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Clockwise from top:Hermann Gundert Statue, Kalaripayattu Training, Muzhappilangad Beach, Thalassery fort, Theyyam, Spice Market, Cannons near Pier
Land of 3 C's-Circus, Cake and Cricket
Thalassery is located in Kerala
Location of Thalassery in Kerala
Thalassery is located in India
Thalassery (India)
Coordinates: 11°45′2.24″N 75°29′13.28″E / 11.7506222°N 75.4870222°E / 11.7506222; 75.4870222
Country India
Municipality1 November 1866
Named forSpices (Tellicherry Pepper, Cinnamon)
 • BodyMunicipality
 • Municipality ChairmanC K Ramesan
 • Sub CollectorRohit Meena IAS
 • Assistant Superintendent of PoliceChaitra Teresa John IPS
 • Sitting MLAAdv A.N Shamseer
 • Total23.96 km2 (9.25 sq mi)
2.5 m-30 m
3 m (10 ft)
 • Total92,558
 • Density3,900/km2 (10,000/sq mi)
 • OfficialMalayalam, English
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
670 1xx
Telephone code91 490
Vehicle registrationKL 58 –
Sex ratio1000:1125 /
Lok Sabha constituencyVatakara
Vidhan Sabha constituencyThalassery
Lok Sabha memberMullappally Ramachandran
Thalassery is located in the southern part of Kannur District

Thalassery (Malayalam pronunciation: [θʌlʌsserɪ] (About this soundlisten)), formerly Tellicherry,[2] is a municipality[1] on the Malabar Coast in Kannur district, in the state of Kerala, India, bordered by the districts of Mahé (Pondicherry), Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kasaragod and Kodagu (Karnataka). Thalassery municipality has a population just under 100,000.[3] Thalassery has an area of 23.98 square kilometres (9.26 sq mi). It is 22 km south of the district headquarters in Kannur town. 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 north eastern hilly region of the former Thalassery Taluk such as Peravoor, Aralam, Ayyankunnu, Kottiyoor, Kelakam is within the Iritty Taluk area.


Thalassery may have originated from the ancient Malayalam linguistic usage 'Thala' (Head) and 'cheri' (low lying settlement place), 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). Thalassery could be a village, as it hosts ancient Shree Ramaswamy shrines dedicated/connected to Rama (Rama-Vaishnavite/ Smartha sects settlements in various villages in and around Thalassery such as Tiruvangad, Andaloor, Makreri, Peralassery, Edakkad, Taliparamba, Cheruthazham, Mavilayi, Kadalayi, Trichambaram, Thrikykunnu near Koothuparamba, Kannapuram etc... such a large number of shrines dedicated to or related to Rama in close vicinity is rare compared to other places in Kerala. The 1885 administration manual vol. 2 of the former Madras Presidency cites research in regional legends and folklore to indicate that the ancient name of Thalassery was Swetharanya pura.[6]


Thalassery was a trade hub where Dutch, British, Portuguese Chinese, Arab, and Jewish traders had considerable influence in the spice market.

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 Mahé. Muzhappilangad 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 Eranholi, Kadirur, Dharmadam, Muzhappilangad, Pinarayi 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%.


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.[16][17] Thalassery is called as the city of three Cs-Cake, Cricket and Circus as the first bakery in Kerala was established in the town, cricket was first played in India here.[18] [19]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).[20] 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 Malayalam, Tamil 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.[21] Keeleri Kunhikannan 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.[22]


St. Joseph Cathedral

Thalassery is known for its biryani (in local dialect, biri-yaa-ni)[23][24] Unlike other biriyani cuisines Thalassery biryani uses Kaima/Jeerakasala rice instead of the usual basmati rice.[25]

Putu kadala, pazhampori, kozhi-kkalu, adda, kinnathappam, kalathappam, pappadam-pazham, aval um poriyum kuzhakkal, muttamala, chatti and ari pathiri are other popular dishes.[26] Porridges such as mutaari kachiyatu (ragi porridge) are also popular.[26]

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[27] is still considered an important ingredient by chefs globally.


Theyyam is a ritual performance art form[28] that depict the cultural heritage of North Malabar, especially of ancient Kolathunad. Theyyam depicts Shiva bhutaganas, Kali 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.[29]

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.[30] India's first cricket club, which was later named the Town Cricket Club, was formed in 1850 at Tellichery by Wellesley.[30][31][32] 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.[30][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.[33] 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.[34]

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 Foundation, St Joseph's Higher Secondary School, Sacred 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.[35][36]

The nearest airport is Kannur International Airport, about 24.5 km east. The nearest airport for Thalasserry will be Kannur International Airport, from December 9, 2018. [37]The airport is located at a distance of 24.5 km from the town.[38] Mangalore International Airport and Calicut International Airport, Cochin International Airport 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.[39] The hill stations Virajpet in Kodagu and Mananthavady in Wayanad are 82 km away from the town.


The Thalassery carnival, the Beach fest in Muzhappilangad beach and Dharmadam beach are notable attractions.[40] 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.[41] Other visitors come to experience Theyyam and explore the area's history, such as Tellicherry Fort.

Thalassery Pier (Kadalpaalam), Overbury's Folly, Pazhassi Dam and Reservoir garden[42] and Malayala Kala Gramam, New Mahe,(7 km from Thalassery)[43][44] are other attractions

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

A shipwreck is visible near the Thalassery shore.[45]

Political violence

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.[46]

Notable residents


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

Climate 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[47]
Source #2:[48]


  1. ^ a b "Analysis of Census of India-Kerala State-Government of India" (PDF). Government of India. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  2. ^ "Govt approves change in names of 25 towns". The Times of India. 12 February 2012. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  3. ^ "Census of India Website : Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India". Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  4. ^ "CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF CENTRAL ACTS (Updated up to 17-10-2014)". Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  5. ^ August 8, 2016, 3:13 am. "ചരിത്രം | Thalassery Municipality". Retrieved 7 August 2016.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ a b Team Thalassery. "THALASSERY - History". Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  7. ^ "Chandy inaugurates Iritty taluk". The Hindu. 10 February 2014. Retrieved 20 April 2014.
  8. ^ Swai, Bonaventure (July 1978). "Notes on the Colonial State with Reference to Malabar in the 18th and 19th Centuries". Social Scientist. 6 (12): 44–65. doi:10.2307/3516674. JSTOR 3516674.
  9. ^ "Terre Exotique - Épicerie fine en ligne". Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  10. ^ "Kannur (Cannanore) | city, municipality". Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Google Maps". Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  12. ^ Neglect ruins Muzhappilangad beach. The Times of India. (12 November 2012).
  13. ^ "Malabar Coast - India Environment Portal | News, reports, documents, blogs, data, analysis on environment & development | India, South Asia". India Environment Portal. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  14. ^ "Malabar Biodiversity". Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  15. ^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 16 June 2004. Retrieved 1 November 2008.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 August 2016. Retrieved 2010-10-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 May 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Celebrating the culinary legacy of Thalassery". The Hindu. 21 January 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  19. ^ "Thalassery serves a slice of its history". The Hindu. 23 January 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  20. ^ "Gundert was foster father of Malayalam, says MGS". The Hindu. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  21. ^ Menon 2007, p. 436.
  22. ^ "Circus is trying to regain its lost sheen in Thalassery". The Economic Times. 17 August 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "Pandit to add might to Thalassery biryani". The New Indian Express. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  25. ^ "My Experiments With Food". Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  26. ^ a b "Thalassery to Kochi via food". The Hindu. 27 November 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  27. ^ []
  28. ^ "The Science of "Theyyam"". theyyamcalendar. 2010. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  29. ^ "History of Theyyam". Kerala Tourism. 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  30. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ "Official Website Of Information And Public Relation Department Of Kerala". Archived from the original on 28 April 2006. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
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  33. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  34. ^ Team Thalassery. "THALASSERY - Education - BEMP Higher Secondary school". Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  35. ^ Thalassery-Mysore Rail Link: Survey Via Long Route Raises Eye Brows. "The New Indian Express". (16 December 2013).
  36. ^ Thalassery-Mysore rail link: Railways to conduct resurvey. The Times of India. (4 September 2012).
  37. ^ [1]. "The Times of India". (05 November 2018).
  38. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  39. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  40. ^ "Muzhappilangad beach fest from April 12 - KERALA". The Hindu. 11 April 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  41. ^ "Welcome to Hindustan Kalari Sangam :: Kalarippayattu ::". Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  42. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 2012-12-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  43. ^ "Malayala Kalagramam - renowned centre form arts & Culture at New Mahe, Kannur". Kerala Tourism. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
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  45. ^ Kurup, K. K. N. (1985). History of the Tellicherry Factory, 1683-1794. Sandhya Publications.
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  47. ^ "Thalassery". World Weather Online. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  48. ^ "Climate: thalassery". Retrieved 18 February 2016.

Further reading

  • Menon, A Sreedhara (1 January 2007). A Survey Of Kerala History. DC Books. ISBN 978-81-264-1578-6.
  • Renjith, Moorkoth, ed (2000). Thalassery Millennium Manual.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Skaria Zacharia, ed. Thalassery Rekhakal. Kottaym: DC Books.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Thalassery Arivukal K. M. Govi. Thalassery: Sanjayan Samskarika Vedi, 2011

External links

Preceded by
Kottayam Province of Chirakkal Kingdom
Tellicherry, Madras Presidency, British India
1 November 1866 according to the Madras Act 10 of 1865
(Amendment of the Improvements in Towns act 1850)
Succeeded by
Thalassery taluk, Kerala state, India
(States Reorganisation Act, 1956)