The first heritage village in the state, Kalpathy in Palakkad district is famous for its unique architecture, culture and Rathotsavam (chariot festival). The traditional hamlet on the banks of River Kalpathy was established by migrant Brahmins from Thanjavur.
There are mainly four agraharams in Kalpathy: Chathapuram, Govindarajapuram, Old Kalpathy and New Kalpathy. Even if the nearby places have changed, the cultural heritage of the village has been preserved as such over the years.
There is a Siva temple here that resembles the famous Kasi Viswanatha Swamy temple of Benares. Sree Viswanatha Swamy Temple at Kalpathy is one of the oldest Siva temples in Malabar, and is believed to be over 700 years old.
The annual Ratholsavam or chariot festival at Sree Viswanatha Swamy Temple is one of the most spectacular festivals of Kerala. It is based on Vedic Tamil Brahmin culture. A week-long Carnatic music festival is organized as part of this.
During the last three days of the festival, the deities from the temple are taken out and installed in the chariot. There are three chariots: one for the main deity Sree Viswanatha Swamy and the goddess Parvati, the second for Visweshwara and third for Lord Subrahmanya Swamy.
These giant chariots are the cynosure of all the eyes during the festival. Festooned with flowers, mirror work, trinkets and other decorative objects, these temple chariots are a sight to behold. The devotees team up to lug these chariots through the narrow streets of the heritage village of Kalpathy.
The final day sees decked-up chariots from nearby temples in the villages of New Kalpathy, Old Kalpathy and Chathapuram also joining the festival. This rare meeting of the temple chariots is called Devaratha Sangamom, meaning “meeting of the Lords,” and is one of the much-awaited events of the festival. All the six temple chariots bearing the deities are then brought to Sree Vishwanatha Swamy Temple.
The chariot festival is held in the month of November.
Nearest railway station: Palakkad Town, about 2km; Palakkad Junction, about 3km
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 110 km;
Calicut International Airport, about 100 km