Calicut or Kozhikode is well known for its beautiful landscape, festival calendar and above all its warm and fun loving local populace. Kozhikode has an important part in the history of Kerala as the Portuguese explorer; Vasco Da Gama had first set foot on its shores at Kappad beach. It was a busy port and a trading hub and was of great strategic importance in the yore.
The name Calicut, is thought to have originated from Calico, the hand woven cloth, which originated here. Kozhikode is an interesting juxtaposition of the old and the new. The bustling bazaars and the historic attractions rub shoulders with the state of the art buildings and structures, giving it a diverse character.
There are many tourist places to visit in Calicut. Take a peek at the past by visiting the Kappad Beach & Beypore Fort. The unspoilt and unbelievably uncrowded, the Kappad beach offers a memorable experience. Enjoy one of the best sunsets that you have ever seen or soak up the enviably slow pace of life here. Nothing seems to have changed in Kappad for the last many years and this timeless charm is what makes it a hot tourist attraction.
The bird watchers cannot afford to miss out a trip to the Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary, which is home to over hundred bird species. All Calicut holidays would invariably have a trip to the Thusharagiri waterfall that beats down from an impressive height. It is a popular trekking and rock-climbing spot as well, which makes it popular among adventure tourists. No matter whether you are here to enjoy a tranquil holiday in the lap of nature or an adrenalin fueled holiday, Tusharagiri would be the right option. It also has crocodile farm, managed by the state forest department.
Peruvannamuzhi dam site is another must see in Calicut Tourism . Nestled amidst verdant green hillocks, it is a popular picnic spot. Speed boat and slow boat cruise options are available in the reservoirs. In case you wish to do something off the beaten track, then set out on exploring the uninhabited islands nearby, which would surely be a memorable experience for sure!
Calicut sightseeing is easy and hassle free as the city is well accessible by air, rail or bus. The international airport is situated 22 km from the city centre. Taxis and auto rickshaws are convenient options to travel around the city and the best part is that these run on meters unlike the many other cities of Kerala.
No Calicut tours can be complete without making a stopover at the fabled food joints of this city that is well known for its exotic dining options including dum biriyani and exceptional Malabar meat and fish preparations. Do not forget to buy the famous Calicut halwa, which is available in various lip smacking flavors and the freshly made, crispy banana chips. If shopping is on your cards, then head straight to SM Street, where you can shop for anything under the sun literally! Make sure to grab the iconic Calico cloth that is available only here as a souvenir of your Calicut tours!
If you are looking for a relaxing evening, Kappad beach would be an ideal choice. However, the waters here are a bit deep and it is safer not to venture out too much. The stretch of sand is not so wide but clean and lined with a canopy of coconut palms. The sight of the coconut palms silhouetted against the evening sky is bound to bring out the photographer in any tourist. Kappad also has a stone monument installed on the spot where Vasco Da Gama landed.
The beach might be a bit crowded in the evenings, but is well-worth a visit. A spot not to be missed here is the two piers which are reputed to be more than a century old. There is an aquarium, a towering light house as well as a lion’s park in the beach.
The Kozhikode planetarium and the science centre attached to it can keep you occupied for a whole day with its range of games, puzzles and gadgets. If you are not interested in what is inside, you can take a walk around the park surrounding the area. The planetarium conducts regular shows daily at 2, 4 and 6 PM.
The Mananchira square is more or less the icon of Kozhikode. The royal chira (tank) originally belonged to King Mana Vikrama. Today, there is a whole complex outside the tank in which there are buildings like the Commonwealth Trust Factory, Town Hall, Lalitakala Academy Hall, the Jama’atpalli Mosque, the Mucchandipalli Mosque, the Kuttichera tank etc. The Jama’atpalli Mosque is reputed to be the one with the largest floor area in Kerala. The Kuttichera tank has the distinction of being holy to both Hindus and Muslims. The ‘Manamchira Maidanam’ or ground is still used today for various festivals.
Sweet Meat Street (Midhayitheruvu)
The Midhayitheruvu is also a part of the identity of the city. As the name suggests, rows of shops displaying halwa (a sweet) of different colors-red, yellow, black and green and other sweetmeats can be found here, besides many others.
The Pazhassi Raja Museum
History buffs are bound to enjoy a visit to this museum which has on display prints of age-old murals, other antique artifacts and coins made of bronze, megalithic relics etc. Nearby is the V.K. Krishna Menon art gallery, which showcases paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and Raja Raja Varma. Both the artists belonged to the Travancore royal family. The paintings, done in oil, depict scenes from the day to day life of the royal family, from Hindu mythology etc. The gallery also has on display a set of items which were used by V.K Krishna Menon, national leader and former Defense Minister.
CVN Kalari Sangam
The centre, located at Nadakavu, is dedicated to one of the most spectacular of martial art forms of Kerala, Kalaripayattu. The centre has produced some very famous Kalari exponents. Tourists can watch live demonstrations of the art, which involves the sword and supreme agility.
The Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary
Bird lovers can have a blast at the Kadalundi Sanctuary, which is home to a host of local as well as migratory birds. The feathered visitors include terns, gulls, herons, sandpipers and more.
The Thusharagiri Waterfalls is as beautiful as its name. Nearby the waterfall are plantations of spices, ginger and pepper. A drive through one of these is bound to be an exhilarating experience. The Peruvannamuzhi dam and its surrounding areas also make for a good picnic spot; fresh air, greenery, walks through the forests, you can have all this and more here. The best way to drink in the beauty around would be to take a slow boat cruise along the reservoir. The area also has a bird sanctuary and a crocodile farm. If you want to do something a bit more ‘wild,’ you can make a visit to one of the uninhabited islands here. Kakkayam also has a dam; the site around the dam is ideal for trekking and rock climbing.
Kunjali Marakkar’s residence
Kunjali Murakkar was a naval captain of the kings of yore and is known for his valor. He led and won many battles against the Portuguese. Infuriated by his consistent victories, the Portuguese played a devious trick on him and had him beheaded in Goa. After the killing, they did something even more gruesome; they brought the head over to Kozhikode and displayed it on a pole. The house today contains the sword, cannon etc. used by Marakakar.
Beypore was once one of the most prominent port and fishing centre of Kozhikode. It was also a major ship building centre visited by merchants from all over the world. Even today, the boat building yard can be seen where Urus (Arabian trade vessel) are still manufactured.
The Masjid, located at Kuttichira, is one of the oldest mosques in the whole of Kerala. The structure was originally a splendid affair, with four storeys supported by wooden pillars. It was built by a trader named Mishkal, after whom it has been named. The mosque however was burned down by the Portugese; the only thing standing today is the charred remains.
• Take a walk along the streets of Thekkeppuram, the western part of Kozhikode, which is not a tourist spot per se. The area is one of the oldest in the city; some of the houses here are nearly 500 years old. These houses are also simply huge, containing antique furniture and 30-40 rooms inside, each with a specific purpose. You might be able to learn more about traditional Kerala architecture, customs and traditions from one of these houses than from a museum.
• Drive along the road by the beach by the fishermen’s houses. The air will smell of fish, but the road is entirely traffic free; you can also watch the fishermen at their jobs with their nets.
• Watch the frolicking dolphins at dolphin’s point, near the Kozhikode beach. The sight of the dolphins jumping and playing about in the early morning sun is just wonderful.
• Take a houseboat cruise down the network of backwaters of the Kallai river and the Canoli Canal.
• Watch the sunset from the bridge over the Kallai River. You can also catch glimpses of rafts passing by, made of timber logs tied together.
The month long Malabar Shopping Festival, very popular with tourists, is more or less modeled on the Dubai shopping festival. Besides the shopping, the festival offers a range of events like water sports, para-gliding, bungee jumping etc. There will also be performances of traditional dance, music and other art forms. A flower show, handicraft exhibition, a marine aquarium stall, film festival, and a food festival are some of the other attractions of the festival.
Look out for the wafer-thin banana chips and halwa seasoned with dry fruits in Midhayitheruvu. Court road is the ideal destination for buying spices. If you are looking for souvenirs and knick knacks, head for the Chemnotti Theruvu which has a range of bell metal artifacts for sale.
Autorickshaws are a good means of getting around. They can be easily hired from anywhere in the streets. In fact, Kozhikode auto drivers are said to be the best behaved in the whole of Kerala. There are also buses running frequently between points in the city. You can hire taxis or private cars, if you want to travel more comfortably.
One of the best things about Kozhikode is the food, which reflects a most delightful blend of Malabari, Muslim and Arabic cuisines. Unlike in South Kerala, the dishes here are not hot or too spicy, but divinely tasty at the same time. The items are mostly meat heavy, but delicately spiced. Some of the delicacies include ‘alisa’ (chicken with husked wheat) muttamala (egg yolk cooked in sugar syrup). Kozhikode also has a range of mouth watering sea-food items - fish, crab, prawn etc. The ‘arikkadukka’, is a kind of mussel which looks black and unappetizing but which, when cooked, tastes heavenly. For typical Kozhikode items like fish and beef stew in coconut milk, Ghee rice, kozhi nirthipoorichathu (Chicken fry) visit Sagar restaurant in Mavoor road and Paragon near the Head post office, both of which are easy on the pocket.
For authentic Arabic food, head for the Al Bake Arabic restaurant. Sea Queen, Mezbaan and Rider are also good non-vegetarian restaurants. Dakshin on Indira Gandhi road is a good choice for vegetarians.
• A legend about Kozhikode goes thus- Once two Arab princes visited three ports on the western coast, leaving a jar of date pickles with each. Inside each jar, they placed a gold coin. On their return, they collected the jars and found that only the one left in Kozhikode had the coin intact. Kozhikode has thus earned a name ‘The Harbor of Honesty.’
• Kozhikode has the only IIM (Indian Institute of Management) in the whole of Kerala.
• Payyoli, a little village in Kozhikode, is the birthplace of the reputed runner athlete P.T Usha, who has participated in the Seoul Olympics 1988 and has won a series of gold and silver medals in various Asian Games. In fact P T Usha has been nicknamed as the ‘Payyoli Express.’
• The hand woven cotton ‘Calico’ originated in Kozhikode; it has been named after ‘Calicut’ the anglicized form of Kozhikode.
Kozhikode has an international airport of its own at Karippur. A major chunk of the flights operating here are to the middle-east countries. Jet airways and Indian Airlines runs flight services to all important cities of India; Bombay, Bangalore Chennai etc.
There are excellent roads from Kozhikode to Mangalore, Bangalore, Kochi etc. There are KSRTC buses (government run) as well as private and deluxe bus services to these cities.
Kozhikode has a railway station of its own, from which trains run to all major towns in Kerala. Kozhikode to Kochi would take you around 5 hours by train and Kozhikode to Bangalore around 6 hours. Kozhikode to Mumbai is around 24 hours but the route, the Konkan, is exceptionally scenic.
However, unless you reserve a seat, you will have to travel in unreserved compartments which are very crowded.