Kozhikode (Calicut) is a thriving port city in northern Kerala, known for its sandy beaches, bustling shopping streets, serene backwaters and lush greenery. Not only will flights to Kozhikode land you at the gateway to Kerala, the city itself is also a pleasant spot to visit.
The coastline is Kozhikode’s crowning glory – more than 15km of pretty beaches and promenades that attract crowds all day. Set your alarm early for a trip to Dolphin’s Point, where you can spot the aquatic mammals play.
Kozhikode has a long and fascinating history. The capital of the Zamorin dynasty since the 12th century, Kozhikode was known as the city of spices for its role in the distribution of commodities such as black pepper and cardamom to the Arab world and China. Its reach extended even further after 1498, when explorer Vasco da Gama landed a few miles up the Malabar Coast at Kappad Beach, opening a direct sea-trading route with Europe.
Today, Kozhikode still has strong ties with the Middle East: many of its residents have loved ones living and working in the Arabian Gulf, and there’s a large Muslim community in the city. You’ll see traders from all over the world selling almost anything you can imagine along the main shopping street, Mittai Theruvu. The lively thoroughfare is also known as Sweetmeat Street' after the Kozhikodan halwa sold here in an array of bright colours.
Another local specialty is Kozhikodan biryani, which is widely available alongside many South Indian dishes, such as meen pollichathu (pomfret roasted in banana leaf). As you might expect given its location, the seafood in Kozhikode is excellent too, and many restaurants offer fresh fish cooked and caught right off the Malabar Coast.