PALA  is located in Kerala
Country India
State Kerala
District Kottayam
 • Municipal Chairperson Kuriakose Padavan
 • Total 15.93 km2 (6.15 sq mi)
Elevation 56.7 m (186.0 ft)
Population (2012)
 • Total 22,056[1]
 • Density 1,375/km2 (3,560/sq mi)
 • Official Malayalam, English
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 686574 , 686575
Telephone code 9148 22
Vehicle registration KL 35
Nearest city Kottayam
Official Website Official Site

Pala (Malayalam: പാലാ, also written as Palai), is a municipal town 28 km east of Kottayam in the Indian state of Kerala, spread over an area of 15.93 km2. It is situated 173 km North from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, on the banks of the Meenachil River and is the headquarters of the Meenachil Taluk and the Pala Revenue Division. It is the one of the main gateways to the southern high ranges of Western Ghats. Pala connects to highranges through Thodupuzha and Kanjirappally taluks.


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
    • Early settlements 2.1
  • Geography and climate 3
  • Religious places 4
    • Churches 4.1
    • Temples 4.2
  • Trade links 5
    • Meenachil River 5.1
    • Palai Central Bank 5.2
    • KISCO BANK 5.3
  • Healthcare, hospitals 6
  • Closest cities, towns and villages 7
    • Cities 7.1
    • Towns 7.2
    • Villages 7.3
  • Culture and people 8
  • Cuisine 9
  • Notable Persons 10
    • Social Activist 10.1
    • Politics 10.2
      • Head of State 10.2.1
      • Governor/Minister/Legislator 10.2.2
    • Literature & Education 10.3
    • Sports 10.4
    • Commerce & Industry 10.5
    • Movies 10.6
    • Science 10.7
  • Journalist 11
  • Education 12
    • Colleges 12.1
    • Schools 12.2
    • Teacher Training Institute 12.3
    • Industrial Training Institute 12.4
  • Pala Municipal Stadium 13
  • Coaching Centers in Pala 14
    • Civil Service Institute Pala 14.1
    • Brilliant Study Centre Pala 14.2
    • Mohans Institute of Corporate Studies [MICS] Pala 14.3
    • Lumen Study Centre: St. Thomas College Palai 14.4
    • Talent Academy Pala 14.5
    • Thoppans' Swimming Academy 14.6
    • Pala Jumps Academy 14.7
  • Demographics 15
  • A Rare Social Model 16
  • Records and Achievements 17
  • Pala Related Websites 18
  • See also 19
  • References 20


There are various versions regarding the origin of the place name. According to one, early Christian settlers from Kottayam (near Chavakad in today's Thrissur district), who settled down in Meenachil on the other side of the Meenachil River, named the place as Pala - a shortened form of Palayoor. Another view is that the name was derived from Palathu families, the prominent early settlers of the region. Another version is that Pala gets its name from Palazhi (Ksheera Sagara), the mythological Ocean of milk from which nectar was churned out. But there are no supportive explanation why or how this place is connected with the Puranic ocean of milk.


Pala was part of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore, and was ruled by the "Travancore Rajas" for a long time.before the annexation to Travancore The local chieftains were "Meenachil Karthas". The first royal Kartha families were known as Njavakattu Karthas. They had a title called "Damodara Simhar" and they were rulers of a small kingdom called "Meenachil" which is today's Palai (Kottayam district),they were related to the ancient Pandya race and believed to have some Rajput connection also their "kula Devatha" is "Ambadevi".

They ruled Meenachil taluk and were instrumental in promoting the Christian settlement in this place. Later they were defeated by the Travancore army of Dharma Raja (successor of Marthanda Varma) and their kingdom was annexed to Travancore (the ruling king committed suicide). All their male folks including boys were slaughtered. However, the ladies were spared. Also, the Travancore king gave them pension. The family had a successor only after a very long gap due to this genocide by the Travancore forces.

Early settlements

Rubber Trees in a Plantation

Early settlements in the region date back to 1000 AD. Christian settlers came to the area very early, probably at the invitation of the local rulers. According to reliable historical sources The first four Christian families are considered to be Tharayil (Tharayil Mappila)Koottumkal (brother of Tharayil Mappila) Erakonni & Vayalakombil.[2] They were engaged mainly in agriculture and trade. It is believed that Pala market was established around 1736 on the banks of Meenachil River by Christian settlers on the land allotted by Meenachil Karthas, who were the local rulers.

Geography and climate

Located at , Pala is 56.7 meters above MSL. Nearby towns are Kottayam, Ponkunnam, Erattupetta, Thodupuzha and Changanassery.

Transportation Pala is on the Main Eastern Highway (Muvattupuzha - Pathanamthitta- Punalur Road / SH - 08). The state highway 'SH-32' (Ettumanoor to Poonjar) also passes through Pala. Atpresent nearest railway station of Pala is Kottayam which is 28 km away. Pala Railway station is sanctioned through the construction started Angamaily- Sabarimala new railway line.


Religious places


Bharananganam Church

St.Mary's Shrine(Jubilee Shrine) also Known as Pala Kurishupally a shrine located at the centre of the Pala town, acts as the landmark of the town. St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Cathedral, Pala and St. Mary's Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Lalam are two of the main Syrian Catholic churches in Pala.

A famous pilgrim centre nearby is the Alphonsa Church at Ramapuram, where the mortal remains of the Blessed Thevarparampil Kunjachan are kept. Monastery of Mutholy was founded by Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara.

St.Thomas Church at Arunapuram is one of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church which has the largest number of convents in Pala Diocese.Two main colleges of Pala comes under the area of this church.

Though Pala has been a traditional stronghold of the Syro Malabar Catholic Christians, who are generally very conservative in faith and beliefs, the town has, of late witnessed the emergence of a few Evangelical/ Pentecostal churches in and around the region. Few Latin Catholic churches can also be seen in the place. The other denominations of the Syrian Christians are largely absent in Pala.


There are 11 temples in Pala Municipality. Among them Lalam Mahadeva Temple is among the most famous and is called Dakshina Kasi (Kasi of South). Lalam Mahadeva Temple is situated at the heart of Pala town on the bank of Lalam River. Kadappattor Mahadeva Temple which is situated on the bank of Meenachil River is the most famous Hindu temple in this region. Kizhathadiyoor Puthiyakavu Devi Temple, Chembittambalam Kizhathadiyoor Thrukkayil Mahadeva Temple, Murikkumpuzha Devi Temple, Idayattu Bala Ganapathy Temple, Narasimha Swami Temple, Vellappattu Sree Vana Durga Bhagavathy Temple, Thattarakathu Bhagavathy Temple, Ooraasala Subrahmanya Swami Temple and Anakkulangara Bhagavathy Temple, Kochidappady Sree Shanmugha swami Temple,Payappar sree dhrma shatha teemple payappar, are the other temples situated within the boundaries of Pala Municipality.

Trade links

Pepper - the King of Spices - on a Pepper Vine

Pala had trade links Tamil Nadu, and even countries in the Middle East. A jungle route to Gudalloor in Tamil Nadu, through the dense forests in the High Ranges, is believed to have brought a significant number of Vellalas and Chettiars during the Middle Ages. During the early 1900s Pala became famous for its spice market. A particular brand of pepper called "Pala Pepper" was quoted in the London market in the early 1900s. Once rubber took a firm root in Central Kerala, Pala became a rubber market.

A road linking Athirampuzha to Erattupetta through Pala was established in 1868. Pala was linked to Thodupuzha by road in 1893. Motor vehicles appeared in Pala in the early 1900s. The first bus service was started in 1908 by a public company by name Meenachil Motor Association which was the 3rd registered company in Travancore.

Pala became a Municipality in 1949.

Meenachil River

The Meenachil River flows through the taluks of Meenachil, Vaikom and Kottayam. It is formed by several streams originating from the Western Ghats in Idukki district. At Erattupeetta, Poonjar River also joins it, takes a sharp turn and flows towards the west. At Kondur, it is joined by the Chittar and at Lalam it receives the Payuapparathodu and flows in a south- west direction till it reaches Kottayam. Here, it branches into several streams before emptying into the Vembanad Lake. The important towns in the basin are Pala, Poonjar, Ettumanoor and Kottayam.

Palai Central Bank

Pala dominated the banking and financial scene of Kerala for over three decades (1927–60) through Palai Central Bank. Started in 1927 by Joseph Augusti Kayalackakom, it grew up to become the largest business enterprise of Kerala, and the 17th largest among the 94 scheduled commercial banks in India. The daring initiatives of this small-town-bank included the opening of a branch in India's new capital New Delhi in 1932, the first Bank to open a branch in the newly built city. During the 3-decade period of its dominant presence, the Bank played a major role in the growth of Pala town too, including using its influence to bring the Municipality, Catholic Diocese, St Thomas College and other institutions to Pala, beating the claims of some of the other bigger and older towns nearby.

The Bank was liquidated in 1960 on the orders of Kerala High Court in response to a petition made by the Reserve Bank of India(RBI). In the published history of RBI[5] a 27-page appendix (Appendix C: The Palai Central Bank) extensively covers the history of the Bank. In it Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru is quoted as saying that RBI made a "mistake" in closing down the Palai Central Bank.


Kizhathadiyoor Service Co-operative bank Ltd no.1955 is one of the largest banking institutions in the co-operative sector,in the state of Kerala.The bank had its humble beginning in the year 1934 with a share capital base of RS.125/- contributed by 18 members.The noble object behind the formation of the society was to improve the economic and social status of the society members and formulate and implement schemes to encourage thrift,self help and cooperation among members. The bank is the largest co-operative banking in the Meenachil Taluk of the district of Kottayam. The bank has core banking, atm, net banking, telebanking foreigh exchange, neft/rtgs facilities. Kisco bank presently diversified its area of operation and deals with neethi medical shops, diagonostic centres, ambulance services, ultra scan, ct scan, dialysis centres, mamaogram, dental units, x ray facilities furniture marts, fish market, agro shops, kisco milk, farm tourism, paliative care units, blood doners forum, working women's hostel, saphalam 55+, farmers club,kisco opticals ,kisco cottons etc. The bank is headed by Adv.George C Kappen who recently received the award for the Best Cooperative bank in Kerala.

Healthcare, hospitals

  • Govt. General Hospital, Pala
  • Marian medical center, Arunapuram
  • Cherupushpam Trust Hospital, Pala
  • Carmel Hospital, Pala

Closest cities, towns and villages

Neighbouring cities & towns

Culture and people

Palai is one of the main Christian cultural centers in Kerala. Population of Palai is predominantly Saint Thomas Christians who trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century.


Pesaha Appam
Kappa Erachi (Beef & Cassava)

Appam and Stew is a favorite breakfast dish of Syrian Christians. Appams, kallappams, or vellayappams are rice flour pancakes which have soft, thick white spongy centres and crisp, lace-like edges.[6]

Stews are prepared by gently simmering meat, potatoes and onions in a creamy white sauce flavoured with black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, green chillies, lime juice, shallots and coconut milk. Meat used is either chicken,mutton, duck or beef.[6] Cassava is a mojor staple food of the region which is often ate with "Meen Mulakittathu" or "Meen vevichathu" (fish in fiery red chilly sauce).[6]

Pesaha Appam is the rice bread made by the Saint Thomas Christians to be served on Maundy Thursday night.[7] Traditionally, Pesaha Appam is served in a ceremonial manner on Maundy Thursday night in Syrian Christian households. The head of the family cuts the appam, dips it in paalukurukku (syrup) or Pesaha Pal (made of coconut milk), and serves it to the other family members.[7]

Syrian Christian beef ularthiathu is a beef dish cooked with spices. Other dishes include Piralan (chicken stir-fries), Meat Thoran (dry curry with shredded coconut), sardine and duck curries, and Meen molee (spicy stewed fish).[6]

Notable Persons

Social Activist

  • Fr. Abel Periapuram, Founder of Kalabhavan.
  • James Cherian Maruthukunnel, District Governor, Lions Clubs International (1988–89).


Major political leaders who were from Palai :

Head of State

  • K. R. Narayanan, President of India (1997–2002), Vice-President of India (1992–97).


[In reverse chronological order]

  • M J Varkey (Vakkachen) Mattathil,[8] Member of Indian Parliament - Rajya Sabha (1998–2004).
  • N M Joseph, Minister of Forests, Kerala State (1987–91)
  • M M Jacob,[9] Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha (1986–87), Union Minister (1987–93), State Governor of Meghalaya (1995–2007).
  • Kidangoor Gopalakrishna Pillai,[10] General Secretary of NSS (1967 onwards) and Indian High-Commissioner to Singapore (1992 onwards).
  • P.K. VasudevanNair, Chief Minister of Kerala State
  • K M Chandy,[11] State Governor (1982–89), President of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee.
  • K M Mani, Member of Kerala Legislative Assembly (1965 onwards) and Minister of Kerala State (different terms during 1977 - incumbent).
  • T A Thomman, Minister of Home, Kerala State (1964–65)
  • Cherian J Kappen,[12] Freedom Fighter,Member of Indian Parliament - Lok Sabha (1962–67). Municipal Chairman, D.C.C president
  • (1957–62), U.N. Delegate. Lok Sabha Member of Indian Parliament - [13]
  • [14] President (Speaker) of Travancore State Legislative Assembly (1947–49).
  • [15] Member of Sree Moolam Popular Assembly of Travancore State (1922–31).
  • Dr P J Thomas,[16][17] Member of Madras Legislative Council, 1937–42 and Member of Indian Parliament - Rajya Sabha 1957-62.
  • [15] Member of Sree Moolam Popular Assembly of Travancore State (1922–31).

Literature & Education


  • Col. G.V. Raja - Foremost Sports Promoter.
  • M D Valsamma, Athletics - Asian Games Gold Medalist.
  • (C.V. Sunny),Basketball-Former Indian Captain.
  • Mani C. Kappan International Volleyball Player
  • Wilson Cherian International Swimmer

Commerce & Industry



  • Dr. A.M.Michael, Former Director of Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi and also Vice Chancellor of Kerala Agricultural University. Dr. Michael is the 1st Indian Agricultural Engineer, graduating from the Allahabad Agricultural Institute, Allahabad.
  • Jom Michael Koottumkal, son of Thomas k Michael is known for his works and research in aerodynamics,aerospace and avionics...


  • Jose Panachippuram, Associate Editor, Malayala Manorama daily
  • Eby J Jose Editor, Gulf Life Magazine
  • Robin Jose Editor, News Portal
  • Ebin Babu is known for best journals and photography.


Colleges in Pala are affiliated to the Olympian Shiny Wilson is an alumnus of Alphonsa College. Many institutions are run under the management of the Diocese of Pala.

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