Formerly known as Calicut, the origins of the ancient coastal city of Kozhikode in the Kerala region of southwest India can be traced to the early twelfth century. A century later the city had established itself as a major trading port for spices including pepper, ginger and cinnamon, earning the Kozhikode the nickname 'City of Spices'.
The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama landed at Kozhikode in 1498, establishing a trade route to Europe and prompting decades of hostilities with the region's ruling dynasty, the Zamorins, who saw the Europeans as a threat to their commercial superiority. Dutch colonists arrived in the city in 1604 and agreed to help expel the Portuguese, but were themselves expelled when the British began to assert their dominance of India.
Kozhikode's rich history has bestowed the city with an abundance of traditional Indian and European architectures, evident in buildings such as the sixteenth-century Matri Dei Cathedral built by the Portuguese and the traditional Tali Hindu Temple which is believed to date back to the fourteenth century.
But there is much more to modern Kozhikode than history and architecture alone. There are beaches to enjoy, including the romantic Beypore Beach which has a lamp lit-pier, museums and art galleries which reveal Kozhikode's culture and evolution in greater detail and picturesque parks in which to relax and enjoy the Keralan sunshine.
Kozhikode, on the Malabar Coast, lies in a region of outstanding natural beauty and there are many attractions to explore just outside the city. Two kilometres along the coast from the city centre, Dolphin's Point is a tree-fringed stretch of beach at which pods of dolphins can be observed in the early morning.
Sarovaram Bio-Park on the edge of the city is another place of interest to birdwatchers and wildlife spotters. Covering almost two hundred acres, this bio-diverse area of wetlands and mangroves provides a habitat for numerous bird, mammal and amphibian species. The park features wooden walkways, boating facilities, a visitor centre and cafeteria.
Kakkayam, a thirty minute journey from Kozhikode, is a tranquil beauty spot and an area popular with walkers. Hills blanketed by evergreen forests are punctuated by streams and spectacular waterfalls and the area is populated by monkeys, elephants, deer and many other wild animals and birds.