Malabar

Malabar region is an area of southern India lying between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. The name is thought to be derived from the Malayalam word Mala (hill) and puram (region) derived or westernised into bar. This part included the northern half of the state of Kerala and some coastal regions of present day Karnataka. The area is predominantly Hindu but the majority of Kerala's Muslim population known as Mappila also live in this area, as well as a sizable ancient Christian population. Kozhikode is considered as the capital of Malabar.

Athirappilly Falls is situated in Thrissur district of Kerala, on the southwest coast of India. Located on the west-flowing Chalakudy River, this 24-metre (80 ft) waterfall and the nearby Vazhachal Falls are popular tourist destinations. It is a Mani Ratnam favorite and has featured in his hits 'Dil se', 'Guru', 'Iruvar' and 'Raavan'.

The Chaldean Syrian Church in Thrissur is an Indian Christian church that is an archbishopric of the Assyrian Church of the East. Its members are part of the St. Thomas Christian community, who trace their origins to the evangelistic activities of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. The church is unique in its architecture and the interiors resemble closely a Jewish synagogue. It also lacks any pictorial representation of Christ.

Thrissur has had a long history of Christianity. St.Thomas is believed to have preached in these regions after reaching India through the Muziris port in the Malabar. Our Lady of Dolours Basilica is a minor basilica of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Thrissur City. The church is famous for its Gothic style architecture. This is the main altar depicting Mother Mary lamenting the death of Jesus after he was taken down from the cross.

One of the most striking features in Syrian Christian churches of the Malabar are the clear influences from Hindu temple rituals, including the offering of flowers and garlands and incense stick on the altars, like in this shrine of the Madonna in the Lady of Dolours Basilica in Thrissur.

Paintings adoring the roof of the Lady of Dolours Basilica in Thrissur, depicting Mother Mary and Joseph leaving for exile in Egypt to protect the life of the infant Jesus. At 146ft high, this is one of the tallest churches in Asia.

The Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. This temple is a classic example of the architectural style of Kerala and has monumental towers on all four sides and also a kuttambalam. Mural paintings depicting various episodes from Mahabharata can be seen inside the temple. According to popular local lore, the temple was built by Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu. One of the most colourful temple festivals of Kerala, Thrissur Pooram is conducted in the temple premises but the temple is not a participant in this festival.

Kodanad is a rural riverside village of Ernakulam district, Kerala. In 1950-60s, Kodanad used to be the largest of several elephant training centers maintained by the royalty. They were trained by elephant trainers called Mahouts, and other domesticated elephants. In 1970s, there was a ban to elephant capture by Government of India and from then on, Kodanad is primarily used as a rescue training centre.

Situated on the bank of the mighty Periyar River, Kodanad is often visited by travelers visiting Cochi specially to catch the morning baths given to the elephants by their trainers. Another attraction for elephant lovers is Punnathur Kotta, of the neighbouring Thrissur district, where some 40 elephants of the Guruvayoor Temple are groomed.

Beypore or Beypur is an ancient port town in Kozhikode district in the state of Kerala. Beypore port is one of the oldest ports in Kerala from where trading was done to the Middle East. Beypore is also famous for building wooden ships, called Dhows or Urus in Malayalam language. These ships are usually bought by Arab merchants for trading, fishing and now used as tourist ships.

Beypore, along with Mandvi in Kutchh, are two of the last places in India where monumental wooden ship construction is still practiced in much the same way it was done thousands of years earlier. The naval architects in Beypore still don't use any blueprints and the whole process is done from memory. Craftsmen hand shape the wooden blocks and measurements are taken using simple tools like threads and weights.

Geographically, the Malabar Coast, especially on its westward-facing mountain slopes, comprises the wettest region of southern India as the Western Ghats intercept the moisture-laden monsoon rains. The Malabar Coast is also sometimes used as an all encompassing term for the entire Indian coast from the western coast of Konkan to the tip of the subcontinent at Cape Comorin.

During classical antiquity and the Middle Ages, Kozhikode was dubbed the "City of Spices" for its role as the major trading point of eastern spices. It was the capital of an independent kingdom ruled by the Samoothiris (Zamorins) in Middle Ages and later of the erstwhile Malabar District under British rule. Arab merchants traded with the region as early as 7th century and one of the oldest mosque in Kerala is the Mishkal Mosque. Kerala’s temple architecture influenced the architecture of old mosques in Kerala, and uniquely has no cupolas and minarets and heavily employs timber and tiles.

Calicut was the seat of the powerful Zamorins. Nothing remains of the Zamorin era except Mananchira tank, which was built as a bathing pool by the Zamorin Mana Vikrama, in around the 14th century. In the late 19th century, Calicut's municipal council decreed that the lake was to be reserved exclusively for drinking purposes, and prohibited its use for bathing, washing and recreational activities—a ruling that has remained in place ever since. A shady park around the tank is popular for afternoon siestas in the unforgiving summers.

A house nestled among a forest of coconut trees amidst lush rice fields, a common sight in Northern Malabar.

Boys frolic in the waters of Bekal beach. Bekal is a small fishing village on the Malabar coast of Kasaragod district, Kerala's northernmost district bordering South Carnatic. Bekal has the largest and best preserved fort in the whole of Kerala, bordered by a splendid beach.

Bekal is one of the hidden treasures of Kerala which sees few tourists outside locals visiting it. The sleepy fishing village of Bekal shot into prominence when Mani Ratnam shot his evocative 'Tu hi re' song from his film 'Bombay' here in 1994. Bekal still retains the romance of a seaside hamlet and most of the locals are involved directly with fishing.

A fisherman braves the extremely slippery rocks around Bekal fort which are continuously lashed by strong waves.

The laterite ramparts of beautiful Bekal Fort. Bekal Fort is one of India's best preserved sea forts and was once one of the primary forts of Tipu Sultan on the Malabar Coast. The giant fort occupies an area of 35 acres and at 130 ft above the waterline, forms a panoramic vantage point to keep an eye on the Arabian sea.

A fisherman's boy untangles a crab from the morning catch. Bekal beach is the venue of a small fish market selling the daily catch fresh from the nets.

Fishermen repair their nets on Bekal beach.

Sunset on the deserted Bekal beach.

A fisherman on the River Payasini with the backdrop of the Chandragiri Fort in Kasaragod district. The Chandragiri fort is one in a series of sea forts built during the Vijayananagara Empire and continues south along the Malabar Coast including Bekal Fort and Hosdurg. The fort offers a breathtaking view of the river and the Arabian Sea.

Indian innovation at work in the Chandragiri Fort. A local uses an improvised boat propeller to cut grass. The set includes a motor and grasping handles and is extremely noisy.

Sand mining along the Malabar coast on the Payaswini River in Kasaragod district. The sand is collected from the sea and used in construction projects. Indiscriminate sand mining in Kasaragod has severely eroded the coastline and has come under investigation by the environmental ministry in 2012. The river is shallow and the boatmen use long bamboo poles to push the boats against the flow.

Description

The Malabar Coast is a long and narrow coastline encompassing the Northern Kerala districts of Kasaragod, Kannur, Malappuram and Thrissur. Geographically, it comprises the wettest regions of southern India, as the Western Ghats intercept the moisture-laden monsoon rains, especially on their westward-facing mountain slopes. The Malabar Coast throughout recorded history has been a major trading center in spices with Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Jerusalem and the Arabs. By the 13th century, the Zamorin of Calicut became the most powerful King in the region, primarily due to flourishing international trade at Calicut and Beypore port. The region came under British rule in the 18th century, during the Anglo-Mysore Wars and was added to Kerala state when it was formed in 1956. Malabar is famous for its boat building, mangrove estuaries and magnificent sea forts.