Ottapalam is a Taluk headquarters situated on the bank of Bharathapuzha in Palakkad district. It has a rich cultural heritage and played host to many historic events. KR Narayanan, India's first President from the Dalit community, represented Ottapalam constituency thrice. Killikurissi mangalam, the birth place of Kunchan Nambiar, who was the father of Ottan thullal, is 8 kms away from Ottapalam. It is also the hometown of various diplomats like Sir C Sankaran Nair, Sri V P Menon, Sri KPS Menon (Junior & Senior), Sri Sivasankara Menon, Prof. MGK Menon, etc. Recently, Ottapalam and surroundings have become the centre of Malayalam and Tamil cinema shooting. The last classical song performance (kacheri) of noted carnatic musician, Chembai Vaidya Natha Bhagavathar, was held at the Poozhikkunnu Sree Krishna temple here. The place where the temple is located was renamed as Chembaipuri. Blessed with a number of educational institutions for decades, Ottapalam is a also a district educational centre. The century-old NSSKPT high school, Kendriya Vidyalaya, LSN Convent, NSS College, NSS Training College, GHSS, Seventh Day Adventist school, Amritha Vidyalaya, Mannam Memmorial school, etc. are the important educational centres here. The important hospitals are Govt. Hospital. New Aswini Hospital, Semalk Hospital, Valluvanad Hospital, and Seventh Day Adventist Hospital. In addition to the above, PK Das Institute of Medical Sciences, which has various departments of treatment, is just 7 km from Ottapalam.
Ottapalam is linked with other important towns by road as well as rail. Railways keep a neglecting approach to Ottapalam and Shoranur. Once, Ottapalam was one of the important stations in Southern Railway and no trains passed through Ottapalam without a halt. During those days, many important personalities have boarded their trains to Delhi from Ottapalam. With the introduction of Konkan railway, many trains were diverted via Konkan and the new trains via Palakkad pass through Ottapalam without stop. Hence there is no direct train to Howrah / Patna / Tata Nagar, etc. though these trains pass through Ottapalam. During peak seasons, railways announce special trains, but most of them are without a halt at Ottapalam Railway Station. Various associations and political parties have approached the railway authorities to provide a stop for Intercity Express, Dhanbad Express, Howrah Express, Trivandrum Mail etc. but railways continue to keep mum. As these trains (except Dhanbad express) do not touch Shoranur, passengers to the above places have to travel to Thrissur or Palakkad to board their trains.
The Palakkad - Kulappully State Highway passes through Ottapalam, but the town still remains congested with less space for road development. Traffic congestion is at its worst during the peak hours or during festival seasons. To reduce traffic congestion, there was a proposal to widen and develop Palat Road and Sen Guptha Road, (from East Ottapalam to Lakshmi Theatre junction) but it was dropped due to non co-operation by the local residents. With the inauguration of the Mayannur bridge built across the Bharathapuzha and the railway track, traffic has become more congested with vehicles coming from Mayannur side. Buses which were operating on Thrissur-Mayannur route have extended their service to Ottapalam via this bridge. While travelling from Ottapalam to Thrissur, Shoranur route is shortest and good. Another important road is Ottapalam-Perintalmanna via Cherpulassery. The tourist spot - Ananganmala Eco tourism, is situated on this road.
There are a number of places of worship at Ottapalam. Some of the important temples are Vengeri Mahadeva Temple, Poozhikunnu Sreekrishna Temple, Chinakkathur Bhagavathy Temple, Thottakkara Parthasarathy Temple, Killikkavu Bhagavathy Temple, etc. The most famous festival of Valluvanad, Chinakkathur Pooram is celebrated during February - March and the Killikkavu Pooram on April 25 every year. Vaniyamkulam and Koonathara, two neighbouring villages of Ottapalam, are reputed for paavakoothu, a traditional temple art. Number of Mosques and Churches are also here for worship of other communities.