Marayur or Marayoor is a town in Idukki district of Kerala. Marayoor is located 42 kilometers north of Munnar on SH 17 connecting Munnar with Udumalpet, Tamilnadu. Marayur is the only place in Kerala that has natural sandalwood forests. Ancient dolmens and rock paintings in Marayur date back to the Stone Age. As of 1991 Marayur had a population of 9,590.
Marayur claims to be a part of a Stone Age civilization that is as old as 10,000 B.C. It is also home to a later period of large-scale dolmen-building. The land and its unique dolmens, caves, rock edicts and engravings declare its rich heritage. People migrated from Tamil Nadu to this area when the Madurai king Thirumalainaicker was defeated by Tippu Sultan, in the eighteenth century CE. Migrated people created five villages which are Kanthalloor, Keezhanthur, Karayur, Marayur and Kottakudi. These villages were called as 'Anju nadu', literally meaning "five lands". However these place names are very old and aboriginal tribes still live in these villages, with their unique customs.
Also called Muniyaras, these dolmens belong to the Iron Age. These dolmenoids were burial chambers made of four stones placed on edge and covered by a fifth stone called the cap stone. Some of these Dolmenoids contain several burial chambers, while others have a quadrangle scooped out in laterite and lined on the sides with granite slabs. These are also covered with cap stones. Dozens of Dolmens around the area of old Siva temple (Thenkasinathan Temple) at Kovilkadavu on the banks of the River Pambar, and rock paintings on the south-western slope of the plateau overlooking the river have attracted visitors. Apart from the dolmens of Stone Age, several dolmens of Iron Age exist in this region especially on the left side of river Pambar as is evident from the usage of neatly dressed granite slabs for the dolmens. At least one of them has a perfectly circular hole of 28 cm diameter inside the underground chamber. This region has several types of dolmens. Large number of them are overground with about 70-90 cm height. Another type has a height 140-170 cm. There is an overground dolmen with double length up to 350 cm. Fragments of burial urns are also available in the region near the dolmens. This indicate that the dolmens with 70-90 cm height was used for burial of the remains of people of high social status. Burial urns were used for the burial of the remains of commoners. The dolmens with raised roof might have been used for habitation of people. Why some people lived in the cemeteries has not been satisfactorily explained.
Ancient rock paintings are part of Marayur heritage at Attala, Ezhuthu Guha (literally means "cave of writing"), Kovilkadavu and Manala in Marayur panchayat. Attala is situated in the west part of Marayur Township and more than 90 painted motifs can be seen here. The rock paintings of Attala are situated in a colossal east facing rock shelter 1500 meters above mean sea level. Most of the paintings at Attala are abstract designs except for a few human and animal figures. Ezhuthu Guha rock paintings are sited in the Koodakavu Sandalwood Reserve Forest at Marayur in the Marayur Panchayat at an elevation of 1000 meters above mean sea level. More or less 90 painted motifs can be seen here. However, as the place is the most famous rock art site in Kerala, it attracts a large number of visitors and has been extensively vandalized since it was brought to wide public attention. Kovilkadavu is less than five kilometers from Marayur town and the place is famous for Neolithic dolmens and rock paintings. Ten 10 painted motifs are located on the south-western slope of the plateau overlooking the Pambar river. There is a rock painting at Manala in Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary of Marayur near the Alampetty tribal settlement. Here, a picture of a deer and a man can be seen. In close proximity to this art site, a new rock painting has been newly discovered.
Deep within the Chinnar Wildlife sanctuary lies the spectacular Thoovanam water falls. The river Pambar flows eastwards through the sanctuary and forms the waterfalls. The enormous waterfall on the Chinnar River, with its breathtaking silvery cascade is a major tourist attraction. As a part of wildlife tourism, the Wildlife Department allows tourists to visit the falls. Guided trekking from Karimutti Forest Station can be arranged to Thoovanam waterfalls. Trekking through the pristine scrub forest offers advantage of watching wild animals and rare flora from the path when venture deep into the forest. Many endemic and rare species enrich this dry and deciduous forest.
Among the 44 rivers in Kerala, three rivers flow eastwards. They are Pambar, Kabani and Bhavani. The Pambar River originates in the Anaimudi Hills and flows between Kanthalloor and Marayur Villages.It joins with Chinnar and crosses the interstate boundary and becomes the Amaravathi River in Tamil Nadu, reaches the Amaravathi Reservoir and eventually joins the Kaveri River near Karur.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is located 18 km north of Marayur on Udumalpett road. It is one of the famous places for wildlife tourism in South India. Marayur is the gateway to Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary and shares its western boundary with Eravikulam National Park and is contiguous with Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in Coimbatore district to the East.
In Chinnar, a watch tower is accessible to tourists for a minimal charge with the permission of the forest department. From this watch tower tourists can observe animals like deer, monkeys, langurs, elephants. The lofty watchtower provides a panoramic view of the entire park, stretching all the way to the jungles in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu and the majestic mountains far away.
The Evergreen Rain forest, Mannavan Shola is the largest shola forest patch in Kerala, is near Kanthalloor. This is a 14 sq km of unique ecosystem facing devastation. The vegetation, including many rare and endemic flora and species are part of Marayur's great natural wealth. This is one of Kerala's unique and delicate ecosystems forever. The biggest high altitude moist-rain forest in the peninsula, located at altitude of 2100 meters. This great shola region is the haven of many rare and common species of animals, birds and plants. Mannavan shola was notified as a reserved forest through an order of the Government of the erstwhile Travancore State on October 22, 1901.
Kanthalloor is part of Marayur and known for its extensive winter vegetable and fruits cultivation. This place is unique in that various types of fruits and vegetable are grown round the year.major crops are orange, strawberry, passion fruit, marathakali, plum, sugarcane, onion
Sarkkara is dark brown sugar balls made of condensed sugarcane juice. It is also known as jaggery or "gud" (Hindi). Each lump or ball of jaggery might weigh up to 1.5 kg. Sugar cane is a major crop of Marayur and Kanthalloor. In sugarcane farms, there are small jaggery factories that manufacture jaggery. The best jaggery in India is produced in Marayur. It is therefore of great demand in households across the country for the preparation of sweets and relishes.
Rajiv Gandhi Children's Park
Rajiv Gandhi children's park is located in the heart of Marayur. The serene park is spread across a hectare under the vast canopy of a single banyan tree that attracts tourists and local population alike. From the park one can spot monkeys, deer and other animals in the adjoining reserve forest.
Eravikulam National Park
Eravikulam National Park is 97 sq km. in extent, situated along the crest of the Western Ghats in the High Ranges of Idukki district of Kerala state, India.The Park holds the largest viable population of the endangered (IUCN) Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius).Apart from tahr, the Park is the abode of other little known fauna such as Nilgiri marten, ruddy mongoose,small clawed otter,dusky striped squirrel etc.