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KANNUR (Cannanore)

Land of Lord Krishna

The seaport of Kannur, formerly known as Cannanore, 80km north of Calicut, is one of Kerala’s most historically important cities. It has a fine early European fort, as well as the palace of Kerala’s only Muslim former princely family. It became a Portuguese and then a Dutch base, its local rulers siding with Tipu Sultan against the British in the Mysore wars of the late 18th century. It later became a British garrison town.

Kannur in Kerala is one of the prime beach towns in Kerala. A bustling town with a strong history. It is widely famous for the native art of Theyyam. Theyyam is a vibrant art form that attracts people from across the globe to Kannur and other parts of North Kerala. Theyyam is an integral part of people living in Kannur.

8.5 rating

What is Theyyam?

Theyyam means “God”. It is a ritualistic dance performance performed in small temples or shrines in North Kerala, mostly in small shrines of Kannur and Kasaragod and in some parts of Wayanad and Calicut. There are fixed Theyyams in Temple and people can also arrange for Theyyam performances in the temple as offerings. However, it cannot be performed as an art form like Kathakali or Kalarippayattu. We can only watch these in Kavu’s or small shrines. The minimum duration for the Theyyam dance will be 6-8hrs

The participant undergoes heavy makeup about the character he would play. Then he dances rigorously to the Theyyam song sung to him along with high/low tempo percussion music. It is mesmerizing to witness the Theyyam live. There is no doubt that the audience gets stunned by the way the artist performs. Theyyam artists emit enormous energy while performing. One could feel it during Theyyam, which is the power of this art form.


Kochi Metro is a metro rail system serving the city of Kochi. Now it has become the fastest way to reach the passenger’s preferred destination and it has helped a lot in reducing the traffic thereby controlling the pollution. Overall there are 22 stations connected by Kochi Metro from Aluva to Petta.Its exact origin is unknown. There are 2 different perspectives prevailing here amongst local people, about Theyyam. We would like to share both views as it is, for your understanding.

One of the perspectives goes like this - Theyyam originated in Kerala and it is related to Hinduism. Theyyam is an ancient art form performed to worship Gods and as a tribute to local heroes of the region. It is performed by people belonging to tribal communities such as Mannans, Velans, Panans etc. Theyyam is an instrument that brings about a balance and equality among the lower caste and higher caste people in North Kerala. It originated in North Kerala and the lower caste people were the ones who introduced it here as a tool to lower the discrimination between higher and lower castes. We could see it in Kannur that people pay huge respect to the Theyyam artists, who belong to the tribal community. Even people belonging to higher caste bow down and seek blessings from a Theyyam artist while he performs.

The other perspective goes as below which is completely different but sounds more precise.

Anthropologists and historians, after years of research, concluded that Theyyam is an art form related to the Voodoo Witchcraft in Africa. Why? Anthropologists say that these tribal people who perform Theyyam are of African origin. Thousands of years before, many Africans came and settled in the Wayanad jungle of Kerala. They came for work in the Jungle and eventually settled there. I hope you might have heard about Voodoo witchcraft in Africa. It is a kind of ritual, very common in Africa. The makeup, the dance moves, the music, etc are almost the same to that of Theyyam, which is why researchers believe Theyyam is not Indian, rather it is of African origin. Therefore, this side of the view believes Theyyam is not part of Hinduism, but Hindu people made it theirs by adding Hindu God stories to the Theyyam chart.

So, we do not know the exact origin of Theyyam. However, it is sure Theyyam is equally entertaining for every human eye. So let guests enjoy Theyyam’s performance while visiting Kannur.

Make-up session

If a guest is interested in seeing the makeup session, he/she must reach the venue 2 or 3 hours before the Theyyam performance. 95% of the Theyyams, we can see the make-up session. For that, a separate room made of Coconut leaves is made outside the shrine. However, for certain Theyyams like “Muchillot Bhagavathy THeyyam”, we cannot watch the makeup, because as per the rule, this Theyyam makeup must be done hidden.

Can an exclusive Theyyam performance be arranged for our guests?

A BIG NO! THeyyam is never an art form. It is a ritual as we all know. It is never a theatrical art and cannot be performed on stage. It is a form of worship, and therefore it cannot be done anywhere else other than the temple.

Thottampattu and Vellattam

There are both Male and Female Theyyams, but all are performed by men only. One day before the main Theyyam performance, the participant indulges himself in a preparation process where he raises his energy levels and invites the divine by listening to the Theyyam song accompanied by percussion music. While doing this, it is believed that the divine energy of the main sanctum is transferred into the participants’ bodies. This is very much like watching and enjoying the main Theyyam performance. He would do either no makeup or have a partial Theyyam makeup and the Theyyam song is sung to him by the singers who are also Theyyam artists. Percussion music accompanies the song. This song is the story of the character he would be playing the next day.


This is the first stage when the Theyyam people sing and chants the story to the Theyyam participant along with percussion music. The Theyyam participant also joins and sings with them. The participant wears no makeup during Thottampattu.


This is the stage before the main Theyyam. The participant puts on partial makeup and then stands near the “Ara” [The sanctum or a stone where the divine energy is believed to be present]. He then sings and dances vigorously inviting the divine into his body.

In case the guest wants to enjoy this, then, we must take them to the venue the day before the main Theyyam performance.

Types of Theyyam:

Speaking about the types of Theyyam, there are 450+ Theyyams performed in various parts of the North Kerala region. It depends on the temple deity, the local myths, etc. The most famous and enjoyable Theyyams which we could suggest to your clients are-

1. Thee Chamundi Theyyam or Ottakkolam

2. Pottan Theyyam

3. Gulikan Theyyam - almost as same as Pottan Theyyam [Above]

4. Kathivannur Veeran

5. Vallya Mudi Theyyam

6. Pulikandan and Puliyurkali Theyyam

There are many other Theyyams but not all are equally entertaining as the above said Theyyams. These are energetic and lively Theyyams which pass on their energytheir even the people who witness them.

Date and timings:

Theyyam usually starts in all temples at Kannur from Thulam 10 {Malayalam calendar], which falls on October 23- 30 every year. During November certain Theyyams are performed in some temples. By December, major Theyyam performances start, and it last till April month. Many types of Theyyam are performed at 1000’s shrines across the North Kerala districts. However, the good news is that Theyyam cannot only be enjoyed during December- April months, rather it can be enjoyed throughout the year. Clients who wish to witness Theyyam other than the season months can enjoy Theyyam, whenever they wish to, in the below temples.

There are 4 Muthappan temples in Kannur, where Theyyam is performed throughout the year.

Every Day: Parichnikadavu Shiva Temple [20 km away from Kannur]

Every Friday and Tuesday: Cherappuram Muthappan Kavu [6 km from Costa Malabari Homestay]

Every Saturday: Kalladathodu Kavu [14 km from Costa Malabari Homestay]

Local Festivals at Kannur:

Below are the local festivals where Theyyam performance are conducted. Festival dates listed are by the Malayalam calendar and they adhere to local traditions and customs.

Sree Mavilakkavu Temple

The deity at Mavilakkavu does not speak loud as to how it happens in other Theyyams. The legend is that while the deity was young his brothers cut off his tongue to prevent him from speaking the truth. This Kavu is also where the famous slapping festival (Adi Utsavam) occurs in which devotees hold each other by their shoulders and slap each other. Estimated Date: 14 to 20 April 2022

Puzhaathi Sree Pazhaya Parambathu Puthiya Bhagavathy Temple

This is the Devasthanam of people who came from the north. The temple is to the east of Patel Road about 1.5 km past the Puthiyatheru Kattaamballi road, off Taliparamba, on the National Highway. The temple has been renovated with care and is maintained well. Estimated Date: 16 to 18 April 2022

Pinarayi Bali Temple

This temple gives prominence to the Bali theyyam which is deemed to be the Devasthanam of Viswakarma. Such Bali Theyyam temples are recognized as similar to the abodes of Vishwakarma. The temple is at an elevated spot surrounded by a grove of trees. This Kavu showcases the mastery of temple architecture. The temple which was once prominent for its Theyyattams has regained its prominence due to the participation of people. Estimated Date: 16 to 17 April 2022

Perikamana Illam

This is a Devasthanam and Theyyam center sharing space in an Illam or manor. Traditionally worshipped deities become the Theyyams. Offerings and invocations of the deity are offered daily at the temple and these are the distinctive features of this Devasthanam. Not far from the Illam is the Kanjirathara and lamp hut which is yet another symbol of dedication. Estimated Date: 17 to 18 April 2022

Anthi Mahakaali Kottam

Anthi Mahakaali Kottam has many peculiarities. When the lamp is lit in the western Kottilakathu of Velothu Nambi Tharavadu the light is reflected in the Roudra Kaali temple opposite the Kottam. Pilgrims believe that offerings of rice and pots ensure fertility and successful childbirth (Santhanabhagyam). The Kottam is where Karippala Naagam established itself. The Divine weapon of the Kavu is kept at the Thalaynneri Poomala Bhagavathy Kavu and brought to Anthi Mahakaali Kottam in a ritualistic procession during the festival. Estimated Date: 3 to 4 May 2022

Best Places to visit in Kannur:

KANNUR FORT / Fort St. Angelo:

The Kannur Fort which was built on the Arabian Sea coast is one of the most picturesque forts in the Kannur district of Kerala. Kannur Fort is also known as St. Angelo Fort. It was constructed by the first Portuguese Viceroy of India, Dom Francisco de Almeida, with the consent of the ruling Kolathiri Raja in the year 1505. This Fort is known locally as Kannur Kota. In 1790, this Fort was taken over by the British and they turned it into the main army center in the Malabar region. Kannur Fort is a most important historical monument which is now preserved under the Archaeological Survey of India. The Kannur Cantonment is among the 62 cantonments in the country. And the Kannur Fort symbolizes the military power and falls within the Kannur Cantonment.


The triangular laterite structure of the massive Fort is flanked by gigantic bastions and a moat. The Fort contains the remains of an early oil lamp lighthouse. This lighthouse is believed to be the first lighthouse in Kannur. The remains of the British military Cantonment are also found here. The view of the natural fishing harbor, Mappila bay, and the Dharmadam Island from the fort is absolutely fascinating. The Dharmadam Island near this fort is a favorite haunt of the tourists.

BEST TIME TO VISIT: July to March.

By Air: Kannur International Airport at a distance of 30 KMS.

By Rail: Kannur Central Railway Station is at a distance of 3.5 KMS.

By Road: Kannur Bus Station is at a distance of 2 KMS.


You can enjoy the magnificent view of the Arabian Sea from the Fort. Watching the sunset from the Fort is a beautiful experience. The green scenic landscape is perfect for good photography.

ENTRY & EXIT TIMINGS: All days of the week.

Entry Time: 9:00 AM.

Exit Time: 6:00 PM.

Entrance fee – Rs.25 for Indians, Rs.300 for Foreigners, Free for Children below 15 years

Arakkal Museum ( Entrance Fee -10Rs, Visiting Time 09:30Hrs to 17:30Hrs, Museum is closed on Mondays).

The Arakkal Museum is a museum dedicated to the Arakkal family, the only Muslim royal family in Kerala, India. The museum is a section of the Arakkalkettu. The durbar hall section of the palace has been converted into a museum by the Government of Kerala. The museum exhibits artifacts and heirlooms of the royal family which include the family seal, the pathayam (the wooden box in which grain was stored), the document box, and so on. The royal copies of the Holy Quran, an old-fashioned telephone, swords and daggers used by the rulers, and a telescope are also on display.

St John’s Church and the European Cemetery:

About 1km north of the fort, on the other side of the cantonment, is St John’s Church (1811), its exterior disfigured by later extensions. It is one of India’s oldest garrison churches; the interior is more interesting and includes a memorial stone to Murdoch Brown, a controversial Scottish plantation owner, who was accused by the British of helping Tipu Sultan. Near to the church, across a stretch of wasteland, is the old European Cemetery, with a small chapel. The Anglican graves are on the left, the Catholic graves on the right, with the oldest, most interesting structures on the far left.

The Royal Palace

To the south of the cantonment is the old Royal Palace, a simple traditional Kerala building on the main road. Part of the palace is now the Arakkal Museum (closed on Mondays) with a small collection of arms, glass, and furniture.

Payyambalam Beach

Payyambalam Beach is one of the best-known beaches in Kannur. This pristine golden beach is not only great for relaxing and revitalizing yourself, but also for boating, swimming, and thrilling adventure activities. The approach to the beach is through a small crossover bridge that is built over a narrow canal. To the right of the bridge are the memorials of Kannur's important political personalities who had passed away over the recent decades.

Hotels in Kannur:

Standard Hotels

Ocean Hues Beach House - www.oceanhues.com is located at Kizhunna and takes 15 minutes to drive from Kannur town. The beach house is located at the beach just 10 meters from the sea. It is a modern, furnished, fully air-conditioned, well maintained holiday home. All rooms have AC and an ocean view. Wi-Fi facility is available.

Costa Malabari Homestays

Costa Malabari 1

This is a simple house, located close to the beach but not a beachfront property. Both Costa Malabari 1 and 3 are just 300 meters away from each other. This is ideal for inbound clients who wish to witness Theyyam. This is a heritage building, spacious with a wide and long sitting hall with many detailed wall photographs of Theyyam. A good visual treat for Theyyam enthusiasts. There are 5 rooms here and 1 of them is a Non-AC room. Again, rooms are good, spacious but with basic amenities only, not like in a hotel. Food is prepared exclusively in the kitchen. Staff has been appointed for the same.

Costa Malabari 2 - NOT OPERATIONAL

Costa Malabari 3

This is also not a beachfront property. Yet another 200+ years old heritage building. There are 5 rooms here, and only 1 of them [Upstairs room] has A/C.

Club 7 Beach Resort – www.club7beachresort.com

Club7 Beach Resort is a seaside resort situated on a fine sandy beach in the village of Kizhunnapara, 11 km away from Kannur Town. There are 4 AC rooms on the 1st Floor, on the ground floor, there are 03 rooms - 01 AC room and 02 Non AC rooms.

Hotel Blue Nile - http://hotelbluenile.com/index.php

Category- Standard

Location- Located 2 km from the Kannur town

Ambiance: Fine ambiance. Standard hotel

Accessibility- All vehicles can access this hotel.

Suggestible – For standard inbound and domestic as well.

Staff- very cooperative and professional

Room types: Standard, Deluxe rooms, Club Suites, Suites. All rooms are well maintained

Amenities- TV, Wifi, Hot water, Mini Bar in all rooms, toiletries, Water bottles, complimentary snack box, etc [Coffee kettle on request]

Extra Bed: Cot is available [Space for an extra bed is there]

Budget Hotels

Mascot Beach Resort:

It is a good budget hotel, unfortunately, poor maintenance. It has 36 spacious AC rooms with room types such as Mascot Deluxe, Standard room, and Suites. A perfect beach-view resort.

Website: - http://www.mascotresortkannur.com

Category: 3 Star, (as per Classification)

Location: near Baby Beach Burnasseri, Kannur Cantonment Area, Burnacherry, Kannur, Kerala 670013

Location- 4kms away from the Kannur town

Ambience: Fine for a budget property.

Accessibility- All vehicles can access this resort.

Amenities- Basic amenities such as TV, toiletries, Hot water, etc, Wi-fi in all rooms, Coffee Kettle on request. Mini Fridge in Deluxe category rooms only.

Extra Bed: They have limited number of Cots, please ask for Cot during booking in case of extra bed. Else mattress on floor would be provided.

Hotel Chera Rocks - https://cherarocks.com/

Great sea-front property. Good for those who come for relaxing. But its better not to recommend this property for those who come for Theyyam, because it is bit far and secluded. Guests must walk 200 meters downhill to reach the property. Vehicles won’t come near resort.

Category- Budget Sea-side property. We can suggest it for standard inbound clients as well considering the superb location.

Location- Located 11 kms from the Kannur town Ambiancee: Superb ambience. Sea front property. Secluded area for a very peaceful stay.

Accessibility- Small vehicles to Tempos can come till 200 meters away from the resort. From there a 200-meter downhill trek takes you to the Hotel.

Room types: Standard rooms (sea facing) and Superior rooms (sea facing)

Amenities- Basic amenities such as TV, toiletries, Hot water etc,

Extra Bed: There is not much space for extra bed, better recommend double occupancy only.

Hotel Polariz - https://www.hotelpolariz.com/index.php

We offer 38 spacious rooms and suites, all with individual balconies. Rooms are equipped with all modern amenities. Our rooms are amongst the most spacious and most preferred in Kannur. No of Rooms: 38 ( 35 AC, 3 Non-AC)

Category- Budget

Location- Located 18 kms from the Kannur town [Near Parichnikadavu Shiva Temple]

Ambience: Fine for a budget property.

Accessibility- All vehicles can access this hotel.

Room types: 3 Non-AC, 35 AC Double

No of rooms: 38

Amenities- Basic amenities such as TV, toiletries, Hot water etc, Wifi, Coffee Kettle on request

Extra Bed: Cot is provided [Space is there]

Luxury Hotels

Krishna Beach Resort - http://kbrkannur.com ( It is a brand-new resort )

Hotel Nesma Palace- https://nesmapalace.com ( It is a brand new Hotel)

Magnet Hotel Kannur - www.magnethotelkannur.com ( Brand New hotel)

JP Airport Hotel – www.jpairporthotel.com ( Brand New Airport hotel)

Deluxe Hotels

Kairali Heritage Resort - www.kairaliheritage.com

Broad Bean Hotel- www.broadbeankannur.com

The Hotel Canoe Hotel – www.canoehotel.com

Hotel Rainbow Suites - http://www.rainbowhotels.in

How to Reach Kannur

Kannur is well-linked with all the other cities through all the major modes of transportation, i.e. roadways, railway,s and airways. The nearest airport to Kannur is the Calicut International Airport, Kozhikode.

Recently there are some of the completed projects which can enhance tourism growth in future

1. Kannur International Airport - is an airport serving the North Malabar region of Kerala, Kodagu and Mysore districts of Karnataka and Mahé district of Puducherry in India.

2. Kuthiran Tunnel - is a twin-tube highway tunnel in the South Indian state of Kerala. The tunnel is located on the National Highway 544 and it is owned and operated by the National Highways Authority of India.

By Air

• Calicut International Airport to Kannur – 115 Kms away

By Train

• Nizamuddin Express ( From Trivandrum )

• Madgaon Express ( From Ernakulam )

• Kochuveli Express ( From Kochuveli )

• Mangalore Express ( From Trivandrum )

By Road

• Mysore to Kannur driving time is 4 hr 20 min (179 kms) via Kannur - Mattannur - Coorg Road and Thalassery - Mysore Road

• Ooty to Kannur, it takes 6 hrs 50 min (227 kms) via Sulthan Bathery-Devarshola-Gudalur Road and NH181

• Thalassery to Kannur, it takes 45 min (25 kms) via Ancham Peedika - Kolathuvayal Road/Kannur - Kuthuparamba Road

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