Kannur - The Land of Forts and Beaches
In the north of Kerala, sandwiched by the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea lies Kannur, anglicised as Cannanore. This stretch of land, steeped in history has been a melting pot of races, religions and cultures from time immemorial. Relics, right from the Neolithic age through the Aryan invasion, Cheran conquests, Arab and European inroads, stand testament to this. Apart from greenery and beaches, Kannur invites tourists to these historic monuments and to share the warmth and cordiality of its peaceful and soft spoken people.
St Angelo's Fort
This historical fort, built in 1505 CE by Francisco De Almeida, the first Portuguese Viceroy of India, is situated near the sea coast about two kilometers from Kannur town. This fort has a legendary past. Having witnessed several wars for seizing the control of the fort, the British flag flew over it finally in 1790. Now this fort is under the control of the Archaeological department. It attracts a large number of tourists.
Moppila Bay (or Mappila Bay)
Situated near the St Angelo's Fort, the Moppila Bay has a historical background. Centuries ago, it was the seat of Kolathiri kings. The Kadalayi Fort and Sree Krishna temple here were quite famous. The remnants of the fort and the temple are still seen in Moppila Bay. A fishing harbour, an Indo-Norwegian project is in this bay. Boating in the sea, if the weather permits, is an unforgettable experience.
A place of historical importance Ezhimala (Elimala) was the seat of Mooshika kings in the early periods. Ezhimala has found a place in the travelogues of Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo. Ezhimala is also considered to be a treasure chest of medicinal herbs and is at a height of 286m above sea level. It is a landmark to mariners and is blessed with a long beautiful beach. Ezhimala is situated 45 km north of Kannur. A naval academy is also situated here.
Thalassery Fort, 20 km away from Kannur was built on in 1708, on a small hill called Thiruvallappadkunnu. This fort was a formidable stronghold in the past. There are several important tourist centres in Thalassery. The Church built beneath the walls of the fort with the money left by the master attendant Mr. Edward Brennen and the large mosque known as Odathil Palli attracts several people. The Thiruvangad Sree Ramaswami Temple here, otherwise known as brass Pagoda is dedicated to Sree Rama. The temple of Sree Jagannath is next in importance and is dedicated to Lord Siva, which was consecrated in 1908 CE by the great religious reformer Sree Narayana Guru.
Keralites cannot forget Hermann Gundert and his contributions to the Malayalam language. A German by birth Gundert resided at Illikkunnu bungalow near Thalassery, which was his workshop for 20 years from 1939 for his research activities.
On the way to the Parassinikkadavu temple, 16 km from Kannur, is the Snake Park, the only one of its kind in Kerala. The Snake Park set up by the Visha Chikista Kendra at Pappinisseri has been a centre of attraction to both foreign and domestic tourists. This centre offers effective treatment for snake bites with almost hundred per cent cure. This is the only place, perhaps where Ayurveda and Allopathy are effectively combined for curing snake bites.
Famous for timber trade, Valapattanam, situated about eight kilometers north of Kannur has a pride of place in the world map for its wood-based industries. Valapattanam was once considered third in the world for timber business. Having to depend only on imports of logs, the place today wear a deserted look with Western India Plywoods being the only exception. Azhikkal port, an all-weather medium port is situated very near to Valapattanam.
Muzhappilangad beach is situated about five kilometres north of Thalassery and 15 km from Kannur. There is an unpaved road winding through coconut groves that leads to the beach. The beach is about five kilometres long and curves in a wide area providing a good view of Kannur beach on the north. To the south and about 200 m away from the beach, there is a beautiful island called the 'Green Island' which adds to the allure of the beach. Such a conjunction of beach and island is rare.
Anjarakandy 19 km southeast of Kannur, is famous for the Cinnamon estate located there and the oil being extracted from it. The place has historical importance too as Pazhassi Raja and the British Army fought for the estate in 1903.
Thalassery is famous for having given birth to many famous circus artists. True to this tradition the first circus training centre has now started functioning in Thalassery, known as the Gymnastic Centre, under the Sports Authority of India. Experts from India and abroad work in this centre.
Sixty-four km from Kannur and 44 km northeast of Taliparamba lies Paithal Mala the beautiful, calm hillock near the Kerala-Karnataka border. 4,500 ft above sea level, this hill has rich flora and fauna. Trekking six kilometers would take one to the top of the hill.
Theyyam in Kannur
Kannur is the centre of 'Theyyam' the famous temple ritual art form in northern Kerala. The word 'Theyyam' is a corrupt form of 'deivam' in Malayalam, which means God. Theyyam is generally performed in front of the village shrines. Performance of a particular deity according to its significance and hierarchy in the shrine continues for 12 to 24 hours with intervals. There are a large number of temples in Kannur where Theyyam is performed. Clad in, colourful traditional costumes, masks, face paintings, headgear, weapons and decorations of tender leaves of coconut, the performance of Theyyam is a rare combination of dance and music. It provides a rare cultural treat in the ritual tradition.
Source: IT Department, Government of Kerala