The hidden treasures of Kannur coastline

Photos: Prasoon Kiran

The sea never ceases to surprise. Every sunset is a unique experience. The setting sun lures in people by the hordes to the sea shore. From toddlers to lovebirds to elders on a stroll, everyone has a reason to go to the beach.

The shores of Kannur stand testimony to history. The beaches were integral to Kannur's heritage of assimilation and resistance. Kerala's destiny was shaped by the maritime trade and Kannur and Thalassery were its pivot points.

Kannur boasts of a seashore that stretches for 82 kilometres from Thalassery to Ezhimala. No other place in Kerala has such a long unbroken beach. The stretch includes the estuaries of Thalassery, Dharmadam, Valapattanam, and Ezhimala.

The most important estuary is at Azheekkal, where Valapattanam River ends its 110 kilometre journey. Azheekkal is integral to the development of Kannur.

Beaches are Kannur's USP in tourism development. The land of Theyyam and weavers was slow in advertising its beautiful sea shore. The district has a large coastline as well as acres of precious mangrove.

The largest beaches in Kannur are the Muzhuppilangad beach and the Payyambalam beach, just 14 and 2 kilometres away from the city centre, respectively. Most of the beach tourists alternate between these two beaches.

The breakwater at Thalassery, the drive-in beach at Muzhuppilangad, the light house at Baby Beach, the Ezhara beach, the Kizhunna beach, the Dharmadam islet, the Kannur fort, the Ayikkara fishing harbour, the Azheekkal estuary and the Ezhimala beach are some of the major attractions of coastal Kannur.

The breakwater at Thalassery belongs to a golden age of maritime trade. The breakwater was a crucial link in the trade empire of the British East India Company. Loads of spices from the eastern mountains were transported to across Europe through this structure. The old warehouses on the beach have many stories to tell, too.

A totally different world awaits a visitor to the Dharmadam islet. The tiny patch of land is subject to the vagaries of tide. On low tide, one can walk up to the land protruding to the sea.

India's longest drive-in beach belongs to Kannur. The Muzhuppilanad beach is 6 kilometres long. The BBC has picked the beach among the six best drive-in beaches in the world. It was hailed as the best in Asia.

Muzhuppilangad, along with Dharmadam, is also home to conventional fishing practices. Fishermen cooperate with each other to maneuver the large nets.

If you are someone looking for a quite spot, then proceed to Kizhunna or Ezhara beaches. Not many travellers venture to these beaches because they cannot be accessed by motor vehicles. You have to climb down a cliff to reach these beaches.

The Kannur for has a history of about five centuries. The 122 infantry battalion of the Indian army is located near here.

The Ayikkara fishing harbour, the largest in the district, is also situated in the fort's vicinity. The light house and the Government Guest House are not far from this place.

Yet Kannur has a special place for the Payyambalam beach, the closest beach where the townsfolk frequent in the mornings and evenings. Towards the north are smaller beaches such as Meenkunnu and Chal beaches. These beaches can be very crowded on holidays.

If the army has a presence in the southern border of Kannur, its northern border is marked by a naval academy. Ezhimala is also a favourite jaunt of seagulls.