Pulikali- the tiger dance of Kerala

Unni Mohanadas Destinations 0

Pulikali ( Tiger dance)is a famous art form of Kerala. The dancers paint their bodies with tiger stripes and play according to the beats. It is performed usually during fourth day of Onam festival. Pulikali at Thrissur is the most famous. Men and children wear the costumes and dance. Men dressed as hunters mockingly tries to kill the puli ( tiger).

Location : Kerala, India

Destination type: Cultural destination

History of Pulikali

  1. Local myth says Pulikali was started by Sakthan Thampuran, King of Kochi during 1790 CE to 1805 CE
  2.  Later, Konar of (Pattalam Road) used to celebrate with great fervor
  3.  Pulikali Co-ordination Committee, a unified council of Pulikali groups was formed in 2004 in Thrissur
  4. The Thrissur Municipal Corporation started to give a grant of Rs 30,000 for each Pulikali troupe.
  5. In recent times women also started participating Pulikali

Rituals and costumes of Pulikali

  1. Men remove hair from their bodies
  2. Then 2 coats of paint is applied on them
  3. By afternoon they form groups ( Sangams) and move towards Ganapati temple near Vadakkumnatah temple
  4. They dance with steps alike movement of tiger
  5. Floats from different villages will accompany them
  6. The puli groups dance according to the rhythm of chenda played in Tripuda Taal

Where to watch Pulikali

Pulikali can be seen at Thrissur on fourth day of Onam festival in Kerala. This year it could be on 03/09/2020.

We advice to contact your travel agent to confirm date. Due to Covid-19 the probability of conducting Pulikali this year is doubtful.

How to reach


Nearest airport is Cochin International airport 51 kms away. It has flights to international destinations like :

  1. Dubai
  2. Kuala Lumpur
  3. Singapore
  4. Sharjah
  5. Colombo etc

It is also connected to domestic destinations in India like :

  1. New Delhi
  2. Mumbai
  3. Bangalore
  4. Chennai etc


Thrissur railway station is the nearest major railway station. It has trains to Indian cities like:

  1. New Delhi
  2. Mumbai
  3. Bangalore
  4. Chennai
  5. Hyderabad etc

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Photo courtesy : By Midhun Subhash – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62308045

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