Originally named Velapuram, Calicut was renamed after the word calico, the finely woven cloth that originated from this city. In 1498, the Portuguese discovered the trading route through Calicut, which made Calicut important in the west, especially in Europe. However, Calicut had been an important port in India for centuries before its discovery by the Portuguese. During the Sangam Age, the city was ruled by the Chera. The Sangam Age was the age of literature and poetry in southern India, known as Tamil Nadu. Literature flourished from the 3rd century BCE to the 4th century CE during this time, and Calicut rose in regional importance. Many significant Hindu temples were built in Calicut, including the Azhakodi, Bhairagimadom, Bilathikulam, Tali, Trivannur, and Varakkal Temples [1].

Ibn Battuta made many visits to the port of Calicut, but his first and main visit was after his departure from Delhi for China. The Hindu sultan of Calicut was very generous to Ibn Battuta, providing him with a ship on his arrival to the city. Ibn Battuta left with the Chinese junks, or ships, but the weather was so bad that numerous ships were destroyed. Ibn Battuta was lucky to leave Calicut alive, since after the shipwreck, he was left behind on an island with nothing. All of his belongings were taken by those who escaped on the surviving junks. All his slaves left him as well. He was left with onlyhis prayer mat. Ibn Battuta somehow made his way to Kollam, but he does not provide details of the journey. Upon his arrival in Kollam he had two slaves and some clothes, but Ibn Battuta does not explain in his Rihla how he acquired them.

Now called Kozhikode, Calicut is a part of the Kerala State south of India. Kerala gained independence from India in 1956.The town is still a large port, but it has also become a tourist attraction, due to its many beaches and temples frequented by visitors to the city.


[1] “History of Calicut.” Accessed July 26, 2012.