KANNUR (Cannanore), a large, predominantly Moppila Muslim fishing and market town 92km north of Kozhikode, was for many centuries the capital of the Kolathiri rajas, who prospered from the maritime spice-trade through its port. India’s first Portuguese Viceroy, Francisco de Almeida, took the stronghold in 1505, leaving in his wake an imposing triangular bastion, St Angelo’s Fort. This was taken in the seventeenth century by the Dutch, who sold it a hundred or so years later to the Arakkal rajas, Kerala’s only ruling Muslim dynasty. You can still clamber up the ramparts, littered with British cannon, for views over the town’s fishing anchorage.
The unexploited beaches around Kannur are spectacular enough, but most visitors come to the town to search out theyyem. Throughout the festival season, the daily Malayala Manorama newspaper lists performances at the top left of the second page, though you will have to ask someone to translate. For anyone short of time, the daily rituals at Parassinikadavu, or the Sri Muthappam Temple next to the railway station (daily 4pm), are worthwhile alternatives.