Pandalur is located at 11° 29' 0" N, 76° 20' 0" E, at an altitude of 1100 metres. Its standard time zone is UTC/GMT+05:30. Pandalur is the headquarters of the Pandalur taluk. It is categorised as a third-grade municipality.
One roadway is the only access to the town. A number of government bus services are available from:
- Ooty (65 km), the district headquarters
- Gudalur (23 km), the nearest township
- The nearest international airport, Calicut International Airport (110 km), Coimbatore International Airport (135 km)
- Sulthan Bathery (32 km) - Nearest town in Kerala state.
Public and private transportation is available from Pandalur to the nearest villages of the Pandalur Taluk.
During the mid-19th century, English companies began mining for gold in the area, mostly in Devala and Pandalur. A London-based mining company created a township in Pandalur that began with a church, post office, shops, and a race course. After the gold boom, the mining business gradually fell into decline because the percentage of gold ore was below the average. Even so, mining was continued until the beginning of the 20th century.
Once the British companies had determined that gold mining would not succeed in this area, thus changing to agricultural industries and created tea plantations on a massive scale. The climate and soil were well suited for tea, which helped to ensure the success of the new industry. Coffee and tea plantation started at Pandalur area in the early eighteenth century during this time many European planters settled in the Nilgiris and Wyanad to establish tea and coffee estates. D.H.McLeod and Henry Atzenwiler are few among them.
Kunjalikutty Haji of Pandalur was one of the leading manpower suppliers for British estates.
He brought a large number of people from Malabar to work on the estates, and became very close to the British administration, being recognized as Khan Bahadur Kunajalikutty. During this period in India, the non-cooperation movement against the British was in full swing. The Mappila rebels were agitated over the Khilafat issue, and determined to eliminate the people among the community who supported the British Raj. A group of Khilafat rebels went to Pandalur and completely destroyed the shop owned by Kunalikutty Haji, though his life was saved by his friend Malla Gawdar, chief of the Badagas community in Pandalur.
Most of the land in this area was the property of the princely states of Nilambur, Kovilagam, and Mysoor Maharaj. The Nelliyalam Rani administered the region for Mysoor Maharaj and enjoyed the highest rank in society. The remains of the Nelliayalam Ranis fort can still be viewed in the Nelliayalam village.
Pandalur was believed to be a sacred place for the aboriginal communities such as the Paniyas, Kurumbas, and Kattu Nayakkans. It was then dominated by the Gowdar community. In Ponnani, near the village of Nelliyalkam, there is a century-old temple (Sree Maha Vishnu Temple) constructed in the unique Kerala temple architecture. The migration of Malabar people had a major impact on the area, including the social, cultural, economic, and environmental systems.
m.thiravidamani is the incumbent member of the Legislative Assembly from the Gudalur Assembly constituency.