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Facts About Cannanore (Kannur)


How to get there:

Air: The nearest airport is at Karipur, Calicut, about 93 km south. Further south is the cochin airport 317 km away.

Rail: Cannanore railway station is an important railhead of the Southern Railway and is well linked to major towns upcountry as well as within the state.

Road: Cannanore is also accessible by road.

Beedis, Handlooms and History

Mahe, a major town of Kannur, is a boozer's paradise. Not only is the town chock-full of bars and wine shops, liquor is much cheaper here, thanks to low or no excise duties. But don't think you can carry away boot loads of cheap booze-Kerala's excise officers are on the prowl!

This sea coast town in the northern Malabar area was for many centuries the capital of the Kolathiri Rajas, the rivals of the Zamorins of Calicut. Its importance as a premier port of ancient Kerala was known to the Arabs and the Persians. Marco Polo is supposed to have referred to Cannannore as a great emporia of spices.

In the 15the century the Portugueses arrived in Cannanore (known as Kannur in Malayalam) to establish one of their earliest settlements. A reminder of this is the St. Angelo's Fort built in 1505 by the first Portuguese Viceroy. It is still a landmark of Cannanore.

Cannanore's history abounds with the activities of colonial powers. The portugueses factory built by Cabral in 1501 was captured by the Dutch in 1663. In 1708 the British built a fort at Tellichrey, just outside Cannanore. The nearby town of Mahe was developed as a trading centre by the French in the 18the century. Around 1792, after the Mysore wars, the British took over Cannanore.

Today Cannanore is known for its handloom and beedi industries. Some of Keral's finest weavers come from this district, though these days their skills are not in as much demand as before.

For a free show of enchanting theyyam, the traditional ritual dance of north Kerala, head for the Parassinikadavu Temple, where every evening there are performances. More importantly, entry into the temple for the teyyam shows is allowed for non-Hindus too. This is unlike other temples in Kerala.

For a touch of history, one should visit the St. Angelo's Fort, a huge triangular structure built with laterite with a ditch and strong flanking bastions. The Dutch captured the fort from the Portuguese in 1663 and sold it to Ali Raja of Cannonore in 1772. The British in turn captured it in 1790. They rebuilt it and made it the most important military base in Malabar for their soldiers during the British colonial rule.

, 6 km from Cannanore, is where the kolathiri Raja lived. The famous 12the century mosque at Madayi, a village 22 km from Cannanore, was built by Malik Ibn Dinar with white marble said to have been brought from Arabia. The Madayi beach is also splendid.

About 55 km from Cannanore town, at a height of 885 feet, is Ezhimala, an isolated but conspicuous cluster of hills. At the foot of the hills is a cave and an old burial chamber. Farther up the hills is an ancient mosque where sculptured stone pillars can be seen. Ezhimala and its surrounding areas are also known for some rare medicinal herbs used in Ayurvedic formulations.

Every time you visit a circus, think of Tellicherry, a small town around 20 km south of Cannanore. For it is from here that most of India's circus artists come. The gymnastic tradition was introduced in schools here by German missionaries.

One of them Rev. Dr. Herman Gundert, spent a lifetime around Tellicherry in his educational and literary work and compiled the first Malayala dictionary. He also built a church on Nettur Hill in 1889.

The English East India Company established its settlement on the Malabar coast here in 1683. The Tellicherry Fort was built in the early 18the century.

Between Tellicherry and Badagara is Mahe, a small and beautiful trading town on the west coast established by the French in the 17the century. It is under the administrative control of the union territory of Pondicherry and several historical hangovers of French influence are evident.

At Parassinikadavu
, on the banks of the Valapatanam river, 18 km from Cannanore, is the Sri Muthappan temple, dedicated to Lord Muthappan, believed to be the incarnation of Lord Siva. This is the only temple in Kerala where theyyam, the ritual dance form of North Kerala, is performed daily. The temples nonconformist nature is also evident in the unusual custom of offering dried fish and toddy to the deity.

There is also a kathakali club in the temple which will arrange shows on request for a fee (aroung Rs 1000). The performance begins after 11 p.m. and lasts for two-and-a-half hours also near the temple is the Parassinikadavu snake park.

For an example of medieval temple architecture, visit the Truchabaram Vishnu Temple at Taliparambu. Said to date back to the 10th century, this temple offers sights of stone walls, murals and woodcraft work.

An easily accessible haunt for nature enthusiasts is the Aralam wildlife sanctury, 35 km from Tellicherry. Accommodation is available at lritty, near the sanctuary.

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