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Cochin tramway (Chalakudy tramway) where the history sleeps


I think it’s been months, that I didn’t cover anything for the history buffs. Most of the recent articles were on the hills stations and travel tips.

Yesterday I did get a chance to read about another wonderful destination for the history seekers. It’s nothing other than our Cochin State Forest Tramway.

For most of you it might not be a new information, but I am trying to share the knowledge about this to my fellow travelers

People who are planning to visit Athirappilly waterfalls and Vazhachal can easily cover the Chalakudy tramway.
The rail lines cuts across the Western Ghats, went through lush green forests, crossed streams and rivers and was considered to be a scenic and enjoyable journey.

Cochin State Forest Tramway

Cochin state forest tramway was meter gauge railway line constructed between Parambilkulam wildlife Sanctuary in Palakkad and Chalakudy in Thrissur.

The total length of the tramway is about 49.5 miles (approximately 79.5 kilometers). This total length is covering 3 sections, first section covers the Chalakudy – Anapantham with a length of 21 miles.

The second section starts from Kavalai to Pothupara covering six miles, and the third starts from Komalapara to Chinnar, covering a distance of 22.5 miles.

In total it used to take 9 hours to cover the entire distance. Now most of the parts of this tramway comes under the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve (PTR).


The wildlife sanctuary now plans to conduct an eco-friendly trekking programs for those who wish to explore nature, history and heritage through the lush green forests.

The tramway was mainly using for the transportation of the Teak and Rosewood from forests which were later shipped to other different locations.

The system worked on rollers and cables with double lines. Empty wagons were rolled up while loaded wagons were pushed down along the other rails.

After 50 years of running successfully and creating history by making Cochin a present day commercial harbor, the Cochin State Forest Tramway was abolished in 1951 on the basis of a special finance committee report.

The History of Cochin State Forest Tramway

The tramway was built during the reign of Rama Varma ‘Rajarshi’ who ruled the State of Cochin from 1895 to 1914.
Governor of madras Sir Oliver Russell, 2nd Baron Ampthill inaugurated the construction of tramway on 3rd October 1905.


Regular work of the tramway has started in the year 1907 and in the same year, The Maharaja of Cochin passed the Cochin forest tramway act, which provided for protection and management of the tramway.

The idea of forest tramway was put forward by J.C. Kolhoff, first Conservator of Forests, Cochin, and was implemented by V. Alwar Chetty, a forest officer on special duty.

The Tramway has a very key role in the development of modern Kochi since that was one of the major funding source for Roads, Bridges and Educational institutions at that time.

Parts of the original crane operated at that time can still be found in Chalakudy Railway Station.

The conclusion

Though Cochin State Forest Tramway is an history now but one can cherish those glorious period of Cochin State Forest Tramway by witnessing some of the remnants in the form of broken iron bridges semi rusted wagons, Rail Trails, wheels, workshops, water tanks, wells etc.

Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary is running some very special eco-tourism package for those nature lovers who wishes to get connected with nature, history and heritage. Hence this Cochin State Forest Tramway trek for you the special persons.

Really, The Cochin State Forest Tramway was an Engineering marvel.

Image credits – Dileep Narayan

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