It was the capital of the Zamorin rulers. Kozhikode is bordered by Kannur to the north, Wayanad to the east and Arabian Sea to its west. Calicut is just over 200km from Cochin and 400km from Trivandrum. It is in this very district the great Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama landed in 1498. Calicut is the anglicised form of ‘Kalikut’, Arabic for Kozhikode. It was also known as Cock Fort. Historian K.V Krishnan Iyer believes that the term comes from koyil (palace) and kodu (fortified).
The city has always attracted travellers and traders. Its charm and prosperity have had people seeking a life here. The district came into being after it separated from the Madras state. And it joined Kerala in 1957.
The district has numerous temples and mosques. Some of them are known for their beautiful sculptures and inscriptions. Some of the important ones are Tali temple, Varakkal temple, Tiruvannur temple, Azhakodi temple, Bilathikulam temple and Bhairagimadom temple. The Thiruvilangad temple houses many ancient sculptures. The striking feature is that its gateway is constructed like that of Jain Bastis. Another famous temple is located at Meppayur, 16km from Vadakara. It is the Elavattara Durga temple. If you like to walk up to rock-cut caves, check out ones near Lokanarkavu. This area is about five km from Vadakara.
Kozhikode has arts galleries and museums, too. The Krishna Menon Museum at East hill in Kozhikode is an oft-visited one. Lalitakala Academy also houses an art gallery in town. It is not far behind in terms of literature and language either. There are many famous poets and authors hailing from this northern region of Kerala. Folk songs called ‘Vadakkan Pattukal’ are very popular. Mostly sung at celebrations and festivals, the singers narrate events from epics, literature and current events. Some go on to explain exploitations of the lower castes by upper castes. There are quite a few folk songs dedicated to Thacholi Othenan, popularly known as the ‘Robinhood of North Malabar’.
Other art forms and ritual dances performed here are Theyyam, Koothu, Kathakali, Ottanthullal, Thira and Kaikottikali. The ime when Theyyam is performed is once the agricultural labourers are free after the agricultural season. This usually happens between mid-January and May.
Mappilapattu and Oppana are taken up by the Muslims of the district. Both of them have a unique style and rhythm. They are sung at weddings and celebrations and cover a variety of themes. Most of them are sung in a mix of Malayalam and Arabic.
You wouldn’t want to miss Kozhikode Beach! People gather to watch the spectacular view during sunset. There are two piers extending into the sea, both of which are more than 130 years old. There is a children’s park nearby. In the evenings, you can see lines of fishermen making their way to the shore after their day at the sea. Chaliyar is the only mentionable and fairly big river of the distrct.
Feroke, a centre for tile industry, is only an hour’s ride from Calicut. The clay for the pottery is obtained from the rivers originating from the Western Ghats. The forests around are a dream for those who love nature and wildlife. When you travel towards Wayanad from Kozhikode, you’ll come to ‘Cheerapunji of Kerala’. It is called so due to its heavy rains almost throughout the Monsoon. Climbing the Ghat section in your vehicle will be an exhilarating experience as you snake up the 12 nine hairpin bends.
Roads, highways and railways connect Calicut with other parts of Kerala. The international airport is located at Karipur.
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