Malappuram district, with its headquarters at Malappuram, is a district in the state of Kerala, India. The district was formed on 16 June 1969. Malappuram district is composed of portions of the former Palakkad and Kozhikode districts: Ernad taluk and portions of Tirur taluk in Kozhikode district, and portions of Perinthalmannna and Ponnani taluks in Palakkad district.
The district includes Thirunavaya, the classic medieval center of Vedic learning;Kottakkal, home of Ayurveda medicine; Ponnani, one of the oldest centres of Islamic education in the region. In 1921 the present-day Malappuram district was part of the Moplah rebellions, followed by decades of stagnant economic, social and political development. In the early years of Communist rule in Kerala, Malappuram experienced land reform under the Land Reform Ordinance. During the 1970s Persian Gulf oil reserves were opened to commercial extraction, and thousands of unskilled workers migrated to the Gulf. They sent money home, supporting the rural economy, and by the late 20th century the region had First World health standards and near-universal literacy.
Malappuram district contains abundant wildlife and a number of small hills, forests, rivers and streams flowing to the west, backwaters and paddy, arecanut, cashew nut, pepper, ginger, pulses, coconut, banana, tapioca, and rubber plantations. Malappuram is one of two Muslim-majority districts in south India. The Hindu temples and Moplah mosques of the region are known for their colorful festivals, and it is the most populous district in Kerala. Religions practised in the district include Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism and tribal religions.〔pp. 396, ''Malayala Manorama Yearbook 2006'', Kottayam, 2006 ISSN 0970-9096〕
''Malappuram'', meaning "terraced place atop the hills", derives from the geography of the district headquarters. Before the district's formation, the region was known as Eranad and Valluvanad etc.
The district has a rich cultural and political heritage. The port of Ponnani (roughly identified with Tyndis) was a centre of trade with Ancient Rome. After the Chera Dynasty a number of dynasties controlled the area, and by the ninth century the region was ruled by the Kulasekharas of Mahodayapuram. After the disintegration of the Kulasekhara kingdom a number of Nair city-states emerged, including Valluvanad, Vettattunadu (Tanur), Parappanad and Nediyiruppu (ruled by the Zamorins). During the 13th century, the Samoothiri of Calicut expanded their territories to Malabar. Thirunavaya, the seat of Mamankam, was in Malappuram district.
European colonial powers first landed in Malabar during the 15th century, and the Samoothiris often allied with foreign powers. During the 18th century, the ''de facto'' Mysore kingdom rulers Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan marched into the Samoothiris’ districts.
Malappuram has been part of movements such as Khilafat Movement and Moplah Rebellion in the early 20th century. Before Indian independence in 1947, Malappuram was part of Malabar District in the Madras Presidency of British India. The present district was administered as parts of Kozhikode, Eranad taluk, Valluvanad Taluk and Ponnani taluk. Malabar District remained part of Madras state for some time after independence, but on 1 November 1956 it merged with Travancore-Cochin to form the state of Kerala. Large-scale changes in the territorial jurisdiction of the region took place in 1957 and 1969. On 1 January 1957, Tirur taluk was formed from portions of Eranad taluk and Ponnani taluk. Another portion of Ponnani taluk was transferred to the new Chavakkad taluk, and the remainder is present-day Ponnani taluk. Perinthalmanna taluk was formed from the former Valluvanad Taluk. Of these, Eranad Taluk and Tirur remained in Kozhikode District and Perinthalmanna Taluk and Ponnani taluk remained in Palakkad District. The new district of Malappuram was formed with four taluks (Eranad, Perinthalmanna, Tirur and Ponnani), four towns, fourteen developmental blocks and 100 panchayats. Two more taluks, Tirurangadi taluk and Nilambur taluk, were formed from Tirur Taluk and Eranad taluk.
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