A bunch of NIT students is the reason Kozhikode earned UNESCO's 'City of Literature' tag

Untitled design - 1
Students and faculty of the Department of Architecture and Planning, NIT Calicut. Photo: Special arrangement

Kozhikode has at least 550 libraries, 70 publishing houses and over 100 bookstores. These are some of the findings in a comprehensive documentation of Kozhikode's literary resources and assets done by a group of students of the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Calicut. It was this elaborate work that helped Kozhikode earn the tag of City of Literature from UNESCO.

Kozhikode was recently inducted into the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). Gwalior, with its proud tradition in music, was the other Indian city that joined the list.

The members of the Department of Architecture and Planning at NIT Calicut began their study in July 2022 and concluded it by January 2023. They submitted their extensive work to UNESCO in June.

The study reveals that Kozhikode's literary history predates luminaries such as SK Pottekkatt, Vaikom Muhammed Basheer, MT Vasudevan Nair and Uroob among others. In fact, it goes back to the 14th century.

“The study revealed that Kozhikode city and its peri-urban areas boast of a total of 550 libraries excluding personal collections, which is perhaps the highest in an Indian city,” Dr Mohammed Firoz, head of the Department of Architecture and Planning and a faculty coordinator of the study told Onmanorama.

Untitled design - 1
An installation, 'Oru Theruvinte Katha' (the tale of a street), at the entrance of the SM Street in Kozhikode. Oru Theruvinte Katha was a story by renowned Malayalam writer SK Pottekkatt. File photo: Manorama

“We could find a large number of literary enthusiasts from different social strata who helped us grab the title,” said Dr Firoz. A team of students comprised Promiti Mallick, Athira Ashokan, Bharat Reddy, Nimil Hussain and Lavanya PK.

Dr Shyni Anil Kumar and research scholar Dr Susan Cyriac also provided their support to the project, which was completed with the help of Dr Ajith Kaliyath from KILA, Thrissur and Dr Beena Philip, Mayor, Kozhikode Corporation.

The study also proposed to enhance the literary culture of the city by introducing a literature museum, a reading street, a children's literature fest and the revamp of 'Kolaya Culture' (The use of verandahs for discussions).

National Institute of Technology, Calicut.
National Institute of Technology, Calicut. Photo: Manorama

“The Department of Architecture at NIT Calicut is the second best in India and our team is committed to serving society and helping the community,” said Prof. Prasad Krishna, Director, NIT Calicut. “We are happy that our efforts to highlight the literary tradition of the city have yielded positive results.”

NIT Calicut believes the UNESCO tag will provide a shot in the arm for Kozhikode's literary culture and encourage tourism prospects of the city. Besides, the tag is expected to benefit the social fabric of the city, NITC said.

Dr Firoz said they understand that the city Corporation has earmarked Rs. 1 crore for works related to the proposals in the study. “Now the team is on cloud nine as their academic work has drawn the prestigious title 'UNESCO City of Literature' to Kozhikode City,” he said.

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.