Below Sea Level Farming Region
Lowest Region of India, Lowest Region of the Indian Subcontinent
|District||Alappuzha, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta|
|Elevation||−2.7 m (−8.9 ft)|
|• Official||Malayalam, English|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
|Vehicle registration||KL 66|
|Nearest city||Alappuzha, Kottayam , Changanassery|
Kuttanad (Malayalam : കുട്ടനാട്) is a region covering the Alappuzha, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta Districts, in the state of Kerala, India, well known for its vast paddy fields and geographical peculiarities. The region has the lowest altitude in India, and is one of the few places in the world where farming is carried on around 1.2 to 3.0 metres (4 to 10 ft) below sea level. Kuttanad is historically important in the ancient history of South India and is the major rice producer in the state. Farmers of Kuttanad are famous for Biosaline Farming. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has declared the Kuttanad Farming System as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS).
Four of Kerala's major rivers, the Pamba, Meenachil, Achankovil and Manimala flow into the region. It is well known for its boat race in the Punnamada Backwaters, known in Malayalam as Vallamkalli.
This region with abundant paddy fields and lakes produces rice, vegetables & fruits, fish, dairy products and poultry meat which were sold locally at Alappuzha, Changanacherry and Kottayam village market under Travancore Kingdom. When Kerala state came into being the lower Kuttanad region was included in Alappuzha and Kottayam districts, upper Kuttanad in Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts and north Kuttanad in Kottayam on the basis of landscape. The first recorded history of this land is obtained from the Sangam period literature. According to the Sangam era texts, Uthiyan Cheralatan (Perum Chorru Udiyan Cheralathan, Athan I or Udiyanjeral) is the first recorded Chera dynasty ruler of the Sangam period in ancient Kerala. [ citation needed ]He had his capital at a place called Kuzhumur in Kuttanad (central Kerala) and expanded the kingdom northward and eastward from his original homeland. His lifetime is broadly determined to be between first century BC and 2nd century AD. His queen was Veliyan Nallini, the daughter of Veliyan Venman.
Uthiyan Cheralathan was a contemporary of the Chola ruler Karikala Chola. He is praised for his elephant corps and cavalry. Present day Changanacherry end of Kuttanad was the capital of the Chera dynasty king Uthiyan Cheralathan. His descendant was Cenkuttuvan (Chenkuttuvan means "Alluring Kuttuvan" in Malayalam) and his name is carried by the towns of Chenganacherri and Chengana to the present day). The native place of the Kuttuva tribe came to be known as Kuttanadu. According to sangam literature, Uthiyan Cheralathan was defeated in the Battle of Venni against Karikala Chola and the capital was burnt down.[ citation needed ]
Black wooden logs were mined from paddy fields called as ‘Karinilam’(Black paddy fields) until the recent past. In Kuttanad most of the place names end in 'kari' (meaning burnt residue or charcoal). Some familiar place names are Ramankary, Puthukkary, Amichakary, Oorukkary, Mithrakary, Mampuzhakary, Kainakary, Kandanakary, Thayamkary, Chathenkary, Chathurthiakary and Chennamkary.[ citation needed ]
The Kuttanad region is categorised into:
Lower Kuttanadu comprises taluks of Ambalapuzha, Nedumudy, Kuttanadu (excluding Edathua, Thalavady, Kidangara and Muttar), and the northern half of Karthikapally taluk in Alappuzha district.
Upper Kuttanad comprises Veeyapuram and Pallippad in Karthikapally taluk, Edathua, Thalavady, Kidangara and Muttar in Kuttanad taluk; Chennithala and Thripperumthura villages in Mavelikkara taluk; Mannar, Kurattissery, Budhanoor, Ennakkad villages in Chengannur taluk of Alappuzha district; and Parumala, Kadapra, Niranam, Pulikeezhu, Nedumpuram, Chathenkary, Peringara, and Kavumbhagam villages in Pathanamthitta district.
North Kuttanad comprises Vaikom taluk, western parts of Kottayam taluk, and western parts of Changanacherry taluk in Kottayam district.
Kuttanad's major villages include Kainakary, Chathenkary, Ramankary, Puthukkary, Chennamkary, Nedumudi, Niranam, Kaipuzha, Edathua, Mampuzhakkary, Neelamperoor, Kainady, Kavalam, Pulincunnoo, Manalady, Kannady Kayalpuram, Veliyanadu, Veeyapuram, Vezhapra, Kunnamkary, Kumaramkary, Valady, Kidangara, Mithrakary, Muttar, Neerattupuram, Thalavadi, Changankary, Champakulam, Nedumudi, Moonnatummukham, Melpadom, Pulincunnu, Pallippad, Payippad, Karichal, Ayaparambu, Anary, Vellamkulangara, Pilappuzha, Pandi, Edathua, Pacha, Chekkidikad, Thakazhy, Cheruthana, Karuvatta, Chennithala, Narakathara, Venattukad, Kayalppuram, Mankompu, Chathurthiakary, Koduppunna, Oorukkary, Thayankary, Thiruvarpu,Kumarakom, Arpookara, Pullangadi, Payattupakka, and Kandankary.[ citation needed ]
The major occupation in Kuttanadu is farming, with rice the most important agricultural product. This activity gives the area its moniker of "The Rice Bowl of Kerala". Large farming areas near Vembanad Lake were reclaimed from the lake. The history of paddy cultivation in Kuttanad can be traced back centuries. The evolution of paddy cultivation correlated with technological advancement and changes in the regulatory framework that existed during the 19th and 20th centuries. In earlier times, reclamation was carried out mainly from the shallow part of the Vembanad Lake or from the periphery of the Pamba River. These reclamations constituted small areas of paddy fields called padasekharams. Bailing out of water from the fields were done manually using water wheels called chakram. Gradually the manual method used for bailing out of water gave way to steam engines.[ citation needed ]
There were robberies in Kuttanad in earlier days, which were prohibited by the Travancore Maharajah Moolam Thirunal.
Three distinct stages can be identified in the reclamation of kayal lands from the lake. The first stage was carried out by private entrepreneurs without any financial support from the government. The Pattom Proclamation made by the Travencore Kingdom in 1865, gave a great fillip to reclamation activities between 1865 and 1888. During this period de-watering of the polders was done manually using chakram, which restricted large-scale reclamation. Only about 250 hectares of land were reclaimed during this period. Venadu kayal and Madathil Kayal were reclaimed during this period and are considered the first "Kayal Nilams" to be reclaimed from the Vembanad Lake.These pioneering reclamation activities in kayal cultivation were made by the two brothers Mathai Luka Pallithanam and Ouseph Luka Pallithanam from Kainady village in Kuttanadu.
The second phase started during 1888. One of the reclamation during this period was undertaken by Chalayil Eravi Kesava Panicker. He chose to reclaim Vembanad kayal from the mouth of the Chennamkari river as it joins with the back waters. The reclaimed kayal was known as ‘ Attumuttu Kayal’. Other major reclamation on the same year was Seminary Kayal which was undertaken by Kottayam Orthodox Seminary.[ citation needed ]
The introduction of kerosene engines for dewatering resulted in the reclamation of wider areas of the lake for cultivation. This made farmers consider venturing into the deeper parts of the lake. During the period between 1898 and 1903, reclamation activity was led by Pallithanam Luca Mathai (alias Pallithanathu Mathaichen) who reclaimed the Cherukara Kayal and Pallithanam Moovayiram Kayal. But the second phase (1890 to 1903) of reclamation activities came to a halt because of the ban on kayal reclamation imposed by the Madras Government in 1903. Cherukali Kayal, Rajapuram Kayal, Aarupanku Kayal, Pantharndu Panku kayal and Mathi Kayal were the other major reclamations during this period.[ citation needed ]
In 1912, the Madras Government approved a proposal from the Travancore Government for further reclamations in three stages. Under this scheme kayal land was notified for reclamation in blocks each named with a letter of the English alphabet. Out of the total area of 19,500 acres of kayal land, 12,000 acres were reclaimed between 1913 and 1920. After the removal of the ban in 1913, Pallithanam Luca Matthai along with some other prominent families in Kuttanadu, reclaimed E-Block Kayal measuring a total area 2,400 acres. This is the biggest Kayal Nilam in Kuttanadu. C.J. Kurian, Ex MLC and Mr. John Illikalam were his main partners in this venture. The reclamations between 1914 and 1920, known as the new reclamations, were carried out in three periods. In the first period Blocks A to G measuring 6300 Acres were reclaimed. C Block, D Block (Attumukham Aarayiram (Attumuttu Kayal), Thekke Aarayiram and Vadakke Aarayiram) and E Block (Erupathinalayiram Kayal) F Block (Judge's Aarayiram Kayal) and G Block (Kochu Kayal) are the major Kayal Nilams reclaimed during this period.[ citation needed ]
During the second period of new reclamation, blocks H to N covering an area of 3600 acres were reclaimed under the leadership of Pallithanam Luca Matthai, Cunnumpurathu Kurien, Vachaparampil Mathen, Pazhayaparmpil Chacko, Kunnathusseril Peious, Ettuparayil Xavier and Pattassery PP Mathai. During the third period of new reclamation, R Block Kayal covering 1,400 acres was reclaimed by the joint efforts of eight families led by then member of Sree Moolam Popular Assembly, Pallithanam Luca Matthai. His partners in the reclamation included Vachaparampil Mathen, Pazhayaparmpil Chacko, Ettuparayil Xavier, Pattassery PP Mathai, Kaarikkuzhi Ponnada Vaakkaal Mathulla Mappila (E & F block), Meledom, Paruthickal and Kandakudy. Once, while the king of travancore visited the Erupathinalayiram Kayal he was pleased and told Kaarikkuzhi Mathulla Mappila that he should have bought a Ponnada to honor him. Since he has not bought a Ponnada, he presented "Ponnada Vaakkaal" (Ponnada by word). Thereafter his house was known as Ponnadavaakkaal.[ citation needed ]
From 1920 to 1940 reclamation activity came to a halt because of a steep drop in the price of rice.
Due to the steep decline in the price of rice between 1920 and 1940 reclamation activities slowed down, but they gained momentum again in the early 1940s. During this period, in order to increase agricultural output, a government initiated "Grow More Food" campaign and the provision of incentives encouraged new reclamations. The advent of electric motors made reclamation relatively easier, cheaper and less risky as compared to in earlier periods. The last tract of the reclamations namely Q, S and T block were made during this period by Joseph Murickan (Muricken Outhachan) and his wife's family Puthanppura Panchara (Veliyanadu).
As farming in the area increased, farmers felt themselves constrained by the two cycles a year for rice cultivation. The reason for which is the limited availability of potable water in Kuttanadu. During the monsoon seasons, the water from the mountains flow through the rivers to the sea, bringing potable water to Kuttanadu. But during summer, due to the low level of the region seawater enters Kuttanadu, significantly increasing the salinity of the water and making it unpotable.[ citation needed ]
Also Kuttanad is recognised as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) by FAO
Thottappally Spillway project was designed as a permanent solution to the flood situation in Kuttanad. This programme was envisaged in such a way that flood waters from Pamba, Manimalayar and Achankovil were diverted to the sea before it reached Vembanad lake. The spillway was commissioned in 1955.
In 1968, the Government of India proposed that a bund (Dam) be made across the river so that seawater would not be allowed to come inside Kuttanad during summer, allowing farmers to cultivate an extra crop per year. The project was planned in three phases, the south side, the north side and another phase to join the two sections. The project was delayed and by the time the first two phases were complete the entire money allotted for the project ran out and left the final phase in limbo. The farmers who were expecting many financial benefits after the completion of the project decided to take matters into their own hands and one night in 1972, a large group of farmers filled the gap between the north and the south side with earth. To this day, the earth embankment between the two sections of the bund remains. With this, it was possible to close the regulator of shutters during December–June when the saline water enters, and then open it during monsoon. Once the Thanneermukkam bund and spillway became operational two crops were possible in Kuttanad.
Even though the bund has improved the quality of life of the farmers, the bund is alleged to have caused severe environmental problems. The backwaters which were abundant with fish and part of the staple food of the people of the region require a small amount of salt water for its breeding. The bund has caused deterioration of fish varieties in the region and the fishermen opposed to the bund as of 2005. The bund has also disrupted the harmony of the sea with the backwaters and has caused problems not foreseen before the bund like the omnipresence of the water weeds. Before creation of the bund the salt water tended to cleanse the backwaters, but this no longer occurs, leading to pollution of the backwaters and the nearby land.
Kuttanad assembly constituency was a part of Alappuzha. After the Lok Sabha delimitation in 2008, it now belongs to the Mavelikkara constituency.
Alappuzha district, is one of the 14 districts in the Indian state of Kerala. It was formed as Alleppey district on 17 August 1957, the name of the district being changed to Alappuzha in 1990, and is the smallest district of Kerala. Alleppey town, the district headquarters, was renamed Alappuzha in 2012, even though the anglicised name is still commonly used to describe the town as well as the district.
Kottayam, is one of 14 districts in the Indian state of Kerala. Kottayam district comprises six municipal towns: Kottayam, Changanassery, Pala, Erattupetta, Ettumanoor, and Vaikom. It is the only district in Kerala that neither border the Arabian Sea nor any other states.
The Kerala backwaters are a network of brackish lagoons and canals lying parallel to the Arabian Sea of the Malabar coast of Kerala state in south-western India. It also includes interconnected lakes, rivers, and inlets, a labyrinthine system formed by more than 900 km (560 mi) of waterways, and sometimes compared to bayous. The network includes five large lakes linked by canals, both man made and natural, fed by 38 rivers, and extending virtually half the length of Kerala state. The backwaters were formed by the action of waves and shore currents creating low barrier islands across the mouths of the many rivers flowing down from the Western Ghats range. In the midst of this landscape there are a number of towns and cities, which serve as the starting and end points of backwater cruises. There are 34 backwaters in Kerala. Out of it, 27 are located either closer to Arabian Sea or parallel to the sea. The remaining 7 are inland navigation routes.
Vembanad is the longest lake in India, as well as the largest lake in the state of Kerala. With an area of 230 square kilometers and a maximum length of 96.5 km. Spanning several districts in the state of Kerala, it is known as Vembanadu Lake in Kottayam, Vaikom, Changanassery, Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha, Punnappra, Kuttanadu and Kochi Lake in Kochi. Several groups of small islands including Vypin, Mulavukad, Maradu, Udayamperoor, Vallarpadam, Willingdon Island are located in the Kochi Lake portion. Kochi Port is built around the Willingdon Island and the Vallarpadam island.
Kavalam is a village in Kuttanadu, Kerala state, Alappuzha District. India.
Alappuzha or Alleppey is the administrative headquarters of Alappuzha district in state of Kerala, India. The Backwaters of Alappuzha are one of the most popular tourist attractions in India which attracts millions of domestic and international tourists.
Kainakary is a village in Kuttanad Taluk in Alappuzha District of the Indian state of Kerala.
Edathua is a small village in Kuttanad, Alappuzha district, Kerala, India. It is located 12 km from Thiruvalla city center, National Highway 183 and the Thiruvalla railway station.
Neelamperoor is a village in Kuttanad Alappuzha district, Kerala. It is famous for its backwaters, lakes and paddy fields. People comprises both Hindu and Christian denominations.
Neerattupuram is a place in Kuttanad, Alappuzha district, Kerala, India. It is a part of Thalavady Grama Panchayat, situated near the junction of Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts, at the confluence of Pamba and Manimala rivers.
Thanneermukkom is a village in Alappuzha district of Kerala, India.
Pulincunnoo or Pulinkunnoo (Churuli) is an island village in the Kuttanadu region of Alappuzha district in the Indian state of Kerala. The Pampa river in Pulincunnoo is one of the most favored routes of the houseboats tourism operators in Kuttanadu. The village is part of the many islands dotting the famous Kerala Backwaters, a network of lakes, wetlands, and canals crisscrossing through the State. Pulincunno is notable for the annual Rajiv Gandhi Trophy snake boat race held during the months of October–November.
The Thanneermukkom Bund was constructed as a part of the Kuttanad Development Scheme to prevent tidal action and intrusion of salt water into the Kuttanad low-lands across Vembanad Lake between Thannermukkom on west and Vechur on east. Thanneermukkom Bund was constructed in 1974 and is functional since 1976. It is the largest mud regulator in India. This barrier essentially divides the lake into two parts - one with brackish water perennially and the other half with fresh water fed by the rivers draining into the lake.
Manimala River or Manimalayar is a 92km long river which flows through South and Central Kerala. The river used to be wrongly considered as a tributary of Pamba River before satellite maps became popular, but this was proved incorrect. Manimala does not flow into the Pamba, instead a distributary of the Pamba river flows into the Manimala river at Kallunkal, later branches out again from Manimala at Nedumpuram and flows through Niranam, Thalavady, Edathua, Changankary, Champakulam, Nedumudy, Chennamkary, and finally Kainakary and then empties into the Vembanad lake. This branch again links with Manimala river at Chennankary in a short, but broad connection known as Munnattumukham.
State Highway 11 is a State Highway in Kerala, India that starts in Kalarcode, Alappuzha and ends in Perunna, Changanassery.The road is popularly known as AC road road. The highway is 24.2 km long.The road is closed for renovation from August 2021 for Two years
Puthukkary is a small village in Kuttanadu Taluk. It is located in Ramankary Panchayat. It is 2km far from Mampuzhakkary, at AC Road and, 5km far from Edathua at Thiruvalla-Ambalappuzha Road. It is believed that this region was a very big forest in ancient years but later destroyed by a forest fire. Still we can see "kari" if we dig deep into the soil. So this place's name ended up with Kari. Mampuzhakkary-Edathua Road Passing through Puthukkary, 2 kilometers to Mampuzhakary and 5.5 kilometers to Edathua. Major Christian church is St Xaviers Church, now under the Archdiocese of Changanassery. Nearby villages are Kalangara Mithrakary, Oorukkary, Thekke Puthukkary, Kalangara, Koduppunna, Mampuzhakary, Edathua etc. Most of the villagers here are farmers and mainly depend on Alappuzha and Changanacherry for their day-to-day life.
Kainady village is located in Neelamperoor grama panchayat in Alappuzha district of Kerala, India.
Pallithanam Luca Matthai was born in 1880 in Kainady village, Kuttanad, British India.
Joseph Murickan also known as Murickan Auta or Murikkum Moottil Authaman was a farmer and landowner from Kerala, India, who played an important role in the expansion of paddy cultivation in Kuttanad. He started farming by filling up the backwaters of Kuttanad. He is popularly referred as Kayal Raja literally meaning 'King of Lake'.