Malabar District was an administrative district of Madras Presidency in British India and independent India's Madras State. The British district included the present-day districts of Kannur, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram, Palakkad (excluding the Alathur and Chittur Taluks), and Chavakad Taluk of Thrissur District (former part of Ponnani Taluk) in the northern part of Kerala state. The district lay between the Arabian Sea on the west, South Canara District on the north, the Western Ghats to the east, and the princely state of Cochin to the south. The district covered an area of 15,009 km (5795 square miles), and extended 233 km (145 mi) along the coast and 40–120 kilometers (25–75 miles) inland. The name Mala-bar means the "hill country". Kozhikode is considered as the capital of Malabar.
Most of Malabar District was included among the territories ceded to the British East India Company in 1792 by Tipu Sultan of Mysore at the conclusion of the Third Anglo-Mysore War; Wayanad was ceded in 1799 at the conclusion of the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War. The region was organized into a district of Madras Presidency. The administrative headquarters were at Calicut (Kozhikode). After Indian independence, Madras Presidency was reorganized into Madras state, which was divided along linguistic lines on November 1, 1956, when Malabar District was merged with erstwhile Kasaragod Taluk immediately to the north and the state of Travancore-Cochin to the south to form the state of Kerala. Malabar District was divided into the three districts of Kozhikode, Palakkad, and Kannur on January 1, 1957. Malappuram District was created from parts of Kozhikode and Palakkad in 1969, and Wayanad District was created in 1980 from parts of Kozhikode and Kannur.
The name Malabar was not in general use until the arrival of the Europeans. The word is most probably the fusion of the Dravidian Mala (Hill) and Puram (region) derived or westernized into bar. Malabar may so be taken to mean the hill country, a name well suited to its physical characteristics.
The district was widely scattered and consists of the following parts:-
- Malabar Proper extending north to south along the coast, a distance of around 240 kilometer, and lying between N. Lat 10° 15′ and 12° 18′ N and E.Long. 75° 14′ and 76° 56′.
- A group of nineteen isolated bits of territory lying scattered, fifteen of them in the native state of Cochin and the remaining four in those of Travancore, but all of them near the coast line. These isolated bits of territory form the taluk of British Cochin.
- Two other detached bits of land within the Travancore.
- Four inhabited and ten uninhabited islands of Lakshadweep. The four inhabited islands are: Agatti, Kavaratti, Androth, and Kalpeni.
- The solitary island of Minicoy.
- Calicut (Area:379 square miles (980 km2); Headquarters:Calicut)
- Chirakkal (Area:677 square miles (1,750 km2); Headquarters:Chirakkal), now Kannur
- Cochin (Area:2 square miles (5.2 km2); Headquarters:Cochin)
- Ernad (Area:979 square miles (2,540 km2); Headquarters:)
- Kottayam (Area:489 square miles (1,270 km2); Headquarters:Kottayam), now Talassery
- Kurumbranad (Area:505 square miles (1,310 km2); Headquarters:),now Vadakara
- Laccadive Islands (Headquarters:Kavaratti)
- Palghat (Area:643 square miles (1,670 km2); Headquarters:Palghat)
- Ponnani (Area:426 square miles (1,100 km2); Headquarters:Ponnani)
- Valluvanad (Area:882 square miles (2,280 km2); Headquarters:), now Perinthalmanna
- Wynad (Area:821 square miles (2,130 km2); Headquarters:Kalpetta)
Today's Taluks in erstwhile Malabar
Note: Kasaragod and Hosdurg taluks in Kasaragod district are sometimes considered as part of Malabar region, however not part of erstwhile Malabar district. They were a part of South Kanara district with the taluk headquarters at Kasaragod.
Representatives from Malabar to Madras State
- In C. Rajagopalachari Ministry: 1) Kongattil Raman Menon (1937–39), 2) C. J. Varkey, Chunkath (1939)
- In Prakasam Ministry: 1) R. Raghavamenon (1946–47)
- In Ramaswami Reddyar Ministry: 1) Kozhippurathu Madhavamenon (1947–49)
- In P. S. Kumaraswami Ministry: 1) Kozhippurathu Madhavamenon (1949–52)
- In C. Rajagopalachari Ministry: 1) K. P. Kuttikrishnan Nair (1952–54)
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The Malabar cuisine depicts it culture and heritage. It is famous for Malabar biriyani. The city is also famous for Haluva called as Sweet Meat by Europeans due to the texture of the sweet. Kozhikode has a main road in the town named Mittai Theruvu (Sweet Meat Street, or S.M. Street for short). It derived this name from the numerous haluva stores which used to dot the street.
However, the newer generation is more inclined towards to Chinese and American food. Chinese food is very popular among the locals.
- Malabar Manual in two volumes by William Logan, first published in 1887, reprinted by Asian Educational Services in 1951.
- North Malabar
- Malappuram District
- Kozhikode District
- Wayanad District
- Kannur District
- Arakkal Kingdom
- Mysore invasion of Kerala