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Thalassery Montage


Heritage City, Land of 3 C’s-Circus, Cake and Cricket , Paris of Kerala, Land of Foods
Thalassery is located in Kerala

Location of Thalassery in Kerala

Coordinates: 11°45′2.24″N 75°29′13.28″ECoordinates11°45′2.24″N 75°29′13.28″E
Country  India
State Kerala
District Kannur
Municipality 1 November 1866

 • Type Municipality
 • Body Thalassery municipality
 • Municipal Chairman C K Ramesan

 • Total 23.96 km2 (9.25 sq mi)

3 m (10 ft)

 • Total 92,558[1]
Demonym(s) Thalasserikaran

 • Official MalayalamEnglish
Time zone UTC+5:30 (IST)
670 1xx
Telephone code 91 490
Vehicle registration KL-58
Sex ratio 1000:1125 /
Parliament constituency Vatakara
Legislative Assembly constituency Thalassery
Member of Parliament K. Muraleedharan
Member of Legislative Assembly A.N. Shamseer

Thalassery (Malayalam pronunciation: [θʌlʌsserɪ] (About this soundlisten)), formerly Tellicherry,[2] is a Municipality on the Malabar Coast in Kannur district, in the state of KeralaIndia, bordered by the districts of Mahé (Pondicherry)KozhikodeWayanadKasaragod and Kodagu (Karnataka). Thalassery municipality has a population just under 100,000.[3] Thalassery Heritage City has an area of 23.98 square kilometres (9.26 sq mi). It is 22 km south of the District HQ Kannur city. 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)[4] 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.[5] Thalassery grew into a prominent place during European rule, due to its strategic geographic location.[6] Thalassery has played a significant historical, cultural, educational and commercial role in the history of India, especially during the colonial period. On 9 February 2014, Thalassery taluk was split in two[7] and Iritty taluk was formed. The northeastern hilly region of the former Thalassery Taluk such as Peravoor, Aralam, Ayyankunnu, KottiyoorKelakam is within the Iritty Taluk area.


Word Thalassery likely originated from combination of Dravidian linguistic usages Thala (Head) and cheri (low lying settlement).

  • Thus, Thalassery or ‘starting place of a settlement’ or ‘head of a settlement’.
  • It could also have emerged from Talakkathe cheri, a combination of Talakkate (upper or north) and Cheri (settlement).

The 1885 administration manual vol. 2 of the former Madras Presidency cites research in regional legends and folklore to indicate that the name of Thalassery in ancient Sanskrit literature was Swetharanya pura.[6]


Thalassery was a trade hub where DutchBritishPortuguese ChineseArab, and Jewish traders had considerable influence in the spice market.

Tellicherry was the third largest city on the western coast of British India in the 18th century after Bombay and Karachi.

Vasco da Gama a painting- The trade alliance between Vasco da Gama and Kolathiri gave Portugal direct access to the spice trade market especially for pepper.

Thalassery Jagannath Temple, Kerala

The British established a trading post and built a factory at Tellicherry in 1694, having gained permission from Vadakkalankur, the prince regent of the Raja of Kolatunad. They had already been trading on the Malabar coast for much of that century, buying pepper from merchants, and had established a similar post at Travancore ten years earlier.[8]

Tellicherry Pepper- A Black pepper variety. This is a produce of Terre Exotique, France[9]

Jackfruit from Dharmadam

Veera Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja
Painting by Raja Ravi Varma

After the annexation of Malabar, the British called upon Thalassery, the Royal families and other major Nair and Namboothiri feudal lords to return, but this was heavily opposed by some local rulers. Along with heavy taxation and laws that curbed free movement, the appeal resulted in multiple uprisings against the British with heavy casualties to British forces. Thousands of soldiers were killed, but the resistance was eventually defeated.

The British, Dutch and the Portuguese and Christian Missionaries contributed a lot into the field of education, sports, culture and many development of this region.


Thalassery is in Kannur district.[10] The town has Dharmadam Panchayat in the north, Eranjoli and Kodiyeri in the east New Mahé in the south and the Arabian Sea on the west. The palm-fringed terrain 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 MahéMuzhappilangad Beach,[11] the sole beach where driving is possible in Kerala (with a 4 km long drivable area),[12] is located within 6 km from the town centre.

Aerial view of Thalassery

Unlike southern Kerala, Thalassery region does not have lagoons (Kayal), although many rivers flow through the region. Thalassery however has a large area of mangroves, which is now being protected. The coast has no delta formation. The coastal plain is only a few kilometres in width and is bordered by highlands. The north of Thalassery is Dharmadam, an island area surrounded by two rivers and the sea. On the eastern side, hilly areas start from Kuthuparamba.[13][14]


As of 2011 India census,[15] Thalassery had a population of 92,558, making it Kerala’s 8th largest city in 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%. Both male and female literacy are 86%. In Thalassery, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age. The Thalassery urban agglomeration consists of the Thalassery municipality and panchayaths of EranholiKadirurDharmadamMuzhappilangadPinarayi and New Mahe with a present population of around 300,000.

Hindus make up 61.37% of the population, Muslims 34.30% and Christians 3.64%.[16]


Thalassery is called as the city of three Cs-Cake, Cricket and Circus as the first bakery in Kerala was established in the town and cricket was first played in India here. The British had considerable impact on local culture. As an ancient trade center, the trading and business relations that existed with the Europeans and the Arabs brought people and ideas from many other lands. The Christian missionaries and the educational reforms they brought played an important role in transforming society.

“Mukathezhuthu”-The face painting of Theyyam, the religious ritual art form in Thalassery

The Government of Kerala has included Thalassery in its heritage city project. The project includes the preservation of historical structures.[17][18],.[19][20] Thalassery biryani is popular as an ethnic brand. Thalassery Cuisine is popular around the world as a blend of Arabian, Persian, Indian and European styles of cooking.

Painting and sculpture exhibitions are frequently held at the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi art gallery in the town.


The first two Malayalam newspapers Rajyasamacharam (1847) and Paschimodayam (1847) were published from Thalassery by Herman Gundert, who was the editor of the journal and was a religious propagator from German Basal Evangelical Mission society(BEMS).[21] Rajyasamacharam started publishing from Illikkunnu, in Thalassery.


The first Malayalam short story Vasanavikriti was written by Vengayil Kunhiraman Nayanar in Thalassery. Indulekha, the first major Malayalam novel was published from Thalassery. Veenapoovu, the poem by Kumaran Asan was also published from Thalassery. Thinker and orator M N Vijayan spent a lifetime in Thalassery. Thalassery is also home to writer N Prabhakaran. Actor and screenwriter Sreenivasan hails from Thalassery.

William Logan was conversant in MalayalamTamil and Telugu. He is remembered for his 1887 guide to the Malabar District, popularly known as the Malabar Manual


Vishnu Pant Chhatre’s Great Indian Circus, established in 1880 at Bombay was the first circus establishment in India. A tour of Thalassery led to the meeting of Chhatre with Keeleri Kunhikannan a martial arts trainer.[22] Keeleri Kunjikannan established the first dedicated circus school in India in 1901. He is known as “the father of Kerala Circus”. A Circus Academy was inaugurated in Thalassery in 2010.[23]


Thalassery is known for its biryani (in local dialect, biri-yaa-ni)[24][25] Unlike other biriyani cuisines Thalassery biryani uses Kaima/Jeerakasala rice instead of the usual basmati rice.[26]

Putu kadala, pazhampori, malabar parota,kozhi-kkalu, adda, kinnathappam, kalathappam, pappadam-pazham, aval um poriyum kuzhakkal, muttamala, chatti and ari pathiri are other popular dishes.[27] Porridges such as mutaari kachiyatu (ragi porridge) are also popular.[27]

The trade of spices from the Malabar coast which began as 1500 BC is still an active business although most of the pepper export is currently from Vietnam. Tellicherry pepper[28] is still considered an important ingredient by chefs globally.


Theyyam or Thirayattam is a ritual performance art form[29] that depict the cultural heritage of North Malabar, especially of ancient Kolathunad. Theyyam depicts Shiva bhutaganasKali and other deities and cultural heroes. The drama is enacted based on ancient stories and the language used is “Tottam pattu”, a primitive form of Malayalam. Theyyam shows the Buddhist influence from centuries ago. Theyyam is usually held from October to May every year. The colour of Theyyam is typically red. Velan is described in the Sangam literature 500 CE. It could have been a tribal ritual art which evolved under Buddhism and the Brahminic revival of Hinduism. This art form is addressed as “Kaliyattom” North of Pazhayangadi Puzha, Kannur, as “Theyyam” South of the river and as “Tirayattom” around Thalassery.[30]

Kundadi Chamundi Theyyam


ThalasseryMunicipal Stadium

Thalassery Stadium, located close to the sea, hosts Ranji Trophy cricket matches quite often. Lord Arthur Wellesley is believed to have introduced this game in Kerala in the 18th century for British soldiers garrisoned in the Tellichery Fort.[31] India’s first cricket club, which was later named the Town Cricket Club, was formed in 1850 at Tellichery by Wellesley.[31][32][33] The Tellichery Cricket ground was the hub of cricket activities those days. An exhibition match was conducted in this ground to raise funds during the First World War.[31][better source needed]


The educational renaissance of Malabar started from Thalassery due to the influence of European missionaries. Government Brennen College, Thalassery, founded in 1862, is one of the oldest educational institutions in India.

Kannur University Thalassery Campus is located at Palayad, 6 km north of Thalassery.[34] The Basel Evangelic Mission Parsi High school is an English Medium school (established 1856) in Malabar. Dr. Hermann Gundert was a tutor there. Kaikose Ruderasha, a Parsi, donated funds to build the institute with the assistance of German missionaries.[35]

Government Brennen College was started b y Sir Edward Brennen in 1862 as a school. Other colleges in Thalassery include College of Engineering Thalassery, Govt Arts and Science College, Thalassery, Medical College, Anjarakandy, Co-operative College of Nursing, Nettur and Co-operative College of Physiotherapy and para-medical sciences, Nettur.

Other educational institutions include Sports Authority of India Centre, Nettur Technical Training FoundationSt Joseph’s Higher Secondary SchoolSacred Heart Girls High School, and Basel Evangelical Mission Parsi High School.


Thalassery Railway Station operates under the Palakkad Railway Division of the Southern Railway. It is a Class ‘A’ railway station. It is on the Shoranur – Mangalore line. No direct line connects Thalasery to Mysore, although a feasibility study for such a route was funded in 2013.[36][37]

The nearest airport is Kannur International Airport, located 24 km east from the town.[38][39] Calicut International Airport 100 km, Mangalore International Airport 170 km and Cochin International Airport 235 km could be alternate choices.

Kanyakumari-Mumbai NH-66 passes through Thalassery. Kozhikode is 66 km from Thalassery. Mangalore is 150 km from Thalassery. Thalassery Coorg Road is a major road linking Kerala to Kodagu district of Karnataka State. Interstate buses ply on this route in a frequency of one in an hour.[40] The hill stations Virajpet in Kodagu and Mananthavady in Wayanad are 82 km away from the town. Regular buses to Bengaluru, which is at a distance of 310 km from Thalassery, operate on a daily basis.


The Thalassery carnival, the Beach fest in Muzhappilangad beach and Dharmadam beach are notable attractions.[41] The area’s four rivers (Anjarakkandi, Dharmadam, Koduvally and Mahe) around Thalassery town and four beaches (Muzhappilangad, Dharmadam, Thalassery (2 beaches)) with more in Kannur also attract visitors. Muzhappilangad beach is a 5.5 km long beach in which it is possible to drive vehicles. This beach was listed as one of the top 10 drive in beaches in the world by BBC survey.

It is an important center of Kalari payattu and health tourism.[42] Other visitors come to experience Theyyam and explore the area’s history, such as Tellicherry Fort.

Thalassery Pier (Kadalpaalam), Overbury’s FollyPazhassi Dam and Reservoir garden[43] and Malayala Kala Gramam, New Mahe,(7 km from Thalassery)[44][45] are other attractions

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

A shipwreck is visible near the Thalassery shore.[46]

Political violence[edit]

This area is an epicenter of political violence between RSS and Communists. Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have been fighting in this area for supremacy for the last 50 years. Clashes in 2008 left seven people killed and many have been injured. The High Court of Kerala called this manslaughter a “compelling sport” and suggested permanent deployment of Central forces in the affected areas.[47]

Notable residents[edit]


Thalassery experiences a Tropical monsoon 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 interval occurs sometime during April. Precipitation from the North-East Monsoon sets in during the second half of October through November.

See also[edit]

hideClimate 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
Average rainfall mm (inches) 3
Source 1: WWO[48]
Source 2:[49]