Kozhikode is situated in southern India between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, Kozhikode has been attracting travelers from antiquity. The city is also known by its Anglicized name, Calicut.
Lured by the spice trade, Phoenicians, Arabs and Chinese headed for its shores. When Vasco da Gama landed on its shores in 1498, he paved the way for the Dutch, the French and later the English. As the major trading point of eastern spices, Calicut was known as the ‘City of Spices’.
The city was founded in 1042 AD. The word Calicut is derived from Calico, hand-woven cotton cloth that was exported from Kozhikode. Kozhikode was the capital of the Kingdom of Samoothiris or the Zamorin. The Samoothiri Kingdom became powerful among the kings of Kerala due to the flourishing international trade. The Samoothiri Rajas were the arch enemies of the Rajas of Valluvanad. Rather than being enraged by the loss of land and defeat in wars, the Valluvanad kings were incensed after their rights to hold the Mamankam festival, held every 12 years, was usurped by their enemy.
To avenge the insult, Valluvanad Kings used to send an elite suicide squad called the Chaver Pada to assassinate the Samoothiri. In May 1498, Vasco da Gama arrived at the head of a naval fleet, opening a new chapter in history. The British extended their sway over Kozhikode and rest of Malabar after they defeated Tipu Sultan of Mysore.