Kozhikode, also called the biryani capital of Kerala, is an idyllic location between the Arabian Sea and the Wayanad Hills. It is of great significance as a major trade centre of Kerala. It was here that the first Portugese trader, Vasco Da Gama landed. The trade of silk and spices, which was started off by the Portugese, the Arabs, the Chinese and the Dutch goes on even today.
Kozhikode was earlier known as Calicut which was an angilised form of Kalikut. According to some scholars, prominently K V Krishnan Iyer, the name implies koyil (palace) Kodu (fortified). Also, the quality cotton, calico (origin of the name Calicut) is believed to have originated here.
As for the history of Kozikode is concerned, not much is known about its earlier part. During the Sangam age, the district of Kozhikode formed a part of the mighty Chera Empire and was significant in building up Kerala's relation with outside world. Post Sangam age was the Dark Age of South India. Very little is known about Calicut during this period. In the 9th century, Kozhikode formed a part of the second Chera Empire and continued so till 1122 AD. This was the time when the Chera Empire lost its power and the kingdom split up into independent districts called 'nadus'. Important among them were districts like Ernad and Polanad. Calicut was, at this time, a part of the Polanad district ruled by the Porlarthris. The Ernad district was under the Udaiyavar who had their headquarters at Nediyiruppu. The Udaiyavar were keen to have an access to sea and for this reason they waged a war against the Porlarthris for 48 long years. Finally, they succeeded in their attempt and managed to capture the area around Ponniankara. A fort was constructed at place called Velapuram giving birth to the city of Kozhikode. Subsequently, the Udaiyavar were renamed Swami Nambiyathiri Thirumulpad and then, with the passage of time became Samuri or Samuthiri. For the Europeans, they were the Zamorin. The place around the fort was called Koyil (palace) Kotta (fort) and hence the name of the place became Kozhikode.
By this time, Calicut was established as a leading spice trading centre on the western coast. It was the Zamorin ruler himself who received the famous Portugese sailor, Vasco da gama as he set his feet in Kozhikode in May 1498. With his arrival, Calicut was thrown open to the world as an important spice trading centre. There were traders - Russian, Chinese, Dutch and finally the British from all over the world coming to Calicut for a profitable deal.
In 1766, Hyder Ali of Mysore captured Kozhikode and came into conflict with the Britishers. Disputes continued till 1792 when after the Third Anglo Mysore War, the territory of Kozhikode along with its surrounding area was given away to the British by Tipu Sultan. The newly acquired territories of Malabar Coast became the Malabar district of the Madras Presidency. Calicut was designated its capital. Post independence, the Madras Presidency was turned into Madras state. It was only in 1956, when the Indian states were being reorganized on the basis of language ,that Kerala (consisting of Malabar district and Travancore-Cochin) came into existence. The Malabar district was segregated into separate district of Kannur, Kozhikode and Palakkad a year later.
Today, Kozhikode is a progressive trade centre of India and a tourists destination as well.
By Air: The Airport in Kozhikode, the Karipur International Airport, is at a distance of 23 km from Kozhikode town.
By Rail: Kozhikode railway station is well connected to all major cities in India.
By Road: KSRTC buses of Kerala state and Karnataka state connect Kozhikode to many cities in Kerala and the neighboring states.
This is the home of Calico, soft printed cotton that got its name from this town (Calicut). Predictably Kozhikode is a major centre for garment export. Hand woven textiles from Kozhikode are very attractive. Local handicraft includes rosewood and sandalwood carving.
Once in Calicut, you would definitely want to buy something to remind you of this beautiful place. Shopping in Calicut is a good experience as there are many small souvenirs to choose from. Once you check out the local markets, you will know what to buy in Kozhikode. In Calicut, shopping places are limited to just a couple of main roads. Unlike big cities, the mall culture is unheard of and new to this place. So read on further to know where to shop in Calicut.
The busiest shopping place in Kozhikode is the S.M Street. The name is essentially short for Sweetmeat Street as there used to be lots of sweetmeat shops lined up on this road since ancient times. Calicut is famous for its local handicraft stuff like rosewood items and carvings, artifacts made out of buffalo horn carvings, coir products and small models of snake boats. The most frequented places to buy this stuff are at Big Bazaar on the SM street and CSI at Mananchira.
There is also a wholesale market of spices at the Court road. Handloom fabrics are sold right near its factory at the Comtrust Store. Cottons are a specialty of this place and try buying some cotton clothes from the SM road. There is a Comtrust weaving center in a place called Beypore, which is 11 kilometers away from Calicut. You can buy cotton stuff from there also. For buying books, you can try the Touring Book Shop on the SM Street. You can also go to Pai's at the Kallai road.
Sweet Street (Mithai Theravu): One of the advantages of the Calicut region in India is definitely its many waterscapes, natural habitats, and trekking environments that are found there. Perhaps Vellari Mala is the best of them all as it offers a perfect natural environment that must be seen and experienced by expert trekkers. In addition, the presence of water falls in Vellari Mala definitely makes up for its shortcomings, but in general, there are many trekking and hiking routes one can take over there. Of course, when Vellari Mala is mentioned then the velvet landscapes must be mentioned as well. However, it is dangerous to trek at night in Vellari Mala.
Some of the major hotels in Kozhikode, offering an impressive blend of tradition and modernity, are Sea Queen Hotel, Taj Residency, Kadavu Resorts, Fortune Hotel, Malabar Mansion, etc.
Operating in the city are some established star and budget hotels. Some card carrying ones include:
Taj Residency (5 star), Fortune Hotel Welcome Group (4 star), Hotel Malabar Palace (4 star), Hotel Heritage (3 star), Hotel Regency (budget), Calicut Tower (budget), etc
Backwaters: If you are looking for an interesting holiday option then Backwaters is your place. Backwaters has a very enchanting value hat can be appreciated by water and nature lovers. It is a connection plateau of many different lakes, rivers, deltas and irrigation canals that converge in a plateau. It is also still used as a means of transportation in between the villages that are situated there. You can take a ride in one of the traditional house boats on the rivers in the Backwaters region. There are many places that you can explore on your own and there are lots of opportunities for water sports there.