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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.