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Thalassery/TLY (IPA: [θʌlʌsserɪ]), formerly Tellicherry,[1] is a city[2] on the Malabar Coast in Kannur district, in the state of Kerala, India, bordered by the districts of Mahé (Pondicherry), Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kasaragod and Kodagu (Karnataka). Thalassery municipality has a population just under 100,000.[3] Thalassery City has an area of 23.98 square kilometres (9.26 sq mi). It is 21 km south of the district headquarters in Kannur town. Thalassery is situated in an altitude ranging from 2.5 m to 30 m above mean sea-level.

Thalassery has played a significant historical, cultural, educational and commercial role in the history of India, especially during the colonial period. Due to its strategic geographic location as center for spice trade, Thalassery grew into a prominent place during European rule.[4] Thalassery municipality was formed on 1 November 1866 according to the Madras Act 10 of 1865 (Amendment of the Improvements in Towns act 1850)[5] of the British Indian Empire, making it the second oldest municipality in the state. At that time the municipality was known as Thalassery Commission, and Thalassery was the capital of North Malabar. G. M. Ballard, the Malabar collector, was the first President of the municipal commission. Later a European barrister, A. F. Lamaral, became the first Chairman of Thalassery municipality.[6] On 9 February 2014, Thalassery taluk was split in two[7] and Iritty taluk was formed. The north eastern hilly region of the former Thalassery Taluk such as Peravoor, Aralam, Ayyankunnu, Kottiyoor, Kelakam is within the Iritty Taluk area.


Land of 3 C's-Circus, Cake and Cricket,Thalassery chicken Dum Biriyani
Thalassery is located in Kerala
Location of Thalassery City in Kerala
Thalassery is located in India
Coordinates:11°45′2.24″N 75°29′13.28″E [51]
Named forSpices(Tellicherry Pepper, Cinnamon), Thalassery Biriyani, 3C's-Cricket, Cake, Circus
 • BodyCity Municipality
 • Municipality ChairmanC K Ramesan
 • Sub CollectorAsif K Yusuf IAS
 • Assistant Superintendent of Police(ASP)Chaitra Teresa John IPS
 • Sitting MLAAdv. A. N. Shamseer
 • City23.96 km2(9.25 sq mi)
 • Metro
23.96 km2(9.25 sq mi)
2.5 m-30 m
3 m (10 ft)
 • City92,558
 • Rank8th largest city in population in kerala
 • Density3,900/km2(10,000/sq mi)
 • OfficialMalayalam, English
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
670 1xx
Telephone code91 0490
Vehicle registrationKL 58
Sex ratio1000:1125 /♀
Lok Sabha constituencyVatakara
Vidhan Sabha constituencyThalassery
Lok Sabha memberK. Muraleedharan
Websitewww.thalasserymunicipality.in [52]
Thalassery is the Heritage City of Malabar


Thalassery may have originated from the ancient Malayalam linguistic usage 'Thala' (Head) and 'cheri' (low lying settlement place), thus Thalassery or 'starting place of a settlement or head of a settlement'. It could also have emerged from Talakkathe cheri, a combination of 'Talakkate' (Upper or north) and 'Cheri' (Settlement). Thalassery could be a village, as it hosts ancient Shree Ramaswamy shrines dedicated/connected to Rama (Rama-Vaishnavite/ Smartha sects settlements in various villages in and around Thalassery such as Tiruvangad, Andaloor, Makreri, Peralassery, Edakkad, Taliparamba, Cheruthazham, Mavilayi, Kadalayi, Trichambaram, Thrikykunnu near Koothuparamba, Kannapuram etc... such a large number of shrines dedicated to or related to Rama in close vicinity is rare compared to other places in Kerala. The 1885 administration manual vol. 2 of the former Madras Presidency cites research in regional legends and folklore to indicate that the ancient name of Thalassery was Swetharanya pura.[4]


Vasco da Gama a painting- The trade alliance between Vasco da Gama and Kolathiri gave Portugal direct access to the spice trade market especially for pepper.

Vasco da Gama a painting- The trade alliance between Vasco da Gama and Kolathiri gave Portugal direct access to the spice trade market especially for pepper.

Thalassery Jagannath Temple, Kerala

Thalassery Jagannath Temple, Kerala

Tellicherry Pepper- A Black pepper variety. This is a produce of     Terre Exotique, France

Tellicherry Pepper- A Black pepper variety. This is a produce of Terre Exotique, France[9]

Jackfruit from Dharmadam

Jackfruit from Dharmadam

Veera Kerala Varma Pazhassi RajaPainting by Raja Ravi Varma

Veera Kerala Varma Pazhassi RajaPainting by Raja Ravi Varma

Thalassery was a trade hub where Dutch, British, Portuguese Chinese, Arab, and Jewish traders had considerable influence in the spice market.

The British established a trading post and built a factory at Tellicherry in 1694, having gained permission from Vadakkalankur, the prince regent of the Raja of Kolattunad. They had already been trading on the Malabar coast for much of that century, buying pepper from merchants, and had established a similar post at Travancore ten years earlier.[8]

After the annexation of Malabar, the British called upon Thalassery, the Royal families and other major Nair and Namboothiri feudal lords to return, but this was heavily opposed by some local rulers. Along with heavy taxation and laws that curbed free movement, the appeal resulted in multiple uprisings against the British with heavy casualties to British forces. Thousands of soldiers were killed, but the resistance was eventually defeated.

The British, Dutch and the Portuguese and Christian Missionaries contributed a lot into the field of education, sports, culture and many development of this region.


Aerial view of Thalassery

Aerial view of Thalassery

Thalassery is in Kannur district.[10] The City has Dharmadam Panchayat in the north, Eranjoli and Kodiyeri in the east New Mahé in the south and the Arabian Sea on the west. The palm-fringed terrain has a scenic coastline and features four rivers, canals and hills with orange-hued rock. One of the four rivers is the Mahé River (Mayyazhi river). During the British Raj, the Mahé River was nicknamed the English Channel, because it separated British-ruled Thalassery from French-ruled Mahé. Muzhappilangad Beach,[11] the sole beach where driving is possible in Kerala (with a 4 km long drivable area),[12] is located within 6 km from the City centre.

Unlike southern Kerala, Thalassery region does not have lagoons (Kayal), although many rivers flow through the region. Thalassery however has a large area of mangroves, which is now being protected. The coast has no delta formation. The coastal plain is only a few kilometres in width and is bordered by highlands. The north of Thalassery is Dharmadam, an island area surrounded by two rivers and the sea. On the eastern side, hilly areas start from Kuthuparamba.[13][14]

A drive is possible along the Eranholi river in Eranholi River Front feels like a marine drive in the TLY City.


As of 2011 India census,[15] Thalassery had a population of 92,558, making it Kerala's 8th largest city in population. Males constitute 47% of the population and females 53%. Thalassery has an average literacy rate of 86%, higher than the national average of 59.5%. Both male and female literacy are 86%. In Thalassery, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age. The Thalassery urban agglomeration consists of the Thalassery Municipality and panchayaths of Eranholi, Kadirur, Dharmadam, Muzhappilangad, Pinarayi and New Mahe with a present population of around 300,000.

Thalassery Municipality deserves to be a Municipal Corporation which would consist of Thalassery Municipality and Panchayaths of Eranholi, Kadirur, Dharmadam, Pinarayi, and New Mahe

Hindus make up 61.37% of the population, Muslims 34.30% and Christians 3.64%.

Villages in Thalassery Taluk

Cheruvanchery, Chokli, Dharmadam, Eranholi, Eruvatty, Kadirur, Kandankunnu and Kannavam, Keezhallur, Kodiyeri, Kolavelloor, Koloyad, Koodali, Kottayam, Kuthuparamba, Mananthery, Mangattidam, Mokery, New Mahe, Paduvilayi, Panniyannur, Panoor, Pathiriyad, Pattanur, Pattiam, Peringalam, Peringathur, Pinarayi, Puthur, Shivapuram, Thalassery, Tholambra, Thripangothur, Vekkalam and Vellarvelly.


"Mukathezhuthu"-The face painting of Theyyam, the religious ritual art form in Thalassery

"Mukathezhuthu"-The face painting of Theyyam, the religious ritual art form in Thalassery

The British had considerable impact on local culture. As an ancient trade center, the trading and business relations that existed with the Europeans and the Arabs brought people and ideas from many other lands. The Christian missionaries and the educational reforms they brought played an important role in transforming society.

The Government of Kerala has included Thalassery in its Heritage City Project. The project includes the preservation of historical structures.[16][17] Thalassery is called as the City of Three Cs-Cake, Cricket and Circus as the first bakery in Kerala was established in the City, Cricket was first played in India here.[18] [19]Thalassery biryani is popular as an ethnic brand. Thalassery Cuisine is varied and is a blend of many influences.

Painting and sculpture exhibitions are frequently held at the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi art gallery in the City.


The first two Malayalam newspapers Rajyasamacharam (1847) and Paschimodayam (1847) were published from Thalassery by Herman Gundert, who was the editor of the journal and was a religious propagator from German Basal Evangelical Mission society(BEMS).[20] Rajyasamacharam started publishing from Illicoon(Illikkunnu), in Thalassery.


The first Malayalam short story Vasanavikriti was written by Vengayil Kunhiraman Nayanar in Thalassery. Indulekha, the first major Malayalam novel was published from Thalassery. Veenapoovu, the poem by Kumaran Asan was also published from Thalassery. Thinker and orator M N Vijayan spent a lifetime in Thalassery. Thalassery is also home to writer N Prabhakaran. Actor and screenwriter Sreenivasan hails from Thalassery. Sanjayan was a Malayalam writer, journalist and one of the pioneers of satirical writing in Malayalam literature who was born in Thalassery

William Logan was conversant in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu. He is remembered for his 1887 guide to the Malabar District, popularly known as the Malabar Manual. In honor of William Logan,a major road in the heart of the city is named Logan's Road, Thalassery.


Vishnu Pant Chhatre's Great Indian Circus, established in 1880 at Bombay was the first circus establishment in India. A tour of Thalassery led to the meeting of Chhatre with Keeleri Kunhikannan a martial arts trainer.[21] Keeleri Kunhikannan established the first dedicated circus school in India in 1901. He is known as "The Father of Kerala Circus". A Circus Academy was inaugurated in Thalassery in 2010.[22]In honor of Keeleri Kunhikannan Teacher, a junction in the city is named KTP Junction, Chirakkara, TLY.


St. Joseph Cathedral

St. Joseph Cathedral

Thalassery is known for its biryani (in local dialect, biri-yaa-ni)[23][24] Unlike other biriyani cuisines Thalassery biryani uses Kaima/Jeerakasala rice instead of the usual basmati rice.[25]

Putu kadala, pazhampori, kozhi-kkalu, adda, kinnathappam, kalathappam, pappadam-pazham, aval um poriyum kuzhakkal, muttamala, chatti and ari pathiri are other popular dishes.[26] Porridges such as mutaari kachiyatu (ragi porridge) are also popular.[26]

The trade of spices from the Malabar coast which began as 1500 BC is still an active business although most of the pepper export is currently from Vietnam. Tellicherry pepper[27] is still considered an important ingredient by chefs globally.


Kundadi Chamundi Theyyam

Kundadi Chamundi Theyyam

Theyyam is a ritual performance art form[28] that depict the cultural heritage of North Malabar, especially of ancient Kolathunad. Theyyam depicts Shiva bhutaganas, Kali and other deities and cultural heroes. The drama is enacted based on ancient stories and the language used is "Tottam pattu", a primitive form of Malayalam. Theyyam shows the Buddhist influence from centuries ago. Theyyam is usually held from October to May every year. The colour of Theyyam is typically red. Velan is described in the Sangam literature 500 CE. It could have been a tribal ritual art which evolved under Buddhism and the Brahminic revival of Hinduism. This art form is addressed as "Kaliyattom" North of Pazhayangadi Puzha, Kannur, as "Theyyam" South of the river and as "Tirayattom" around Thalassery.[29]Also the City is known for Theyyam.


ThalasseryMunicipal Stadium

ThalasseryMunicipal Stadium

Thalassery Stadium, located close to the sea, hosts Ranji Trophy cricket matches quite often. Lord Arthur Wellesley is believed to have introduced this game in Kerala in the 18th century for British soldiers garrisoned in the Tellicherry Fort.[30] India's First Cricket Club, which was later named the Town Cricket Club, was formed in 1850 at Tellicherry by Wellesley.[30][31][32] The Tellicherry Cricket ground was the hub of cricket activities those days. An exhibition match was conducted in this ground to raise funds during the First World War.[30]

Now, the Thalassery Stadium is known as VR Krishnayyar Municipal Stadium. The city has another stadium named Thalassery Cricket Stadium, built by Government of Kerala and maintained by the Kerala Cricket Association.


The educational renaissance of Malabar started from Thalassery due to the influence of European missionaries. Government Brennen College, Thalassery, founded in 1862, is one of the oldest educational institutions in India. The college was started by philanthropist, Edward Brennen Edward Brennen [53] in 1862 as a school.

Other colleges in Thalassery include College of Engineering Thalassery, Govt College Thalassery, Govt Arts and Science College Thalassery, Medical College Anjarakandy, Co-operative College of Nursing, Nettur and Co-operative College of Physiotherapy and Para-medical Sciences, Nettur. The Thalassery campus of Kannur University is located at Palayad.[33].

The Basel Evangelic Mission Parsi High school is an English Medium school (established 1856) in Malabar. Dr. Hermann Gundert was a tutor there. Kaikose Ruderasha, a Parsi, donated funds to build the institute with the assistance of German missionaries.[34]

Other educational institutions include Sports Authority of India Centre, Nettur Technical Training Foundation, St Joseph's Higher Secondary School, Sacred Heart Girls High School, Basel Evangelical Mission Parsi High School, Brennan Higher Secondary School, Town Girls Higher Secondary School, Thiruvangad Girls HSS, Govt Vocational Higher Secondary School Chirakkara, Govt Vocational Higher Secondary School Koduvally. The two Government Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) are situated at Thazhe Champad, Panoor and Pinarayi.


Kanyakumari - Mumbai National Highway 66 (India) passes through Thalassery and connects the town to other cities like Mangalore and Kozhikode. Thalassery-Coorg Road(TC Road) is a major road linking Kerala to Kodagu district of Karnataka State. Interstate buses ply on this route in a frequency of one in an hour.[35] The hill stations Virajpet in Kodagu and Mananthavady in Wayanad are 82 km away from the city. The NH Bypass, a 45 meter wide 18 km road with service roads, which is currently under construction is set to reduce the traffic congestion in the town. KL 58 which serves as the vehicle registration for the city is the first SRTO in Kerala to achieve AA registration for vehicles

Thalassery Railway Station operates under the Palakkad Railway Division of the Southern Railway. It is a Class 'A' railway station. It is on the Shoranur - Mangalore line. No direct line connects Thalasery to Mysore, although a feasibility study for such a route was funded in 2013.[36][37]

The nearest airport is Kannur International Airport, about 24.5 km east. [38][39]. Mangalore International Airport and Calicut International Airport, situated around 150 km and 66 km respectively, are also easily accessible by road and rail.


The Thalassery carnival, the Beach fest in Muzhappilangad beach and Dharmadam beach are notable attractions.[40] The area's four rivers (Anjarakkandi, Dharmadam, Koduvally and Mahe) around Thalassery city and four beaches (Muzhappilangad, Dharmadam, Thalai, Thalassery) with more in Kannur also attract visitors. Muzhappilangad beach is a 5.5 km long beach in which it is possible to drive vehicles. This beach was listed as one of the top 10 drive in beaches in the world by BBC survey.http://www.bbc.com/autos/story/20160617-the-worlds-best-beaches-for-driving [54]

It is an important center of Kalari payattu and health tourism.[41] Other visitors come to experience Theyyam and explore the area's history, such as Tellicherry Fort, etc.

Thalassery Pier (Kadalpaalam), Overbury's Folly, Pazhassi Dam and Reservoir garden[42] and Malayala Kala Gramam, New Mahe,(7 km from Thalassery)[43][44] are other attractions.

Political violence

This area is an epicenter of political violence between RSS and Communists. Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have been fighting in this area for supremacy for the last 50 years. Clashes in 2008 left seven people killed and many have been injured. The High Court of Kerala called this manslaughter a "compelling sport" and suggested permanent deployment of Central forces in the affected areas.[45]

Notable residents

  • Veera Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja

  • Hermann Gundert

  • Keeleri Kunhikannan

  • Vengayil Kunhiraman Nayanar

  • K. Raghavan

  • Edward Brennen [55]

  • Moorkoth Ramunni

  • C V Devan Nair

  • Pinarayi Vijayan

  • Vainu Bappu

  • Janaki Ammal

  • William Logan

  • O Chandu Menon

  • Sanjayan (Prof. Mannikoth Ramunni Nair)

  • Prof. M.N. Vijayan

  • N Prabhakaran

  • VP Sathyan

  • C.K. Vineeth

  • Sreenivasan (actor)

  • Vineeth Sreenivasan

  • Dhyan Sreenivasan

  • Shaan Rahman

  • Deepak Dev

  • Sushin Shyam


Thalassery experiences a Tropical monsoon climate under the Köppen climate classification. The wet season starts in June as the South-west monsoon first hits the coastal Kerala and continues until the end of September. A brief pre-monsoon Mango showers interval occurs sometime during April. Precipitation from the North-East Monsoon sets in during the second half of October through November.

See also

  • Kannur town(Kannur district)

  • Malabar, Kerala

  • Mahe, Puducherry

  • Mangalore

  • Muzhappilangad Drive-in Beach

  • Kannur International Airport

  • Koorara

  • Jagannath Temple, Thalassery

  • Culture of Thalassery

  • Kozhikode

Climate data for Thalassery
Average high °C (°F)32.2
Average low °C (°F)22.9
Average rainfall mm (inches)3
Source #1: WWO[46]
Source #2: Climate-Data.org[47]


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