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Kannur or Cannanore is a district (and also the name of the town which is it's headquarters) in northern Kerala, a state in India. Kannur district derived its name from location of its headquarters at Kannur town.

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Kannur district in Kerala

DistrictKannur District
Language Malayalam language
Time zone UTC+5:30
STD Code 0497

Literacy rate

11 40' to 12 48' North
Longitude 74 52' to 76 07' East
Altitude 344metres

°C to°C
°C to°C

Myths and legends

There are several myths and legends associated with Kannur. The name Kannur is said to have been derived from the two Malayalam words 'Kannan' (Krishna) and 'Ur'(place). It is quite common in India that the names of villages and districts are associated with Indian mythological characters, even if there is no mention of such a village in the respective mythology. The name 'Kannur' also is not an exception. According to another version, 'Kannur' is a derivation of Kanathur, an ancient village, the name of which survives even today in one of the wards of Kannur municipality.

It is said that the ships of Solomon had anchored along the coasts of Kannur to collect timber for building the Temple of the Lord. Kannur also finds mention as Naura in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, a Greek work of great antiquity.

Traditions of Kannur

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  • Theyyam: Theyyam is an old ritual dance of North Kerala and Kannur can be named as the birth place of Theyyam.


The District has a population of 2,251,727 of which 1,098,838 are males and 1,152,889 females. More than 50% of the population reside in the urban areas. The Kannur city has, apart from Malayalees and Tamils, a small Portuguese, French, Punjabi and Gujarati speaking population too.


The district has a humid climate with an oppressive hot season from March to the end of May. This is followed by the South-West monsoon which continues till the end of September. October and November from the post-monsoon or retreating monsoon season.

During the months of April and May, the mean daily maximum temperature is about 35 C. Temperature is low in December and January about 20 C. On certain days the night temperature may go down to 16 C.

The annual average rainfall is 3438 mm and more than 80 % of it occurs during the period of South- West monsoon. The rainfall during July is very heavy and the district receives 68 % of the annual rainfall during this season.


Kannur district consists of three revenue districts or taluks, which are Thalassery, Kannur and Taliparamba. The total area of the district is 2,996 km².

The district lies between latitudes 11 40' to 12 48' North and longitudes 74 52' to 76 07' East. It is bound by the Western Ghats in the East, (Coorg district of Karnataka State), Kozhikkode and Wayanad districts in the South, Arabian Sea in the West, and Kasaragod district in the North.


Kannur has several beautiful beaches, some of which are :-

  • Payyambalam Beach: It is the beach of the Kannur town. It has an unbroken coastline of a few kilometres. From the beach, one can see ships in transit along the Malabar coast, that is, beyond Calicut (Kozhikode) and moving towards Mangalore, Goa and Bombay (Mumbai). The well laid out garden and the massive landscaped sculpture of mother and child erected by noted sculptor Kanayi Kunhiraman makes it extremely captivating.
  • Baby Beach: Called so as it is smaller than its bigger neighbourhood, Payyambalam Beach: The famous Angelos Fort is adjacent to it.
  • Meenkunnu Beach: Situated at Azhikode, it is hardly a few kilometres from the town. The virgin beach is a tourist’s paradise with golden sand and surf.
  • Mopila Bay: Situated near the St. Angelo’s Fort, the Mopila bay has a historical background. Centuries ago, it was the seat of Kolathiri Kings. The Kadalayi Fort and Sree Krishna Temple were quite famous. The remnants of the fort and the temple are still seen in Mopila Bay. A fishing harbour, built with Indo Norwegian project assistance, can be seen at this bay. Boating in the sea, if the weather permits, will be an unforgettable experience.
  • Muzhappilangad Beach: A long clean beach, its enchanting ambience invites you to swim sunbathe or just lounge around. Its Kerala’s only drive-in beach and one could drive the entire length of 4 km. Muzhappilangad beach is situated about 5 km north of Thalassery and 15 km from Kannur. There is an unpaved road winding through coconut groves, leading to the beach. The beach is about 5 km long and curves in a wide area providing a good view of Kannur beach on the north. To the South and about 200 metres away from the beach there is a beautiful island called the "Green Island" which adds to the allure of the beach. Such a conjunction of beach and island is rare.
  • Dharmadam Island: (100 metres away from the mainland at Dharmadam): The small 5 acre (20,000 m²) island covered with coconut palms and dense bushes is a beautiful sight from the Muzhappilangad beach. During low tide, one can just walk to the island from the beach. It is surrounded by rivers and seas. Permission is required to enter this privately owned island. Dharmadam, earlier known as Dharmapattanam was a Buddhist stronghold.

Flora and fauna

Kannur district is very rich in vegetation. Natural vegetation, except in some coastal regions, consists of different types of forests. But, in spite of generally favourable climatic conditions, vegetation is not uniform. In restricted regions, with their own micro climate or special edaphic features, plant formations assume different characters. Thus, plant communities, ranging from psammophytes and mangrooves to evergreen forests are seen in this district.

The coastal region is a comparatively narrow zone, characterised by secondary soil which is rather lose and sandy. The sterile sandy tract supports only a poor vegetation of the psammophyte type. Plants are few and mostly prostrate. Erect species are small and short. Owing to very poor water holding capacity of the soil, these plants are provided with special xerophytic adaptations. Another conspicuous feature of this area is the mangroove vegetation, found at the estuaries of rivers and backwaters, and often extending to the interior along their banks. Human interference has much changed the vegetation of the coastal region.

Major part of the district comes under midland region with numerous hills and dales and it presents an undulating surface gradually ascending and merging into the slopes of Western Ghats. Soil is secondary and lateritic with underlying rock of laterite or disintegrated greiss. Typical flora of this area is deciduous forest consisting of a mixture of evergreen and deciduous trees. Undergrowth consists of a variety of annuals and perennials.

The mountains are a continuation of the midland region, gradually ascending to the main ridge of the Western Ghats. Soil in the western slopes is a ferrugenous red, sandy loam. Vegetation over the whole area is of the forest type. Irregular distribution of teak, localised areas of bamboo dominance, change of good quality forest into open grass lands, etc are characteristic.

Aralam wildlife

Location: 35 km from Thalasserry and 60 km from Kannur town.

The Aralam Sanctuary is spread over 55 square kilometres of undulating forested highlands on the slopes of the Western Ghats. The highest peak here - Katti Betta - rises to a majestic 1145 m above sea level.

Covered with tropical and semi evergreen forests, the Aralam Sanctuary is home to a vast variety of flora and fauna endemic to the Western Ghats. Herds of deer, elephant, boar and bison are common sights. Leopards, jungle cats and various types of squirrels are also seen here.

Getting there:

Nearest railway station: Thalassery, about 35 km.

Nearest airport: Karipur International Airport, Kozhikode about 71 km from Thalasserry town.


The West Coast road from Mahe to Talapady is the backbone of the road system in Kannur district. This is part of the National Highway(NH). Thalassery –Coorg road and the Thalassery – Mysore road are the other important roads.

Thalassery, Kannur and Azhikkal are the minor ports in the district. Kannur is an ancient port.

The nearest all-weather sea port is Mangalore, presently in Karnataka State.

The inland water transport system connecting Perumba and Taliparamba was constructed in 1766 by the Ali Raja of Kannur. This 3.8 km. long canal is known as the Sultan’s Canal. The west flowing rivers are used for navigation. The Kuppam river has 244 km of navigable length; Valappattanam, 55 km and Anjarakandi, 23 km.

The nearest airport is Kozhikkode. The airports at Mangalore in Karnataka and Kozhikode are about 125kms away from Kannur.


Kannur district has had its industrial importance from very early days. Being blessed with a variety of factors such as good soil, salubrious climate, rich forests, enormous fishing potentials, minerals as well as infrastructural facilities like road, rail, inland water transport, etc., the district offers ample scope for the development of industries.

Nevertheless, Kannur is an industrially backward district in the State. There is only one major and five mini industrial estates in the district. Keltron Complex, Mangattuparamba and Western India Plywood's, Valappattanam are the two major industries. The Western India Plywoods is one of the biggest wood based industrial complexes in South East Asia. The district has 12 medium-scale industries, most of which are either cotton textile or plywood manufacturing.

Textiles, beedi and coir are the important traditional industries in the district. About one lakh people depend on the textile industry for livelihood. The textile industry which accounts for 40 percent of all Small Scale Industrial (SSI) units in the district, was introduced in early 19th century by the German Basal Mission.

The first ready-made garment unit in Kannur and the first hosiery unit in Kuthuparamba were started around the end of the 19th century. The beedi industry provides employment to about 50,000 people. Famous beedi co-operative ‘Dinesh Beedi’ is in Kannur district. The coir industry which uses traditional technology provides employment to about 11,000 workers.

There are 6934 small scale industrial units in the district. The district has 202 sick units which is about 9.3 % of the sick units of the state. Only 4828 units are working now. 162 industrial societies and four power loom societies are also functioning here. Kannur, Thalassery, Payyannur, Taliparamba and Edakkad have been identified as growth centers, having potential for industrial development.


Formerly the capital of the Kolattiri Raja, it had trading relations with Arabia and Persia during 12th century and 13th century. Vasco da Gama visited Kannur in 1498 after which it became a Portuguese settlement. In the mid-17th century control of Kannur passed to the Dutch from whom the British captured it in 1783. In his book of travels Marco Polo recounts his visit to the area circa 1250 A.D. Other visitors included Faxian, the Buddhist pilgrim and Ibn Batuta, writer and historian of Tangiers.

In the 15th century the Portuguese arrived in Cannanore to establish one of their earliest settlements. St. Angelo’s Fort was built by them in 1505. In 1558, the Kolathiris came openly into the field against the Portuguese by providing active support to Kunjali Marakkars of Kozhikkode. Kolathiris and Zamorins fought a common war against Portuguese and the besieged Fort St.Angelo at Kannur in 1564. The English East India Company got its first foothold in the district towards the closing years of the 17th century, when it acquired a site at Thalassery for the erection of a fort and a factory. Around 1792, after the Mysore wars, the British took over Cannanore.

Indian Freedom movement

Kannur District played an important role in Indian freedom movement. The Indian National Congress, which was founded in 1885, had a Malabar District committee in 1908 itself. A branch of the All India Home Rule League, founded by Dr. Annie Beasant, functioned in Thalassery during this period and among its active workers was V.K. Krishna Menon. By the end of 1939, a branch of the Communist Party of India was formally founded at Pinarayi, a village near Thalassery.

The decision of the Nagpur Congress to give up constitution methods of agitation and resort to Non-Violent non Co-operation as a means of achieving swaraj, led to widespread boycott of foreign goods, Courts of law and educational institutions in Kannur.

Mahatma Gandhi and Maulana Shaukat Ali toured the district to carry the message of the Non-Co-operation and Khilafat Movements. The Khilafat movement coincided with the famous Malabar Rebellion of 1921 which was put down by the British with an iron hand.

Payyannur Conference

Kannur district came into the lime light of Kerala politics in May 1928, when the fourth All Kerala Political Conference was held at Payyannur under the auspices of the Kerala Provincial Congress. This conference was presided over by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The Payyannur Conference passed a resolution requesting the Indian National Congress to adopt “Complete Independence” instead of “Swaraj” as its goal at the annual session which was scheduled to take place at Calcutta (now Kolkatta) during that year.

Civil Disobedience Movement

Payyannur was the main venue of the Salt Satyagraha, a major turning point in the Indian Freedom Movement, in Malabar. On April 13, a batch of Congress volunteers under the leadership of K.Kelappan started on foot from Kozhikkode to the beaches of Payyannur and broke the salt laws there on April 21. The Satyagraha camp at Payyannur was raided and the campers were beaten up. There were widespread demonstrations in Kannur, Thalassery and other parts of the district and a number of Congress workers were arrested.

The period following the withdrawal of the Civil Disobedience Movement witnessed the emergence of a radical wing in the Kerala Provincial Congress. Some of the radical elements in the Kerala Provincial Congress organized a Kerala unit of the Congress Socialist Party in 1934 and functioned as a separate group within the Provincial Congress. The leadership of this group was in the hands of persons like P. Krishna Pillai, A.K. Gopalan and E. M. S. Namboodiripad. An extremist group of Nationalist Muslims also emerged within the Congress during this period under the leadership of Muhammad Abdur Rahiman. The Congress Socialists and the Nationalist Muslims made common cause against the Gandhian group known as the Right Wing which was led by such leaders as K.Kelappan, C.K. Govindan Nair and K.A. Damodara Menon.

A notable development in the politics of Malabar during the thirties was the rise of the Muslim League as a district political party. It was the Muslim leaders of Kannur and Thalassery who played the lead role in forming this organization.

The leftist elements in the Kerala Provincial Congress were also active in the politics of Malabar in the late thirties. They took active part in organizing the workers, peasants, students and teachers of Kannur district under their banner. In the election held to the Kerala Provincial Congress Committee in January 1939, the Rightists suffered a severe set back. Muhammad Abdur Rahiman was elected as the president of the KPCC and E.M.S Namboothiripad as its general secretary. Towards the end of the same year, a branch of the Indian Communist Party was formally founded in Malabar. The Congress Socialist Party workers joined the Communist Party block.

Morazha Incident

The K.P.C.C. gave a call to the people of Malabar to observe September 15, 1940 as Anti-Imperialist Day. The action was disapproved by the Congress High Command, but there were meetings and demonstrations all over Malabar on this day. Kannur district was the centre of this agitation. There were violent clashes between the people and the police at several places and lathicharge and firing were resorted to by the police to meet the situation. Two young men were killed in a clash between a mob and a police party at Morazha. In connection with the later incident, K.P.R. Gopalan, a prominent communist, was arrested on a charge of murder and later sentenced to death. But, owing to the intervention of several top ranking political leaders including Mahatma Gandhi, the death penalty was not carried out.

The “Quit India” Movement of August 1942 also had its echoes in Kannur district. A socialist group among the Congress workers under Dr. K.B. Menon, provided leadership to the movement.

Peasant struggles

The War period, especially from 1943 to 1945, had its ravages on the district. Famine and cholera epidemic took thousands of lives from the lower strata of society. On the initiative of the people under the leadership of the Kisan Sabha, commendable services were rendered to tide over the crisis.

The “Grow More Food Campaign” organized at Mangattuparamba by the Kisan Sabha was a new chapter in the history of mass movement. More than fifty acres of government land was brought under cultivation. But the government suppressed the movement by force and destroyed the farm.

Though the War ended in 1945, famine continued to haunt the people. Karivellor, the northern most village of the present kannur district, made a historic stride in the struggle against poverty and famine. The transporting of paddy from Karivellore to Chirakkal Kovilakom was blocked and distributed to the people of the village. The movement was led by peasant leaders like A.V. Kunhambu and K. Krishnan Master. One Kannan and Kunhambu became martyrs in the struggle when police opened fire.

During the month of December 1946, the people of Kavumbayi, an eastern village of the district, raised their demand for punam cultivation. A strong police contingent was sent to the spot. The peasants resisted the armed forces which led to the killing of five peasants in the firing.

The rise of the organized working class in the industrial sector was another important phenomenon of the period that changed the course of the anti-imperialism movement. The struggle of Aron Mill workers in the year 1946 is noteworthy in this regard.

Even after independence, the struggles of the peasantry formed an important part in the history of the State. They fought against landlords and their exploitation. Places like Thillankeri, Manayankunnu, Korom and Paddikkunnu are memorable in the annals of the peasant struggles in the post independence era.

The All India Conference of Kisan Sabha, held at Kannur in 1953, resolved to initiate struggles for new tenancy legislations. The movement for Aikya Kerala (united Kerala) also got momentum during this period and all sections of the society rallied under the movement.

Politics today

Kannur was once the nurturing ground and think tank of the Communist movement in Kerala and was home of the famous communist leaders A.K.Gopalan (a.k.a AKG) and E.K. Nayanar, former Chief Minister(CM) of Kerala.

The Indian National Congress(I) leader and another former CM of Kerala, K. Karunakaran also hails from Kannur. It is to be noted here that on 1 May, 2005 Karunakaran rebelled against the official leadership following the expulsion of his son from the party and floated a new political outfit National Congress (Indira).

Communist Parties have a strong base in this district. It is estimated that that CPI(M) itself has more than 50% support. CPM lead left democratic front is ruling in five out of six municipalities in Kannur district. Around 70% of the panchayats are also ruled by LDF. Bhartiya Janatha Party (BJP) has very minimal presence in the district and is limited to some pockets only. Violent clashes between political rivals, especially between CPI(M) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) cadres, in Kannur were quite common until recently.


In the 14th and 15th centuries, during the regime of the Kolathiri Rajas, Thaliparamba was renowned all over Kerala as a seat of learning, enlightenment and culture.

In the early days, the Eshuthu pallies under the Ezhuthachan or village school master, provided facilities to pupils to acquire elementary education. After undergoing the preliminary course of study in these institutions, the children were sent to the kalaries for acquiring training in gymnastics and in the use of arms and then they were sent to study Sanskrit in Vedic schools under well trained teachers. This dstrict had in the past, its share of such kalaries and Vedic schools. The art, kalarippayattu, is particularly associated with this district.

The beginning of western education in the district may be traced back to the middle of the 16th century. The first English school, known as the Basel German Mission English School, was started on 1st March 1856 at Thalassery. The Brennen School at Thalassery, the nucleus of the present Govt. Brennen College, was started in 1862 with the generous donation made by Mr. Brennen, Master Attendant at Thalassery


Snake Park

Snake Park is a famous landmark in the district of Snake Park at Parassinikkadavu, en route from Kannur to Taliparamba, 2 km from National Highway (NH)17. Here one gets to see a large genre of snakes and other small animals and there is even a live show, where trained personnel play and 'interact' with a variety of snakes, including cobras and vipers, and seek to quell mythical fears and superstitions about snakes. The snake Park set up by the Visha Chikista Kendra at Pappinisseri, has been a centre of attraction to both foreign and domestic tourists. This Kendra offers effective treatment for snake bites with almost 100 % cure. This is the only place, perhaps where Ayurveda and Allopathy are effectively combined for curing snake bites. The snake park here houses about 150 varieties of snakes including the Spectacled Cobra, King Cobra, Russell's Viper, Krait and Pit Viper. There is also a large collection of non-poisonous snakes including Pythons. A research laboratory to extract venom from snakes is proposed to be set up here. The park is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of snakes, many species of which are getting extinct gradually. It is located 16 km from Kannur.

St. Angelo's Fort

St. Angelo's Fort, built in 1505 AD by Sir Fancisco DeAlmeiyda, the first Portuguese Viceroy of India, is situated near the sea coast and about 2 km away from Kannur town. This fort has a legendary past. Having witnessed several wars for seizing the control of the fort, the British flag flew over it finally in 1790. Even now, it is in a fairly good state of preservation, and is a protected monument under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). An old painting of this fort and the fishing ferry behind the fort can be seen in the Amsterdam Art Museum.

Sree Ramaswami Temple

Sree Ramaswami Temple, which is dedicated to Sri Rama, is one of the most important temples in Malabar. It is situated 23 km from Kannur, near Thalasseri fort. The exquisite carvings in the temple are believed to have been done nearly 400 years ago.

Trichambaram Temple

Trichambaram Temple is situated 20 km from Kannur, near Taliparamba town, famous for its spices trade. The deity of the temple is Sree Krishna. The sculptures on the walls of the sanctum sanctorum are a class by themselves. The annual temple festival, held in March, is a colourful event.

External links

Template:Districts of Kerala


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