Envisage virginal shores abuzz with spice merchants, the smell of cardamom and pepper lingering in the air—the coastal city of Kozhikode (earlier known as Calicut) in Kerala was the major trading point of Eastern spices in the 15th century. Today, the city has metamorphosed into a cultural hub—where traditional restaurants vie with chic cafes, and literature, art, and cinema thrive. Here’s how you can explore the best of it in a day’s time. By Adila Matra
6:00 am – SUNRISE AT VAYALADA
Situated 38 kilometres from the Kozhikode city, and 567 metres above sea level are the hills of Vayalad, which offer one of the best daybreak views in the district. A trek to one of the many jagged rock formations offers a bird’s eye view of the surrounding dense woods and the rising sun reflecting in the snaking Peruvannamoozhi reservoir below. If you arrive here on a foggy day, tufts of cottony clouds and drifting mist put on a good show.
9:00 am – BREAKFAST AT KERALEEYAM
The signature restaurant of the Raviz group in Kozhikode, Keraleeyam is popular not just among the inhouse guests, but also locals, especially for its large and airy dining space overlooking the emerald River Chaliyar. Gorge on the bounteous breakfast buffet as live stations whip up crispy dosas and omelettes for you. Wash it down with a steaming cup of filter coffee and you are all set to take on the day.
11:00 am – A DOSE OF HISTORY AT KAPPAD BEACH
Patrons of history must not miss a trip to the Kappad Beach, where over 500 years ago, Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama arrived with his fleet of 170 men, in search of a sea route from Europe to Asia. Located around 45 kilometres from Kozhikode International Airport, the beach is lined with swaying coconut trees and unique overhanging rock formations. Walk around, imagining what it all looked like in 1498, take a boat ride, or visit the nearby fishing hamlets.
1:00 pm – LUNCH AT HOTEL RAHMATH
If you are in Kozhikode, do not pick an argument about biryani—the locals here are very proud of their own version of the dish! And Hotel Rahmath is where you should go to see what the frenzy is all about. Pair it with their special milk sherbet to beat the heat.
3:00 pm – LOUNGE IN THE MANANCHIRA SQUARE
A heavy lunch warrants a lazy stroll. A picturesque park with beautiful lawns, a musical fountain, traditional Kerala-style buildings, and the nearby Kozhikode Public Library make Mananchira Square just right for the purpose. Saunter, take an afternoon nap and admire the cultural heritage of Kozhikode from its heart.
5:00 pm – SUNSET BY THE BROKEN BRIDGE
One of the most striking vistas at Kozhikode Beach is the ruins of the century-old Broken Bridge that juts out into the sea, its blackened, rickety beams, seemingly melting into the horizon. It is also one of the best locations in the city to enjoy sunsets while munching on the pickled cucumbers, carrots, and pineapples sold in the beach shacks.
7:00 pm – SHOPPING AT SM STREET
A popular and historic lane in Kozhikode, SM Street caters to all your needs—from household items and clothes to sweets and spices. Named Mittayi Theruv (meaning sweetmeat street), SM Street was formed when the then Zamorin (monarch of Calicut) invited Gujarati sweet-makers to set up shop outside the palace walls 500 years ago. Make sure to take home some Kozhikode Halwa (a speciality sweet of coconut, fruits, nuts, and spices).
9:00 pm – DINNER AT THE PARAGON RESTAURANT
The Paragon Restuarant takes the cake for being the best and one of the oldest eateries in town. Specialities like mango fish curry, green chilly mutton stew, the fluffy appams (savoury pancakes of rice flour), flaky Malabar porottas (layered flatbread), pan-fried squid, and beef chilli served here are enough reasons for a second trip to Kozhikode.
Kozhikode International Airport, located around 23 km away from the main Kozhikode town is connected to major Indian cities and many Middle Eastern countries.
A short drive away from Kozhikode city, the Raviz Kadavu is nestled on the banks of the River Chaliyar (starts from INR 5,200/USD72). The Gateway Hotel Beach Road Kozhikode offers tastefully designed rooms (starts from INR 5,120/USD7).
November to January is a pleasant time to visit Kozhikode. If you wish to enjoy the city during monsoon, June to September are ideal months.
Sea-lovers and foodies.
Design Ashram holds open mic on Wednesdays. Pazhassi Raja Museum has on display murals, antiques, ancient coins, and models of temples (Kendriya Vidyalaya Road, East Hill).