A Visit to Kōḻikōḍ

Ever heard anybody go on a weekend leisure trip from Bangalore to Kozhikode? At least I never did. If you’re someone like me, ‘God’s Own Country’, Kerala, means a Munnar, a Kovalam, a Varkala, an Alleppey, and the like. Kozhikode doesn’t feature in that list.

[Note: Kozhikode is correctly spelt as Kōḻikōḍ and pronounced as ‘Ko-yi-kode’.]

Well, Kozhikode wasn’t much of a planned trip for us, rather it happened to us. You can read more on how we landed at Kozhikode here – When Strangers are Friends that Haven’t Met Yet.

Here’s a summary of what we did at Kozhikode.

The Food We Ate…

Biryani: Before I left for Kozhikode, a Malayali friend had told me that I was going to the food capital of Kerala and that it was her favourite food destination in the whole world. She gave me a list of must-try food items. Being the non-foodie that I am, I didn’t pay much attention to it. My ‘nature-person’ was more interested in the beach and the sea.

It was not until I tasted the biryani at Paragon (a famous restaurant) that I understood what she had meant. I had never tasted such delicious biryani in my whole life. The biryani in this part of the country may look pale but the mix of subtle spices, the aroma, and the rich taste is beyond comparison. Thereafter it was biryani for breakfast, biryani for lunch, and biryani for dinner for the rest of of our stay. My friends tried the flaky Malabar Parotta too.

Besides biryani, something else caught my interest. The red-coloured lukewarm water they served at the restaurant, locally known as Karingali. I had never seen something like that before. The colour is derived from the organic herbs mixed with the water.

Besides Paragon, we also tried the food at Rahmath Hotel and Adaminde Chayakkada.

Milk Sharbat: Just opposite to Paragon, is the famous Nannari Sharbat stall. The famous sharbat stall looked like a make-shift tent. There is no signage and it was overflowing with people. The shop sells Plain Sharbat, Soda Sharbat, Masala Sharbat, and Milk Sharbat. The roots of Sarsaparilla, locally known as Nannari is used to prepare the drink. We tried the Milk Sharbat, which is prepared by mixing half a cup of Nannari syrup with two cups of chilled milk. The huge rush of people at the stall was a tell-tale sign of its popularity. Two of my fellow travel friends pushed their way through the crowd to get the drink for us. They thought the unique manner in which the drink was prepared was something worth watching and we had missed it.

Halwa: A walk through SM Street and we stopped at a halwa shop. SM or Sweet Meat street is apparently named after the famous halwa of Kozhikode. Full with the biryani and sharbat, we just satiated our eyes with the colourful halwa that decked up the shop.

The Place We Stayed…

We stayed at a lovely and cozy Airbnb cottage just beside the sea and behind a fishing village. The place is called Shellhouse and we couldn’t ignore the warm and cozy feeling it exuded. Located away from the hustle and bustle of the city, yet very close to the city, it was just perfect. The late night leisure walk in the empty streets of the neighbourhood, chattering endlessly about everything under the sun is something I shall fondly remember.

Shellhouse – The Airbnb cottage
Arabian Sea right next to the cottage
Sunrise at the fishing village
The Temples We Visited…

Though none of us are overtly religious, we had to visit the Tali Shiva Temple after it was recommended by someone. Built in the 14th century, it is the oldest temple in Kozhikode. It’s an orthodox temple and they have a strict dress code. Women need to be traditionally dressed and men need to be clad in a mundu dhoti (A traditional South Indian garment that is wrapped around the waist, usually in shades of white).

The 14th century Tali Shiva temple

Two of my fellow travel friends bought the mundu dhoti from SM Street just for the purpose of the temple. I was in my capris and did not have anything traditional with me. As I had no intention of buying something just for entry to the temple, I decided to wrap a stole around my waist. That partially covered my pants. I was quite sure that I would be stopped at the entrance and was all set to go back. Surprisingly that didn’t happen. I entered the temple, paid my obeisance to Lord Shiva and marveled at the unique wooden architecture, the amazing murals, and roof carvings. Photography is prohibited inside the temple and hence we couldn’t click any pictures.

Another temple we visited just next to the Shiva temple
The Beaches We Visited…

Kozhikode Beach: We first went to Kozhikode beach and it was a time around afternoon when the Sun was right over our heads. It was so hot that we decided to sit at a quaint little café and watch the waves till the sun moved towards west. After several rounds of mocktails, lemon teas, cold coffees and what not, we took a walk towards the far end of the beach where we could see a rocky promenade. The beach was crowded but the rocky area wasn’t. An interesting thing we saw at this beach was the remnants of the ancient port of Calicut.

At Kozhikode beach

Beypore Beach: We had planned to watch sunset at this beach. After whiling away a lot of time at Kozhikode Beach, we were really late to reach Beypore Beach. The sun was at it’s last stage of sliding down into the water when we reached there.

We could hardly catch the sunset at Beypore Beach
Fishermen haul a boat as the day draws to a close, surprised to see it required that many hands.

We also had plans of going to Kappad, or Kappakadavu beach because of its associated historical significance – it is said that in the year 1498, Vasco da Gama had landed here. We gave it a miss however, considering the hot weather and preferring to spend a little more time at our cute little cottage before bidding goodbye to Kozihikode.

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

32 thoughts on “A Visit to Kōḻikōḍ”

    1. Totally agree with you. I experience every place so differently since the time I have started writing. And, being open minded is the only way to have an authentic experience of any place.
      Thank you so much, Ralie, for reading 🙂


    1. You are right, Ulli. Every place in India is so different and unique, every state and city is drastically different in terms of food, clothing, language, customs, etc and yet there’s a common thread that runs across all. This fact never fails to amaze me.
      Thank you so much for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I really like the Malabar biriyani; it is so different from the other styles that you get in different parts of the country. The nannari sharbat and halwa are also available across the peninsula in Madurai (as I found last August). I’m happy that you found these things too.

    Everything looks so nice and sunny in your photos.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes indeed. I really loved it as it was less in spices but had all the flavours. And, the meat is cooked so well, very tender. More than the Nannari Sharbat , it was the stall that fascinated me. I would have read in your Madurai posts if you wrote about them.
      Thank you so much for visiting and reading 🙂


  2. Thanks Neelanjana, for this piece. Kozhikode was covered on HOMP a few years back but even Rocky and Mayur hadn’t covered the place so exhaustively and invitingly. Now you’ve put it on my to do list! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. 🙏🏻 You’ve done such a thorough job yourself; I’ve to just go and enjoy, not worrying of being reminded of my professional baggage! 🙂
        Food or not, I’ll cover nature and my fellow creatures for sure! 😄

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you so much. I feel flattered 😀
          Fellow creatures you’ll find for sure but nature am not quite sure. The beaches were crowded and dirty, except the one near our cottage, which was next to the fishing village. It was bust too but in an interesting way 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hmmm…we will never learn, will we? It still rankles in my mind the latest update you gave me on Juda ka Talaab. Nature has chosen to smile upon us, our country, with her gifts of abundance and we give two hoots! Even with crowding there is a way to peacefully coexist… I do hope there will be a niche here and there to seek succour, though!
            A fishing village…quaint…I can visualise it…should be fun! Maybe you will write about it too?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. When you have all of it, you don’t value it – that’s what’s happening to us. Even after so much awareness in the past few years, not a lot has changed. Having said that, there are many who are taking small (if not big) steps and making small changes in their lives. Changing behaviour is not easy. And, in a country like ours even more. Authorities should just become very strict. No two ways about this – environment first, rest can wait. Sadly that doesn’t happen.
              The fishing village was good but I wish we had more time to explore.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Well said! Yes, there is more awareness and there are many people taking conscious efforts to make a change. But it’s simple falling too short given the indifference, lethargy and resistance to change of the vast populace. Charging fines has been tried for some time in various walks of life, but we always bend down and relax regulations or show laxity after facing unwarranted public hue and cry! A very frustrating situation indeed…

                Liked by 1 person

  3. Quite a food trip. But you missed the halwa. If I was there, I would have saved some space in my tummy for the halwa!😀 I’m not a big eater though, especially during travelling, and anyway, that biryani looks just too much. But it must have been tasty. I’ve seen pictures of Paragon, most probably on Instagram. Among the foods you had, I’ve had the flaky Malabar paratha, but in Kochi (and in Bangalore too, quite a few years back though). It’s also called Kerala Paratha.

    The milk sherbat sounds interesting too, what with that herb in it.

    Wearing of mundu is compulsory in many Keralian temples. And in some temples in Tamil Nadu, men have to enter bare-bodied, and wearing a mundu-like dhoti.

    About your needing a stole to cover your legs, interestingly, I saw the same thing happening in one of the temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap (Cambodia), where a young woman in short pants in our tour bus had to buy a stole just for that, though that was not a living temple anymore (and enterprising shopkeepers sell stole-like garments for that purpose only).

    Something off-topic now. Talking about eating in Bangalore, couldn’t help but mention this: I had my first taste of brain masala curry there (small chunks of goat brain). It was quite tasty, and later found that it’s available in a few Muslim restaurants in Kolkata too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First of all thank you for such a comprehensive comment 🙂
      You took the trouble to read the post in great detail, makes me happy.

      That biryani is indeed too much and for every meal I had to share it, I couldn’t finish even half of it. I’m a small eater is every circumstance – travel or at home! The paratha, is indeed called Kerala Paratha here and in most other places I guess. As for the halwa, we did taste it as the shopkeepers give you a bit to try out before buying. Didn’t you notice the the red coloured drinking water, that had herbs too!

      Wearing mundu dhoti is also an ask in certain temples in Karnataka, we had encountered such a Shiva Temple in Gokarna. Thank God I had the stole, I wouldn’t have bought one for sure.

      I have a mind block with certain kinds of food (especially true in case of animal food). Anyway I am a not a foodie so that explains it maybe. The brain curry surely I wouldn’t be able to try :D…..the name is enough to keep me several yards away 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m know that a name like ‘brain Curry’s can keep many people away, but it definitely tasty, and not much spicy..

        As for travel food, I like to stay refreshed with fruits if available, except, say, the dinner maybe.

        About that karingali-soaked water, a friend had told me about it once. I think it’s quite common there. How does it taste, by the way? Sweet or just neutral taste? Being a herb, there must be some nutritional benefits.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It has no taste, and its just like water. But the thought that you are drinking water mixed with herbs, just makes you feel healthy 😀
          I do eat while traveling, in fact love to sample local cuisines, just that I am a very small eater + have a mind block towards certain kinds of food 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely captures ……. and I love the way you tried most if not all of the recommended dishes 😀 I believe that places that are not popular on the tourist circuit are charming and a surprise package. Thanks for sharing your experience Neelanjana!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hopefully, I will be there in Kozikode this winter…. situation permitting! Your story gives me an insight into the beautiful coastal town.. I am sure I shall be loving the place and cherish the biriyani too 😃

    Liked by 1 person

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