Always a prosperous trading town, Calicut was once the capital of the formidable Zamorin dynasty. Vasco da Gama first landed near here in 1498, on his way to snatch a share of the subcontinent for king and country (Portugal that is). These days, trade depends mostly on exporting Indian labour to the Middle East. There is not a lot for tourists to see, though it is a nice break in the Journey and the jumping off point for Wayanad.
Mentioned in the writings of Marco Polo, Kozhikode's moniker, the 'city of spices', alludes to its importance in the spice trade of yore. The place's historical significance also included a stint as the main port on the Malabar Coast.
Its glory days may have waned since that pivotal footfall, but Kozhikode has retained some of its commercial functions. Spices are still traded here with vigour, with coconuts also big business and construction continue apace. The presence of one of Kerala's three airports also contributes to the hum of activity. That is not say that the town-the state's third largest- is all workday grime.
Without the beach scene found further south or the cluster of attractions of Kochi, Kozhikode does not attract as many foreign visitors as certain other Kerala towns. But this can work in its favour for travellers who appreciate more authentic destinations, with fewer chances of running into fellow tourists at very juncture. The town's large and attractive beach sees few enough foreign faces that your arrival will still prompt curious conversation from local people.
Like much of the northern reaches of Kerala, the Muslim minority has made its presence felt here, both architecturally and culturally. This is much apparent if you take the time to wander through some of the city's meandering little back streets, a leisurely way to get the feel of Kozhikode's historical atmosphere.
Sights and Places to Visit
Mananchira Square was the former court yard of the Zamorins and preserves the original spring-fed tank. The central Church of South India was established by Swiss missionaries in 1842 and has unique Euro-Kerala architecture.
This beach is a favourite haunt of sunset viewers. Adding to its natural beauty is the old-world charm retained by the ancient lighthouse and the two crumbling piers, each more than a hundred years old, which run into the sea.
S M Street
Sweet Meat Street or Mithai Theruvu is the busiest street in Kozhikode and derives its name from the times when the street was lined with sweetmeat stalls. Today the street hustles with shops that sell anything and everything including the famed sweets and banana chips.
Pazhassiraja Museum and Art Gallery
(5 km from Kozhikode. Open 9am-4.30pm. Closed on Mondays and other public ho1ilhis)
On display here are copies of ancient murals, antique bronzes, excavated earthenware, models of temples, megalithic monuments like dolmonoid cysts, umbrella stones etc.
(10 km south of Kozhikode) One of the prominent port and a maritime trading centre of ancient Kerala, Beypore is located at the mouth of the Chaliyar River. The boat building yard here, famous for the construction of the Uru (the Arabian trading vessel), boasts a tradition of almost 1500 years.
(16 km from Kozhikode) This is the historic beach where Vasco da Gama landed on the 27th of May 1498, with 170 men in three vessels. The rock-studded beach is locally known as Kappakadavu.
Kadalundi Bird sanctuary
(19 km from Kozhikode and 7 km from Beypore Port) The estuary at Kadalundi is a haven for migratory birds. Terns, gulls, herons, sandpipers, whimbrels and other exotic birds flock to this place in November and return home in April.
(36 km from Kozhikode, Payyoli Beach) This massive rock, much dreaded by navigators, has beautiful natural engravings that are worth exploring. A one-hour boat ride from the beach will take visitors to Velliyamkallu.
(40 km from Kozhikode) This is the birth place of Kunjali Marakkar, who commanded the Zamorin's fleet and held the Portuguese vessels at hay for a long period. Marikkar's house has now been converted into a small museum.
(40 km north of Kozhikode) The shallow water of this beautiful beach is ideal for swimming. During November-December hordes of the endangered Olive Ridley turtle come in to lay eggs.
(45 km from Kozhikode) A picturesque dam site teeming with exotic wildlife, Kakkayam offers excellent trekking and rock climbing opportunities.
CVN Kalari Sangam
Nadakkavu. Open 6am 9am and 5pm-7pm
Having produced many remarkable Kalari fighters, this centre enjoys a legendary position in the field of Kerala's ancient martial art. CVN Kalari Sangam also arranges special demonstrations on request.
(50 km from Kozhikode) Famous for its trekking tracks, Thusharagiri is located near Vythiri in Wayanad. Waterfalls and streams abound in this hilly region.
(60 km from Kozhikode) The Peruvannamuhi dam site set amidst hills is a beautiful picnic spot. Uninhabited islands, boating facilities, a bird sanctuary and a crocodile farm add to the charm of the place.
(50 km from Kozhikode) This beach is at Vadakara where the Kottakal River merges into the sea is stunningly beautiful and is a favourite spot for locals and tourists. The nearby Birla Bungalow offers a delightful view of the Sandbanks Beach.
Kuttichira area of Kozhikode is known for its medieval mosques.
(54 km from Kozhikode) Featured in the 'Vadakkan Pattukal' - ballads of the legendary warriors of North Kerala - the chief deity of this temple is Goddess Durga. The temple walls are adorned with magnificent murals and intricate carvings.
The two temples at Trikkovil Lane have exquisitely painted interiors and elaborately carved porticos.
The Backwaters of Kozhikode
Unexplored and unspoilt, the backwaters of Kozhikode hold great promises for an enchanting holiday. Elathur, the Canoli Canal and the Kallai River are favourite destinations for boating.
For Malabar houseboat cruises:
Tel: 0495 2352447
KTDC Tourist Information
Getting There and Away
Air India flies daily to Mumbai, Chennai and Cochin; Jet Airways has one daily flight to Mumbai while Kingfisher flies to Chennai, Mangalore and Cochin. There are flights to almost all Middle Eastern cities.
The bus stand (Mavoor Rd) has government buses to Bengaluru (Bangalore, via Mysore, eight hours. 10 daily), Mangalore (seven hours, three daily) and to Ooty (five and half hours, four daily).
There are frequent buses to Thrissur (three and half hours), Trivandrum (via Alleppey and Ernakulam; 10 hours, eight daily) and Kottayam (seven hours, 13 daily).
For Wayanad district, buses leave every 15 minutes heading to Sultan Bathery (three hours) via Kalpetta (two hours). Private buses for various long-distance locations also use this stand.
The train station is 1km south of Mananchira Sq. There are trains to Mangalore (five hours), Kannur (two hours), Ernakulam (four and half hours) via Thrissur (three hours), and all the way to Trivandrum (eleven hours).
Heading southeast, trains go to Coimbatore (four and half hours), via Palakkad (three and half hours). These trains then head north to the centres of Bengaluru, Chennai and Delhi.
Calicut has a glut of autorickshaws and most are happy to use the meter.
Best Hotel / Homestay Deals
Book a Hotel at the best price from 30+ online booking services. All hotels rated by guests.
Subscribe to the Kerala Tourism Guide E-zine. It is absolutely free
[?] Subscribe To This Site