One of the rare instances where all three most circulated daily newspapers of Kerala had the same cover story for its Sunday supplement was on the 100th birthday of the owner of Kottakal Arya Vaidya Shala. Kottakal is Ayurveda's most famous address worldwide. As I went through it, my thoughts went more to the sheer number of eminent personalities that Malappuram district has contributed to the world over the last many decades. The district is known to the outside world merely as a Muslim dominated region, and not many know the other side.
Let me share with you some of the famous names from Malappuram. In literature, we have Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan, Vallathol, Madhavikutty, Akhitham, Balamani Amma, MT Vasudevan Nair, Nalapat Narayana Menon, Poonthanam, Uroob, Edasseri and in politics, EMS Namboothiri, the first Chief Minister of Kerala, former foreign secretary Nirupama Rao, and Muralidhara Menon, the much loved former Indian ambassador to UAE and Bahrain.
Metro man E Sreedharan, Indian cricketer Devdutt Padikkal, actor Prithviraj, magician Gopinath Muthukad, social reformer VT Bhattathiripad, revolutionary freedom fighter Lakshmi Sahgal, her younger sister Padma Bhushan Mrinalini Sarabhai, famed Bharatanatyam dancer & wife of legendary Vikram Sarabhai, father of Indian Space research & founder of IIM Ahmedabad, are a few names worth mention. Mrinalini's father Swaminathan, a famous lawyer of his times, was perhaps the first Keralite to study at Harvard. Mrinalini herself was the first Keralite to study in a Swiss boarding school. When one talks of intellectual power couples, none bigger emerges in our minds than Vikram & Mrinalini.
Malappuram is also a land of several royal families: Parappanad, whose most illustrious son Raja Ravi Varma was born in the district. Raja Raja Varma, known as 'Kerala Panini', also belonged to the same family. Kerala Varma Valiya Koil Thampuran, also known as Kalidasa of Kerala, is, likewise, from Parappanad. MK Vellodi, the former Indian High commissioner to the UK, belonged to the family of Kizhakke Kovilakam, which contributed to the Zamorin rulers of Calicut.
In Kerala movies, beauty is often deemed synonymous with Valluvanadan beauty. Malappuram is also a district of historical temples & festivals, including Thirunavaya, which has a lot of history. Whenever I go to Calicut from Trichur, I take that route...it's a very romantic place on the banks of Nila... Many unforgettable Malayalam movies were shot at the location.
I started my automobile leadership innings in Malappuram, heading Volkswagen there. I have fond memories of the nearly 18 months I stayed there...a land of wonderful people with their straightforwardness, famed hospitality, simplicity, and genuine caring nature.
(The author is CEO of Morris Garages. MG Coastline)