Kannur is one of the northernmost districts of Kerala is commonly known as Cannanore. The name Kannur is believed to have been originated from Kanathur, which is an ancient village there. There is another popular belief that the name was originated from two Malayalam words: Kannan (Krishna), a Hindu deity, and "Ur" (place or village)—making it "The place of Lord Krishna" and later Kannanur got shortened to Kannur.  

Kannur city is the administrative headquarters of the District of Kannur, which is 518 km north of state capital Trivandrum. It is claimed to be the largest city of the North Malabar region. Kannur is a land with a resounding history, occupied by people with affection and generosity. The ships of Solomon are believed to have anchored along its coasts to gather wood for constructing the Temple of the Lord here.

Being away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Kannur stands top as one of the most picturesque districts of Northern Kerala and the region offers breathtaking landscapes. The Lakshadweep Sea bathes the sands of beaches tie up with rows of green coconut trees, long rivers break into silvery spray, and combine into the blue green waters of the sea make Kannur one of the most-sought-after tourist destinations. 

Kannur is blessed with natural beaches, hill stations, rivers, backwaters, historical monuments, and religious centers. The town has been a key contributor to the cultural, religious, political, and industrial heritage of the state. Kannur boasts to be a cradle of many a colourful folk art and folk music of Kerala.

 Thalassery in Kannur is the abode of the martial art Kalari Payattu from which Karate & Kung-Fu originated. There are around 40 Kalari arenas of the martial art spread around the district. The traditional physiotherapy treatments; Kalari Chikitsa and Marma Chikitsa, for diseases as well as harmonizing the body are quiet famous here.

Kannur is among the Million-Plus urban agglomerations throughout India. The loom industries functioning from the district and ritualistic individuals arts held throughout temples give Kannur the actual denomination ‘The Territory of Looms and Lore. ’ Kannur is famous for the pristine beaches, Theyyam, the native performing art, and its handloom marketplace.

Kannur is one of the major exporter handlooms in India with its international reputation. Directly and indirectly, the handloom industry, gives employment to hundreds of thousands of people.

Kannur Cantonment, one of the 62 military cantonments in the country, is the headquarters of the Defense Security Corps and Territorial Army’s 122 Infantry Battalion (under Madras Regiment). Ezhimala Naval Academy (INS), which Asia's largest and the world's third largest naval academy, is situated 35 km North of Kannur City. An Indian Coast Guard Academy is commissioned to be built on the banks of Valapattanam River at Irinave, East of Azhikkal.

History & People


The splendid history of Kannur started with Mooshaka kings who ruled over Chirakkal and Kasargod areas with their capital at Mount Eli. The rulers were known as Kolathiris by 14th century A. D as the kingdom camKannur Forte to be known as Kolathunad. Kolathiris were well-known all over the North Kerala and became the enemies of Zamorins of Kozhikode. A number of Arab scholars visited Baliapatam, Srikantapuram, Dharamadam, Bekal and Ezhimala during this era and recorded the places in their travelogue.

The advent of Portuguese navigator, Vasco Da Gama, changed the history of Kolathiris in particular and India as a whole. With the help of Portuguese, Kolathiris were trying to acquire wealth and power in order to compete with Zamorins of Kozhikode who was aided by Arabs. Exploiting the rivalry of the neighbours, Portuguese became successful in putting up forts in strategic points.

St. Angelo’s Fort in Kannur erected by Francisco De Almedia in 1505 was the most important one among all the forts. Establishing their supremacy in Indian seas, Portuguese were able to intercept ships to Kozhikode. Realizing their mistakes, Kolathiris joined hand with Zamorins to fight against their common enemy, Portuguese. Under Kunjali Marakkar of Kozhikode, a joined war was battled against Portuguese and seized Kannur Fort in 1564. However, later, the fort was captured by the Dutch in February 1663.

Setting up fort and factory in Thalassery, English East India Company got its hold in Kannur towards the end of 17th century. Kolathiris regime found was in decline the English East India Company thrived in their trade until the beginning of 18th century. When French captured Mayyazhi in 1725 it was renamed Mahe in honour of their captain Francois Mahe De Labourdonnais. Two Muslim rulers, Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan invaded and conquered Malabar by the second half of the 18th century.  Later Malabar was formally handed over to the British by the treaty of Sreerangapatanam. Having Rajas of Chirakkal, Kottayam and Kadathanad acknowledged full sovereignty of the Company over their respective territories, British entered agreements with them.

Annoyed by the unpopular revenue policy followed by East India Company in Malabar, a serious revolt was started by Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja of the Padinjare Kovilakam of the Kottayam family.  In 1796, British tried to take Raja into custody in his own palace in Pazhassi but they could not succeed. There were a number of clashes between the Raja and the British and he became a serious threat for their existence here in India. British warned people not to help Raja and announced ransom for those who helped them to capture him. Finally, Raja was shot dead on November 30, 1805 after having fought several guerilla attacks against the British from the jungle. 

Kannur witnessed non-violence and non co-operation movements spreading like a wildfire as a means of achieving Swaraj, which led to widespread boycott of foreign goods, courts of law, and educational institution. The major location of Salt Sathyagraha in Malabar was Payyannur in Kannur district.  Kannur, Thalassery and other parts witnessed widespread demonstrations breaking salt laws and picketing foreign good dealers and liquor shops.

In late 1930s, leftist ideologies were also active in Malabar. The branch of Thalassery Fort of the Indian communist Party was formally founded in Malabar in 1939. 1940 as a part of Anti-Imperialist Day severe agitation occurred in Kannur district in September 15 and there were violent clashes between the people and the police at several places. The ‘Quit India’ movement of August 1942 also had its echoes in Kannur district.

Kannur district still maintains its high level of political consciousness owing to its active participation in several political struggles both in Pre-independence and Post-independence era.

While former Malabar Region as well as Kasaragod taluk of Madras state had been reconstituted into about three revenue districts, officially Kannur District came to being a great administrative unit on January 1, 1957. Adscititious two districts had been Kozhikode and Palakkad. The district has seven taluks; Kasaragod, Hosdurg, Taliparamba, Kannur, Thalassery, Subsequent Wayanad and Southern Wayanad. Afterwards, on 1 November 1980, Wayanad region was composed carving out South Wayanad plus North Wayanad taluks. Each northernmost taluks of Kannur region, viz; Kasaragod and Hosdurg was disunited on 24 May 1984 with the engenderment of Kasaragod Region. So, Kannur Region currently has several taluks, viz., Kannur, Taliparamba additionally Thalassery.


A majority chuck of the people in the district is dependent directly on agriculture for their source of income. Paddy, coconut, pepper, cashew, tapioca, arecanut and plantation crops like rubber are the major crops grown in the district. Anjarakandy in Kannur district houses Asia's largest cinnamon estate established by Lord Brown of British East India Company in the year CE 1767.

Paddy occupies the largest cultivating area among the list of annual crops with an average yield of 2146 kg for per hectare. Coconut is the second largest cultivation in the district followed by cashew nut. Pepper takes a significant position, mostly grown as an intercrop with coconut, arecanut and various fruit trees. Among the plantation crops, rubber is the most important industrial cash crop.

Art & Culture

Highly praised by illustrious traveler, Marco Polo, as the great emporium of the spice trade, this nature-rich land has been a key contributor to the cultural, religious, political, and industrial heritage of the State. Surrounded by the Western Ghats in the East and the Lakshadweep Sea in the west, Kannur exhibits its outstanding history in the ancient forts, old shrines, and majestic cultural and educational institutions that spot its charming countryside.

Kannur with traditional art and culture is an abode of many colourful folk art forms like Theyyam. Kannur is the home of Kerala folklore academy. A large number of folk plays and dances are still prevailing among the scheduled castes and tribes. Glorious collection of folk plays and dances of various tribes are performed during their festivals. Theyyam, the unique combination of dance, music, and reflection of the main features of a tribal culture is still popular ritual dance. Theyyam is generally performed in front of the village shrines and performed in a large number of temples in Kannur.

Food habit

Cuisine in Kannur is deeply rooted in the history, geography, and culture of the land. The Kerala seashore, especially Malabar being rich in Spices and fresh Seafood and no other community makes the better use of this natural gift than the Muslim communities of North Kerala. Fresh Prawns, Shrimp, Crab, Mussles, & Oysters are served up in sumptuous sauces and spicy curries.

Thalasseryi Biriyani

The king among the Biriyani is Thalassery Dum Biriyani. It is a famous dish all over Kerala for its delicate taste and aroma. The choice of Khaima rice instead of Basmati makes Thalassery Dum Biriyani so yummy. This creates a new variant of biryani, which tastes much different from the other variants.


Kalthappam is a yummy snack available in Kannur. It is a kind of cake prepared by rice, adding sugar. The fragrance of fried small onions and coconut pieces are tempting.

Rice is so common for Keralities, fish, and other seafood are favorites and traditional meals are still eaten on banana leaves. The best thing about Kerala food is its abundant yet subtle use of spices.

Malabar cuisine stands out among the wide-range of regional cuisines of Kerala. There are also a number of delicious chutneys to as a side dish for the meals. The raw mango-lemon chutney and the raw mango-prawn chutney have been rated as excellent dishes by tourists. They are to be eaten along with the crisp banana chips and Kerala Pappadam.

The Varutha Meen (fried fish) with onion salad and Unakka Meen (dry shark) Chammanthy are a very popular demand. For those who prefer vegetable dishes, there is Boiled Beetroot Salad and the Mixed Vegetable Salad with Lettuce.

The Nadan Kozhi Biryani (chicken biryani) is a Malabar specialty and has a strong Muslim influence. This biryani, with a distinct flavour of coconut, curry leaves, and spices, is wholly different from the Hyderabadi biryani.

The Kozhi Coconut Stew (spicy chicken and coconut stew) treats one’s taste buds. The soft, succulent chicken is enhanced by the coconut and the subtle use of a number of other spices give it a distinctly tickles one’s taste buds.

The Kari Meen Porichathu (fried pearl spot fish), spiced with chilly, ginger, curry leaves, egg and lemon juice, is a dish literally can’t be missed out. As for the desserts, the Coconut Crepes is a novel unique item that tastes delicious. The Palada Payasam with raw mango is yet another great dish.

The Malabar Food Festival, which is regularly, organized in the commercial capital of Kerala exhibits splendid cuisine fare from God’s own country particularly from the four districts; Kannur, Kasaragode, Kozhikode and Wayanad.


Kannur is located at an altitude of 2.98 ft from the shore of the Lakshadweep Sea, with a sandy coastal area. Kannur has a rare humid tropical monsoon climate. In April and May, the average daily maximum temperature is about 35 °C (95 °F). Temperatures are low in December and January: about 20 °C (68 °F). Kannur receives heavy rainfall during the Southwest Monsoon with an average annual rainfall of 3438 mm. 


It is advised to carry appropriate winter warmers while traveling in the winter season.

Need to Know



Mangalore airport in the North of Kannur is about 173 kms away and Calicut International Airport in the South is about 125 kms away from Kannur town. A new international airport is under construction near Mattanur in Kannur district is scheduled to be completed by 2015.


Kannur Railway Station is one of the major railway stations of the Southern Railway. All trains including the Trivandrum Rajadhani Express and Kochuveli Garib Rath have halt at Kannur. Six daily trains and around 15 weekly or bi-weekly trains touch Kannur.

There are a few express trains starting from Kannur to places such as Yeshvantpur (Bangalore), Alappuzha, and Ernakulam.


Kannur is on National Motorway 66 (formerly Nation's Highway 17) between Kozhikode and Mangalore. Kannur is well connected to Kodagu, Mysore, and Bangalore in Karnataka with the Thalassery–Coorg–Mysore interstate highway. Kannur has several private and KSRTC buses  plying places within and outside Kannur center. Kannur is well-connected to its suburbs via several city vehicles.

Time zone: IST (UTC+5:30)
Postal Pin Code: 670702
Police station number: 100
Vehicle registration number: KL-13
Fire: 101
Ambulance: 102
Contact (STD Code 0460)
District Tourism Promotion Council          0460 2706336


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