Punalur is a municipality, Taluk and Revenue Divisional headquarters and a business center, situated near the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border in the Kollam district of the southern Indian state of Kerala. It is situated on the banks of the Kallada River. It is about 45 kilometres (28 mi) north-east of Kollam and 75 kilometres (47 mi) north of Thiruvananthapuram.
It is the second largest city in Kollam District after Kollam and is also one of the largest 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 centre 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 1972.
|Municipality, Taluk and Revenue Division|
|• Total||34 km2 (13 sq mi)|
|Elevation||56 m (184 ft)|
|• Density||3,337/km2 (8,640/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
|PIN||691305 to 034|
|Vehicle registration||KL 25, KL 2|
|Nearest city||Kollam (44 km)|
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), and "Ooru" (place), referring to the river passing through the town.
Punalur is a city on a mountain path which 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, 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 Pathnapuram to Punalur, after an attack at Pathnapuram 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. The opening of the Punalur Suspension Bridge increased the importance of Punalur as a centre 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 centre 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 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 has an average elevation of 56 metres (184 ft). Many tourists have visited scenic spots along the Kallada River. The Palaruvi Falls is 35 kilometres (22 mi) from Punalur. The first planned eco-tourism project in Kerala is only 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Punalur on NH 208 towards Sengottai.
Punalur Assembly constituency is part of the Kollam (Lok Sabha constituency). K Raju of CPI is MLA of Punalur assembly constituency. K Raju became The Minister For Forestry And Animal Husbandry. And N K Premachandran of RSP is MP of Kollam Lok Sabha constituency. 
Punalur is a municipality and city in Kerala. The municipality was formed on 1 April 1971, with an area of 34.06 square kilometres. Currently, Punalur is a Grade-II municipality and divided into 35 electoral wards. Punalur municipality is the largest municipality in Kollam District. Punalur is the headquarters of the Punalur Taluk and is one of the major and largest Taluk in Kollam District. This Taluk comprises 15 Villages.
Punalur is the Revenue divisional headquarters of the Kollam District. Punalur is one of the two revenue divisions of Kollam district other being Kollam itself. Punalur Revenue division is administratively divided into three Taluks: Punalur, Kottarakkara and Pathanapuram, each of which is subdivided into 50 villages. Punalur is the Sub-divisional headquarters of the Kollam Rural Police. Punalur also has a divisional Forest office, Timber Sales division (Forests), Sub- Regional Transport Office, Excise Circle and Range offices, Fire & Rescue office, District Educational Office, KSEB divisional Office, Telecom 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, Meteorological Station, and Food Safety Circle Office. Most of the Government offices are functioned in Mini Civil station at Kachery Road, Punalur.A Judicial complex under construction and many more courts functioning in punalur including M.A.C.T Court, Sub Court, Munsif Court, JFMC 1, JFMC 2 (Forests) and JFMC 3.
Even though it is located near the Western Ghats, Punalur is the hottest place in Kerala, and during summer temperatures as high as 44 °C (111 °F) have been recorded. Punalur and Chittur, Palakkad have 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). Punalur is also known as " The Hot City Of Kerala ".
|Climate data for Punalur, Kerala|
|Average high °C (°F)||30.5
|Average low °C (°F)||22.4
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||19
The Punalur Suspension Bridge is the oldest motorable bridge in Kerala, which was built by the British and is now a historical attraction. 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. Punalur is also known as the " Hanging bridge City Of Kerala "
Kollam – Thirumangalam Road (NH-744) passes through Punalur, connects the town to Tamil Nadu and other parts of 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.
Punalur Joint RTO is situated at Nellippaly Jn, Punalur, KL-25 is the RTO code for Punalur Taluk. Punalur KSRTC Depot is one of the major and oldest KSRTC depot in Kerala. 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 and Wayanad etc. Punalur private bus stand is one of the largest Private bustands in Kerala. Private bus services well connected by Kollam, Thiruvanathapuram, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki and Ernakulam Districts. KSRTC and SETC Interstate services to towns in Tamil Nadu like Sengottai, Tenkasi, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Tiruchendur, Madurai, Trichi, Chenai, 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 and a major transit point located on the Kollam – Sengottai railway line. 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.
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 conversion work on Punalur-Sengottai ghat section is in progress. Once the conversion is over 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, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad Junction, Nagarcoil, Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and Madurai. The station handles One Express train service to Palakkad Junction and seven passenger train services, of which four services ply to Kollam Junction, another three services ply to Madurai Junction, Guruvayur and Kanyakumari.
The main agricultural products of this town 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 Punalur economy was at its height during the time of Punalur Paper Mill. However, other industries like Agro-Fruit, State Farming Corporation, Rehabilitation Plantations, RPC Kraft Paper, plywood industry, etc. still provide a significant contribution to Kerala. The Punalur market is also assisted by the agricultural industries.
The premier establishment played a major role in the economic growth of the city and the population around Punalur. During the reign of Sree Moolam Thirunal permission was granted to a German national, T. J. Cameroon, to establish a paper factory at Punalur based on the availability of reed as raw material from the forest. The paper factory opened in 1888 was named as Travancore Paper Mills progressed in production and quality. Name of the mill transformed to Lakshmi Paper Mills, Meenakshi Paper Mills and Punalur Paper Mills as management changes between 1888 and 1931. Quality paper from PPM reached customers like India Security Press at Nasik and International Markets.
The progress of population and diminishing forest area affected the supply of raw material and production. The reduced pace of production and working hours resulted in losing a job for many workers. Prevailing unrest among workers inspired the formation of trade unions address various demands with the management of PPM. Management under different ownerships failed to maintain the smooth running of PPM and finally, it was closed in 1987 due to labour disputes.
As Laxmi Nivas Dalmia said in 1985: "The single biggest error I ever committed was to rehabilitate a sick paper mill in Kerala."
Various attempts to resolve the issues crossed two decades to produce any result but finally reached a legal settlement in Feb. 2011 between the new management and the State Government. It is in the process of running by the newly formed management owned by Akhula Industries Hyderabad.
Kerala Agro-Fruit Products engages in the production and processing of fruit products under the Jyothi brand, producing pineapple juice, jam, and concentrate. As of December 13, 2008, KAFP operates as a subsidiary of Oil Palm India Limited.
Kerala Latex Private Limited is a latex centrifuging factory which process field latex into 60% centrifuged latex.
The Rehabilitation Plantations Ltd., Punalur (RPL) started as a government rubber plantation scheme in 1972 for the settlement of Sri Lankan repatriates which was necessitated by Sirimao-Shastri Agreement of 1964. Later on, it was formed into Government Company and incorporated on 5 May 1976. The authorised share capital of the company is Rs.350.00 lakhs and the paid up capital is Rs.339.27 lakhs. The share capital contribution of government of India is 40% and remaining 60% was contributed by government of Kerala.
The company has settled 700 repatriate families from Sri Lanka. Two members from each family are provided with employment in the company. At present the company employs to 1,300 workers, 185 staff members and 32 officers in the company.
As of 2001 India census, Punalur had a population of 47,226. 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.
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.In 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 play school to higher secondary classes are available in these institutions.