Kannur - A tete a tete with the city
Also known as : Cannanore
Location : Southern India, South Kerala
Best time to visit : October to March
Local Transport : Private cars, jeep, buses
Places to see : Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Vaikom
Souvenirs : Handloom textiles
Kannur - The Tale of the city
The history of Kannur begins with the Mooshaka kings who ruled over with Elimala as their capital. The district came to be known as Kolathunad Kannur and was a port town of Kolathunadi in the 12th century AD. It was ruled by the Kolathiris. The Persian and the Arabian tradesmen had trade with the city, in the 12th and the 13th centuries. The Portuguese came to Kannur in the 15th century. Vasco Da Gama changed the history of Kannur. The Kolathis took the Portuguese help to fight against the Zamorins of Kozhikode. The Portuguese built many forts as defense one of them being the St.Angelo’s fort erected by Francisco De Almeida in 1505 AD. Later the Kolathis and Zamorins joined hands and defeated the Portuguese in 1564 AD. The history of Kannur is dotted with foreign invasions and colonial powers. The Dutch captured the Kannur Fort in 1633. They gave it to the Arakkal Royal family in 1772. In 1708, the British built a fort at Thalasseri. This place is just outside Kannur. The French developed the nearby town of Mahe in the 18th century. In 1792, the British took over Kannur. Meantime Haider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan invaded Malabar in the 18th century. During the time of the British, Kannur, the city of Looms and Lores was in the Madras province of the Malabar district. The British tried to capture the Indian King Pazhassi Raja who was finally killed by them in 1805. Then after a long struggle finally Kannur got merged with India after independence.
Kannur - Down the Ages
Kannur, or Cannanore, is today the administrative headquarters of the Kannur District. The Kannur Municipality, established in 1867, is the oldest municipality. The fourth largest urban conglomeration in Kerala after Kochi, today Kannur is a pristine tourist spot. Its native art Theyyam is famous as also its handloom industry. Today it has one of the 62 military cantonments. After 1945, famine continued in Kannur, Karivellur took a step against poverty and famine. Down the ages, Kannur has developed into a progressive town.
Kannur - A Rendezvous
Kannur was the military headquarters till 1887. Today it is preserved as a protected monument site by the Archaeological Survey of India. There is a painting of the Kannur fort and the fishing ferry as a background in the Rijiksmuseium in Amsterdam. It is believed that Kunjali Marakkar’s head was exhibited in the Fort after he was killed. Kunjali Marakkar was the head of the group of Kolathis and Zamorins fighting against the Portuguese. Kannur today is a folklore based city and is famous for its history and tenacity.
Kannur - Travel kitty
Kannur, the coastal town is a city which is famous for its handloom and beedi industries. The travel kitty here would be full with the city giving rise to a lot of spices also. Some of the best of Kerala weave comes from Kannur. This is the best for the travel kitty. Thus the city rightly known as the Land of the Looms and the Lores, Kannur is a major exporter of handloom in India. The Basal Evangelical Mission organized the city handloom into a co-operative industry. Thus the Kannur handloom is the ideal travel kitty for a tourist coming here.
Kannur - Joie de vivre in the city
Kannur gets its name from Kanathus which was an ancient village of the same name. There is in fact a ward named Kannathur in the Kannur Municipality. Legend also has it that Kannur got its name from the deity Krishna who is also known as Kannan. So the city is supposed to be the place of Krishna which is what Kannan (Krishna) and Ur (place) means in Tamil and Malayalam. This city rich with art and culture is God’s gift to the world. The Theyyam is an ancient form of dance ritual with a fine combination of dance, music and culture which is performed in front of the shrines. All this forms the joie de vivre here. One can get to see the following here:
St. Angelo’s fort : This is a monument with tremendous historical value. Thus it has been protected well by the Archeological Survey of India. Located in West Kannur, the Portuguese Viceroy Don Francisco De Almeida, built this fort in 1505 with the permission of the ruling Kolathis. The fort is elegant and dignified even if a part of it has collapsed. There are some ancient cannons on display inside. The fort was taken over by the Dutch and then the English and was an important military base in the British times. This fort has a gigantic triangular structure built of laterite and a moat with sturdy bastions. The Mappila Bay and the Dharmadam Island are seen from here.
Thalassery Fort : This is situated at a distance of around 22 kms from Kannur. It was built in 1708 AD. It was also the military centre of the British. The British East India Company came in 1708 AD and built this fort. This fort is square shaped and has huge walls, secret tunnels into the sea and magnificently carved doors. Erstwhile a centre for the development of Thallassery, today this fort is a historical monument with the gymnastic centre for the Sports Authority of India, a mosque and a Jagannatha temple and Thiruvangadi Sree Rama Swami temple as nearby attractions.
Arakkal Palace : This is situated around 2 kms from Kannur. This was the palace of the Queen of Arakkal or Beebi. It belongs to the state of Kerala’s only Muslim Royal Family. It controlled parts of the coast and Lakshwadeep Islands also.
Madayi Mosque : This was built in 1124 AD. Malic Iben Dinar, a Muslim preacher built it. This beautiful piece of white marble rock structure has been constructed with marble brought from Mecca.
Ezhimala Beach : The Ezhimala Mountain and Beach lie at the northern boundary of Kannur. Rare medical herbs (Ramayana) with mythological significance grow on Ezhimala, the strange seven-peaked range. The Mount Deli Lighthouse is here and is maintained by the Navy. The sands of the beach are different, exquisite remarkable to watch. Dolphins are a feast for the tourist’s eye.
Payyambalam Beach : This is around 2 kms from Kannur. This long stretch of golden sand is the ideal picnic spot. With flat laterite cliffs and picturesque surroundings, the beach is just walking distance from Fort Angelo.
Kizhunna Beach : This is around 11 kms and is one of the most secluded beaches in Kerala.
Muzhappilangad Beach : This is one of the longest beaches in Kerala and is found around 15 kms from Kannur. Lying to the south of Kannur, the land of the longest beach this is the only drive in beach in India. The beach is clean and is completely protected by the black rocks around from the sea currents thus making it a swimmer’s locale. This paradise on earth has a drive in facility from Tellichery to Kannur which is around 4 kms.
Tourists are attracted to swim, sunbathe, or laze around in the golden sand as the ambience is mesmerizing. This unforgettable experience is also the place from where one can view the Dharmadam Island or the Green Island and the junction of the island and the beach across the Anjarakkandy River.
Ezhimala Hills : These are situated at a height of 286 m. There are carved pillars, an ancient Burial chamber, and a cave and are famous for their medicinal herbs. There is also an ancient mosque here and magnificently carved stone pillars. Tourists need to take permission to get into the Ezhimala Beach
Islands : This is a Buddhist area and the Dharmadam Island is found next to the Muzalppillangad beach. Dharmapttanam was an earlier situation where the beach and the island met up. This exotic tourist spot with its coconut palms and green bushes is an ideal way to unwind.
Pythal Mala : This is around 65 kms North of Kannur. This is located on the Kerala Karnataka border. Situated at a height of 1,372m this is the best spot for trekking. There is a base reception tower and a watchtower which are beautiful. It has a stupendous flora and fauna and any trekking winner is given the flora or fauna as a gift.
Wildlife Sanctuaries :
Aaralam Wildlife Sanctuaries : This is a serene, calm spot and is on the slopes of the Western Ghats. Katti Betta is the highest peak and has a lot of semi evergreen forests rising to a height of 1145m above the sea level. The flora and fauna here is unique and one can see the elephants, boar, bison and herds of deer besides, the leopards, jungle cats and squirrels.
Gardens and Dams :
Pazhassi Gardens and Dam : This lies to the east of Kannur near Mattanur. The dam and the reservoir give an amazing view of the place. The amusement park here and the Buddha’s mountain at Pazhassi are delightful spots for the tourists.
Pappinissery : This is the Snake Park in Kannur. This lies around 16kms from Kannur town. There is a snake park here which has at least 150 varieties of snakes. This includes the Spectacled Cobra, King Cobra, Russel Viper etc. Non poisonous snakes including the Python are also found here. There is a plan to have a laboratory for research here.
Mappila Bay : This is a famous fishing harbor which is found near the St.Angelo’s Fort. Today it is a natural and modern harbor for fishing but earlier it was a place famous for the rule of the Kolathiri. This was connected to Kolathunadu and the bay connected it to Lakshadweep and other foreign countries.
Gundert Bungalow : This is located around 20kms from Kannur. This is found on the borders of Thalassery. It was the home of Dr. Hermann Gundert who was a scholar of the German Basel Mission, and it was he who compiled the first Malayalam English dictionary.
Kannur - Entertainment factor
There are many fairs and festivals in the city of Kannur. These are :
Thus the land of the looms, and the land of the lores, the city of Kannur, is a place to reckon with.
As we leave the city, we think “To loom or to lore.”