Kodungalloor – Crangannore Paradise of Tourism

Kodungalloor is a small town in Thrissur District, of Kerala State in India with a glorious historical past. Kodungalloor has picturesque places with back waters and places of interest to people of all tastes. It is a truly cosmopolitan town with the local people, Kannadigas, Muslims, Christians, Jews, people from Portuguese and Dutch etc. having historical temples, Mosques, Churches, Forts etc worth seeing.It can be called as the cradle of Islamism, Christianity, Jewish in India.

Tourism in Kodungalloor

The town is having a rich historic past. It was the capital of the then country of the rulers 'Cheraman Perumals' during the 7th century. At that time it was a n important and busiest port and trading center in India having trading relations with various European and Arabic countries of the world. Kodungalloor is a scenically beautiful place in Kerala, South India. It is an ideal tour center. Details of the places to be visited in and around Kodungalloor are available throughout the offices of Kerala Tourist Development Corporation offices. A few of them are mentioned below:

The Bhagavathi Temple

Kodungallurama Temple
The moment the name of Kodungalloor is mentioned to any Malayalee anywhere in the world, the immediate thing coming to their mind is the Kodunglluramma temple dedicated to the goddess Durga – Bhadrakali. It is believed to be a powerful deity. The main event of this temple is the annual Bharani festival on the Bharani Star day of Malayalam month of Meenam (March – April). This festival at the Kodungallur Bhagavathi Temple is one of the grandest in Kerala. It is a month of festivities from the Bharani. During this occasion, one can also witness the largest congregation of oracles (Velichappadus), not seen anywhere else. During the normal time offering of worship to the deity is done by the persons of the priest class. During festival the same is done by people of castes other than priest class. The idol of the Bhagavathi is of 6 feet made of jack fruit wood. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple face the North and there is a chamber to the west where the idols of Saptha mathas (divine seven mothers) who also face the North. There are other shrines in the complex for the sub deities.
It has an element of supernatural oracles or Velichappadus of the Bhagavathy (goddess Durga - Bhadrakali) through whom the goddess is believed to speak to those concerned and the spectators in general. The words spoken by the Velichappadus are heard with reverence and awe by the on lookers. These words spoken thus are believed to be having a healing power to those affected, even now. The Bhagavathy temple has an annual festive celebrations held in the months of March and April corresponding to the Bharani star festival of the Malayalam (Kerala) Calendar which is truly exotic to those who visit during that time.

St Thomas Church

St Thomas Church
In AD 52 the Apostle St Thomas arrived at the then port Muziri which is part of the place now known as Kodungalloor. The arrival of the Apostle paved the way for the present Christian Community of Kerala (who were known as ('Nazaranees') and perhaps the Christian settlements in the south India and the entire South East Asia as St Thomas had worked in all these places as per some indications avail. The first church of Kerala and of India itself is the St Thomas Church also known as the Malankara Church. St Thomas has worked from Ethiopia to China to propagate Christianity. The St. Thomas Church established by him houses ancient relics including the relic of bone of the right arm of St Thomas which is deposited in sepeate shrine. This church is a cosmopolitan one where people all religion come for blessings.
A Roman Temple was supposed to have been build in Kodungallur which might have been destroyed by the Flood.

Chaldean Syrian Christians

During 345 AD a rich international merchant by name Knai Thomman, along with several families came from a place called Cana in Middle East and established their colony. They belong to the Syrian Church (Chaldean) and that was the origin of the Chaldean Syrian Christians population of Kerala.

Muslim Activity in Kerala

During the year 628 -629 the Cheraman Juma Masjid (Mosque) was built 2 km from the center Kodungalloor. This is the first mosque in India and the second oldest one in the world built during the life time of the Prophet Muhammad itself. Several changes were made to the structure and also expanded the same several times to accommodate the use of the increasing population. However the original appearance of a Hindu Temple is maintained and the middle potion is the same as the original one made of wood. The outside portion is concreted with minarets and giving also the look of a Mosque. This Mosque has the unique feature of having Hindu temple type oil lamp burning all the time in the center of the Masjid. This is a rare phenomenon not found anywhere else. There is a block of marble inside the Mosque which is believed to be brought from Mecca. There two old tombs in the Mosque which are supposed to be that of Habib Bin Malik and his wife Khumarriah. Habib is the son of Malik Bin Dinar who was one of the 13 first line followers of the Prophet. The mosque is built under the guidance of this Malik.

This is the only Masjid where Vidyarambam is done by the non Muslim devotees to their children on the Vijayadasami day as in case of Hindu children in Hindu temples. Women are not allowed in this Mosque. Ramzan and Bakrid are celebrated with great fervor.

As the legend goes one of the rulers of the Cheraman Perumal dynasty was influenced by the Islam principles and went to meet the Prophet Muhammad at Mecca and converted himself to Islam religion. He was supposed to have married the sister of the king of Jeddah and settled down there. He then sent message to his successors in Kerala to establish a Mosque and propagate Islam religion in Kerala. The place of the Mosque and other help was given by the ruler of the dynasty and hence the name 'Cheraman' stuck to the Juma Masjid of Kodungallur.

Jewish worship place

The Jews like Muslims and Christians came to Muziris primarily for trade and business and some of them settled down here. Some say that the Jews came here during the time of King Solomon some; others say that they came here during the 1st Century AD while the earliest evidence is writing in Hebrew on a tomb in the year 1269. After the destruction of Muziri in Kodungallur in flood of 1341, the Jews shifted to a place named Chennamangalam near Ernakulam In the year 1586 a Jewish prayer place was built which celebrates the festival of Athachamayam on the Atham star day of Chingam masam (Aug – Sept). This is the oldest synagogue (Jewish worship place) in India.

Other places of interest

Thiruvanchikulam Temple of Sri Mahadeva is one of the oldest Siva temples of Kerala also of South India. This temple has the Siva with his entire family which is very rare.

Sree Rajagopala Krishna swamy Temple with Rugmini and Sathyabhama, Kodungallor is another place to visit. This temple is of the Gouda Saraswath Brahmins community of Karnataka settled here.
Edavilangu sivakrishnapuram Temple – Lords Siva and Sri Krishna are the main deities of this temple.

The ancient Portuguese fort also known as the Crangannore (Kottappuram Kodungallur) Fort built in 1507 or 1523 AD. This was built on a picturesque place with a beautiful view of the Periyar River's mouth. This was captured and destroyed by the Dutch in 1661-1663 for the purpose of the control of the ships and boats that pass through the area. Later Tipu Sulthan took possession of the same and hence it is also known as the Tipu Sultan's fort. It was built in hexagonal shape with three storeys now in a ruined condition with the status of protected monument.

Portuguese Mar Thoma Church
Chirakkal Kovilakam (Palace) of the Kodungallur Royal family. There is also a Puthan Kovilakam

The Devastating Food of 1341

In 1341 AD there was a devastating flood occurred in Kerala. This flood changed Kodungalloor. The then busy port 'Muziri' which is the name by which Kodungalloor was known at that time was wiped out. Till that time the port in Kodungalloor was the most important trade center between the Roman Empire and the Cheran Empire. This was also a major trade center for Muslims, Jews, and Portuguese etc. The flood caused the change of course of the Periyar River and also caused the formation of the present Cochin port.

The other Names Kodungallur

The word 'Kodungallur' has arisen out of the words 'Kodi –Linga –Puram' which later turned into Kodungallur according to one belief. Another belief is that this place was the revenue collection center for the goods coming to the port, for a ruler by the name Kudako – a ruler of Kudanad land which extends from the River Periyar to the river Ponnani (Nila, Bharatha Puzha). For this reason the place was known as Kudaknalur which later became Kodungallur. Kodungalloor was known with different names the past. The center was known differently as Chinkli, Cyngilin, Cynkali, Gingaleh, Anglican, Jinkali, Shenkala, and Shinkali. This is derived from the name of the river (a branch of Periyar river) Changala which was passing near to the town. Changala means chain which in Sanskrit is Shringala. The other names associated with the town are Balakreetapuram, Columguria, Kodunkaliyur, Kotilingapuram, Kudalingapuram, Muchiri, Musiripattanam, Muyirikkodu, Mahodayapuram, Makodai, RaviVisvapuram, Thiruvallur, Vangi and Vanchi. This place finds reference in Ramayana, Maha Bharatha, writings of Pathanjali, Tamil literature Chilappathikaram, in the stone writings of emperor Ashoka, as well as the travelogues of Pliney and Ptolemy, the ancient Greek explorer Hippalus

Kochi (Cochin) Port and Connection with Kodungallur

There was a catastrophic flood during the year 1341 AD in Kerala affecting many places. The main effect of the same was felt in the area of Kodungallur and Cochin. The original major port of Kerala for trade with the outside world was the Kodungallur (Crangannore or Muziri as was know earlier) which was at the junction of the River Periyar and the Arabian Sea. The flood changed the course of the river and also caused a major recession of the sea by several miles. This changed the landscape of this part of Kerala. The Periyar River was split into two just before Aluva Town. The old port Crangannore (Changala) vanished – believed to be buried a few kms from the present Kodungallur by the silt of the right branch of the river known as Changala (chain) which changed course and joined the Arabian sea at the present natural harbor of Kochi creating the new port at the junction. The flood, change of course of the river and the erosion of sea besides creating the new harbor and destroying the old port created an Iceland, the present Vypinkara.

Tourist Places around Kodungalloor

There are several places around Kodungalloor for visits like the Iringalakuda, Kaladi, Thrissur, Guruvayur, Ernakulam and Chottanikkara.
Kottayil Kovilakam is a small village located at Chennamangalam, near Paravur. The place is located around 40 kilometers from Ernakulam town and is a symbol of religious harmony. The beautiful hillocks of Kottayil Kovilakam are unique as the site of a Hindu temple (Dedicated to Krishna) , a Christian church, a mosque and the remains of a Jewish synagogue, all within 1 km of each other.

Health Centre

The Vaidyaratnam Ayurvedic College and Hospital at Thaikkttusseri, Ollur, (Thrissur) is a very good health center with Panchakarma treatment offered. This is one of the Ashtavaidya Centers of Ayurveda system of medicine.

How to Reach Kodungallor

Kodungalloor is in Thrissur District.
It can be approached by:

Road – The coastal highway N H 17 from Cochin to Mumbai passes through the town. KSRTC buses and private buses are available from and to Kochi, Thrissur, Guruvayoor, Iringalakuda, Chalakudy, Mala, Paravoor, Calicut, Kottyam, Pala, Kannur, Kasargod and Sultan Batteri etc.

Railway facility: Nearest railway station is Iringalakuda 22 km away, with only few trains stopping. Aluva is a station with most of the trains stopping.

Air travel: Nearest airport is Nedumbassery Cochin International Airport 35 km away.

Water ways connections: Kollam Kotapuram National waterway ends at Kodungalloor.

Tourist Facilities: Normal facilities are available at Kodungallore. Besides Kodungallur is only about 35 km from Cochin and around 40 km from Thrissur where better facilities are available.

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