Pala

Situated on the banks of the Meenachil River, near the mountains, Pala is an archetypal small town, where almost everyone knows everybody else. The majority of the local population consists of Christians and with some of the oldest churches in the region situated here, much of the social activity revolves around the church. Pala is known for its huge plantations and much of its prosperity comes from rubber, the main cash crop.

The Meenachil River flows through the town and empties into the Arabian Sea miles later, providing access to the coast and spurring on a thriving spice trade – the spice market was established as early as 1736. ‘Pala Pepper’, known for its superior quality, was popular in the international market. However, rubber later replaced pepper in importance. Pala is also the nerve centre of Christianity in Kerala – St Thomas himself is said to have set up the St George Church in Aruvithura. The town is an ideal starting point for heading out to popular tourist destinations such as Munnar, Vagamon and Thekkady, as well as to pilgrim centres such as Sabarimala, Bharananganam and Mannanam.

St Mary’s Forane church:

Built in 345 AD, this church is one of the oldest in Kerala, but has been rebuilt in 1960. A granite cross, 48 ft in height, and carved out of a single stone, is the highlight.The statue of Virgin Mary on the main altar is a rare blend of Romano-Portuguese art.The three massive church bells and the replica of the vessel used by Prophet Jonah are also must-sees.

Shrine of our Lady of Immaculate conception:

A landmark structure, also called ‘Jubilee Kappela’, this shrine is constructed out of
14,444 granite stones and stands in the centre of town. A statue of Jesus Christ, I 2.5 ft high, stands on top of the shrine.

valiyapalli:

Formally called, ‘St Thomas Cathedral’,  this was built in 1002. Destroyed by Muslim
invaders in the 17th century, it was rebuilt the next century, adopting the Portuguese
style of architecture.

St Mary’s Church :

St. Mary’s Church, located at Bharananganam,  is an important pilgrim centre as the
remains of the Blessed Sister Alphonsa, who died in 1946, are buried here. The podium
used by the Pope when he beatified sister Alphonsa in 1986 still stands.

St. George Church:

This 120-ft-high structure in Erattupetta town has a unique shape resembling a cross.The annual feast held in Apirl draws hundreds of people.

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