias. The issue finally came in front of the Municipal Council meeting which laid down the rule to not use the wrong spelling കുന്ദംകുളം for കുന്നംകുളം any where.


Kunnamkulam is located at 10°39′N 76°05′E / 10.65°N 76.08°E / 10.65; 76.08.[3] It has an average elevation of 57 metres (187 feet). It is around 23 km from Thrissur City and 10 km from Guruvayur. It is located on the route connecting Thrissur, Kochi to North Kerala.


The Kunnamkulam Municipality was formed as an IVth grade Municipality in the year 1948. The Municipality had an area of 6.96 km2 and is divided into 31 electoral wards. In 2000, it was further upgraded to a Grade-II Municipality by merging adjoining panchayats of Arthat (full) and panchayats of Porkulam and Chowwannur (parts). The original area of the municipality was 7 km2 which is now increased to 34.18 km2. Earlier, there were only 16 municipal wards. The municipality extended its area in 2001 and now has 31 wards. The Total population then was 51,585 of which 24,396 were males and 27,189 females, with the density of population being 2,824 per km2.[4] Kunnamkulam assembly constituency is part of Alathoor (Lok Sabha Constituency). Earlier, it was part of the Ottapalam Constituency.[5]


The State Highway No 30 which connect Thrissur and Kuttipuram (NH 47 and NH 17) pass through Kunnamkulam. Also, the two major district roads are emerging from Kunnamkulam, one of them goes to Guruvayoor, Chavakad meeting at Kochi-Ponnani road and the other road goes to Wadakkancherry meeting at Thrissur-Shornur Road. All these roads meet at the heart of Kunnamkulam town namely the ‘Parayil Angadi (Parayil Bazar) Centre’.


Kunnamkulam region witness a number of traditional, informal and household manufacturing activities. It comprises mainly the creation of rock-cut products, candles, metallic and clay utensils, screw-rings and screw-hooks and paper-based products. Among these, the manufacturing of paper-based products is the bandwagon of these activities for which Kunnamkulam has a unique place in the state. The different paper-based products include, exercise books, X’mas stars, greetings card, paper files, envelopes, cartons and millboards. Printing and binding are the related activities.[2]

Beginning of Printing[edit]

It has been seen that Iyyu Uttoop, an appreciator of Malayalam literature, a businessman having trade relationship with Cochin, decided to reveal the literary talents of Kaikulangara RamaVarrier. He published the works of Kaikulangara from the St. Thomas Press at British Cochin. The books he published from there include; 'Raghuvamsom', 'Magham', 'Nyshadham', 'Kumarasambhavom' etc. Within a short period he started a press on his own at Kunnamkulam in the name of Vidya Ratna Prabha (VRP) in the IInd floor of his house. He published a number of religious and other books from there. It includes, 'Astangahrudayam', 'Amarakosam', 'Samudrika Sastram', 'Noothana Sidharoopam', etc. These books and Christian religious books published from here at a cheap rate have got wide currency in the State. According to Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyyar, it is the wealth of Uttoop, the intellect of Kaikulangara and the caliber of Malliammavil Kunjhuvareedu, an expert in printing, brought together the human and material resources for publishing books in Malayalam. In addition there was another press by name ARP Press (Akshara Ratna Prabha) published from Southern Bazar, Kunnamkulam. When Malayala Manorama daily faced difficulties in publishing from Kottayam, the daily was published from ARP Press, Kunnamkulam.

There are differences of opinion regarding the ownership of St. Thomas press at British Cochin, VRP press, and the commencement of VRP press at Kunnamkulam. According to Ulloor, Paramel Iyyu Uttoop started St. Thomas press at British Cochin, later on shifted to Kunnamkulam as VRP press. But there are evidences in the ‘Malayalam Grandha Soochi’ showing books published from St. Thomas press and VRP in the same year. Quotes from Christian Encyclopedia, 1976 that, it was established by Pulikkottil Mar Dionysius V in 1869. But P. J. Thomas says that, it was started by Paramel Uttoop. Prof. A. Balakrishna Varrier indirectly says that St. Thomas press was not owned by Paramel Uttoop. Regarding the beginning of VRP, the Development Report of Kunnamkulam for the year 1996 says that, it was established in 1860’s. As per the Malayala Grandha Soochi Vol.I list, it was established towards the close of the 19th century. To K. M. Govi it was started about 1881. He cites the evidences of the publication on behalf of VRP in the 1880s. Moreover, there are evidences to show the publication of ‘Nyshadham Kavyam’, (Appendix) from St. Thomas press at Cochin in 1879 by Koothur Paramel Iyyu Uttoop. If the VRP had established before this we can presume that it would not have been published from St. Thomas Press at Cochin.[2]

Printing vs Binding[edit]

The question as to whether printing or binding initiate first in Kunnamkulam is relevant. The oral statement of the local people goes in favour of binding. There are evidences of ancient bounded manuscripts of religious books available at the Church library at Thozhiyoor in Kunnamkulam. Moreover, the western part of Thalappilli Taluk was chiefly a center of trade for agricultural products and areca-nut in the earlier period. Trade and exporting of agricultural products requires books for the accounting purposes. In the beginning therefore, informal production of account books might have started for the wealthy traders in Kunnamkulam. The bound manuscripts of religious books available at Thozhiyur support the arguments of local people.

Stitched manuscripts of Christian religious books using wooden plates on top and bottom instead of wrapper can be seen in the library. Briefly, a number of historical reasons point towards the growth and development of this industry at Kunnamkulam. They are the Missionary activities in Kunnamkulam. To K.M. Govi, it was another contribution of Basel Mission in Malabar area. They trained Christians in bookbinding at their institute in Mangalore. This gradually spread in the Malabar area.

Trade relationship with neighboring states and Sivakasi. As mentioned in the Cochin State Manual, hundreds of men and women belonging to Taluks of Thalappilli, Thrissur and Mukundapuram were engaged in the areca-nut industry from September to January. The major portions of the prepared arecanuts were exported to the Tamil Nadu and Telugu districts, where there was considerable demand for it. Besides, there existed trade relationship with Sivakasi. The oral statements of Kunnamkulam people are that they used crackers extensively during the ‘Epic Phony’ ceremony, imported from Sivakasi.

The trade relationship with Sivakasi is one of the important factors behind the growth and development of paper based industry in Kunnamkulam. The beginning of educational institutions in between 1837 and 1898. When we analyse the beginning of English schools from 1837 to 1898, we can see that the number of schools started in Thrissur, Kunnamkulam, and Irinjalakuda was about 7 out of 15 in the Cochin State. The establishment of schools in and around Kunnamkulam during this period may have encouraged the development of this industry.

The new wave of digital printing which has grown in this part has been led from the forefront by young entrepreneurial establishments like Colorscan .[2]


Kadavallur, Chowannur and Arthat, the nearby places of Kunnamkulam had a rich cultural background. Kadavallur is well known throughout this coast as being the place where Nambudiris of the Thrissur and Tirunavaya Yogams compete for superiority in Vedic proficiency. In Chowannur, there was a Sabha Madom, an endowed college where Sanskrit education was given. Arthat was the chief center of Orthodox Christians. The Arthat St. Mary's Cathedral Church(Arthat Valliyapally) is the main church in the town. All these contributed a cultural rising up in the area which later on helped the development of the publishing industry. These published books were sold during Guruvayur Ekadasi. When the temple was open to all Hindus and a good amount of trade taken place at that time.[2]

Line Houses[edit]

A particular residential replica ‘line houses’ (angadi pura (veeducal)), is seen in Kunnamkulam area. The streets of these houses are exceedingly narrow. The ‘Line Houses’ are built in 3–5 cents of land on both sides of the street. The front room of the house functions as a shop while the rear room was used for residential purposes. There used to be rear yards for every so called ‘Angadi pura” (town house) which was used for processing of their agricultural products.[1][2] [6]

Kunnamkulam angadi

Places of worship[edit]

Kunnamkulam is famous for its religious harmony as Hindus, Christians and Muslims live here. The religious tolerance of Kunnamkulam people can be seen from the “Ambala Palli - St.Matthias Church (located at south Bazar) which is a temple converted to a church wherein the temple character can be seen in the church entrance.[1][2]

  • Guruvayoor road Mosque.
  • Yatheem Khana mosque.
  • Lord Siva temple- Thrissur road. Managed by Guruvayoor devaswom.
  • Kakkad temple. Near Majistrate court.
  • Cheeramkulam Devi temple.Chemmannur (between Anaikkal and Arthat.)
  • Annakulangara.Near Kanippayyur Post office.
  • Subramannya temple -Anjoor road Thekkeppura
  • Ubhayur Mahadeva Temple,Kanippayyur
  • Arthat St. Mary's Cathedral Church (Arthat Valliyapally), AD 52
  • South Bazar St Mathiyas Orthodox Church (it is popularly known as Ambalam pally.)
  • St. Mary's Orthodox Syrian Church Pazhanji Pazhanji Church (also known as Pazhanji Palli, https://www.facebook.com/pazhanjichurch)[7]


  • Roman coins of Eyyal: Archeologists have unearthed a collection of old Roman coins at Eyyal. These coins date from 123 AC to 117 AD. They are currently exhibited in the Archeological Museum of Thrissur.[8]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c "National Urban Observatory". Town & country planning organization. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "The problems and prospects of paper-based industry in Kunnamkulam". Rajeev G. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  3. ^ Falling Rain Genomics, Inc - Kunnamkulam
  4. ^ "Profile". Janasevana Kendram. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  5. ^ Ottapalam Constituency website
  6. ^ "Kunnamkulam PinCode". citypincode.in. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  7. ^ "St. Mary's Orthodox Syrian Church Pazhanji". Pazhanji Palli. Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  8. ^ "Keralathile Sthalanama Charithram" of Sri. V. V. Valath, and "Makothai Pattanam" written by Sri V. T. Induchoodan, in the Mathrubhumi Annual, 1970.