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Kannur: Snakes, a drive-in beach and forts

Tours to Kunnur, Kerala

Marco Polo referred to Kannur as a great centre of spices but today it is better known for its beedis and its handloom. The country's largest best-run beedi cooperative producing the Kerala Dinesh Beedi is located in the city.

As a port city, Kannur had the distinction of being chosen as one of the earliest colonies of the Portuguese in the 15th century and the St. Angelo's Fort built in 1505 A.D. is testimony to that fact.

The first place you must visit in Kannur is the St.Angelo's Fort. The Portuguese Viceroy Don Francisco De Almeida put it up and is today only a part of its former grand self. A few ancient cannons are on display inside the fort. Not too far away is the Madiya Mosque, built in 1124 A.D. by Malik Ibn Dinar, a Muslim preacher. The block of white marble in the mosque was supposedly brought from Mecca by its founder, when he came to preach the words of Muhammad, the Prophet.

Another old fort, constructed in 1708 A.D. by the British is the Thalaserry Fort, around 20 km away from Kannur. The squarish fort has wide walls, secret tunnels to the sea and intricately carved doors. Near Thalaserry at Illikunnu on the National Highway, is the Gundert Bungalow, once the home of the German missionary Dr. Herman Gundert. He lived in the bungalow for 20 years from 1839 and was one of the persons behind the first Malayalam dictionary and Paschimodayam, the first Malayalam newspaper.

Those interested in Theyyam and Kathakali must take a visit to the Sree Muthappan Temple near Kannur. The temple is possibly the only one in Kerala which sees devotees offering dried fish and toddy to the deity. The uniqueness of the temple is the daily Theyyam dance performance. There is also a Kathakali club, which organizes shows on request and the dances go on late into the night. Near the temple is the Parassinikadavu Snake Park, 16 km from Kannur town.

As for beaches, there is the beautiful Dharmadam Island, 17 km away from Kannur. With coconut palms and greenery all around, the five-acre island is privately owned and one must have permission before entering it. Close to the city is Payyambalam Beach, just two km away. It is usually crowded in the evenings but there is ample place for relaxation. The fishing harbour of Valapattanam is 7 km away and you can watch workmen transporting timber the traditional way by lashing the long pieces of wood together and floating them down the Valapattanam river for use by the wood-based industries and timber traders.

Around 8 km from Thalassery is Kerala's only drive-in Muzhapilangad Beach, where you can drive the entire length of four kilometers on the beach. It is a quiet secluded beach and is liked by tourists.

Further away is Ezhimala, 55 km from Kannur. Situated on a hillock, one can see carved stone pillars and an ancient burial chamber at the foot of the hills. There is a Naval Academy which does not allow anyone to enter without permission.

Reaching Kannur: The nearest airport is at Karipur in Kozhikode, 95 km away. Kannur railway station is linked to major towns within the state as well as the country as are the roads.