Kozhikode is a historical town with a hoary past. From time immemorial, the city attracted travellers, with its charming physical features and prosperity. Even today , the glory of Kozhikode(Calicut) has not faded.
Kozhikode was the capital of Malabar during the time of Zamorins who where ruling before the British Rule in India. It was trading in spices like black pepper and cardamom with the Jews, Arabs, Phoenicians, Chinese , Dutch and Portuguese more than 500 years ago.
The political history of Kozhikode is a story of treacherous and ill conceived conspiracies hatched by the Western powers. Vasco De Gama landed at Kappad in May 1498, as the leaders of a trade mission from Portugal and was received by the Zamorin himself.
As Kozhikode offered full freedom & security, the Arab & the Chinese merchants preferred it to all other ports.
The globe-trotter Ibn Batuta (A.D. 1342-47) quotes:
"We came next to Kalikut, one of the great ports of the district of Malabar, and in which merchants of all parts are found."
The history of Kozhikode district as an administrative unit begins from January 1957. When the states of the Indian Union were reorganised on linguistic basis on 1st November, 1956, the erstwhile Malabar district was separated from Madras state (Tamil Nadu) and added to the new unilingual state of Kerala. But malabar district was found to be too uniwieldy for administrative purposes. Consequently the state government ordered the formation of three districts with certain changes in the boundaries of some of the taluks. The Kozhikode district thus came into existence on 1st Jnauary 1957,orginally consisting of five taluks, Viz, Vadakara, Koyilandy, Kozhikode, Ernad & Tirur. With the formation of malapuram district on 1st june 1969 & Wayandu on 1st November 1980, kozhikode district now consist of one revenue division , three taluks, twelve blocks, 77 panchayats and 117 villages.
The Udaiyavar of Ernad, whose headquarters was at Nediyiruppu wanted an outlet to the sea and after fighting with the Polatthiri King for 48 long years conquered the area around Ponniankara and build a fort at a place called Velapuram. Thus the city of Calicut came into existence sometime in the 13th Century AD.
With the accession of Calicut, the status of Nediyirippu increased and he come to be known as Swami Nambiyathiri Thirumulpad, which gradually became Samuri or Samuthiri over the years. The Europeans called him Zamorin.
According to K.V. Krishna Iyer, the rise of calicut is at once a cause and a consequence of Zamorin's ascendancy in Kerala. By the end of the century, Zamorin was at the zenith of his powers with all princes and chieftains of Kerala north of Cochin acknowledging his suzerainty.
Vasco De Gamma
Vasco Da Gama arrived in 1498 and obtained permission to carry out trade
from Calicut. The Arabs sensing the threat posed by Portuguese to their commercial supremacy, opposed the Europeans. Bitter fights started between Portuguese and Arabs. The Portuguese went to Cochin for trade and the Raja of Cochin had an alliance with the Portuguese with aim of attaining sovereignty from Zamorin.
The hostilities between the Zamorin and the Portuguese continued for many decades and the role played by the Kunjali Marakkar in these battles can not been forgotten. Kunjali Marakkars were the hereditary admirals of the zamorin and organized a powerful navy to fight the Portuguese.
Kunajali II, the greatest of Zamorin's Admirals, fought bravely and captured the Portuguese ships and massacred the crew members. Kunjali III built a fort at Kottakkal and enjoyed all the privileges enjoyed by the Nair chiefs. This caused heavy damages to the Portuguese shipping and trade but with the defeats in 1528 and 1538 they lost their glory.
The Portuguese built a fort at Chaliyam at the mouth of the Baypore River in the middle of the Zamorin's territory. Due to the prolonged struggle, Zamorin's strength deteriorated and entered into a treaty in 1540 and allowed the Portuguese to have monopoly over trade at Calicut port. The peace was temporary and war broke out again resulting in the demolition of Chaliyom Fort in the 1571 by the Zamorin.
The battles continued unabated till 1588 when the Portuguese were allowed to settle down at Calicut. However Kunjali opposed the move. Moreover the Kunjali IV declared himself as the 'King of the Moors' and disobeyed the Zamorin. Zamorin could not digest this and sided with Portuguese to destroy the powerful Kunjalis and in 1600, kunjalis surrendered and were subsequently executed. It was really ironical that Zamorins had to ally with Portuguese and to fight the Kunjalis, who saved the Calicut Kingdom for decades in its fight against Portuguese.
In the meanwhile, the Dutch, English and the French arrived in Kerala. Zamorins allowed the Dutch to trade in Calicut and sought their help to drive out the Portuguese. The position of Portuguese weakened gradually due to international events and their position in Kerala deteriorated. Dutch captured Cochin and Cannanore and established trade. However, by 1721, the Dutch formally withdrew from all interference in native wars.