Formerly one of Asia’s most prosperous trading capitals, the busy coastal city of Kozhikode (Calicut), 225km north of Kochi, occupies an extremely important place in Keralan legend and history. It’s also significant in the chronicles of European involvement on the Subcontinent, as Vasco da Gama landed at nearby Kappad beach in 1498. After centuries of decline following the Portuguese destruction of the city, Kozhikode is once again prospering thanks to the flow of remittance cheques from the Gulf – a legacy of its powerful, Moppila-Muslim merchant community, who ran the local ruler’s (Zamorin’s) navy and trade. The recent building boom has swept aside most monuments dating from the golden age, but a few survive, notably a handful of splendid Moppila mosques, distinguished by their typically Keralan, multitiered roofs.

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