Weekend Breaks: A Cultural Holiday In Kerala

Weekend Breaks: A Cultural Holiday In Kerala
Photo Credit: Courtesy Kerala Tourism

Here's where to take a short weekend break filled with culture

OT Staff
February 21 , 2023
03 Min Read

From ancient temples to museums on teak and Kerala’s first school of classical performing arts, here's a guide to offbeat destinations in Kerala perfect for a weekend break steeped in culture and history.



Located around 40 minutes from Malappuram, Perinthalmanna was once the capital city of the Valluvakonathiris. It surprises tourists by consistently honouring and treasuring old, almost forgotten art forms. Even in Nilambur, where old houses are regularly dismantled, the rich past is a recurring motif evident in all sights. Those visitors who are able to meet the royal family are truly taken on a journey through the past, when the tree-filled Valluvanad Kingdom spread all the way to Ooty. You will find that most of the kovilakams (royal residences) are somewhat dilapidated, and some are still occupied with members of the royal family. 

Things To Do

Check out the Thirumandhamkunnu Temple in Angadipuram while here. It is one of the most beautiful temples near Perinthalmanna, and stands atop a hill, affording visitors a truly gorgeous view of thesurrounding countryside. The origins of the temple can be traced to a legend about Lord Shiva rewarding King Mandhatha of the Surya Dynasty with a Shivalingam that was dear to Goddess Parvati. This legend is depicted in the murals in the temple.

Beyond the creaking gates and crumbling padippura (a shelter at the entrance of the residence, a common architectural element in old houses in Kerala) lies the Mankada Kovilakam. The descendants of the Valluvanad kings, to whom the kovilakam belongs, live in the surrounding houses. The Mankada Kovilakam has a number of unique architectural features, including the splendid teak pillars in the verandah, the beautiful wooden ceilings, and the two courtyards, common in ettukettus (traditional houses).

The Kadannamanna Kovilakam is similar to the one at Mankada, but also distinguished by its unpolished red laterite walls. There is a small temple inside the kovilakam, which also houses ancient vessels and weapons. Additionally, this kovilakam overlooks two temples – Vadakkinedath Temple and Thekkinedath Temple.

You must not miss the Teak Museum in Nilambur. It claims to be the first teak museum in the world, and tackles the unlikely subject of the history and life of teak trees. Apart from displaying ‘the moods of a teak tree’ – an exhibit as charming as its name – the museum also showcases fascinating trivia as the age of the oldest teak tree in the world, located in the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary.

When to go: Between October and March, before the summer heat and after the monsoon.

Location: Perinthalmanna, the most developed town in Malappuram, is near the district’s southeast border, next to Palakkad District. 


The mighty Bharatapuzha river, lovingly called Nila in these poet-haunted parts, appears to have carved the tiny hamlet of Cheruthuruthy out of its womb and willed into existence a lush and beautiful countryside. The river has been described by MT Vasudevan Nair as the inspiration for many great Malayalam poets. This little village was chosen, 75 years ago, by perhaps the greatest of these, Vallathol Narayana Menon, as the site of Kerala’s first school of classical performing arts, known as the Kerala Kalamandalam. The village is also called Vallathol Nagar in honour of his work.

In addition to the Kalamandalam, Cheruthuruthy boasts of Kumbaram, a traditional potters’ colony on the outskirts, as well as several temples with interesting local legends.

A few kilometres beyond the Kalamandalam, nestling next to a 75-ft high boulder, is the Irunilamkodu Temple, carved into a rock. The patron deity of the temple, Irunilam Kodappan, is believed to be an incarnation of Shiva in some myths and Subramanya in others.

When to go: August to March offers the most pleasant, tourist-friendly climate. The Kalamandalam is closed from 1 April to 31 May for the summer holidays. 

Location: Cheruthuruthy sits on the banks of the Bharatapuzha river, at the Palakkad-Thrissur border, and 33km from the district headquarters of Thrissur. It is around 107km from Kochi.


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