Calicut Notebook II - Beypore, Tali Temple, Jain Temple, Palayam Market, Mishkal and Muchundi Mosques
Blog :Astitva - Search for an Identity
Date: 7/21/2012 9:56:00 AM
Beypore is one of the oldest ports in Kerala. In earlier days Beypore had a direct trading relationship with Middle-East. Town was also famous for its ship building industry; ships built from here - Dhows or Urus - carried goods across oceans. According to some sources Beypore was a free port in the old world; Zamorim charged only an import-export duty.
When I got down at Beypore bus stand close to beach, sun was moving fast towards the western oceans. We walked straight to the Chaliyar river - fourth longest river in Kerala - estuary. It’s a moment of salvation for the river, forgetting all her pains she is slowly embracing the hands of Arabian Sea. One kilometre long manmade stone piers stands like a spear in to the heart of sea on both sides of the estuary.
I walked through the river banks towards the stone pier reading various names painted on the fishing boats. Three people were sitting -One wearing a football jersey - in the steps repairing there their blue fishing net. I almost forget to say one thing, northern Kerala especially in Calicut football is a very popular sport. If you are visiting these areas at FIFA football world cup times, you can't miss the flags of prominent football countries hanging from the tree tops, building etc. There is a huge fan base for Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Germany, France etc.
We walked through one of the stone pier. As it was Saturday evening a lot of families were present there to enjoy their time. I walked straight, on one side a young man points his hands towards a ship in the horizon and explains how the harbour works. On another side, a middle aged man probably working on Gulf countries was taking the photographs of his wife and children. A little bit further young couples were engaged in a deep conversation; the girl some time raises her face and looks towards the further end of the sea. I stood there for some time and fixed my eyes on a fishing boat in the horizon, imagining myself in that boat for some time. Rain clouds in the further end were becoming darker and darker; as we need to travel to the other end of the river we retraced our steps and started walking towards Junker port. Fishing boats coming back to the ports were looking like black spots in the black rain clouds.
Boating service known as Junkar - three boats tied together with think flat wooden panels on the top as a platform for people and vehicles. Just 2Rs/ head, for car, jeep and other vehicles it’s different. By the time we bought the ticket and reach the port one Junkar gone. Now waiting for it to return...
From here the other side of the river dotted with coconut and other trees forms an excellent view for the eyes. Many fishing boats were docked some meters away from us. On the other side, in the same bank stood a couple of not so big cranes of Beypore port. I can’t say it as a port. In the front side there was an old rusted iron gate guarded by two police personals. Only two small ships plus one Police patrol boat were present close to the Warf. It looked like an abandoned area.
I have serious doubt about its current credential as the second busiest port after Kochi. The facilities in Beypore - if anything exists - are nowhere close to Kochi. It’s now living in the memories of the past glory, like many other ancient cities in India. The problem is not that opportunities don’t exist but we are failing to exploit it. In a densely populated state with a coastal length of 590 km and just 11-121 km width government can hardly create any express ways. Ok fine, but the problem is we are not properly utilising the facilities offered by Arabian Sea for transportation. I we could invest at least half the money state spent on Alcohol in water transport...
Suddenly one police boat crossed us. Suddenly two people appeared on my right side. One started straightening his blue Nylon thread, carefully he attached the bait its hook and threw it to the sea. I turned around there were so many people sitting here and there to catch fish. Finally Junkar came; we jumped in and managed to get ourselves a seat in the front. Behind us, a number of autos, cars, bikes and a lot of people slowly moved in. She turned around started crossing the river.
We got down at the other end and walked towards the stone pier. By the time we reached its further end was very much dark. Waves were coming fast and hitting the pier from three sides. Some boats were still coming back to the port. I sat there and lot in some thoughts; sitting on the shores of an ocean - especially in a sea bridge - is indeed a particular experience. Time will never wait for any anyone, not for us also. In walked towards the Junkar port in the darkness, reached there just before the closing of ticket counter. Good bye Beypore, we moved towards Calicut city and then to University.
Tali Mahadeva Temple
Tali, located some kilometers away from bus stand, were my first destination on Sunday morning. From the Bus stand we took an auto to reach there and reached there around 9.30 in the morning. After removing the footwear I went inside. This temple has a very good collection of decorations in the outer walls of main sanctum sanctorum.
Revathi Pattathanam, the famous 7 days long competition on Tarka, Vyakarana, Mimamsa and Vedanta, used to conduct in this temple. This event will start from the Revathy day of Tulam (third month in Malayalam Calendar - Oct: Nov). According to sources, this ceremony was started in 14th century. After the ceremony gifts were distributed to the winners. I spent around 45 minutes here and then went to Calicut Railway station to catch a train to Kannur.
On our way back from Kannur we got down at Calicut Railway station. After searching for a lot of time and retracing the path for two times we finally reached the Jain temple located in Gujarati colony. By the time we reached there, Pooja's were in its last stage. We went in, after darshan we stated walking towards Palayam market.
Palayam market is one of the biggest streets in Calicut. By the time we reached there almost all shops were closed, it was not even 9pm!!! Apart from giving some lights to walk street lights were creating big shadows as well. Unfortunately there was neither an auto nor a bus. We walked and walked through the empty and unknown streets and finally reached Sea. We walked further suddenly on the left hand side we saw a sign board pointing towards Muchuundi Mosque. We took that road after travelling through some more empty streets under partial or complete darkness reached on the bank of a big pond and in the middle of a lot of people.
First in line was Mishkal mosque - built by an Arab merchant Nakhooda Mishkal - approximately 650 years ago. Mosque originally had 5 stories but after the Portugese attack and subsequent reconstruction in 1510 it became 4 floors. The influence of Kerala Temple architecture is clearly visible in this mosque which doesn’t have any minarets.
From here we went to Muchundi Mosque located some meters away from Mishkal in the same road. Built in 13th century in temple architecture style this is one of the oldest mosque in Kerala. The famous Muchundi Inscription written in Arabic and in an older form of Malayalam is here. As it was already very late, I saw the mosque from outside and hurried back to the main road.
Back to City
Even though there were a lot of people in the roads many open stores, there was not even an auto available to reach the bus stand. An elderly man standing opposite to me told that, on Sunday after evening there is no bus service to that area. So we decided to walk, suddenly rain was started again but we had little choice, whether I reached in the bus stand or not my bus would leave by 10.30pm. So through thousands of raindrops we walked through the empty market. For next 15-30 minutes we walked like that fully drenched in water. On that night, I loved to hear the sound of a gasoline engine but was not fortunate for some time.
Two or three car came and gone. We tried to ask for a lift but there was no space. Finally, we reached railway over bridge and after trying three for time finally an auto stopped there and took us to bus stand. We went straight to a hotel, after having a big ghee dosha followed by a wonderful Masala Dosha we walked towards the bus stand. It was the time to say bye to Shihab without whom the journey may not be so enjoyable.