This tranquil little town in the foothills of the Western Ghats is often referred to as the gateway to the High Ranges. Once a hub of trading activities, Kanjirapally has now slipped into comparative quietude. But the abundance of rubber plantations still gives the town a degree of commercial importance. The numerous charming bungalows built by rich planters bestow upon it an old-world charm.
Agriculture now prevails over trade as the main source of income for the locals. The land, made fertile by the Manimala River, is a veritable planter’s paradise. Apart from large rubber plantations, banana, tapioca, pepper, vanilla and ginger are some of the other important crops that support the town’s economy.
The beautiful granite temple, Ganapathiyar Kovil, today in ruins, points to early Tamil influence. However, the Madurai Meenakshi Temple is now the most important Hindu shrine in town. The Shiva Temple in Chirakadavu and the Bhagavathi Temple in Cheruvalli are the two other popular shrines.
Apart from being a base camp of sorts for pilgrims setting off for Sabarimala, Kanjirapally is also an ideal take-off point for Thekkady, the Periyar Sanctuary, Peermede and Kumily.
St Mary’s Church:
St Dominic’s Cathedral:
Built in 1826, St Dominic’s Cathedral is noted for its architectural beauty. Both the old and the new church remained the parish churches for 18 years until 1842, when they were unified. The shrine was raised to the position of a forane church in 1919. Its reconstruction, begun in 1945, took nearly 16 years to complete. On March 17, 1977, it was elevated to the status of a cathedral.
Built by the Chetti community of Tamil Nadu, this 900-year-old structure is almost in ruins today, although the carvings and inscriptions on its granite pillars are still visible. Tamil inscriptions on walls and pillars tell the story of the Pattunool Shetties, he community known for weaving the textile known as kanjirapally katcha.
St Thomas Benedictine Abbey:
The Benedictines are a Roman Catholic order with a network around the world. The St Thomas Benedictine Abbey has a church f hat displays a blend of Hestern and Indian cultural influences. The stone lamp at the entrance of the building, carved wooden doors, huge pillars at the altar, intricate floral motifs and domes are unusual. A traditional Hindu jewel box has been placed in the niche of a marble pillar, where the sacrament is kept and worshipped.
Malanadu Development Society:
This is an organisation that works for rural development and environmental sustainability. A guided tour through the I 3-acre property takes you through the techniques of bee-keeping and honey processing, sericulture, oil extraction and milk processing. A shop sells MDS products.
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