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Clockwise from top:Hermann Gundert Statue, Kalaripayattu Training, Muzhappilangad Beach, Thalassery fort, Theyyam, Spice Market, Cannons near Pier
Clockwise from top:Hermann Gundert Statue, Kalaripayattu Training, Muzhappilangad Beach, Thalassery fort, Theyyam, Spice Market, Cannons near Pier
Nickname(s): The Paris of Kerala[1][2]
Thalassery is located in Kerala
Location of Thalassery in Kerala
Coordinates: 11°45′2.24″N 75°29′13.28″E / 11.7506222°N 75.4870222°E / 11.7506222; 75.4870222Coordinates: 11°45′2.24″N 75°29′13.28″E / 11.7506222°N 75.4870222°E / 11.7506222; 75.4870222
Country  India
State Kerala
District Kannur
Municipality 1 November 1866
Named for Spices (Tellicherry Pepper, Cinnamon)
 • Body Municipality
 • Municipality Chairperson Amina Maliyekkal
 • Total 23.96 km2 (9.25 sq mi)
Elevation2.5 m-30 m 3 m (10 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Total 92,558
 • Density 3,900/km2 (10,000/sq mi)
 • Official Malayalam, English
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 670 1xx
Telephone code 91 490
Vehicle registration KL 58 –
Sex ratio 1000:1125 /
Lok Sabha constituency Vadakara
Vidhan Sabha constituency Thalassery
Thalassery is located in the southern part of Kannur District

Thalassery (IPA: [t̪laʃeɾi]) (formerly Tellicherry[3]) is a commercial town in the Malabar Coast of Northern Kerala in Kannur district, bordered by the districts of Mahé (Pondicherry), Kozhikode, Wayanad and Kodagu (Karnataka). It is the second largest municipality of North Malabar in terms of population. The Europeans gave the town a nickname, The Paris of Kerala, as it was in close proximity to the sole French military base in Kerala in that era. Thalassery's history over the past 500 years had enormous significance in the development of Kerala. Thalassery municipality has a population just under 100,000.[4] Possessing an area of 23.98 km2, Thalassery is located in the coast of Malabar region in Kannur district in Kerala. It is 22 km south of the district headquarters in Kannur town. Thalassery is situated in an altitude ranging from 2.5m to 30m above mean sea-level.

Thalassery municipality was formed on 1 November 1866 according to the Madras Act 10 of 1865 (Amendment of the Improvements in Towns act 1850)[5] of the British Indian Empire, making it the second oldest municipality in the state. At that time the municipality was known as Thalassery Commission, and Thalassery was the capital of North Malabar. G. M. Ballard, the Malabar collector, was the first President of the municipal commission. Later a European barrister, A. F. Lamaral, became the first Chairman of Thalassery municipality.[6] Thalassery grew into a prominent place during European rule, due to its strategic geographic location.[7] Thalassery has played a significant historical, cultural, educational and commercial role in the history of India, especially during the colonial period. In 9 February 2014, Thalassery taluk was split into two[8] and Iritty taluk was formed. The north eastern hilly region of the former Thalassery Taluk such as Aralam, Ayyankunnu, Kottiyur, Kelakam is within the Iritty Taluk area.


Thalassery (Hindi: त लश्शेरि), which originates from the ancient Malayalam linguistic usage 'Thala' (Head) and 'Kacheri' (Office), thus Thalassery or 'head of offices'. There are also other arguments that the name Thalassery could also have emerged from Talakkathe cheri a combination of 'Talakkate' (Upper or north) and 'Cheri' (Settlement). As the suffix 'ssery' is usually found for places in Kerala where socially forward people settled, there are also arguments that it could be a combination of Thali(Brahminic habitation) and ssery i.e. Brahminic village. Thalassery could be an erstwhile Brahminic village, as there are enormous ancient shrines dedicated/connected to Shree Ramaswamy (Rama-Vaishnavite sects settlements are in various villages in and around Thalassery such as Tiruvangad, Andaloor, Makreri, Peralassery, Edakkad, Taliparamba, Cheruthazham, Mavilayi, etc., in ancient period) in the region, such a huge number of Sree Rama shrines in close proximity are rare when compared to other places in Kerala. The administration manual vol. 2, 1885 of the former Madras Presidency cites research in regional legends and folklore to indicate that the puranic name of Thalassery was Swetharanya pura.[7] The Upanishad Acharya Swethakethu is believed to have took penance in this place and it is said that Shiva danced ananda thandavahere. This is the stala purana of Tiruvangad Shree Ramaswamy Temple. Thalassery was known as Tellicherry the anglicised form of the Malayalam name Thalassery.

Thalassery had a nickname in those days, The Paris of Kerala, as it was the major town where the sole French military base in Kerala was located. Even though later the French abandoned Thalassery and shifted their base to Mahé (5 km south of Thalassery) as spices could be easily transported to sea using canoe through Mahé river(The name comes from the French administrator Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais); the nickname "The Paris of Kerala" remained. Before the advent of the British, the French had significant presence in Thalassery, hence this epithet became prominent among Europeans in those days.


The first European power which entered the region was the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch. Portugal established their military barracks in Cannanore(~30 km North of Thalassery). The French East India Company later on established their military units in Mahé (~5 km south of Thalassery). The European presence around Thalassery was aimed at the trade market (spices) of Thalassery.[9] The British was the last European power who came to the region. They established their presence in the region in 1682,[10] when they obtained permission from the Vadakkilankur Prince of Kolattunad to settle in Thalassery. In the following years, the British presence in the state of Kerala strengthened. During this period, there were many organised revolts of the natives of the region against the British-Chirakkal Kingdom establishments. Among them was the revolt of 1704, organised by natives of Thalassery; this revolt was quickly crushed by the British forces due to its localised, non-nationalistic nature.[11]

Map of Malabar region and boundaries of kingdoms before the 1900s

The Malabar Invasion of Sultanate of Mysore (1766–1790)[edit]

In 1766, when Tipu Sultan (20 November 1750 – 4 May 1799) was just 15 years old, he got the chance to apply his military training in battle for the first time, when he accompanied his father on an invasion of Malabar. Hyder gave Tipu the best education possible from the best tutors of that time, he got military training from French military officers. Tipu displayed his diplomatic skill when he persuaded the Nawab of Hyderabad to ally on their side in an age of 17. He accompanied Hyder Ali in many conquests which trained him to become an extraordinarily skilled general.[12][13]

Hyder Ali in 1762, incorrectly described as the Commander in Chief of the Marathas. At the head of his army in the war against the British in India. (French painting)
Tipu Sultan-Sultanate of Mysore

The Mysorian invasion drastically changed society (displaced most of higher casts to south, the mass exodus), culture (Islamic culture got induced in local culture due to conversion, brahminic settlements were washed away, exodus to Travancore), economy (peasants directly paid tax to Mysore, better distribution of land among poor and rich), and administration (the scattered provinces were joined together for centralised administration; the local rulers, naduvazhis were either exterminated or became puppets of Mysore) of Malabar. It eventually resulted into the fall of Malabar in the hands of British, which too resulted in social, cultural and educational transformation of Malabar. Thalassery was forced to bear the brunt of the Mysorian invasion as it was the second biggest city after Kozhikode in Malabar in that time.[14]

Retrospection of events that led to the Mysore invasion: Mamangam festival in Tirunavaya the main festival of the Chera dynasty was conducted by Vellathiri( Valluvakonathiri; the Valluvanad (Palakkad) Raja), with the title Maha Raksha Purusha (Holds the right to resolve dispuits between kingdoms or feudal chiefs of Kerala)[15] and got the authority to seat in the Nilapadu thara where the erst while Kulashekhara Perumal (Chera Emperor) seated. Technically this gave the Vellathiri an appeal of a higher rank king than any other ruler in Kerala. The Samoothiri challenged this and in a series of Tirunavaya wars (1351 to 1363) led to the death of two of the Vellaattiri princes in the battlefield, Vellattiri at last withdrew from Thirunavaya. Samuthirippad took control of Mamangam and proclaimed himself as the Maha Raksha Purusha from the Nilapadu thara.[1]

Even after the retreat of Valluvakonathiri to Palakkad, Samoothiri repeatedly attacked Palakkad and after the successful war led by Chencheeri Namboothiri and annexation of few territories, Samuthirippad demanded one-fifth of the revenue as war tax. The feudal chieftains approached Mysore dewan for help. In 1757, the Dewan of Mysore asked Hyder Ali, a mounted infantry commander (Faujdar),[16] of the Mysore army stationed in Dindigul to help them. Hyder Ali sent his brother-in-law Maqdum Ali to invaded the Kingdom of Zamorin. Samuthiri lost in this war and promised a hefty war tax to Mysore. The Mysore army returned after this. After some time Samuthiri once again attacked Vellathiri in demand for the tax on previous agreement. Samoothiri's army attacked the forts of Vellathiri and killed a number of Achans. Those who escaped from the massacre turned for help to Hyder Ali once again. Itti Kombi Achan entered into an agreement with Hyder Ali,[17] who agreed to help the Vellathiri to regain his lost territory from the Samoothiri[18] in return of allegiance to Mysore; however the Vellathiri himself did not support the plan for Mysore allegiance. Hyder Ali invaded Kozhikkode once again, but this time the war perils was harsh. In retaliation for cheating by not paying the promised war tax to Mysore Hyder tortured the royal family, the aristocracy, Namboothiri families and innumerable localites in Kozhikode; this went to an extent that the Zamorin killed himself by setting fire to the palace armoury and the royal family fled to Travancore, the local population had to suffer a lot due to Hyders attack, after the war Hyder returned to Mysore. Prince Kappu Tampan joined the local Nair revolt against Hyder and besieged the Mysore garrison. After three months from Malabar, Hyder Ali once again invaded to crush this local uprising.[19]

The Siege of Tellicherry[edit]

In 1764 Hyder sent one of his emissaries Ananta Rao to Tellicherry to make a pact with the British to be neutral in forthcoming events. In 1766, Hyder Ali along with a formidable force is welcomed to North Malabar by the Ali Raja of Cannanore. The Mysorian army guided by Ali Raja and his brother seized the palace of the Raja of Kolathiri in Chirakkal. The Raja and his family fled south to take refuge in the English trading station in Tellichery. The objective of Hyder was to attack Zamorin for not paying the promised war tax.[20][21]

Thalassery fort, Thalassery

Hyder changed his policy by installing friendly chieftains as Governors to replace Mysore's civil officers. Prince Regent of Kolathunad became Hyder's administrator; the Prince forced Kurungot Nair and Kottayam Raja of Thalassery for their allegiance towards Mysore. Hyder could not control the Nair revolt in 1778, however the revolt eventually ceased. The Seven Years' War between British and French allies had its repercussions in Thalassery, too. The Prince attacked Thalassery on Hyder's order to protect the French forces in Mahé from the British. The British forces in Tellicherry went to combat mode and vigorously attacked Mahé and caused the French to evacuate in 1779. This prompted the Zamorin and Kottayam Raja to ally with the British and they recaptured most of their territories which had been lost to Hyder. Later, due to an attack by the Prince in Tellicherry, the British left Mahé.[16] In Tellicherry fort, the Captain of Hyder's army was imprisoned after an unsuccessful attempt to attack Thalassery by Hyder's army.[22][23]

As a retaliation to these incidents, in October 1780, Sirdar Khan (Commander in Chief of Hyder's army of Mysore, Calicut province) laid a military embargo on Thalassery for 18 months. They blockaded the British and the local administration, both on the sea and land. In May 1781 a reinforcement arrived from Bombay, under Major William Abington. Thalassery was released from the siege and Mahé was recaptured in 1782. Major Abington captured the surrounding places such as Dharmapattanam, Nettur and marched south and finally the Mysorian army was thrown out of Calicut on February 1782. The failure of Hyder to capture Tellicherry fort boosted the morale of local Nair chieftains. They captured Mysore garrisons from all parts of Malabar, and finally the Mysore army remained only in Palakkad.[21] In 1885 Mahé was handed back to France by Britain.

The Malabar Conquests of Tipu Sultan[edit]

The period of Tipu Sultan's invasion in Kerala (1755–1781) and (1789–1790) was locally known as Padayotta kaalam.

The Sultanate of Mysore 1784- Malabar as a province of Mysore

As Hyder Ali was losing his territories in Malabar, he sent his son, Tipu, to recapture them. Even though he assisted Hyder in previous expeditions of Kerala, this was the first invasion of Tipu in Kerala as a commander of his army. One of the principal victims of Tipu’s revenge was the Raja of Chirakkal, who, having been accused of conspiring, was attacked and killed, and his body hung up after his death. In this raid the Mysore sovereign is said to have carried off large treasures plundered from the temples in Malabar. He crowned his achievements by compelling the princess of Cannanore (Arakkal Beevi) to marry her daughter to his son, Abd-ul-Khalik.[24]

In December 1773, the British from Thalassery stormed Arakkal Palace, which had resisted, consequently disarming Tipu's garrison in Cannanore. They forced Arakkal Beevi into a peace treaty. By the Treaty of Mangalore in 1774, which concluded the Second Anglo-Mysore War, the English gave up their claims and declared the kingdoms in Kerala to be allies of Mysore.[21]

Hyder's death and Tipu's retreat to Mysore (1781) for coronation were exploited by the British. Col. Fullerton captured Palakkad fort in 1783. Tipu came back in 1789 and captured south Malabar, but in this second expedition he was not able to attack Thalassery and North Malabar due to the English presence.[20] However, turmoil wrought the region, which feared attack.

Tipu Sultan marched towards Travancore, reaching Aluva (Battle of the Nedumkotta (1789)). Tipu Sultan's invasion resulted in a heavy exodus of natives towards the southern kingdoms.[25][26][27][28] The Mysore attack became horrifying from the second attack of Hyder onwards. Hyder was taking revenge against Samuthiri that time. Later on Tipu's Kerala conquest also became a reign of terror. Tipu displayed hostility towards the people of the region, he was assisting his father Hyder Ali in previous Malabar conquests and was well aware about the cheating of Samuthiri, the brunt of innumerable local resistances against Mysore in Malabar and had an ambitious plan to capture Travancore as they protected the refugees fleeing from Malabar. Unlike Hyder, Tipu had a different war strategy; the intent was to create terror in the area he invaded by crushing the opponents vindictively and creating rampage and an obnoxious environment so that his further invasion of neighbouring territories would be easier, as the resultant exodus creates propaganda about the perils. The comparatively weak neighbouring states became defensive in facing the attacks of the Mysorian army. He was highly successful in this strategy.[25] There is still an irony or an in-congruence about his attitude towards various religions. On one side he had Hindu ministers, to assist him in his native place in Mysore but on the other side he was a terrible persecutor in the place he invaded, especially in Kerala. So it is highly likely that this act of vileness during invasion could be a war strategy, rather than a religious enmity.

However the result of this was terrorising, there was a mass exodus of Hindus and Syrian Christians from Malabar, South Canara and Kodagu. There were forced conversions, massacre and mass exodus. The Travancore ruler, Kartika Tirunal Rama Varma, received huge number of refugees from Malabar to his kingdom and henceforth was called by the title Dharma Raja for the generous austerity he exhibited towards the helpless immigrant refugees. Even though it was his war strategy to create easiness in invasion by terrorising the opponents, this invasion created a taint in the image of Tipu Sultan.[29] He demolished innumerable Temples and Churches in the areas he invaded.[30][31][32]

Tipu's retreat from Aluva had many reasons, the failure of his army against the Travancore army lead by Raja Kesavadas in the Battle of Nedumkotta, the inability of his army to survive the harsh monsoon rains and finally when the information about the British attack in SreeRangapattanam reached his ears, Tipu was forced to leave Kerala along with his army. He signed a treaty with British in Palakkad and eventually the Mysore conquest ended. After the annexation of Malabar from Tipu Sultan the British tried to call back to Thalassery, the Royal families and other major Nair and Namboothiri feudal lords and their dependents who had fled to Travancore (Trivandrum) during the invasion of Hyder Ali and especially of Tipu Sultan, but this move was heavily opposed by some of the local rulers. This along with heavy taxation and laws that curbed free movement resulted in an uprising against the British. There were innumerable uprisings against the British which caused heavy casualties to the British forces. Thousands of their men were killed, but most of the resistance was defeated and crushed mercilessly by the massive British forces. Thalassery has a great legacy in resisting the foreign rule. Pazhassi Raja, was one of the prominent leaders who fought against the British. His war strategy had devastating effects on the British army. He was an expert in guerrilla warfare, one of the foremost adopters of this strategy, and the leader of one of the earliest uprisings against the British in India.[33]

Tipu's conquest removed the naduvazhi type of administration as they fled to Travancore, to a more centralised administration. Tipu built most of the road network in Malabar. Taxation became based on actual production and went directly to the government.[20]

Tellicherry-The Spice trade export hub of British East India Company[edit]

Thalassery port was a Spice trade export hub of The British

Thalassery had a unique geographical advantage as a trade market: it was in the border of Chirakkal, Kadathanad and Kottayam Kingdom in north, south and east respectively. In the eastern area there was access to Wayanad and Coorg. Thalassery lay ahead of the Periya pass from Wayanad, and was the nearest point from the coast.[34]

The Kottayam and Randuthara provinces were rich in the most pungent and strong variety of black pepper available in the world (later known as Tellicherry pepper) and more importantly these areas were also the source of the finest quality of Cardamom.[35] The advantages outweighed the military disadvantages due to the geographical position.[36] Gradually it became a major center of the spice trade and a sea[37] port was developed.

Tellicherry Pepper- A Black pepper variety. This is a produce of Terre Exotique, France[38]

It evolved as a commercial center mainly after the 16th century. In negotiations with Vadakkilamkur (the north regent of Kolathunad kingdom) the British got permission to set up a factory in Thalassery. The factory site was located in the territory of Kurungoth Nair who disapproved the grant. The British set up a factory in Thalassery in 1694 (According to William Logan-Malaber Manual but another argument by Birdwood suggests the date as 1683). After the establishment of the British factory in Tellicherry, Randuthara Achanmār, the chiefs of the four families of Randuthara (Poyanādu province – Edakkad, Anjarakkandy, Mavilayi, etc.), went in allegiance to the British. In 1704 the descendants of the Udayamangalam Kingdom, in enmity with the Raja of Chirakkal (Kolathiri), joined with the Kurungoth Nair to attack the Company warehouse in Thalassery. These native uprising were neutralised by the British.

This prompted the British to request the Vadakkilankur (North regent)[39][40] to build a fort in Thalassery for the safety of their trade and commerce. The fort then was planned to be built in a location owned by two people (a house owned by Ponattil Poduval and a plot owned by Vallura Tangal), called Thiruvallapan kunnu, within a few meters of the sea.[39][41] The Raja of Kolathunad himself came for laying the foundation stone for the Thalassery fort.[42] The Prince of Vadakkilankur (North Regent, Kolathunad Kingdom) handed over the fort and adjoining land to The British on 20 August 1708. The fort was modified and extended by the East India Company later on. Meanwhile. a Kurungot Nair continued his attack, however later on in September 1719, he suspended the hostilities and formally entered into a friendship treaty with the British. The treaty gave the British permission to trade pepper in Thalassery without paying duty. It was after the construction of the fort that Thalassery grew into a prominent trade center and a port in British Malabar.[43] The British got their administrative authority over Malabar after the annexation of Malabar from Tipu Sultan in the Battle of Sreerangapatnam. Thalassery thus became the capital of British North Malabar.[7][11] When English companies got united in 1702, the affiliated factories under Bombay were Karwar, Tellicherry, Calicut and Anjengo. The administration of the factories was conducted by a Chief and councillors, known as 'factors'.

In 1797 The British East India Company established a spice plantation in Anjarakandy (five tharas of Randathara) in Thalassery.[20][44] In 1799 it was handed over to Lord Murdoch Brown, a Scottish Royal for a 99-year lease.[45] Coffee. Cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg were cultivated there. The Anjarakandy Cinnamon Plantation was the largest cinnamon plantation of its kind in the entire world at that time. The British East India Company established the first registrar office in south India, in Anjarakandy near Tellicherry in 1865, only to register the cinnamon plantation of Murdoch Brown. The Anjarakandy estate was 500 acres in area. He demarcated the land and appointed officers to demarcate the land of the natives. The British gave approval on his demarcation records. This established a new model of administration, not only in India but even in Asia.[45][46][47]

The construction of the Tellicherry Lighthouse in 1835, as an aid to navigation, provides evidence of the importance the British attached to Tellicherry.[48] The British East India Company built a new warehouse (paandika shala) in Thalassery in 1863 aiming at the storage and export of spices. From the British-built seaport in Thalassery a variety of spices, such as pepper and cardamom, was exported. Thalassery pepper (Tellicherry pepper), ground from locally grown pungent black peppercorns, is much sought after by chefs around the world. It is one of three varieties of black pepper, the other two being Sarawak Black, from Borneo and Malaysia, and Lampong Black, from Sumatra, Indonesia.[49] A ship wreckage of these merchant caravans is visible near the shore of Thalassery.[50]

Thalassery fort, with its massive walls, secret tunnels to the sea, and huge, intricately carved doors, is an imposing structure. Once the nucleus of Thalassery's development, the fort is now an historical monument. One entry to the secret tunnel is opened to the public. However, access is limited to a few meters' walk inside the tunnel.

The British also established the district judicial court in Thalassery in 1802.[51] H. Clephen was the First Judge of the Zilla Court. During the British rule, the jurisdiction of the Thalassery Court extended up to Mysore.

Overbury's Folly was built by E. N. Overbury, a local British judge in the 1870s.[52] The old market of Thalassery in that time was located more than 100 meters from the current sea shore, the market and surrounding areas were washed away by sea erosion. The sea walls built on Overbury's order saved Thalassery from further sea erosion, even though his order was mocked as a folly in those times.[9][51][53][54]

The Pazhassi Guerilla Wars[edit]

Veera Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja
Painting by Raja Ravi Varma

This is the first major popular uprising against the British in Malabar. Pazhassi Raja was a member of the western branch of the Kottayam royal clan. When Hyder Ali of the Kingdom of Mysore occupied Malabar in 1773, the Raja of Kottayam found political asylum in Travancore. Pazhassi Raja, the fourth prince in line for succession to the throne during this period, became one of the de facto heads of state surpassing several of his elder royals. He fought a war of resistance on Hyder Ali's Mysorean army from 1774 to 1793.

On account of his refusal to flee and his resolve to fight invaders, the people of Kottayam stood firmly behind the Raja who had not abandoned them in their hour of misfortune. Raja's troops were drawn from ranks of the Nambiar, Thiyya and also tribal clans like Kurichias and Mullukurumbas.[55]

Sir Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Major General. Wellesley (Who was earlier one among the commander of allied forces during Battle of Waterloo which resulted in the defeated of Napoleon; Later known as, Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington ), came to Thalassery to fight against Pazhassi Raja after defeating Tipu Sultan in the Battle of Srirangapatna.[56][57] The war between East India Company, led by Major General Arthur Wellesly and Collector Thomas Harvey Baber, and the Princely state of Kottayam, led by Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja(1793–1797) and (1800–1805), in the forests of Wayanad caused immense damage. The Raja was a pioneer in guerrilla warfare. The forces of Kottayam even defeated the company led by the well-experienced Major General Arthur Wellesly in several skirmishes. The company started bringing reinforcements and due to the fall of Tipu Sultan, the EIC was able to crush the revolt[58]

Tellicherry British Naval Barracks[edit]

Lord William Cornwallis, First Marquis of Cornwallis

Thalassery was the location of one the major strategic naval barrack of the British Navy in Arabian Sea coast; as a sub unit of the Naval force stationed in Madras, to counter the French Navy in Mahe, to prevent supplies from reaching Tipu Sultan. The British kept an eye on the Mangalore port by stationing themselves in Thalassery.

As a consequence of the treaty followed by the Seven years war (1756–1763) between Britain and France, neither of these nations involved themselves in any military adventure. This, in turn, helped Tipu in his Malabar conquest. Upon concluding a treaty with Mysore, the British shifted most of their barracks to Tellicherry.

  • The Tellicherry Naval Battle (1791)

In November 1791,[59] three battleships anchored in Tellicherry — Minerva (a 38 gun frigate) led by Commodore William Cornwallis (later Governor General of Madras Lord Cornwallis), Phoenix, a 36 gun frigate led by Captain Sir Richard John Strachan, and Perseverance led by Captain Issac Smith — confronted a French 36 gun frigate, Résolute, and a small convoy which were en route to Mangalore. The British naval ships sought to inspect the French vessels for military contraband. The British suspected that the shipments were for Tipu's army.[60] The French forces resisted the search and a naval war broke out in the seas of Thalassery. The British overpowered the French vessels, but no contraband was found. The skirmishes resulted in a heavy loss of lives, both natives and Europeans. Commodore M. Saint Félix,[61] of the French Navy came from Mahe in a 40 gun frigate La Cybéle to Tellicherry and warned the British. The incident had far reaching consequences, it worsened the British and French relationships in India. His Majesty's Consul (Britain) in Alexandria, Egypt broadcast the information that France had declared war and all the British and Dutch vessels had been seized by the French Navy in Indian seas.[62] The information reached Fort St. George in Calcutta and Fort William in Bengal and war was declared on France to capture their territories all over India. Cybéle and Minerva fought another battle in Pondicherry which did not cede to Britain.[63] As a reaction to the outbreak of war between France and Britain in Europe in 1793, Lt.Col. James Hartley held command of the expedition which captured Mahé from the French.[64]

  • La Preneuse Ambushment (1798)

On 19 April 1798, H.C.S Raymond and H.C.S Woodcote, both stationed at Tellicherry port, were attacked and captured by the French frigate Preneuse (1795). La Preneuse was carrying an especially important set of passengers on this voyage, the two ambassadors of Tipu Sultan returning from an embassy to the French authorities on the Isle de France. These ambassadors had been trying to gain support for Tipu Sultan from the French, in his struggle against the growing power of the East India Company,[65] and to co-ordinate plans for future joint operations between the French and Tipu's forces.[66] The English suffered a huge loss as there was an especially large crew on board the Woodcote because she had just rescued the Captain and crew of the HEIC Ship Princess Amelia which had caught fire off Cannanore, on 5 April 1798.[67]

Embarking from Isle de France on 7 March 1798; the French frigate 'La Preneuse', with one hundred French officers and fifty private soldiers was intended to provide these men as instructors and advisors to Tipu Sultan's army and her destination was Mangalore port.[68][69][70] After the incident she left to Mangalore port. This incident provided the English with a pretext and reason to resume their attack on Tipu Sultan, which led to the fall of Seringapatam in 1799. [71]

The defencelessness of the shipping in Tellicherry anchorage was clearly demonstrated with this incident, a decision was taken to move the settlements main function to Cannanore, and with this began the steady decline of Tellicherry, as the garrison moved away to Cannanore.[72] In 1814 Mahe was again occupied by French forces, as part of the first (1814th) treaty of the "Treaties of Paris, (1814–15)", Mahe then remained in French control until India's independence.[73][74]

Indian Nationalist Movement in Thalassery[edit]

The Indian National Congress established in 1885 became the center point of the Indian Nationalist Movement. The Kozhikode conference of Indian National Congress in 1904 under guidance of the Congress and in 1908, a district congress committee was formed in Thalassery. V K Krishna Menon, who did his schooling in Tellicherry (Thalassery), was an active worker of the Tellicherry branch (started in 1916)[20][44] of the All Indian Home Rule Movement founded by Annie Besant.[75][76][77] Mahatma Gandhi had a conversation with locals in Thalassery railway station, along with Shaukat Ali in 1934 en route to Kozhikode to attend Khilafat gathering.[78] There were innumerable freedom fighters in this area S L Prabhu, Kamala Prabhu, Mukund Maller, Dr. T V N Nair, Sardar Chandroth Kunjiraman Nair, K P Raghavan Nair, N P Damodaran, Adv. P Kunjiraman were a few among them.[6]

For the ship wrecked in 1806 see Tellicherry (ship)


Beach in Thalassery

Thalassery is in Kannur district.[79] The town has Dharmadam Panchayat in north, Eranjoli and Kodiyeri in east, and New Mahe in south and Arabian sea on west. The palm-fringed terrain of Thalassery has a scenic coastline and features four rivers, canals and hills with orange-hued rock. One of the four rivers is the Mahé River (Mayyazhi river). During the British Raj, the Mahé River was nicknamed the English Channel, because it separated British-ruled Thalassery from French-ruled Mahé. Muzhappilangad Beach,[80] the sole beach where driving is possible in Kerala (4 km long drivable area of the beach),[81] it is located within 6 km from the town centre. Unlike the topography of southern Kerala Thalassery region do not have lagoons(Kayal) instead there are innumerable rivers in the region. The delta formation similar to Sundarbans is not found because there is no flooding in the region. There is not much width to the plain land, it is limited to only a few kilometres in between the coastal area and the high lands. The north of Thalassery is Dharmadam an island area surrounded by two rivers and sea. In the eastern side, hilly areas start from Kuthuparamba area.[82][83]


Thalassery experiences a Tropical wet and dry climate under the Köppen climate classification. The wet season starts in June as the South-west monsoon first hits the coastal Kerala and continues until the end of September. A brief pre-monsoon Mango showers occurs sometime during April. Precipitation from the North-East Monsoon sets in during the second half of October through November.

Climate data for Thalassery
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 32.2
Average low °C (°F) 22.9
Rainfall mm (inches) 7.6
Source: WWO[84]


Thalassery in Colonial times-Water colour painting of Tellicherry-Viewing Tellicherry from Dharmadam island

As of 2011 India census,[85] Thalassery has a population of 92,558, making it the 8th largest city of Kerala in terms of population. Males constitute 47% of the population and females 53%. Thalassery has an average literacy rate of 86%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 86%, and female literacy is 86%. In Thalassery, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age. The Thalassery urban agglomeration is considered as consisting of the Thalassery municipality and panchayaths of Eranholi, Kadirur, Dharmadam, Muzhappilangad, Pinarayi and New Mahe with a present population of around 200,000. Religion in Thalassery Hindus 51% Islam 46% others 3%(including Christians, budhists, Sikhs)

Thalassery Assembly Constituency[edit]

The Thalassery assembly constituency consists of Thalassery Municipality and four neighbouring Panchayats namely Eranholi, Kadirur, New Mahe and Chokli. Dharmadam has been excluded from Thalassery recently, becoming a separate constituency.


The British colonisation had considerable impact on the regional culture. Thalassery being an ancient trade center, the trading and business relations that existed with the Europeans and the Arabs improved the economy and thereby modifying the culture. The Christian missionaries and the educational reforms they brought up here also played a huge role in transforming the society. The migration of a huge number of people to Travancore during Hyder Ali's and Tipu Sultan's invasion (a majority of them was the Royal family, Nair and Namboothiri feudal lords and their associates) was another factor, resulting in lesser social discrepancies between upper and lower casts between 18th century to mid 20th century. This was entirely different from Travancore Cochin area which was not under the Madras Presidency, where there were huge inequality in the society. So British Malabar and Travancore-Cochin had a small difference in culture and society in those days. The economic strength was largely increased to middle-east migration.

"Mukathzhuthu"-The face painting of Theyyam, the religious ritual art form in Thalassery
Chatayam celebrations (Birth anniversary of Shri Narayana Guru), have a speciality in Kannur and Thalassery wherein the natives light lamps in their houses, similar to Deepavali.

Thalassery was a pivotal place of progressive political and literary movements in olden times. In the colonial era itself Thalassery was the centre of learning in north Kerala. The first Malayalam newspapers, novels and short stories in Malayalam were born here. Earlier, the well known romantic poem in Malayalam, "Veenapoovu" (Fallen Flower) of Kumaran Asan was published from Thalassery. It's also the birthplace of the Communist movement in Kerala. Thalassery has a composite cosmopolitan culture. Rajya Samacharam, the first Malayalam newspaper, was published from Thalassery.[86]

Typical attire of Aristrocracy in Thalassery before 1900's (Malabar Sundari-Painting by Raja Ravi Varma)

Thalassery is one of the oldest pivotal places of the Indian Circus. Vishnu pant chhatre's Great Indian Circus's (Estd 1880 in Bombay, the first circus establishment in India) tour of Thalassery lead to the meeting of Chhatre with Keeleri Kunhikannan a martial arts trainer in the region.[87] Keeleri Kunhikannan established the first dedicated circus school in India in 1901. He is known as "the father of Kerala Circus".[88] A Circus Academy was inaugurated in Thalassery in 2010.[89]

Older houses in Thalassery are mainly built of stone in traditional Kerala architecture rather than using wood. The soil in north Kerala is more stable and has comparably more strength than south Kerala; so stones are the main building components in North Kerala and wood in South Kerala. The region is rich in vegetation and greenery. Religious rituals, cuisines, literature, martial arts, etc. are exclusiveness in culture of the place. The innumerable expatriates from the region are in the Persian Gulf, they are one of the major contributors to the region's economy and has influence in the culture of the region.

The Government of Kerala has included Thalassery in the heritage city project. The project includes the preservation of historial structures in the region. A museum of traditional arts in Thalassery is also envisaged in the project.[90][91]

Thalassery was meant to be the headquarters of the new district that was formed in Kerala after independence. However a consensus was reached with in the regional administrators to make Kannur as the headquarters as Thalassery was already a high population density town and Kannur had more opportunity to develop as there were lot of freely available space in Kannur in that time, as a compromise measure the district court was not relocated from Thalassery.[92]

Thalassery cuisines[edit]

Thalassery is also known for the Malabar cuisine, Thalassery biryani (in local dialect it is called biri-yaa-ni)[93] is known for its distinguishing taste. Unlike other biriyani cuisines Thalassery biryani do not use Basmati rice, Normal biriyani preparation else where, uses Basmati Rice while this Thalassery biryani uses a special fragrant rice called Kaima/ Jeerakasala rice ; this along with the speciality in recipes makes it one of the prominent dishes of Malabar.[94] The influence of Arabian/Mughal culture is evident especially in the dishes of Muslim community (However nowadays all communities makes most of these dishes) where innumerable tasty Arabic/Mughal dishes are made. It is a dum biriyani i.e. the cuisine is a Pakki variant.

Thalassery Falooda

Thalassery Falooda is a regional variant of the Persian dessert. This is a cocktail of fruit salad, dry fruits such as black current, pista, cashew, almond(badam), rose milk and vanila icecream.

The Asian Green Mussel (Perna viridis) cuisines are the exclusivity of Thalassery dishes, the natives makes varieties of dishes with the Green Mussels. It is called "Kallu-mma-kaya" (translation – fruit on the stone). These are naturally grown in beaches, on huge stones or rocks in contact with sea. Various dishes like fried mussel called Kallummakaya porichathu, mussel fried in rice batter called Arikkadukka, mussel pickels, tiny mussels called Elambakka fried [95] e.t.c.[96] Business is booming in this sector as the dishes are exceptionally tasty, however most of the artificial farming is done in rivers using coir ropes rather than growing green mussels in sea. The artificially farmed one for business purpose is comparatively less tasty than the naturally grown ones on stones in sea shore.[97] Thalassery natives are known for their generous honouring and serving dishes for guests.[98]

Other exclusive Thalassery dish is Kozhi-kkalu, a vegetarian one made of sliced tapioca- this could be related to 'French-fries' fried as a bunch. Pappadam-Pazham kuzhakkal, Aval um Poriyum kuzhakkal is another exclusive cuisine found in Thalassery.[98]

Muttamala, Taripoli, Pazham nirachatu which is fried banana filled with grated coconut sugar or jaggery, Unnakaya, Kaayi pola, Chatti pathiri and Ari pathiri are some of them.[98] Porridges such as Mutaari kachiyatu, a highly nutrient rich ragi porridge is also another Thalassery cuisine.[98]


Theyyam the ritual art forms[99] are the apt depiction of the cultural heritage of North Malabar especially of ancient Kolathunad. Thalassery is one of the prominent center of Theyyam, it is known as 'Thira' or 'Kaliyattam' in the region. Theyyam are depiction of Shiva bhutaganas, Kali or her similes and other deities and cultural heroes are also worshiped as Theyyam. The drama is enacted based on ancient stories and the language used is 'Tottam pattu' a primitive form of Malayalam. Theyyam could be a reminiscent of the Buddhist influence in the region centuries ago. Theyyam is usually held from October to May every year. The colour of Theyyam is typically red, the painting on the face of Theyyam is undoubtedly an inexplicable wonder with immense artistic beauty. Velan one of the Theyyam is described in the Sangam literature 1500 years ago. It could have been a tribal ritual art which went to modifications due to the Buddhist and Brahminic revival of Hinduism. This art form is addressed as Kaliyattom North of Pazhayangadi Puzha, Kannur, as Theyyam to South of the river and as Tirayattom in places around Thalassery.[100]

Muchilottu Bhagavathi Theyyam
Kundadi Chamundi Theyyam
Vishnumoorthi or Chamundi Theyyam

Kalari Payattu[edit]

Thalassery is one of the prominent area of the martial art - Kalari payattu in Kerala Dharmapattanam(the current Dharmadam), Kadirur, Kadathanad(the current Vadakara), Kuthuparamba were home to the major Kalari payattu schools in the area in olden times. The English East India Company to establish their authority destroyed the traditional military character of the community of Malabar and Major Dow, the Commissioners of Malabar, took steps for the same.

Inside of Kalari

Mysorean invaders destroyed the feudal set up, traditional institutions, landholding patterns and the supremacy of the local rulers, along with the power and prestige of the militia of Malabar. The disruption and disappearance of the Naduvazhi's and the Nayar gentry from the reign, enabled the Mysore rulers to set up a centralised system of administration in the territories, under their authority. The disappearance of the feudal set up, disrupted the social and political pattern, leading to the decline of the Kalari institution.[101] On 20 February 1804, Robert Richards, the Principal Collector of Malabar, wrote to Lord William Bentinck, President and General-in Council, Fort. St. George, asking permission to take action against persons carrying arms, either imposing death penalty or deportation for life.[102] Lord Bentinck issued an order on 22 April 1804, that those who concealed weapons or disobeyed the orders of the British against carrying arms, would be condemned to deportation for life. At the time of the Pazhassi rebellion, British soldiers raided each and every house of the rebels to confiscate their arms.[103]

Kadal palam

Thalassery is one of the major centres of vadakkan kalari. Kalari Payattu had a revival after a resurgence of public interest from Thalassery in 1920, the public protest was led by C V Narayanan Nair.[104]

Archiological excavations[edit]

Cheraman Perumal-Chera Empire Fort[edit]

The sister of the last Cheraman Perumal, Sreedevi is believed to have resided in Dharmapattanam (the present Dharmadam), near Thalassery.[105][106] The fort was located in a strategic hilly area where a 360 degree view of land and sea tens of kilometres in radius is clearly visible. The relics is seen in the campus of Govt. Brennan College.[107] The relics of the Chera Empire fort are seen in that hill near the college premises especially near to the water tank area.[108][109] Perumals nephew, Sreedevi's son, Mabeli is said to be the last known person of the Chera Empire. The legends of Islam in Kerala (Kerala Muslim History by P A Syed Mohammed) narrates that Mabeli was converted to Islam by Malik Bin Dinar and accepted the name Muhammad Ali, who later became the first Sultan Ali Raja of Arakkal (Arakkal Raja), the sole Muslim kingdom in Kerala – Arakkal kingdom. The last Cheraman Perumal, Rama Varma Kulasekhara Perumal, came from Mahodayapuram (the present Kodungallur) to Thalassery, to visit his sister, before leaving to Mecca. The legend behind the etymology of an erstwhile province located in the north of Thalassery(region in between the Kannur and Thalassery taluks governed by Randuthara Achanmar before 1947), named Poyanad i.e. poya-nadu[110] is believed to be place from where Perumal left Kerala.[111][112] There are also arguments that the Cheras kings and royalty may have been converted to Buddhism.

Megalithic Laterite Dome[edit]

A laterite dome of the megalithic age was discovered in Kodiyeri, near Thalassery.[113] Kannur University Anthropology Department head S. Gregory, who led the excavation, said similar excavations was done before in the nearby place Sreekandapuram 40 years ago. A rock-cut cave of mostly of megalithic age was found near the Jagannath Temple in Thalassery.[114]

Excavation of cannons[edit]

In June 2013 several cannons estimated to be around 250 to 300 years old were unearthed in close vicinity to Thalassery Pier.[115] It was one of the excavation of largest number of cannons in Kerala. This is a solid reminder about the colonial past of Thalassery, where the British established their first trade post in Kerala, which eventually led to the formation of British Malabar and later to the invasion of entire Kerala.[116]
In India the British East India Companyfirst used Cannons in Thalassery, according to Dr. K.K.N Kurup Vice-Chancellor of Calicut University. This was during the local rebellion led by Kurungoth Nair.[117] Later the war in Europe between Britain and France had its repercussions in India too. The Seven Years' War (1754–1763) the great powers of the world in that time; i.e. the European countries went to war between them in around the world in almost all continents. Britain and France fought war all over the world in dispute over their colonial territories, it affected the entire world and was in effectively a world war of that time. In India it was in the form of Carnatic war where French East India Company and the British East India Company fought for Godavari territory. Thalassery administered by the British and the neighbouring Mahe administered by the French had its repurcussions and these cannons discovered, according to Dr. K.K.N Kurup could have also been used as a defence by the British during this time. [117]

Religious places[edit]

  • Sree Jagannath Temple

Sree Gnanodayayogam, the prominent social organisation of North Malabar and the governing body of Sree Jagannath Temple, Thalassery, was consecrated in 1908 by his Holiness Sree Narayana Guru, in light of centennial celebrations. Sree Varadur Kunhi Kannan visited Guru Dev in December 1904 and suggested that Thiyya Community should have a Temple at Thalassery. Sree Narayana Guru Dev allowed Varadur to invite Kumaran Asan as his representative, and to convene meetings with citizens to ascertain the feasibility of a Temple for the community. Kumaran Asan, who was residing in Bangalore, accepted the invitation, and on his arrival the first meeting was convened at 'Parambath House' of Sree Cheruvari Shirastadar on 9 July 1905. The temple is open to people of all casts; during the period where there was huge caste discremination prevalent in the society.

Sarpa Kavu
  • Sree Andaloor Kavu

The presiding deity is Rama worshiped as a forest dweller as depicted in Araṇya Kāṇḍa, Kishkindha Kāṇḍa, Sundara Kāṇḍa and Yuddha Kāṇḍa of Ramayana. Lakshmana and Hanuman who accompanied Rama in his forest life are other deities worshiped here. Andaloor is believed to have derived from "Aandava villor"-The land where The Lord's sacred bow was kept. Andaloor kavu is well known for the exclusive Vaishnavite theyyam. During the festival season in Kumbham 1 to 7(February) the entire Dharmadam village adapts vegetarian diet. They purchase new utensils, clothes and paint their homes. Villoppikkal(Bow offering), Meyyalu koodal(Participating in a ritualistic rush which is believed to be accompanying Rama in the battle against Ravana), Kuluthattal etc. are some the rituals performed by the men of the village.[118]

  • Odathil Palli

The 200-year-old Odathil Palli is in Thalassery town. The site of the Odathil Palli used to be a sugarcane garden of the Dutch. It changed hands to the British-owned East India Company. Odathil Palli is a destination that tourists and travellers come to see. The highlights of Odathil Palli are that it has the typical Kerala architecture, and it is in the heart of Tellicherry. The crown on the roof is made of gold. The mosque is still in use for worship today.

  • Thiruvangad Sree Ramaswami Temple
The Thiruvangad Shree Ramaswamy Temple pond

Sree Ramaswami Temple is a temple dedicated to Sree Rama, located in Thiruvangad. It is one of the four important temples dedicated to Sree Rama in Kerala. The other three are at Triprayar, Thiruvilluamala and Kadalur. It is Located on an elevated plot of 2.75 hectares with an adjoining temple tank known as Chira which extends over an area of one hectare. This temple has excellent wood carvings, terracota art work, mural paintings carved on wooden planks in the ceilings.

Chakyar Koothu in Tiruvangad Temple
  • Kottiyoor Vadakkeshwaram Temple

Kottiyoor Mahadeva Temple is located 60 km east of Thalassery. It is located in Thalassery Taluk. Kottiyoor Vysakha Mahotsavam is a huge religious pilgrimage attracting thousands of pilgrims. It is a festival commemorating the Daksha yaga.[119]

  • Tirunelli Temple

Tirunelli is the prominent MahaVishnu temple in North Kerala located in the edge of Brahmagiri valley. It is prominent destination for "Pitru Tarpana" in North Kerala. The temple is build centuries ago and is in still incomplete state due to the feud between the local rulers in that time. The pledge taken in front of Tirunelli Perumal is considered as having the highest value. Tirunelli is 108 km east of Thalassery.

  • Mamanam Shri MahaDevi temple

The Maha Devi(Bhadrakali) shrine is located in Irikkur, near Anjarakkandy. It is 39 km east of Thalassery. There are shrines for Mahadeva, Saptha Mathrukkal and Sasthavu. The shrine is a very revered one among the local community and people from distant places visit here. The shrine had been attacked by the Mysorean army and renovated later. A rare temple with fierce deity where the rites changed from Dakshninachara(Sathvika) to Vamachara(Saktheya) after renovation in 16th century few years later when the British acquired the administration.[120]

  • Lokanar Kavu

Lokanar Kavu is situated near Vadakara, 22 km south of Thalassery. It was established by ancient Aryan immigrants in the region. The 'Lokambika', deity of the temple is one of the four Durga Peetham of Kerala( the others being Moolambika, Hemambika and Balaambika (Devi Kanya Kumari) ) worshiped by Parashurama. The temple is the family deity of Kalarippayattu martial artists of the region and is mentioned in the folklores.

  • Other Major Shrines

St. Theresa’s Cathedral, Mahe(7 km from Thalassery), Chirakkakavu Bhagavathi Temple, Shri Moozhikkara Bhagavati Temple, Kottayam Shiva Temple, Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swami Temple, Mariamman Koil, Melut Sri Muthappan Madappura, Kaitheri Neelakaringali Amma Temple, Shri Porkali Bhagavathi Temple.



ThalasseryMunicipal Stadium

The Thalassery Stadium, located close to the sea, hosts the Ranji Trophy cricket matches quite often. Lord Arthur Wellesley is believed to have introduced this game in Kerala in the 18th century for the British soldiers who were garrisoned in the Tellichery Fort.[121] India's first Cricket Club, which was later renamed as the Town Cricket Club, was formed in 1850 at Tellichery. It was due to the initiation of the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley[121][122][123] The Tellichery Cricket ground was the hub of cricket activities those days. It has been reported that an exhibition match was conducted in this ground to raise funds during the First World War.[121] English cricketer Colin Cowdrey's father was a tea planter in Thalassery where he used to play cricket in the 1890s, and is credited with having laid a decent cricket pitch there, in the early 1900s. Colin Cowdrey played in Thalassery during the British regime.

Thalassery Cricket Ground celebrated its 200th birthday in 2002 by hosting a match between the former cricketers of India and Sri Lanka. In 2008 a new stadium only for cricket was inaugurated in Conor Vayal near Venus Junction in Thalassery, as a project of the Kerala Cricket Association.


Educational Renaissance of Malabar started from Thalassery due to the influence of European Missionaries. Government Brennen College, Thalassery, founded in 1862, one of the oldest educational institutions is in India. The Kannur University campus is located in Palayad, north of Thalassery.[124] The Basel Evangelic Mission Parsi High school is one of the foremost English Medium school(Estd. 1856) in Malabar, Dr. Hermann Gundert was a tutor here. Kaikose Ruderasha, a Parsi donated funds to build the institute with the assistance of German missionaries.[125] Around the 1970s Muslim educational trusts such as MES founded by Dr. Abdul Gafoor, also played a considerable role in educating the Muslim community of the region.[126]

Nettur Technical Training Foundation (NTTF)-Established by the Christian Missionaries of Switzerland

Sports Authority of India Centre, Nettur Technical Training Foundation, Kerala School of Fine Arts, Govt. Brennen College of Teacher Education, IHRD College of Applied Science, BKJM School of Nursing, St Joseph's Higher Secondary School, Sacred Heart Girls High School, Basel Evangelical Mission Parsi High School MES Bava Residential School, Thiruvangad, Thiruvangad Girls Higher Secondary School, Madrasathul Mubaraka Higher Secondary School, Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Government Brennen Higher Secondary School.


Thalasserry Co-op Hospital

Malabar Cancer Centre, Moozhikkara, Government General Hospital, Co-operative Hospital, Indiragandhi Co-operative Hospital, Josgiri Hospital, Mission Hospital, Santhosh Hospital, Tely Hospital, Kay paral Hospital, Shemi Hospital, Keerthi Hospital.


Trade and Commerce in Thalassery is mainly in retail and whole sale industry. There is no sea port now. There is not much industries surrounding Thalassery except a few like Rubco. The international trade from Thalassery is now only a fraction of the trade that happened in the glorious past during the British.


Railway station[edit]

Thalassery Railway Station is one of the major railway stations in Kerala under Palakkad Railway Division. It's a Class 'A' railway station. The path joins the Konkan railway line from Mangalore. The British had proposed a railway line connecting Thalassery and Mysore, a century ago; Govt. of India has now initiated a process to survey and find the feasibility of the route.[127]


Thalassery railway station

The Thalassery Mysore-Railway Action Committee has proposed a 145-km route which will be the shortest from Kerala to Mysore and Bangalore [129]

Bus station[edit]

The town has four bus stations. New Bus Stand (estd 1982) is a major bus station. KSRTC bus depot is located at Konor vayal, Near Venus Corner. Passengers to Bangalore, Thiruvanathapuram and Madurai make use of KSRTC bus station. Inter-state buses to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu operate via New bus stand. KSRTC and private buses are available to Kodagu and Wayanad in a frequency of once in an hour and to Mysore in a frequency of once in three hours from New bus stand. Ticket reservation counters of Kerala RTC and Karnataka RTC are located in New bus stand complex. Private bus reservation centres to Bengaluru, Coimbatore, Mumbai and Ernakulam, also function at New bus-stand complex. Moffusil bus station is located near the New Bus stand. Town buses also originate from the Old bus stand on General Hospital Road.

How to reach[edit]

  • By air: The nearest airport is Kozhikode International Airport, about 93 km south. The works of Kannur International Airport has commenced recently. The new airport will be near Mattanur, a town en route Tellicherry and Coorg around 28 km from the city. The proposed airport can be accessed via Thalassery-Anjarakkandy road, around 20 kilometers east of Thalassery.[130] Mangalore and Cochin airports could be alternate choices.
  • By road: Kanyakumari-Mumbai NH-66 passes through Thalassery. Kozhikode is 66 km from Thalassery. Thalassery Coorg Road is a major road linking Kerala to Kudaku(Karnataka State). Interstate buses ply on this route in a frequency of one in an hour.[131]

Tourism destinations[edit]

Thalassery is an unexplored nature tourism destination until recent, however with the Thalassery carnival, The Beach fest in Muzhappilangad beach, Dharmadam beach is leveraging the tourism sector to boom.[132] There are 4 rivers (Anjarakkandi, Dharmadam, Koduvally and Mahe) around Thalassery town which is quite rare and 4 beaches (Muzhappilangad, Dharmadam, Thalassery (2 beaches)) and in Kannur area there are also numerous beaches like Payyambalam, Mappilabey, Meenkunnu Beach. The place being an important center of Kalarippayattu, health tourism for uzhichil, tirummal etc. has great significance.[133] It is aplace to know about the folklore art forms known as Theyyam and numerous historical important locations are in and around Thalassery.

Overbury's Folly, Thalassery
Dharmadam Beach and Island
Muzhappilangad Beach

Other Places of interest near Thalassery: Arakkal Museum(24 km from Thalassery), Bekal Fort(106 km from Thalassery), Ezhimala(76 km from Thalassery), Kerala Folklore Academy(27.5 km from Thalassery), Madayi Para(46 km from Thalassery), Parassinkkadavu Snake Park(37 km from Thalassery), Payyambalam Beach(23 km from Thalassery), Pythal Mala/Vaithal Mala(86 km from Thalassery), Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary(86 km from Thalassery), Kannur Fort(23 km from Thalassery), Parassinkkadavu Temple(37 km from Thalassery), Kavvayi Backwaters/Valiyaparamba Island(71 km from Thalassery), Meenkunnu Beach(31 km from Thalassery), Kizhunna-Ezhara Beach(32 km from Thalassery), Thottada Beach(14 km from Thalassery)[137]

Notable residents[edit]

William Logan-The author of Malabar Manual
  • Veera Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, (1753–1805) The leader of foremost struggle against British in India. His palace was located in Kottayam (Thalassery). He is well known by the epithet "The Lion of Kerala".[138]
  • Hermann Gundert, (1814–1893) German missionary and scholar, he is author of Keralolpathi (1843), Pazhancholmala (1845), Malayalabhaasha Vyakaranam(1851), Paathamala (1860) the first Malayalam school text book, Kerala pazhama(1868), Malayalabhasha Nighandu, the first Malayalam dictionary (1872), Malayalarajyam(1879)-Geography of Kerala, Rajya Samacharam (1847 June) the first Malayalam news paper, Paschimodayam (1879)-Magazine[139] lived in Thalassery for 20 years. He is the grand father of Nobel laureate Herman Hesse.[140][141]
Hermann Gundert Monument, Thalassery
  • C V Devan Nair, (1923–2005) The third President of Singapore (In office: 23 October 1981 – 28 March 1985)was a Singapore immigrant who hails from Thalassery.[142]
  • Wing Cmdr. Moorkoth Ramunni IFAS, (1914–2009) the first piolet from Kerala, first chief trainer National Defence Academy, Member of Jawaharlal Nehru's Office, Advisor to the Governor of Nagaland.[143][144][144]
  • William Logan, (1841–1914), was a Scottish historian, his works are considered as reliable historical reference of North Malabar by Government and Universities. He served as the district judge of Thalassery and the author of Malabar Manual, Logan's road in Thalassery is named after him.[1]
  • Captain. Edward Brennan(?-1859), English philanthropist and master attendant at Tellicherry port, established one of the foremost institutions in India to provide English education, The Brennan school establishe in Thalassery in 1862 for all caste and gender.[145][146]
Mattannur Sankarankutty

See also[edit]

The important locations in an around Thalassery



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Further reading[edit]

  • Logan, William (1887). Malabar Manual, Volume 1 and Volume 2. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 8120604466. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  • Renjith, Moorkoth, ed (2000). Thalassery Millennium Manual. 
  • Skaria Zacharia, ed. Thalassery Rekhakal. Kottaym: DC Books. 
  • Thalassery Arivukal K. M. Govi. Thalassery: Sanjayan Samskarika Vedi, 2011

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Kottayam Province of Chirakkal Kingdom
Tellicherry, Madras Presidency, British India
1 November 1866 according to the Madras Act 10 of 1865
(Amendment of the Improvements in Towns act 1850)
Succeeded by
Kerala, India
(States Reorganisation Act, 1956)