Lying at the northern tip of Kerala bounded by the Western ghats in the east and Arabian sea in the west; twelve rivers flowing across its terrain, Kasaragod is an enchanting beauty of Nature’s creations.
There are different views on the derivation of the name “KASARAGOD”. One view is that it is the combination of two Sanskrit words kaasaara (which means lake or pond) and kroda (which means a place where treasure is kept). Another view is that it is the place where Kaasaraka trees (Strychnos nux vomica or Kaanjiram or Kaaraskara) are in abundance. Bothe views are relavant as there are large number of rivers, lakes and ponds in the coastal belt of the district besides thick flora consisting of innumerable varieties of trees, shribs etc. particularly plentitude of Kaasaraka trees.
Many Arab travellers, who came to Kerala between 9th and 14th centuries A.D., visited Kasargod as it was then an important trade centre. They called this area Harkwillia. Mr.Barbose, the Portuguese traveller,who visited Kumbla near Kasargod in 1514, had recorded that rice was exported to Male Island whence coir was imported. Dr.Fracis Buccanan, who was the family doctor of Lord Wellesly, visited Kasargod in 1800. In his travelogue, he has included information on the political and communal set-up in places like Athiparamba, Kavvai, Nileshwar, Bekkal, Chandragiri and Manjeshwar.
The district is marked off from the adjoining areas outside the State by the Western Ghats which run parallel to the sea and constitute an almost continuous mountain wall on the eastern side. The Ghats dominate the topography. The coastline is fringed with low cliffs alternating with stretches of sand. A few miles to the interior, the scene changes and the sand level rises towards the barrier of the Ghats and transforms into low red laterite hills interspersed with paddy fields and coconut gardens.
The landscape is dominated by the characteristic coconut palms accompanying rolling hills and streams flowing into the sea. The landscape is dotted with tiled-roof buildings, topped with the famous Kasaragod tiles made with the local hard red clay and typically walled with laterite blocks. Older houses are commonly found with elaborate woodwork.
There are 12 rivers in this district.The longest is Chandragiri (105 kms) originating from Pattimala in Coorg and embraces the sea at Thalangara, near Kasargod. The river assumes its name Chandragiri from the name of the place of its source Chandragupta Vasti; where the great Maurya emperor Chandragupta is believed to have spent his last days as a sage.
Kasargod offers a variety of patterns of arts which speaks volumes about the rich cultural heritage of regions. The spectacular pageant of Theyyam deities impassinated – raises Kasargod into a land of fabulous fantasies. The symphonic melody created by Yakshgana, Kambala (buffallo race), Cock fight etc. of the Thulanad culture, thrilling along with poorakkali, Kolkali, Duff Mutt, Oppana etc. enchants the visitors.
Yakshagana Bombeyatta or Puppet show is an art form of Kasargod District and South Canara district in Karnataka State. The movements of the dolls are monitored and controlled by strings and rods. Yakshagana is presented through puppets and hence it is known as Yakshagana Bombeyatta. Puppets made out of wood are painted and dressed according to the character in the story. Bombeyatta is controlled from a curtain chamber specially put up behind the seen for the purpose. Musical instruments are also used just as that of Yakshagana.
Kasargod is a land of different languages. The languages without script are also used here. Tulu, Kannada, Malayalam, Konkani, Tamil and other local languages are the popular. Though the people speak different languages there is no barrier on the cultural unity. Mosques, Temples and Churches stand side by side as symbols of communal cohesion.