Agraharams near Palakkad, Kerala still retain the heritage and ethos of traditional home concept!

Palakkad agrahaam,

Palakkad agraharam, Kerala.

Agraharams, the traditional settlements of Brahmin families, hold a unique place in the cultural and historical landscape of southern India, particularly in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.


  • Number and Spread: There are 18 agraharams in and around Palakkad town.
  • Origins: These settlements date back to the 15th century when Brahmin families from the Cauvery Delta region (mainly from the composite Tanjore district in Tamil Nadu) moved to Kerala.
  • Settlement Reasons: The Cochin and other local rulers invited these Brahmins due to disputes with the native Namboodiri Brahmins, who refused to officiate certain royal ceremonies.
  • Cultural Significance:
    • Kalpathi: Often referred to as ‘Kasipathi,’ Kalpathi is compared to Kashi in North India. The River Bharatapuzha is considered a tributary of the sacred Ganga.
    • Temples: Each agraharam typically has a Vishnu and Shiva temple at either end of the street, embodying the concept of ‘agaro harascha harischa’ (temple on either side).
    • Festivals: The annual Kalpathi car festival is a major event, drawing over a lakh devotees.
    • Intellectual Hub: Palakkad agraharams are known for their intellectual accomplishments, with a strong emphasis on education. Notably, primary schools in villages like Chokkanathapuram date back 120 years. Many students pursued higher education at the Government Victoria College.
    • Carnatic Music: The agraharams have produced many outstanding Carnatic musicians, with the temples serving as inspirational settings for this devotional music.

Adaptation and Preservation:

  • Modern Adaptations: Originally exclusive Brahmin settlements, many families moved out for better opportunities, with non-Brahmins like Nairs moving in and adapting to agraharam traditions.
  • Heritage Sites: The Kerala government has declared agraharams as heritage sites, limiting major architectural changes to preserve their traditional character.

Agraharams in Tamil Nadu

Current State:

  • Decline: Unlike in Kerala, agraharams in Tamil Nadu are on the decline. Many, especially near the temple town of Kumbakonam, are in dilapidated condition, with broken tiled homes and damaged structures.
  • Reasons for Decline: Post-1970, the political landscape dominated by Dravidian ideology led to an aversion toward the Brahmin community by a small section of people. However, a significant portion of the Tamil population does not support the government's stance and unethical practices toward temple worship.

  • The distinct ethos of agraharams, despite modern influences, continues to be preserved in Kerala, showcasing a harmnious blend of tradition and adaptation.
Agrahara house, Palakkad, kefala.  

Agrahram, Palakkad, kerala.