Malabar Migration refers to the large-scale migration of Syrian Christians from Central-South Kerala to northern regions of Kerala called Malabar in the 20th century. The migration started from early decades of 20th century and continued well into the 1970s and 1980s. This migration had a significant demographic and social impact as the Christian population of Malabar increased 15-fold from 31,191 in 1931 to 4,42,510 in 1971.
Central Travancore had experienced a steep increase in population in early 20th century and pressure on arable land increased. At the same time people realised the potential in the large uncultivated lands in the northern regions called Malabar which was then part of Madras Province under British Rule. Migration initially started in trickles. Land was bought from the local rulers and plantations were set up. Against many odds, the community thrived, thereby attracting more migrants and by the 1950s had reached its peak.
The vast majority of the migrants were Syrian Christians, mainly (Syrian Malabar Nasrani) from erstwhile Travancore state. The migrants were mostly from present day Kottayam such as kuravillagadu , Pala , Chaganacherry , Ramapuram etc and Idukki districts with many from hill areas of Ernakulam district also. Several Hindu Nairs also migrated. Settlements were established in various hill areas of Malabar region (north Kerala) including in the following districts of current Kerala (Some key migration centres also mentioned):
- Kasargod -Malom, Chittarikkal
- Kannur - Alakode, Chemperi, Cherupuzha, Kudianmala, Iritty, Ulikkal, Peravoor
- Calicut - Thiruvambady , Kodenchery Kuttiyadi , Maruthonkara , Chakkittapara
- Wayanad - Pulpally, Mananthavady
- Malappuram - Nilambur
- Palakkad - Mannarkkad, Wadakkanchery
- Thrissur - especially in the hill tracts near Vellikulangara
Huge tracts of uncultivated forest and waste land were converted into farms and plantations during this period.
The supportive role of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is well acknowledged as they supported this young community with churches, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure.
The migration has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people moving to these lands. As a result the demography of Malabar has been altered significantly especially in the eastern hill region. The share of Christians which was insignificant in the 1920s grew to substantial share by the 1970s in the settlement area.
- Migration and economic development of Kerala (p.108) Kumbattu Varkey Joseph, Mittal Publications, 1988
- Malabar Migration. "Reference to Malabar Migration", ,
- Malabar Migration. There was a second immigration. It was into the North Malabar Region in search of virgin land to cultivate and to get relief from the poverty and financial ...