Kannur, the cradle of Theyyam is a lively melange of beautiful beaches, historic sites, interesting folk arts and music, rituals, religious practices and festivities. This “land of Looms and Lores” is a delightful quite town of Malabar lies towards north of Kozhikode and Wayanad.
Kannur derived its name from the location of district headquarters at Kannur town. In the olden days it was called as ‘Cannanore’, the anglicised form of Kannur. Another popular belief regarding the origin of its name is that Kannur might have got its name from a compound of two words Kannan (Lord Krishna) and Ur (place) making it the Place of lord Krishna.
Kannur is called as the Naura in the 1st century CE Greek Travelogue ‘The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea’. The Great traveller Marco Polo called it as ‘a great emporium of the spice trade’. The construction of St Angelo's Fort in the year 1505 by Europeans brought worldwide glory and fame to this wonderful place.
This idyllic quite town holds an eventful past with flourishing myths and legends. The history of kannur is a tale worth hearing. For a long period Kannur was under the control of so many Local Rajas. The Kolathiris sanctioned the St Angelo’s Fort during their ruling period.
Later Arakkal Ali Rajas, the only Muslim Royal Family of Kerala came into power. The Queen of Arakkal controlled the parts of coast and even Lakshadweep island. The rich spices of the land lured many European Powers, beginning with Portuguese in the year 1498, then followed Dutch and the English.
Fortifications at Thalassery, St. Angelo Fort and the solemn churches surrounded by mildewed gravestones speaks of the European presence. The articulate evidence of the rich cultural heritage lies in the ancient monuments, mosques, temples and churches of the city.
Kannur has been called as the cradle of Theyyam, a dazzling folk art and music since olden days. Even in the present days the myriads of Kavus or small shrines are the centres of Theyyam which makes it a land of wonderful fantasies.
Theyyam, a unique combination of music and dance reflects features of tribal dance. This ritual dance based on religion accompanied by devotional hymns add an aura of divine radiance to it.
Burnassery, the only cantonment in Kerala with its colonial buildings,churches, mosques and temples reflects the multi-cultural and multi-religious face of the city. Kannur can also be proud of its largest Cinnamon Plantation of Asia, Ezhimala, one of the biggest Naval Academy and the one and only drive in beach of the country.
Kannur: Places to Visit & Things to Do
The wonderful natural and cultural sites of Kannur will entice your heart in the very first sight. Being a land of pristine beaches you can enjoy the Sea in all its forms. The huge forts add an elegant charm to the history of the city.
The city of Kannur lies between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea is home to many sandy beaches entwined with rows of green coconut palms. Some of the main beaches in Kannur are Payyambalam Beach, Meenkunnu Beach and Mopila Bay.
There are so many small beautiful ancient shrines scattered in different regions of Kannur. Situated amidst the peaceful ambiance of coconut and Banana Groves these are truly elegant. They are simple small structures of wood and brick. Thalassery is a place worth visiting near Kannur. Thalassery is situated at a distance of 22 km away from Kannur.
Places to Visit in Kannur
1. St Angelo’s Fort / Kannur Fort
St Angelo’s fort also called as Kannur Fort is a massive triangular laterite fort dramatically situated against the sea. This historical fort witnessed several wars for seizing the control of the fort. In 1663, the fort was under the control of Dutch who later sold it to Ali Raja of Kannur.
In 1790 the British who seized control over the fort, renovated and equipped it to be their most important military station in Malabar. The fort has a legendary past. The fort has been maintained well by the Archaeological Survey of India. It's a protected monument.
From the fort you can enjoy the fascinating view of the Mappila Bay and Dharmadam island. The Mappila Bay is a natural fishing Bay. Boats and small crafts moored in the bay offers an excellent photographic location.
A sea wall projecting from the fort separates the sea and inland water. Cashew trees are there within the compound which are said to be planted by the Portuguese who introduced the plant to India. Fort visiting Hours are from 8 am to 6 pm.
2. Arakkal Kettu
Arakkal Kettu is situated 3 km from Kannur. This is the royal residence of Arakkal family, the only Muslim royal dynasty in Kerala. They controlled the coastal areas and Lakshadweep. This 200 year old palace is considered as a protected monument by the Archaeological department.
The Arakkal kettu comprises of the palace, administrative block, mosques and residential building. There is a huge bronze bell hung in the bell tower near the gate. Arakkal Museum is also a part of it. The museum was once the durbar hall and was converted in the year 2005. This double stored museum has various artifacts which are kept for display.
The main items displayed here are Shehnai - a musical instrument, old model fans, telephones, ancient compass, royal furniture, glass, silver and bronze utensils, wooden box and hunting equipments like sword, spear etc. Arakkal Kettu is located close to St Angelo’s Fort.
3. Parassinikadavu Sree Muthappan Temple
The Parassinikadavu Temple dedicated to Sree Muthappan, a Hindu Deity who love toddy and fried fish stands in the picturesque surroundings on the banks of the River Valapattanam. Muthappan, an incarnation of Maha Vishnu and Son of Shiva is worshipped commonly in Kannur.
Worship of Muthappan is unique, as it does not follow the Sattvic (Brahminical) form of worship, like in other Hindu temples. The main mode of worship is via a ritual enactment of Muthappan, performed daily at the Parassinikadavu temple. Fish is used as an offering to Muthappan.
The origin of this temple is connected to the appearance of a child who roamed the region with a string of interesting incidents and later vanished without a trace. The incidents up to the point of his disappearance later made the denizens feel the divine presence of Muthappan (Siva) who immediately erected a place of worship.
Today that is popularly known as the Parassinikadavu Muthappan Temple. The temple is a perfect example of unity and religious harmony. It promotes the essence of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam - The whole world is one family’. People of all castes, religions and nationalities are permitted to enter the temple and take part in the worship.
The temple has become a popular destination among travellers and pilgrims to savour the charm of Theyyam, a ritual that is performed here on a daily basis which represents the conflict between good and evil with the ultimate victory of good.
4. Snake Park
Near the Parassinikadavu Sree Muthappan Temple is the Snake Park. Situated at a distance of 16 km from Kannur this is the only one of its kind in the state. The snake Park setup by the Visha Chikitsa Kendra that is the antivenom treatment centre at Pappinisseri.
It has been a center of attraction to both foreign and domestic tourists. This Kendra offers effective treatment for snakebites with complete cure. This is the only place, where Ayurveda and Allopathy are effectively combined for curing snake bites.
5. Valapattanam Backwaters
Valapattanam River, the lengthiest in Malabar originates in the Western Ghats of Kodagu in Karnataka. The Parassini Sree Muthappan temple reflection lights up the river before it meets the Arabian Sea near Valapattanam. Valapattanam situated about 8 km north of Kannur is famous for timber trade.
Valapattanam was once considered third in the world for timber operations. As Legends this is the place where King Solomon’s ship anchored and collected timber to build the ‘Temple of the lord’. Kannur districts rich forest resources with some commonly found flora being Iruli, Teak, sandalwood, rubber, cashew nuts, Tea and Coffee met the need of timber.
Valapattanam river used to be the main trade route during ancient times. The present days this is a heaven for beach lovers and one of the popular sights here is the traditional mode of timber transportation- when long pieces of timber are allowed to float down the streams which are then collected at the desired shore.
6. Payyambalam Beach
Payyambalam is the biggest beach of Kannur is a favorite haunt of tourists. The main attractions of this beach are the well laid out gardens and the massive landscaped sculpture of mother & child erected by noted sculptor Kanayi Kunhiraman.
7. Meenkunnu Beach
Meenkunnu Beach is situated at Azhikode, 11 km away from Kannur city is a tourist's paradise with golden sand & surf. This breezy isolated beach with palm grooves is the best place to relax.
8. The Mopila Bay
The Mopila Bay is a beautiful place to visit. Situated close to the St.Angelo's Fort this was the seat of Kolathiri Rajas centuries ago. The Kadalayi Fort and Sree Krishna Temple were other famous attractions here. The remnants of the fort and the temple are still seen in Mopila Bay. The main attraction of the bay is a fishing harbor, built with Indo Norwegian project assistance.
9. Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya Temple
Peralassery Sri Subrahmanya temple, located at about 15 km from Kannur, is one of the famous shrines in Malabar. Lord Subrahmanya, son of Lord Siva, is the presiding deity of this temple. The temple is said to be connected with the famous epic, 'Ramayana'.
The temple also has a shrine for the serpent God and has a number of bronze and copper idols of snakes. The speciality is large number of devotees comes to get rid of Naga Kopa.
10. Rajarajeswari Temple
Rajarajeswari Temple is situated at Taliparamba, 25 km away from Kannur. Taliparamba or Perinchalloor was one among the 64 brahminical settlement. The old name of Taliparamba was 'Lakshmipura' as this place was considered as an abode of prosperity.
Legend has it that the head of Sati fell here after Shiva's tandava following Sati's self-immolation. So this temple is popularly known as Rajarajeswari Temple. This is among 108 ancient Kerala temples dedicated to Lord Siva.
There is a belief that the child born to the women who worship him will attain a high status. The Siva Linga here is believed to be Thousands of years old. Taliparamba Temple is also connected with two more temples - Trichambaram Sree Krishna Temple and Cherukunnu Annapoorneshwari Temple.
Shopping in Kannur
Kannur is well known for its high quality handloom and handicrafts. Since ancient times Kannur is known for its cotton hand looms, which also form an important item for foreign trade. Several weaving centers and exports flourish here. These hand loom products from Kannur have high demand even in European countries.
Some of the leading Handloom Export houses include the Leela Fashions, Raja Rajeswari Weaving mills, Mascot Industries, Dhanalakshmi Weaving Mills, and Anand Textiles. Kerala State Handloom Development Corporation is presently exporting products to USA and many European countries.
These products include sarees, shirts, ready-mades, furnishing, tablecloths, mats, napkins, pillow covers, cushion covers, bed spreads, curtains, draperies, potholders and aprons in made up fabric. You can shop all these products in a very reasonable price. You can buy Brass and bell metal lamps of all shapes and sizes from Kannur.
Where To Eat in Kannur
Kannur is well known for its delicious cuisines. There are a variety of Veg and Non Veg dishes which are very popular. Malabar Biriyani that is of fish, chicken or meat is a much popular dish in Kannur. You can enjoy all the local delicacies in the hotels like Palm Grove and Mascot Beach Resort and also at Cool Land on MA Road.
Hotel Meridien Palaces 24 hour Hot Stone Restaurant offers 32 variety of Dosas. You can have the real Kerala dishes from the multi cuisine Paris Restaurant at Royal Omar’s. Lakshmi Homestay, Gardens,Chiffonnette are some other good food joints. In Kannur you can try a special sweet called Kinnathappam made of Jaggery and coconut.
Where To Stay in Kannur
Kannur has some of the best stay options including home stays. Some of the Best Hotels in Kannur are:
Cliff Exotel Beach Resort
This is a fully air conditioned Resort with 14 well equipped rooms situated close to Payyambalam Beach. This resort offers Ayurvedic centre, Multi cuisine restaurant, 24 hrs Internet facility, sightseeing and backwater cruises.
Hotel Malabar Residency is a three star business Hotel at 1 km from the beach and near business and market areas. The hotel offers AC Deluxe and Suite Accommodation, Conference Hall and Board Room, Banquet Hall, Multi cuisine Restaurant and Ayurvedic centre.
Mascot Beach Resort
Situated at about 1 km from Kannur city this beautiful resort is located on a hillock facing the Great Arabian Sea in a calm and romantic environment. All rooms in this Resort are face the beach and its lighthouse.
The Costa Malabari beach guest house is situated 8 kms from the Kannur Railway station. in the peaceful ambiance of secluded, clean golden beaches of Kannur. There are three homely bungalows with four well maintained rooms which are just a couple of minutes walk from the beach. The hotel takes you handloom shopping, bird watching and village visits.
With 63 well equipped rooms the hotel boasts of an Ayurvedic Spa, a fitness centre, a curio shop and Art gallery. It is walkable distance away from the Main Bus Stand and easy to reach.
Dew n Drops Resorts & Homestays
Situated in Pallikkunnu close to Kannur town this offers 2 rooms, home cooked meals, Ayurveda, Internet and sightseeing tours.
This motel is located on the Kannur - Mangalore National Highway, about 20 km from Kannur. This offers 2 budget rooms at Kannur University towards Parassinikadavu. There is a restaurant, Beer and Ice cream parlors in here.
Palmgrove Tourist Home & Resort
This wonderful resort is located in the residence of last Arakkal Ali Raja with a garden in the back. The home has elegantly transformed the 18 rooms including eight deluxe AC, three deluxe non-AC, two ordinary AC, three non-AC double and two non-AC single. You can enjoy traditional Kerala Dishes here.