The beautiful coast north of Kozhikode is a seemingly endless stretch of coconut palms, wooded hills and virtually deserted beaches. The small fishing towns ranged along it hold little of interest for visitors, most of whom bypass the area completely – missing out on some exquisite, quiet coves, and the chance to see theyyem, the extraordinary masked trance dances that take place in villages throughout the region between November and May.

The only village in Kannur district where you can be guaranteed a glimpse of theyyem is Parassinikadavu, a thirty-minute drive north of Kannur, where temple priests don elaborate costumes, dance and make offerings to the god Muthappan each morning and evening. With an early enough start, it’s possible to catch the morning session and still have time to continue north to explore the little-visited Valiyaparamba backwater region. Local ferries crisscross this fascinating necklace of lagoons, and there’s even a company running houseboat trips – though foreign tourists are few and far between.

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