Palakkad is a town in central Kerala of about 3 million people situated in a gap in the Western Ghats where my mother-in-law’s sister lives with her family. My initial impression Palakkad is that it was a small town. With just a few tall buildings in the central part of town and shops and houses spread out from there, it retains a small town feel.
Since we were in Kerala, we thought we would stop by for a visit. We were welcomed with a magnificent and delicious lunch. My cousin-in-law, Chitra, served us a new dish she had created which we decided should be called Malabar Kofta. She made cabbage kofta (vegetable dumplings) and served them in a tomato and onion curry. I was impressed with her creativity in combining some of my favorite flavors into one dish. I plan on trying to replicate her recipe as my next Recipe of the Month.
Oldest Jain temple in Kerala
After lunch, Chitra and I took a walk after our huge feast. Right over their back fence is the oldest Jain temple in Kerala. Built 500 years ago, Digambara Jain Temple is a small and simple structure with some beautiful carvings in the granite columns and unadorned walls. Compared to most Hindu temples that are huge, this one is an intimate 20 x 30 feet in size. The temple is reaching the end of a multiyear renovation project and the idols have been removed for safekeeping. I was lucky to have Chitra with me who knows the groundskeeper and the pujari (the lovely lady who says pujas, or prayers, at the temple) who showed me the beautiful idols. I was greatly moved by their kindness to a stranger.
All too soon, our visit had to end. From the Jainmedu area in Palakkad where Chitra lives, we stopped by an authentic fort before heading back to our hotel. The Palakkad Fort, was built by Haider Ali in the 18th Century, is located right in the center of Palakkad. It was originally named, Tipu Sultan’s Fort, which is the name of the builder’s son. Surrounded by a moat that once upon a time boasted crocodiles, it is one of the best-maintained forts in Southern India. The outside granite wall rises to a very tall height and was certainly impenetrable to invaders. The interior buildings are in immaculate with the original carvings still clearly visible. Green grass and flowers dominate the ground inside. Today a jail is housed inside the fort.
One would think that I’ve had a very full day. Wait! There is more action and excitement on our way back to the
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