CALICUT - KOZHIKODE The Glory of past grandeur In northern Kerala lies the area which the legendary traveller Marco Polo described in 1320 A.D. as the "great province of Malabar". Much of this richness today lies buried in the glory of a past grandeur, a past replete with the trading visits of the European voyagers calling on the ancient port of Calicut on their regular journeys of commerce,lured by timber,ivory, pepper, ginger, cinnamom and other species. The great traveller Ibn Batuta, who visited Calicut (known as Kozhikode in Malayalam) at least six times in the mid 13th century, wrote the prosperity he saw: "The greater part of the Mohammedan merchants of this place are so wealthy that one of them can purchase the whole freightage of such vessels put in here and fit out others like them". After the 13th Century Calicut grew in importance as a port and the capital of the powerful kingdom of the Samoothiris or the Zamorins, as they were called by the Portuguese. In fact, some historians say Calicut derives it name from the fortified palace ('koyil kota') built by a Samoothiri ruler. Calicut's commercial glory was also praised by the Arab traveller Abdur Razzak in 1443 A.D.: "Calicut is a perfectly secured harbour, which, like that of Ormuz, brings together merchants from every city and from every country." Interestingly, Calicut has also lent its name to 'calico' the fine variety of handwoven cottoncloth said to have originated in this place. Calicut was also Vasco da Gama's first stop in India, He set foot on the sands of Kappad beach, north of today's city, on 27 May 1498 A.D., a landing commemorated by a small stone monument at the beach. This even marked the beginning of a new epoch in world history of Kerala. Against the backdrop of bitter rivalries between local rulers began a period of unbroken strife among foreign powers for the domination of trade in Malabar. Today, Calicut is an important trading centre for timber and tiles and the shopping ground for that famous delicacy among sweets, 'Calicut Halwa'.
Just 15 minutes drive from the city centre is a placed called Dolphin's Point, where one can see in the early hours of the morning dolphins playing in the sea. The beach, 2 km from Calicut town centre, is a long stretch of tree-lined sand popular with the local people because of the Lions Club Park, the light house and the two piers - and of course, the the opportunity to soadk in the evening breeze.
Located at East Hill, the Pazhassirajah Museum, run by the State Archaeological Department, displays ancient mural paintings, antique bronzes and old coins as well as models of temples, megalithic monuments like dolmonoid cysts and umbrella stones. (Timings: 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. Closed on Mondays).
Situated next to the Pazhassirajah Museum, the Art Gallery contains paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and Raja Raja Varma. The Krishna Menon Museum has a section in honour of the great Indian leader V.K. Krishna Menon, whose personal belongings and souvenirs gifted by world leaders are exhibited here. (Timings 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. Closed on Mondays and Wednesday forenoons).
Mananchira is the heart of the city which sites important institutions like the Town Hall and the Public Library. One of Calicut's oldest buildings the Commonwealth Trust Office is situated here. The large pond and the park are well-known landmarks.
Six km away is Kallai, once the busting nerve-point of Calicut's timber trade, said to have been the largest such trading centre in Asia. Today, though some business take place, hard times have fallen on the timber trade and Kallai is just a shadow of the past.
Beypore, 11 km from Calicut, is a small coastal town known for centuries as a ship building centre and still famous for its country crafts called 'uru' built by the traditional shipbuilders known as khalasis. Beypore is still a favourite destination among Arabs shopping for large boats.
Compiled By Prasad (23rd October, 1997) Source : Business Data India Pvt. Ltd.