Kannur District Information

About Kannur District

District Area

2,966 Sq.Km.



Sex Ratio


Growth Rate


Density per km2



92.80 %


  398 cm (Annual)

Kannur district derived its name from the location of its headquarters at Kannur town. The old name 'Cannanore' is the anglicised form of the Malayalam word Kannur. T

here are two versions about the name of Kannur. According to one version, 'Kannur' is a derivation from Kanathur, an ancient village, the name of which survives even today in one of the wards of Kannur Municipality. Another version says that Kannur might have assumed its name from one of the deities of the Hindu pantheon Kannan (Lord Krishna). It is a compound of two words, Kannan (Lord Krishna) and Ur (place) making it the place of Lord Krishna. It is also noted that the deity of the Katalayi Sreekrishna temple was originally installed in a shrine at Katalayi Kotta in the south eastern part of the present Kannur town.

The Kannur district is bounded by the Western Ghats in the East (Coorg district of Karnataka State), Kozhikkode and Wayanad districts, in the South, Lakshadeep sea in the West and Kasaragod, the northern most district of Kerala, in the North. It lies between latitudes 11° 40' to 12° 48' North and longitudes 74° 52' to 76° 07' East.

Kannur district is very rich in natural vegetation. Plant communities ranging from psammophytes and mangroves to evergreen forests can be seen in the region.

The district is divided into three geographical regions, the highlands, the midlands and the lowlands. The highland region comprises mainly of mountains with major plantations like coffee, rubber, tea, cardamom and other spices. Timber trees like teak, veetty, etc are also grown in plenty in this region. The midland region, lying between the mountains and the low lands, is made up of undulating hills and valleys. This area has an intense agricultural activity. Soil in the western slopes is a ferrugenous red, sandy loam. Vegetation over the whole area is of the forest type. The irregular distribution of teak, the localised areas of bamboo dominanace and the change of good quality forest into open grass lands, etc., are the characteristics of the region. The lowland is comparatively narrow and comprises of rivers, deltas and seashore. The coconut and paddy cultivation can be seen in this region. The coastal region is a comparatively narrow zone, characterised by secondary soil which is rather loose and sandy. Another conspicuous feature of this area is the mangrove vegetation, found at the estuaries of rivers and backwaters, and often extending to the interior along their banks.

The geological formations in the district are of Archean and recent age. Archean formations comprise of greisses and charrockiates occupying the midland and highland regions of the district. Recent formations are alluvium and laterite occupying the remaining portions of the coastal area.

The climate of the district is humid with an oppressive hot season from March to the end of May. Then the South-West monsoon continues till the end of September. The post-monsoon or retreating monsoon season is marked by October and November. Later, the North East monsoon extends till the end of February. The annual average rainfall is 344 cm.

The period of South-West monsoon records more than 80 percent of the rainfall. In July, the rainfall is very heavy and the district receives 68 per cent of the annual rainfall during this season.


The rock-cut caves and megalithic burial sites of the Neolithic age have been traced in certain parts of the district. The Megalighic burial order can be seen in the Thaliparamba-Kannur-Thalassery area which abounds in rock-cut caves, dolments, burial stone circles and menhirs. It is believed that the first batch of Aryan immigrants into the State entered the district through the Tuluva region.

The Cheras re-established their political supremacy in Kerala under Kulasekhara Varman in the beginning of 9th century A.D. These Chera emperors ruled till 1102 A.D with their capital at Mahodayapuram. A large area comprising the present Kannur district was included in this empire. Later, the Mooshaka kings held sway over Chirakkal and Kasaragod areas (Kolathunad) with their capital near Mount Eli. By 14th century A.D., the old Mooshaka kingdom was known as Kolathunad and the rulers were known as Kolathiris who had come into prominence in north Kerala.

At the time of the arrival of the Portuguese by the end of 15th century, it was the Kolathiris ruled the region. They were political and commercial rivals of the Zamorins of Kozhikkode. During the medieval age, several Arab scholars visited the west coast. The places like the Baliapatam, the Srikantapuram, the Dhharrnadom, the Bekal and the Mount Eli (Ezhimala) have been mentioned in their travelogues.

Vasco Da Gamma established contacts with the Kolathiri ruler. He was helped by Kolathri ruler whose aim was to gain wealth and power with the help of the Portuguese, in the same way the Zamorin had acquired the help of the Arabs. Vasco Da Gamma successfully exploited the jealousies of the native princes and won a virtual monopoly of the pepper trade. Francisco De Almedia was sent from Portugal with specific instructions to erect forts at stratetgic points. He started constructing the Kannur Fort in 1505 and it was named as St. Angelo. In 1506, the Portuguese navy under Lorenzo Almedia engaged the Zamorin's fleet in battle and the Portuguese ships won a decisive victory. This naval victory resulted in the establishment of Portuguese naval supremacy in the Indian seas. The Kolathiri and the Zamorin princes went on with an alliance and the Zamorin convinces the Kolathiri of the real motives of the Portuguese in India.

The Portuguese followed their policy of religious persecution and forcible conversion which led to clashes. In 1558, the Kolathiri came openly into the field against the Portuguese by providing active support to the Kunjali Marrikkars of Kozhikkode. The Kolathiri and the Zamorin fought a common war against the Portuguese and they besieged the fort of St.Angelo at Kannur, in 1564.

The English East lndia Company acquired a site at Thalassery for the erection of a fort and a factory. In 1725, the French captured Mayyazhi and renamed it as Mahe in honour of the French captain Francois Mahe De Labourdonnais. Haidar Ali conquered Malabar in 1773. In January 1788, Tippu Sultan founded a new capital at Feroke for his Malabar province. The treaties of Srirangapatanam, signed in 1792, formally ceded Malabar to the British.

The British Government divided the province of Malabar into two administrative divisions -the Northern and Southern, presided over by a superintendent each at Thalassery and Cherpulasseri, under the general control of the supervisor and chief magistrate of the province of Malabar who had his headquarters at Kozhikkode. A district committee came into existence in Malabar in 1908.

A branch of the All India Home Rule League, founded by Dr.Annie Beasant, functioned in Thalassery during this period. Mahatma Gandhi and Maulana Shaukat Ali toured the district to carry the message of the Non-Co-operation and Khilaphat Movements. The Khilaphat movement coincided with the famous Malabar Rebellion of 1921 which was put down by the British with an iron hand.

Places of Interest

Fort St. Angelos, Thalassery Fort, Muzhappilangad Beach, Payyambalam Beach Resort, Ezhimala, Malayalakalagramam, Pazhassi Dam, Pythal Mala, Gundert Bungalow, Snake Park, Moppila Bay

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