Kanjirapally is a taluk and a small town located in the Kottayam district of Kerala. Situated on the foothills of the Western Ghats, this town is known by nicknames like 'The Queen of Malanad' (meaning the land of mountains) and 'The Gateway of Malanad'.
The geographical position of Kanjirapally makes it an ideal trade junction among the commercial centres of the east and the west. Full of plantations and estates, Kanjirapally is also famous as a planters' town with rubber plantations being the major source of income for the local population.
This little town is named after the Kanjiram tree, which was once abundant in this area. Kanjirapally was first inhabited by a tribal society named 'Koyyins', who had settled in Chotti in Parathodu Panchayat.
Around 1000 AD, the region of Kerala, particularly Pandalam, was taken over by a Pandiyan prince. During his rule, the Tamils were free to migrate in the high ranges of the Western Ghats and around places like Kanjirapally and Aruvithura. As the hilly areas of trade routes were guarded by the Pandiyans, it was easy and safe for the trade caravans to arrive in the area.
The first Tamil clan to move to Kanjirapally from the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu in around 1150 AD were the 'Kannannur Chetties', whose ancestry can be traced to a village in Chettinad. Traders by cast, they brought cloth, metal-wares, pulses, jewels, grain, tobacco and opium for sale in the region. In return, they took pepper, ginger, coconut, areca nut and other spices from Kanjirapally.
The colonisation of these tradesmen turned out to be a milestone in the evolution of Kanjirapally, which later became the commercial centre of the old kingdom of Thekkumkoor. Kanjirapally has a large population of Syrian Catholic Christians who claim their roots from early settlements at Nilakkal, which was an important depot for spices.
Some evidences also reveal that the Christian community here was founded by St. Thomas the Apostle. The migration of this Christian community, which was engaged in the lucrative trade as procures and sorters, had a profound impact on the history of commerce and agriculture in Kanjirapally. The oldest church in the area, named 'Pazhaya Palli' dates back to 1449 AD, fifty years before Vasco da Gama set foot in India.
The place also has a large population of Muslims, who have migrated from Tamil Nadu, particularly through the eastern high ranges to towns located in the vicinity. Hence, a number of mosques are found in Kanjirapally, Nainar Masjid being the biggest.
Tamil Vellalars residing in the region built the granite temple, named Ganapathiyaar Kovil, as a testimony to the early Tamil influence in religion and culture. Two centuries later, another Hindu clan called Vellala Pillas migrated from Kumbakonam. They built temples like Northern Ganapathiyaar Kovil and Madura Meenakshi.
Kanjirapally is well-connected to other major towns of the region via Kottayam-Kumily Road (K. K. Road) and the Main Eastern Highway. Thus, the place is easily accessible by road transport like buses from cities such as Cochin and Kottayam.
The nearest major railhead to Kanjirapally is located 39 km away in Kottayam, which is the closest major transit point in the region. Those travelling by air can get down at the Cochin International Airport, situated around 120 km from the town, and continue the journey by road. The best time to visit the place is from October through March.