Punalur is a Municipality in Kollam district of Kerala State in India. It is the headquarter of the Punalur Taluk and Punalur Revenue Division. It's situated in the eastern part of Kollam district of Kerala, on the banks of the Kallada River and foothills of the western ghats. It is about 45 kilometres (28 mi) north-east of Kollam and 68 kilometres (42 mi) north of Thiruvananthapuram.Punalur is also Known as Mini Pamba, Lap of the Western Ghat, and Gateway of Sabarimala.

Punalur Suspension Bridge
Punalur is located in Kerala
Location in Kerala, India
Punalur is located in India
Punalur (India)
Coordinates: 9°01′01″N 76°55′34″E / 9.017°N 76.926°E / 9.017; 76.926Coordinates: 9°01′01″N 76°55′34″E / 9.017°N 76.926°E / 9.017; 76.926
Country India
 • BodyMunicipality
 • Total34.35 km2 (13.26 sq mi)
Area rank14
56 m (184 ft)
 • Total46,702
 • Rank9
 • Density1,400/km2 (3,500/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
691305 to 034
Telephone code0475
Vehicle registrationKL 25
Nearest cityKollam (44 km)
Websitewww.punalurmunicipality.in www.voiceofpunalur.com

It is the second-largest city in Kollam District after Kollam and is also one of the biggest and oldest Municipal towns in Kerala, home to a paper industry with the Punalur Paper Mills, established in the 1850s, one of the first industries in Kerala and a pioneer in the industrial revolution of the state. Punalur is also known as the "Pepper City of Kerala". Punalur became an important trading and transport center between Kollam and Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu) under the rule of the Travancore Kingdom. Steady progress by the Punalur Panchayat administration saw an upgrade to municipality status in April 3, 1971.


It is believed that Punalur derived its name by the word 'Punal' (river in old Tamil and Malayalam as in "kuruthipunal=river of blood" according to Dr. Hermann Gundert),[citation needed] and "Ooru" (place), referring to the river passing through the City.


Punalur is a Municipal town on a mountain path that had good relations with Tamil Nadu to the East from time unknown. Most parts of Punalur taluk were inhabited before the Indus Valley Civilization. Human civilizations existed in Punalur during the Mesolithic period, mainly around Thenmalai (known as Shenduruny). Punalur is described in inscriptions of Mithranandpuram and Vellayani. Until 1734, Punalur was under the direct rule of the Ilaydathu Swaroopam. Later it was annexed by Marthanda Varma and came under the rule of Travancore. The British Raj established a good hold over this part of India due to its rich agricultural resources.

Historically, Shenduruny has a rich heritage. A recent study conducted by Dr. P. Rajendran[2]], archaeological research associate of the Poona Deccan College, has resulted in the excavation of the remains of Stone Age culture from a large cave situated at the north western part of the Shenduruny (Kallada) River. It was proved that these remains belong to the Mesolithic period. This study brought out the fact that the Shenduruny River Valley Civilization was one of the oldest river valley civilizations in India. It dates to between 5210 and 4420 BC, making it older than the Indus Valley Civilization which is believed to have flourished from 4400 to 3700 BC. Cave paintings seen here are comparable to the Mesolithic paintings found in the caves of central India. The cave found here is large enough to hold at least twenty people at a time. According to Dr. Rajendran, the marshy place seen below just in front of the cave once must have been a lake. Now the Shenduruny River has the reputation that it had nourished a civilization in the prehistoric past.

Punalur also served as a pivot point in the rise of the independence movement and against the rule of Diwan. Many meetings were centered on Punalur due to its close proximity to Tamil Nadu. Many important decisions on planning and attacking Tirunelveli collector were taken in Punalur.

The Taluk headquarters was shifted from Pathanapuram to Punalur, after an attack at Pathanapuram in 1880. This helped aid the growth of Punalur. Later the flow of goods to and from Tamil Nadu started traveling through Punalur. Punalur is the first settlement after the Western ghats.One of the oldest churches in Kerala,was established by LMS Missionaries in Punalur during 1885.The CSI Church Punalur built by the British was used by the English men working in paper mill. The church was also used as a school during the week days as a part of providing education to the natives. It was the first school of Punalur during the rule of British. The opening of the Punalur Suspension Bridge increased the importance of Punalur as a center of trade between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Later the rail route between Kollam and Thiruchendur made the town more prosperous.

Punalur Paper Mills, the first of its kind in Kerala, served both as an economic center as well as a source of jobs. The Punalur paper mill employees' union was one of the first organised employee unions in the state of Kerala itself. The workers of Punalur paper mill actively participated in movements including the freedom fight and the riot against Diwan rule. Later the Travancore plywood industry added to Punalur's importance in the industrial field. Punalur Market (formerly Sri Ramapuram market) is one of the largest vegetable/agro-products markets in Kerala.

The cultural history of Punalur reflects in the work of traditional and modern artists and performing groups of music, drama, cinema, etc., especially acclaimed contributions of Punalur N. Rajagopalan Nair, Punalur Balan and Lalithambika Antharjanam in theatre and Malayalam literature.


Punalur Kallada River seen from Punalur Suspension Bridge

Punalur has an average elevation of 56 metres (184 ft).[3] Many tourists have visited scenic spots along the Kallada River.[4] The Palaruvi Falls is 35 kilometres (22 mi) from Punalur.[5] The first planned eco-tourism project in Kerala is only 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Punalur on NH 744 towards Sengottai.


Punalur Assembly constituency is part of the Kollam (Lok Sabha constituency). K. Raju who is the current Minister For Forestry and Animal Husbandry is MLA of Punalur assembly constituency. N. K. Premachandran is MP of Kollam (Lok Sabha constituency). [6]

Government AdministrationEdit

Punalur Municipality was established on 1 April 1971, with an area of 34.06 square kilometers. Currently, Punalur is a Grade-II municipality and divided into 35 electoral wards. Punalur is the largest municipality in Kollam District.

Punalur is one of the two Revenue Divisions (RDO) of Kollam district and another being Kollam itself. Punalur Revenue divisional office was established on Keralapiravi day 1 November 2018. It's headed by RDO/Sub Collector. Punalur RDO headquarters is situated at PWD complex, TB Jn. Punalur Revenue division is administratively divided into three Taluks: Punalur, Kottarakkara, and Pathanapuram, each of which is subdivided into 50 villages. Punalur is the headquarters of the Punalur Taluk and is one of the major and largest Taluks in Kollam District. This Taluk comprises 15 villages.

Punalur is the Sub-divisional headquarters of the Kollam Rural Police. It's headed by Deputy Superintendent of Police/Assistant Superintendent of Police. Punalur Police Station is a major police station in Kollam rural district and located at Chemmanthoor Jn., Police Control Room & Highway Police base Station are also functioning in Punalur. Punalur Railway Police Station is the one & only Railway Police Station in Kollam Rural District. A proposal for the Traffic Police Station at Punalur, waiting for Govt. approval.

Court complex functioning in Chemmanthoor, Punalur, presently there is seven courts functioning those are, M.A.C.T, District Fast Track Special Court (Pocso Cases), Family Court, Sub Court, Munsif Court, JFMC-1, JFMC- 2(Forest offences), and a Sub-divisional Magistrate Court.

Punalur has a Divisional Forest Office, it's headed by DFO. Timber Sales Divisional Forest Office (DFO-Timber Sales) and Forest Flying Squad Divisional Office also function at Punalur.

Other important Government offices functioning in Punalur includes Sub-Regional Transport Office, Excise Circle and Range Offices, Fire & Rescue Office, District Educational Office, District Tribal Office, KSEB divisional Office, Telecom divisional Office, KWA Sub-divisional office, NH Sub-divisional Office, PWD Sub-division Office, Sub-Treasury, Sub-Registrar Office, Employment Exchange, LIC Regional Office, Rubber Board Regional Office, Taluk Supply Office, Taluk Statistical Office, Legal Metrology Office, SC/ST Addl. Commissioner Office, Labor Office, Devaswam Board Assistant Commissioner Office, Food Safety Circle Office etc. Most of the Government Offices are functioned in Civil station at Kachery Road, Punalur.


Punalur taluk hospital is considered to be one of the best Hospitals in public sector healthcare in India with ultra-modern facilities. The District Cancer Care Centre is also functioning in Punalur. Govt. Hospital for Mother & Child also sanctioned in Punalur. Now, it is the biggest Govt. Taluk Hospital in Kerala with 11 Floors. A proposal for this Hospital to upgraded as a General Hospital/District Specialty Hospital. The Punalur Taluk Hospital has set a benchmark in public sector healthcare to get a new hi-tech building under Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB). The building will have 32 outpatient units functioning at the same time, which is first of its kind in a taluk hospital. INKEL will construct the 11-storey Rs 68-crore building having a total area of 2,00,000 sq feet under the ‘Aardram’ mission. The new facility will have 333 beds for inpatients, 94 ICU beds and seven lifts. "The hospital will compete with any of the corporate hospitals in the state, with 32 doctors available at a time attend outpatients in the new building." The hospital had bagged awards from Kerala State Pollution Control Board for the last six consecutive years of which three are excellence awards. The hospital already has employed 40 advanced cosmetology procedures including skin platelet-rich plasma administration, follicle transplantation, squint correction, and dental jewellery. The programme ‘Beside you – birth companion scheme’ permits husband or female relative of pregnant women to be present in the labor room at the time of delivery.

The hospital is also the first to employ a painless delivery facility in a public sector hospital in the state. The hospital has centralised systems for air, oxygen, and suction in all beds, probably the lone facility in public health centres. Dialysis and cancer care services are free. Palliative care also functions at the hospital, which receives over 2,000 outpatients per day a number a private hospital under normal circumstances used to have.

ESI Hospital, Government Taluk Ayurveda and Homeo Hospitals also Major private Hospitals functioning in Punalur.


Even though it is located near the Western Ghats, Punalur is the hottest place in Kerala,[citation needed] and during summer temperatures as high as 40 °C (104 °F) have been recorded. One of Kerala's weather stations in Punalur and Chittur, Palakkad had a long reputation of being the hottest places in Kerala, but Punalur broke all heat records in 2007 and 2009. The summers of 2007 and 2009 were the hottest when the maximum temperature hovered around 40 °C (104 °F) for many days. Punalur also holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in lowland/midland regions of Kerala; with 12.9 °C (55.2 °F) on 8 January 1968. Minimum temperatures in January–February on a cloudless day can be as low as 16 °C (61 °F) and maximum in March–April can be as high as 40 °C (104 °F). Because of this, Punalur is also known as "The Hot City Of Kerala".[citation needed]

Climate data for Punalur (1981–2010, extremes 1956–2012)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 38.8
Mean maximum °C (°F) 35.8
Average high °C (°F) 33.9
Average low °C (°F) 20.8
Mean minimum °C (°F) 18.4
Record low °C (°F) 12.9
Average rainfall mm (inches) 14.0
Average rainy days 1.0 2.3 5.5 11.3 11.6 20.5 20.2 15.7 12.0 16.9 10.1 2.3 129.4
Average relative humidity (%) (at 17:30 IST) 51 51 54 64 66 75 76 74 72 74 70 61 66
Source: India Meteorological Department[7][8]
Photo of the article

Punalur Suspension BridgeEdit

The Punalur Suspension Bridge is the oldest motorable bridge in Kerala, which was built by the British on AD 1877 and is now a historical attraction. It is also known as "London Bridge Of Kerala". The bridge has a length of 400 feet. The suspension bridge was built to prevent wild animals from crossing into the town from the forest area of old Kattupathanapuram. It is the symbol of Punalur now. It is added to Kerala Tourism Circuit recently. Punalur is also known as the " City of hanging bridge"

Punalur Paper MillEdit

It is believed that the oldest paper mill in the country was started at Punalur in 1886. The mill used reeds to make paper and was opened by T.J. Cameroon, an industrialist from Britain. One of the mill's customers when they were open was the India Security Press. Up to 1931, Punalur was renamed multiple times.[9] In 1987, the mill which was managed by L.N. Dalmia and had around 1020 employees was shut down due to huge liabilities.[10]


Major roadsEdit

Punalur Ksrtc bus stand

Kollam – Thirumangalam Road (NH-744) passes through Punalur, connects the City to Tamil Nadu and other parts of the districts. The Main Eastern Highway, which is Punalur-Pathanamthitta-Thodupuzha-Muvattupuzha Road / SH – 08 starts from Punalur. SH-48 (Punalur-Ayoor Road) is connected to the state capital of Trivandrum from Punalur. SH -5 (Punalur/Pathanapuram-Kayamkulam road ) connects to Cochin from the city and the largest state highway (SH-59: Hill Highway) in Kerala state is also passes through this city. Commutation in this hilly city is mainly dependent on state-run KSRTC, SETC and private bus services.

Road transportEdit

Punalur Sub-Regional Transport Office is situated at Nellippaly Jn, Punalur, KL-25 is the vehicle registration code for Punalur Taluk. Punalur KSRTC Depot is one of the major and oldest KSRTC depot in Kerala. Hon.Transport Minister officially declared for Punalur KSRTC Sub-Depot upgraded to District Depot status on 27th September 2021.It is well connected to the capital city of Kerala Thiruvananthapuram, and the district headquarters of Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Wayanad etc. During the Sabarimala season, Punalur KSRTC Depot operates Pamba and Erumely special services from Punalur Railway station-Punalur bus stand -towards Pathanamthitta-Pamba. It is the most helpful for many devotees to reach their Sabarimala. Punalur private bus stand is one of the largest Private bus stands in Kerala. Private bus services well connected by Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki and Ernakulam Districts. KSRTC and SETC Interstate services to towns in Tamil Nadu like Sengottai, Tenkasi, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Tiruchendur, Madurai, Trichi, Chennai, Velankanni, Salem and Hosur. KSRTC ply town to town and Fast Passenger services in Punalur mainly through Main Eastern Highway linking Punalur to Pathanamthitta, Ranni, Erumely, Kanjirappally, Ponkunnam, Palai, Mundakayam, Kattappana, Kumily, Thodupuzha, Muvattupuzha, Kottayam and many more towns in high ranges of Kerala. Plenty of A/C Luxury Bus services are operated from Punalur to Bangalore, Chennai, Madurai, Pondicherry and Coimbatore on a daily basis. Many other services are also operated by KSRTC to interior villages like Mathra, Achenkovil, Rosemala, Tenmala, Aryankavu, Pattazhy, Thalachira and Kokkadu.


Punalur railway station is The second-largest Railway station in Kollam District, a major transit point and a main destination Railway Station in Kerala located on the Kollam – Sengottai railway line. It is also known as the Gateway of Sabarimala. Station Manager's office, Railway Protection Force (RPF) Station, Assistant divisional Electrical Engineer's Office, Southern Railway Sectional Engineer office, and Track Machine Maintenance section also functioning in Punalur Railway Station. The construction of the meter gauge rail route between Kollam – Punalur and Punalur – Sengottai (Ghats Section) along the scenic mountain terrain was started in 1873 by the British engineers and was completed in 1902. Travancore rulers in association with the British prepared the plan for the track through the challenging mountain terrain as it involved the construction of long arch bridges over steep valleys and tunnels across the rocky mountains of Western Ghats.[11]

Thirteen Arch Railway Bridge

The first goods train travelled on this route in 1902 and a train carrying its first passengers began its run in 1904. It makes for a thrilling train journey as it passes over five big bridges and hundreds of tiny ones while negotiating mountain streams and valleys. Passengers are also treated to a breath-taking view of the Western Ghats. The train also passes through five tunnels on this stretch, including the one-kilometre-long tunnel between Bhagawathipuram and Arayankavu. The station at Punalur is equipped with the locomotive service centre, parcel and timber depot, train parking bays, storage tanks for water and oil, etc. This route is in the process of up-gradation to broad-gauge and the first part of conversion finished between Kollam and Punalur. The second part of conversion work on Punalur-Sengottai ghat section also finished and starts passenger and goods services. Now this will serve as the shortest rail-route from Kochi port to Tuticorin port. The infrastructure of the station will be changed as proposed in tune with handling demands and historical accuracy.

The Punalur Railway Station currently connects to Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad Junction, Nagarcoil, Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli, Madurai, Thiruchirappally, Chennai and Velankanni. The station handles six express train services to Velankanni, Chennai Egmore, Ernakulam, Kollam Junction, Thirunelveli, Palakkad Junction and eight passenger train services, of which four services ply to Kollam Junction, another four services ply to Sengottai, Madurai Junction, Guruvayur and Kanyakumari.


The main agricultural products of this City include rubber, black pepper, and other spices. Punalur Sreeramavarmapuram Market is one of the largest vegetable market in Kerala. The chief commodities of export here are the hill products: pineapple, pepper products, plywood and timber. The Punalur Paper Mill Ltd., a paper industry established in 1888 by a German national, was closed in 1987 due to labour disputes. Various attempts to resolve the issues over two decades failed to produce any result but finally reached a legal settlement in February 2011 between the new management and the State Government. It is in the process of running by the newly formed management. A major share of PPM is owned by Akhula Industries, Hyderabad.

The economic activity of twon was at its height during the time of Punalur Paper Mill. The closure of paper mill impacted economy. Currently other major industrial establishments like Kerala Agro Industries Corporation Limited, State Farming Corporation, Rehabilitation Plantations, RPC Kraft Paper, plywood industry, etc. still provide a significant contribution to the economy.

The Punalur market is also assisted by the agricultural industries.

Punalur was one of the earliest center of Plywood industry in Travancore. The plywood manufactured here played a key role in packing Tea. The industry sprouted in the city when Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma opened a plywood factory named Travancore Plywood Industries, as joint venture near Kuriottumala in the shores of Kallada River in 1943. The factory came under ownership of Kerala State Industrial Enterprises Limited in 1973. The factory closed down in 1990's following a series of financial Provident fund default litigation issues that emerged. The land is earmarked for development of Rubber Park.


As of 2011 India census,[12] Punalur had a population of 66,702. Males constitute 49% of the population and females 51%. Punalur has an average literacy rate of 84%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 85%, and female literacy is 82%. In Punalur, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age. Sree Bharanikavu Devi Temple is a Hindu temple located here.

Notable peopleEdit


Educational institutionsEdit


  • Sree Narayana College, Punalur
  • Sree Narayana Guru College of Advanced Studies, Punalur
  • Co-operative Engineering College, Kuriyottumala
  • Government Polytechnic College
  • University Institute of Management(UIM), Punalur
  • University Institute of Technology Ottakkal, Punalur
  • University Institute of Technology, Yeroor, Punalur
  • AKMAS College, Punalur
  • Government Commercial Institute


Punalur has numerous government, aided, and unaided schools. Starting from the first school, St. John's L. P. School popular as 'Roma School' opened in thatched sheds in the St. Mary's Church campus during the late 19th century, The Government Higher Secondary School in Punalur and the Taluk Samjam schools were established in the early 20th century. Later the Taluk Samajam schools were split into boys HSS, girls HS, and the Chemmanthoor HS. Another educational institution was established in the St. Mary's Church Campus namely, St. Goretti H.S.S. on the outskirts of the city. SNDP had established an institution namely SN Trust H.S.S.Among unaided schools, the notable institutions are Sabarigiri, St. Thomas, Toch, Fathima, Oxford. From playschool to higher secondary classes are available in these institutions. Sree Thyagaraja school of music and dance is an institution working in Punalur since 1901.

Tourist AttractionsEdit

  • Punalur Hanging Bridge
  • Chenkulam Ecotourism project
  • Thenmala Eco-Tourism & Dam
  • Thenmala Deer Park
  • Thenmala Butterfly Safari Park
  • Thenmala Sculpture Park
  • Shenduruni Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Junkle Park, Punalur
  • Jatayupara Eco-Tourism
  • Kudukathupara Eco-Tourism
  • Palaruvi Waterfalls
  • Kumbhavurutty Waterfalls
  • Kanjiramala Hills
  • Koonamkuzhi suicide point
  • Achankovil
  • Kottukkal Cave Temple, Anchal
  • Pinnacle View Point
  • Ambanad Tea & Orange Plantations
  • 13 Kannara Bridge
  • Oil Palm Plantations
  • Chaliyakkara
  • Vazhathoppu
  • Olapara Waterfalls
  • Tholikod Sludge Lagoon
  • Aryankavu
  • Kulathupuzha
  • Kelankavu Waterfalls
  • CSI Church,Punalur

Malls in PunalurEdit

  • D-Mall at NH 744 One way (Chowka Road).
  • PRV Grande Mall at NH 744, Valacode Junction.
  • WISMA Mall at Market Junction.

Convention centres and auditoriums in PunalurEdit

  • Gems Arena A/C and Non A/C Halls, T.B.Junction - Aickarakkonam Road, Punalur.
  • Varsha Convention Centre at Muhruthikavu Road (a/c, escalator, lift facility)
  • Symphony Convention Centre at NH744 Pinppile Jn.
  • KG Convention Centre at Kuthirachira
  • Skyline Auditorium at Paper mill Jn.
  • Dr. Jayakumar's Hall at Sabarigiri School Jn.
  • Ebenesar Park at NH744 Pinppile Jn.
  • TK Oommen Auditorium, Near Bishop House, Adukkalamoola
  • Rajarohini Hall
  • Swayamvara Hall
  • Bunglavil Auditorium at Kottavattom
  • Thadathilvila Auditorium at Narikkal
  • Apsara Auditorium at Vettithitta

Theatres in PunalurEdit

Punalur is one of the main cinema releasing centres in Kerala. There are 12 movie theatres totally in the city.

  • Ramraj Movies 4K 3D Dolby Atmos - Screens: 2
  • Thailakshmi Multiplex 4K - Screens: 1
  • Carnival Cinemas,D Mall 4K 3D - Screens: 3
  • PRV Grande Mall Imax 4K 3D Dolby - screens: 3 (work in progress)
  • WISMA Mall - screens: 2 (work in progress)
  • Sreepadmanabha Theatre (renovation soon)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Kerala (India): Districts, Cities and Towns - Population Statistics, Charts and Map".
  2. ^ Study conducted by Dr. Rajendran [1] Archaeological wonders discovered by Dr. P. Rajendran G. Asokan at different sites in Kerala
  3. ^ Falling Rain Genomics, Inc – Punalur
  4. ^ Panoramio – Photo of Amazing Punalur – Kakod Whitewater02
  5. ^ "Palaruvi Falls". World of Waterfalls. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  6. ^ "Assembly Constituencies - Corresponding Districts and Parliamentary Constituencies" (PDF). Kerala. Election Commission of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2009. Retrieved 21 October 2008.
  7. ^ "Station: Punalur Climatological Table 1981–2010" (PDF). Climatological Normals 1981–2010. India Meteorological Department. January 2015. pp. 625–626. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2020. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  8. ^ "Extremes of Temperature & Rainfall for Indian Stations (Up to 2012)" (PDF). India Meteorological Department. December 2016. p. M109. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2020. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  9. ^ Pereira, Ignatius (27 May 2013). "Inundated colonial bungalow resurfaces after thirty years". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  10. ^ "Punalur paper mill to see light of day after 23 years". Deccan Chronicle. 4 September 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  11. ^ Ormmakalilekku Oru Ottayadipatha. Archived from the original on 13 December 2021 – via YouTube.
  12. ^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 16 June 2004. Retrieved 1 November 2008.

External linksEdit