Chengannur is a municipal town in the district of Alappuzha district in Kerala and is situated in the extremely eastern part of the Alappuzha district. It is situated 117 Kms to the north of Thiruvananthapuram which is the state capital and situated on MC Road. It is also an important railway junction between Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram. Chengannur (also known as Chenganoor, Chenganur and Chengannoor) is well connected to Kottayam and Kollam by NH 220. It is also famous for the Shiva temple as well as for the old Syrian Church. It is also an important destination for the pilgrims of Sabarimala and is known as Gateway of Sabarimala.
Nammalwar of first millennium CE has described Chengannur as a place where smoke emanating from Vedic ritual yagna fills the sky and also a place which is surrounded by lush green vegetation of bananas and coconuts. Chengannur, one of the fastest developing towns in Kerala, also borders Pathanamthitta district. Right from the historical period, many historical events took place in this small beautiful town which is watered by sacred river “Pampa”.
A Brief History of Chengannur
Chengannur means the land of red soil and this soil differs from the one found in the surrounding Kuttanad. Thus, it is called as Chengannur. According to a belief, “Shonadri” or “Red Mountain” was the name of Chengannur during prehistoric era. Later, this has been changed into “Chenkunnu” and further to “Chengannur”. At the beginning of the modern period, it came under the Kayamkulam dynasty. When it was relinquished by the Marthandavarma during 18th century, it came under Travancore Kings.
Pepper otherwise called “black gold” was an important export product of the town. In Chengannur, Anganical which in Malayalam means market was the prominent market. Velu Thampi Dalawa developed the current market in Chengannur. This market was crucial in buying and selling goods produced by the eastern part of state during the 19th and 20th century.
Munsif court of Chengannur recently completed centenary and had been the prominent judicial centre for a long time in the region. In 1980, the Municipality of Chengannur was found and Mr PK John Plammootil who was the retired Dy SP was the 1st Municipal Chairman.
Geography of Chengannur
Chengannur is located at 9o19’6.54”N 76o 36’50.46” E and has an elevation of 7 metres (23 feet).
Climate of Chengannur
Just like other cities and towns of Kerala, Chengannur also experiences tropical climate. Chengannur also gets significant rainfall as well as short dry season has little impact.
Culture in Chengannur
Chengannur’s cultural background dates back to the Royal era. It came under Vanjippuzha Principality which in turn came under Travancore. Chengannur is situated on the banks of Pamba River which had major influence on culture of the town. Several “Chundan Vallam” boats that participate in the boat race of Aranmula belonged to Chengannur. Conventiomal art form of temple, Padayani, is performed during the festival of Vadasserikkavu Devi Temple. The temple is located 2 Km to the north of the town. It is to be noted that many great artists were born in Chengannur and the prominent of them is the Kathakali fine-artist Raman Pillai who is popularly called “Guru Chengannur”.
The King of Trivandrum brought many craftsmen to Chengannur for the construction of the Sabarimala temple and the genre of them crafted several temples of Kerala. Mannar is famous for the bronze industry in Chengannur. It is also an important Shaivite pilgrim centre and the Shiva temple found here is established by Parasurama. Suriyani Church in Chengannur is yet another paradigm of architectural excellence of the town. The 33.5 ft tall Cross that is made out of solitary stone is the prime attraction of the Church. The four of the five major Vishnu temples (Thrichittattu, Aranmula, Puliyoor and Thiruvanvandoor) that were created by Pandavas are found in Chengannur and its surroundings. These are the important Vaishnava pilgrimage centres in South India.
Administration of Chengannur
The two administrative systems prevailing in Chengannur are revenue and local self-government. According to revenue system, Chengannur is one of the two revenue divisions of Alappuzha district. Karthikapally, Chengannur and Mavelikkara taluks which consist of 44 villages that come under the Chengannur revenue division. Under local self government system, Chengannur is divided into `1 statutory town as well as development blocks that comes with 11 panchayats. Chengannur is also part of Mavelikara Lok Sabha Constituency and it also has Chengannur assembly constituency which comes under the former.
Business and Economy of Chengannur
In Chengannur, many government offices, banks, educational institutions, etc are located. A vast number of people in Kerala work in these organizations. Apart from these, the major source of income for the town is from the NRIs which is a common factor in other parts of Kerala as well. On the outskirts of the town, agriculture is also carried out and mostly it is restricted to rubber plantations. However, there are no major industries in Chengannur and only small-scale industries are present. The major private employers are hospitals, shops and banks. During Sabarimala season (i.e. mid November to mid January), there is a huge boost in the economical activities of the town. Chengannur is the nearest railway station to Sabarimala and is used by most of the pilgrims.
Tourism in Chengannur
Chengannur is also a famous tourist destination. Some of the popular tourists places in Chengannur are Mahadeva Temple, Sabarimala, Aranmula temple, Parumala Church, Thiruchittaru Sree Krishna Temple, Pandavan Para, Poomal Chaal, Chengannur Hatchery and Pazhaya Suriyani Pally.
How to Reach Chengannur
Chengannur is well connected to other parts of the state by road as well as rail. State Highway 1 which is called as MC Road passes through the centre of the town and also connects Chengannur to Trivandrum as well as Angamaly. NH 220 connects Chengannur to Kottayam and also stretches between Theni and Kollam. State Highway 10 connects Chengannur to Kozhencherry and Mavelikkara. KSRTC operates inter-state bus services.
Chengannur railway station is the busiest between Kottayam and Kollam and also major railway station under Trivandrum railway division of Southern Railway. The municipal bus stand is just outside the railway station which makes it convenient to reach the other parts of the town. The railway station is also called as “Gateway to Sabarimala” as it is the nearest railway station to Sabarimala. The nearby airport is the Trivandrum International Airport and is some 116 Km away from Chengannur. It is also proposed to built new Greenfield airport at Aranmula and if it comes into existence then it will be the closest airport which is some 4 Kms away.
Quick Facts about Chengannur
Government – Municipal Councillor
Total - 50.00 sq mi (129.51 Km2)
Elevation - 7 m (23 ft)
Population as per the 2001 census- 179,759
Time zone - IST
Postal Index Number – 689 121
STD Code - 0479
Official Languages – Malayalam, English