Thalassery, also known as Tellicherry, is a small town on the Malabar coast of Kerala, South India. It is 21 km away from district head quarters, Kannur. The name Tellicherry the anglicised form of Thalassery.

  1. Early history
  2. About the name Thalassery
  3. British influence
  4. Thalassery Fort
  5. Of Cricket, Cakes and Circus
  6. Literary and Social Contributions
  7. Famous personalities
  8. How to reach
  9. Geography

Early history

The roots of the name can probably be traced as follows. The Chera dynasty that ruled Kerala from 9th century AD declined by the beginning of 12th century AD. After the decline of Cheras, the kingdom broke into smaller regions under local chieftains. This led to the formation of provincial states. Venadu, Kolathunadu, Kochi and Kozhikode were prominent among them.

About the name Thalassery

Thalassery was the northernmost place in Kolathunadu. Due to this fact, the place was called "Thalakkathe" (for Northernmost or Topmost to be precise - in Malayalam language) "Cheri" (for Place) which later was abbreviated to Thalassery. Tellicherry is the anglised form of the name Thalassery.

British influence

The British established their presence in Kerala in 1682, when they obtained permission from the Vadakkilamkur Prince of Kolattunad, to settle at Thalassery. In the following years, the British presence in the state of Kerala strengthened. During this period, there were many organised revolts held by the natives of the region against the empire. Among them was the revolt of 1704, that the natives of Thalassery organised, but this revolt was quickly crushed by the British forces due to its localised non-nationalistic nature.

Due to its coastal location, the town of Thalassery was a major commercial centre during the British rule of India. During the British rule, the Malayalam name Thalassery was anglicised into Tellicherry.

The British built a seaport in Tellicherry through which a variety of spices such as pepper and cardamom where exported. The world famous Tellicherry Peppers are named after this quaint little town. In 1708, the British built a fort by the sea to protect and control the spice trade from the town. In 1781, this fort was attacked unsuccessfully by the Indian ruler and military commander Hyder Ali of Mysore.

The British also established the district judicial court in Tellicherry. During the British rule, jurisdiction of Tellicherry Court extended up to Mysore.

Thalassery Fort

In 1708 AD, when the British East India Company established its settlement on the Malabar Coast, they built the Thalassery Fort, as a testimonial to their colonial imperialism. The square fort, with its massive walls, secret tunnels to the sea and intricately carved huge doors, is an imposing structure. The fort was once the nucleus of Thalassery's development. It is now a historical monument.

Of Cricket, Cakes and Circus

Thalassery is at times referred to as the city of cricket, cakes and circus.

Cricket was played in Thalassery much before it was introduced in Calcutta in 1860. The Thalassery Municipal Cricket Ground hosts the Ranji Trophy cricket matches every year. On this ground, the first ball was bowled in the early 1800s, thanks to Colonel Arthur Wellesley, who brought the game to this Malabar town. In the year 2002, Thalassery cricket ground celebrated its 200th birthday by hosting an one-day international cricket match between India and Sri Lanka.

Thalassery is considered to be the birth place of Indian circus. Keeleri Kunhikannan is a legend in the history of circus. The circus artist and coaches from Thalassery are very much in demand. There is also a proposal to start a circus school, which will give employment opportunity for many persons. This can serve as recruitment ground for circus companies. The scope for earning foreign exchange is also tremendous, as the circuses are very popular in other countries. The cultural exchange programme with Russian artistes by Jumbo Circus gave them a overwhelming response and helped them to be a undisputed market leader in the circus industry.

Mambally Bakery, the first bakery in the state of Kerala was founded in Thalassery.

Literary and Social Contributions

Rajya Samacharam the first Malayalam newspaper was published from Thalassery.

NTTF (Nettur Technical Training Foundation) - one of the premier technical institutions of India with branches across the country was founded in Thalassery in the year 1961, with the patronage of Swiss Missionaries.

Thalassery is also home to the Brennen College, one of the oldest educational institutions in the region. The Brennen College evolved from a school established by the English philanthropist, Edward Brennen, who had made Thalassery his home. This college, which is more than a hundred years old is one of the premier educational institutions in the state of Kerala. In December 2004, the government of Kerala decided to bestow the status of University to the Brennen College.

Famous personalities

C. V. Devan Nair, the third President of Singapore hails from Thalassery.

Oyyarathu Chandumenon, author of the first Malayalam novel Indulekha was from Thalassery.

Herman Gundert, the German missionary who lived in Thalassery wrote the first English-Malayalam translator dictionary.

Sanjayan (M. R. Nair), the Malayalam satirical essayist and contemporary social critic was from Thalassery.

How to reach

Air:The nearest airport is at Karipur, Kozhikode, about 93 km south.

Rail:Thalassery railway station is main station in which almost all the train stop. Kannur railway station is well linked to major towns up country as well as within the State.

Road:Thalassery is accessible by road from Kozhikode which is 67 Kilometers far.


Thalassery is situated in the district of Kannur. The geography of Thalassery is adorned with four rivers, hills and a long coast line. One of the four rivers is the Mahe (Mayyazhi) river. During the British rule, the Mahe river was monikered as the English Channel, because it separated Tellicherry (ruled by Britain) from Mahe (ruled by French). Muzhappilangad beach, a 5km long pristine beach is located within 10 km from the city centre.

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