74. GOD’S OWN COUNTRY- 2. KANNUR

We start from Kasargod early in the morning with the intention of reaching Kannur after visiting Ezhimala which we are told is a very beautiful place. After a totuous drive along the narrow winding roads along the coast on the Valiyaparamba stretch of the coast, we reach Ezhimala. We face a barricade which smells of military. Yes, it is. Navy. This is an academy. Whom do you want to meet? who is your person inside? None.

One of the many suppliers/vendors at the gate advises me that unless you have ‘sombody inside’, you will not be able to enter inside. Try Ezhimala mountain the other side. Another dangerous drive along the narrow roads leads us to this 41 feet Hanuman.

The images below represent local deities.

Kannur was earlier known as Cannanore. Hope this rings a bell. Cannanore has a mention in many a historical record. Travellers in the past appear to be fond of this place for various reasons, spices being a major one.

Cannanore has monuments like forts, churches, mosques etc. to show for the arrival of the foreigners. We will visit them shortly. Let us start with a temple which is much much older.

This important temple which is pre-Vedic or Pre- Aryan which beats the Europeans by many centuries. Parassinikadavu Muthappan Temple on the banks of the river Velapattanam before it meets the sea is a very important pilgrimage place with extremely dangerous road curves as you descend on to the seashore to get into the temple.

The river-side temple celebrates two mythical deities -Thiruvappana and Vellattam. They are offered Fish, Meat and Toddy on the festive days. Efforts are being made to present them as the manifestations of Shiva and Vishnu. It will be an extremely difficult attempt. The presence of dogs’ images in the temple are something very difficult to explain in the traditional Vedic terms. Photography is prohibited inside the temple, not only this but in most of the temples. That makes things difficult for someone to look at things critically.

The exteriors are on the lines of other temples of Kerala but the small shrine inside this is not. Images if this canine are prominent.

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People wash their feet in the river which is BEHIND the temple.

dsc_2647Look at the deities closely. Both are male.

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It is claimed that Cannanore was historically the third largest town after Bombay and Karachi on the western seaboard of India. It traded with Arabs, Romans and whoever mattered in trade in those days. We do not find any signs of the earlier visitors but the Europeans have left behind their marks.

The Fort of St Angelo. 511 years ago Fransisco de Almeida, the Portuguese Viceroy of India built this fort. A nice place to spend a few evening hours now. I guess it waas very imprtant for the European imperialism in those days.

The design of the Watch-tower recurring from the posts on this blog from Diu southwards. There are guns still around, the new high-rise buildings providing the background.

 The local king is also honoured a short distance away.

The statue of Kerala Simha was inaugurated by a mere Colonel. The newly built masonry wall of the Portuguse fort would have been inaugurated by a central Cabinet Minister.

The town has a lighthouse by the beach. I understad that they also have a Museum. As ususal we are late and can neither go up the lighthouse or see the museum. So there we – to the beach after a brief look at the Lighthouse.

We are welcomed by the food stalls.

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 It is tempting. The sheer variety of items- fruits, vegetables and what not served in the same plate. People enjoy here not only this vegetarian fare but also something immensely diffrent.

Do you see the people in the pictures enjoying the evening on the beach?

You would surely be wondering what they are carrying in the bags. here is what they have:

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 The Green Mussels which grow atached to the rocks in the sea. It is a delicacy for about 4-5 months starting from December onwards on the western seaboard of India. This shellfish is available in the markets of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala ( and perhaps of Tamilnadu) but one can imagine the joy of extracting them from the rocks on the seashore. You might fiond them in the markt a day later but cooking them fresh from the sea is a joyous thing. The people carrying the bagfuls were overjoyed. 

Kannur beach seems to have other joyous things. This is one of the beaches were kite-flying is in vogue. At Rs 50/- one can buy and fly a kite here.

Lovely.I am into the  practice of kite-flying ( corporate or otherwise) so I move into the more familiar territory.

Kanur has had a large number of leaders in the past leaning towards the left.They and others leaning towards right or the centre had one shortcoming . They were not immortal. When they died, they had to find a last place and what better place then the seaside?

Consequently the whos who of the north Kerala’s politics lie under the sand with the green mussels under them and the kites flying over them.

All markings are in Malayalam. I am looking forthe one of A K Gopalan out of genuine respect for the man. I look around without success, walk back towards where people are sitting, find two young men who could speak English and they bring me back to this.They actually get up and walk with me to the place. I dont know if they were respecting my age or the legend of AKG. I hope it is the latter.

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It does not give any indication that he was a communist, A K Gopalan !!!

A few lines and pictures about the Kerala’s left today in the later posts. They are painful.

KANNUR was once part of the ARAKKAL kingdom. This was a Muslim dynasty which followed the Malayali principles of inheritance. Consequently the region could have a reigning Queen and it did.

I think the history of Arakkal is a subject which has not been done justice to by Indian historians.It has plenty to speak about. Not many people know that that the Lakshadweep Islands were owned by the Arakkal kings until the British deprived them of them under a sleek and deceptive typewritten document.

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When you are in the area please make it a point to visit the modest museum housed in the old palace. It will tell you how the Britiash subjugated the native Indian rulers one by one and built the British Raj.

The Malabari system of Matrilinear descent allowed the Muslim dynasty to have a ruling Queen. What more do you want, the feminists??

I would have liked to close this post with the district of Kannur but we have two more things to look at and thispost is getting too long. Please allow me to stop here and pick with the other places in the south in the next one.

Thanks for reading.

Text and pictures : Suryakiran Naik

Pictures by Veena Naik

 

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