310km from Kochi 92km from Kozhikode
between the Western Ghats and the Lakshadweep Sea is one of the
most important coastal towns of Kerala – Kannur. Its unique geographical
features include dense forests, widespread ravines and a network
of long seacoasts, several rivers, lagoons and backwaters.
is quite important historically. In the old days, it was one of
the principal ports of Kerala. According to Marco Polo, the 13th
century European traveller, this place was a 'great emporium of
spice trade'. Kannur was then ruled by the Kolathiri Rajas. In
1498, the Portuguese arrived here, spearheading Kannur into political
limelight. They built a fort in 1505, and named it the St. Angelo
Fort. It is in the form of a massive triangular structure. The
fort had strong defences like a moat on one side and flanking
bastions on the other. The history of Kannur is synonymous with
the history of the fort. In 1663, the fort was captured by the
Dutch and sold to the Arakkal family in 1772. The Arakkal Ali
Rajas were the only Muslim royal family in Kerala. In 1790, the
fort was captured by the British, who rebuilt it and made it their
military station. Presently, the fort is under the authority of
the Archaeological Department of the Government of India. Arakkal
Kettu is the palace of the Arakkal Ali Rajas.
has some important temples, churches and mosques. The Sundareswara
Temple was established in 1908 and is dedicated to Lord Shiva
(the Destroyer in the Hindu Holy Trinity of Creator-Preserver-Destroyer).
Apart from a linga (the symbolic phallus representing Lord Shiva),
the temple also has idols of Lord Ganesha (God of Wisdom and Prosperity)
and Subramonia. The annual temple fair that lasts seven days is
held in the month of Meenam (March-April). The ancient Mavilakavu
Temple is located at a distance of 5 miles from Kannur. A five-day
festival held in the month of Medam (April-May) attracts many
visitors because of the interest generated by the customs and
rites associated with it. One particularly interesting feature
is the Ati or Thallu performance wherein there is a free exchange
of blows between different parties who gather at paddy fields
outside the temple for the purpose. Another important temple in
the nearby Edakkad is the Urpazhachivaku. The temple has beautiful
woodcarvings on the Ramayana and Krishnaleela. Ramayana is an
ancient Hindu epic and Krishnaleela depicts the playful antics
of Lord Krishna (8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver).
The presiding deity of the temple is Shankaranarayana, but there
are idols of other deities like Bhagavathi and Vettakorumakan
as well. The temple fair is held annually for seven days in the
month of Kumbham (February-March). Another interesting practice
in this temple is the daily ceremonial dancing called Vellattam.
Sasta Temple at Chalat is also a very ancient temple. The temple
fair, held in the month of Thulam (October - November) attracts
thousands of visitors. Near the temple is a mosque called the
Chalat Sheik Palli. Animals are not killed in the mosque out of
respect for the Hindus. The Old Juma Masjid is another important
mosque in the town. St. John's Church is one of the well-known
churches in the area.
are many good beaches in and around Kannur. The Payyambalam Beach
(2km from Kannur) is a favourite picnic spot of the locals. The
shining sand on the beach coupled with the dancing, frolicking
waves provides an enchanting experience for the visitors. The
Kizhunna Ezhara Beach (11km from Kannur) is one of the most secluded
beaches of Kerala. The golden sand and surf of the Meenkunnu Beach
(12km from Kannur) makes it very popular among tourists.