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Visiting Kozhikode for the first time? Then here is a Travel Guide that gives you the lowdown on this offbeat destination in Kerala – from the must visit tourist places in Kozhikode to where to head to next if you are keen on extending your trip in that part of Kerala.
Like most cities in Kerala, Kozhikode too has an anglicised, easier to pronounce name, Calicut. Which even went on to lend it’s name to Calico, that Indian textile which was once at the crux of our country’s Imperial trade-history.
Where is Kozhikode?
Kozhikode or Calicut as it is known, is in North Kerala, India. It is closer to popular destinations like Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu and Coorg in Karnataka, than it is to other better known Kerala Destinations like Cochin and Trivandrum.
North Kerala is still relatively ‘untouristy’ when compared to South Kerala which is the hot spot when it comes to popular tourist destinations like Kochi, Alappuzha (Alleppey) and Munnar.
For a complete travel guide to Kerala, Read:
Travel Guide & Road Trip Itinerary for 2 Weeks in Kerala
Why should you visit Kozhikode?
Once an important port of trade in world history, Kozhikode is where Vasco da Gama first landed in 1498. Today, it is the Food Capital of Kerala. Here is where the celebrated Malabar Cuisine comes from. A rather offbeat destination, Kozhikode, with its historic sites, delicious food, boat building yards and uncrowded beaches can be a good starting point for exploring the Malabar Region of Kerala.
How to Get to Kozhikode?
Nearest Airport | Calicut International Airport, 28 kilometers from the city center.
Nearest Railway Station |Kozhikode.
If you are travelling within India, Kozhikode is connected to most of the major cities in the country by regular flights, trains and buses.
What is the Best Time to Visit to Kozhikode?
October to February. Winters are the best time to visit Kerala, unless you are heading to Kerala for an Ayurvedic Retreat. And, Kozhikode being a coastal town in the tropics, it is best visited in the cooler months.
Tourist Places in Kozhikode
Map of Tourist Places in Kozhikode
1. Kozhikode Beach
With such a wide array of beaches to choose from, one of the first things to do when in Kerala is to head to the beach. Especially on the Malabar Coast, which is home to not just beautiful beaches but also to probably one of the most historic one.
And, if it is a peaceful promenade that you are looking for, to spend a contemplative evening watching the sunset, then the Kozhikode Beach it is. It is after all the heart of the city, from which it borrows its name.
2. Kappad Beach
It was in the waters of the Kappad Beach that the Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama first landed, over five hundred years ago, successfully concluding his voyage to discover a sea route to India. And to mark that historic moment – which opened the floodgates of global imperialism, there still stands a memorial, albeit an unremarkable one.
3. Beypore Beach & Port
Twenty minutes from Kozhikode is yet another beach and port, Beypore. Here, at the boat building yard in Beypore Port, one can go inside an Uru, the traditional Arabian trading vessel and see master craftsmen at work, bringing to life this striking handcrafted teak wood trading vessel that traces its origins back to over fifteen hundred years ago.
4. Payyoli Beach
This little known beach on the Malabar Coast is stunning to say the least, what with its unending stretches of clean golden sand, swaying coconut palms and clear blue waters.
Little wonder then that Olive Ridley turtles chose this beach to nest!
But its with secluded locations like these that we need to approach with even more care. And travelling responsibly takes on a whole new meaning when you have to keep the peace of a pristine place like this going, so that these guys keep coming back to their home, year on year.
5. Kuttichira Jumaath Mosque
If you want to lose yourself in the sights and sounds of Kozhikode, then the lanes of Kuttichira in Thekkepuram would be the ideal place to do just that. Around the Kuttichira pond are mosques and houses, old and beautiful, built in wood, in traditional Kerala style – an architectural style that is as unique as it is striking, thanks to the maritime history of the region.
Of these, the Kuttichira Jumaath Mosque or the Mishkal Mosque, as it more commonly known and the Muchundi Mosque are exceptional examples.
6. Mother of God Cathedral
If architecture draws you, then the ‘Mater Dei’ or the Mother of God Cathedral near Manachira in Kozhikode is a must visit. This Gothic church of curved arches and lofty wooden doors also makes for a picture perfect backdrop, for also seeking photo ops on their travels.
7. SM Street
Known for its distinctive food culture, Kozhikode is home to one of the oldest food streets in the country, SM Street. Short for Sweet Meat Street, this was once the busiest of food streets. It was the British who gave this street its name, when they saw it lined with endless stalls of halwa – which they referred to as sweet meat. It still is one of the busiest streets in Kozhikode, selling everything from boho clothes to sliver trinkets.
8. Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary
This bird sanctuary on the banks of the river Kadalundi is a bird watchers delight. You could easily spend a happy day here spotting the different species, from seagulls to terns, that make this sanctuary their home. November to April is the typical season for sightings.
9. Tusharagiri Waterfalls
Three waterfalls of the Chalippuzha River come together in the Western Ghats to form this powerful torrent of a waterfall that is the Tusharagiri Falls. Creating a gush so forceful that it gives the water it’s white colour and the waterfalls its name – Tusharagiri, snow capped mountain.
10. Kalari Sangams
There are many Kalari Sangams in Kozhikode where one can witness the fourth century martial art, Kalaripayattu and even train in it if one wishes to. This classical Kerala art form is definitely worth a watch and a quintessential ‘Kerala Experience’.
One of the oldest and the more famous of these is the CVN Kalari Sangam.
Tourist Places near Kozhikode
1. Kozhikode to Wayanad
Distance | 85 Kilometres
Drive Time | 2 Hours
Though Wayanad is counted amongst the popular tourist places of Kerala, it is seriously underrated! Agreed that it can only be accessed by road. But, this trip to the heart of wilderness in the Western Ghats is one jeep ride that is totally worth it.
2. Kozhikode to Kannur
Distance | 92 Kilometres
Drive Time | 2.5 Hours
Get off the tourist trail in Kannur for some pristine white sand beaches, uninhabited islands and drive-in beaches that are absolutely ideal for water sports. These secluded beaches also make for the perfect setting, when after an intense day out in the sun, you want to retire to a quiet night by the sea.
Where to Stay in Kozhikode?
I was in Kozhikode as part of the Kerala Blog Express Season 5 and during my stay in Kozhikode I got a chance to split my time between these two hotels and they both decent hotels in terms of stay, food and service.