The name Calicut is the anglicised form of the word Kalikut, which in turn is the Arabic of the Malayalam name for the city which is Kozhikode.

Calicut is a coastal city with a long and rich history. It is the most important city and region of Malabar and is also the third largest city in Kerala. It has always been associated with trade and commerce, particularly the spice trade.

It has traded in spices like black pepper and cardamom with Jews, Arabs, Phoenicians, and Chinese for more than 500 years. As Kozhikode offered full freedom and security, the Arab and the Chinese merchants preferred it to all other ports. The globe-trotter Ibn Batuta (A.D. 1342–47) said:

“We came next to Kalikut, one of the great ports of the district of Malabar, and in which merchants of all parts are found.”

Kozhikode was the capital of Malabar during the time of Zamorins (in Malayalam Samoothiri), who ruled the region before the British took over.  The city’s first recorded contact with Europe was when Vasco da Gama landed at Kappad (18 km north) in May 1498, with three ships and 170 men, after rounding the Cape of Good hope in Africa. He was initially received by the Zamorin but relations eventually turned sour with many brutal killings following!

Kozhikode city continues to be a centre of flourishing domestic and international trade. Its contribution to all round development of the district in trade, commerce and economic development over the years is spectacular. Kozhikode city is the marketing centre for commodities like pepper coconut, coffee, rubber, lemon grass oil etc., produced in Kozhikode and the neighbouring districts of Wayanad, Malappuram and Kannur.

Basking in the idyllic setting of the serene Arabian Sea on the west and the proud peaks of the Wayanad hills on the east, this district with the serene beaches, lush green countryside, historic sites, all combine to make Kozhikode a popular city.

For the explorer there are many wonderful places to explore in Kozhikode, especially as you venture away from the modern Calicut to the old city, which is generally near the coast. Here you will find a myriad of winding narrow streets and wonderfully old buildings with lots of character and maybe needing a little tlc.

The Muslim quarter is particularly interesting with its many ancient mosques, some of which are over 500 years old.

SM Street, which gets its name from the time it was associated with Sweet Meat shops, is also a popular area of old Calicut. SM Street is the busiest shopping area of Calicut and is packed full of small shops selling everything you could imagine. Shopping in SM Street is definitely an experience!