—  municipality and town  —
Location of Kodungallur
in Kerala state
Coordinates 10°13′N 76°13′E / 10.22°N 76.22°E / 10.22; 76.22Coordinates: 10°13′N 76°13′E / 10.22°N 76.22°E / 10.22; 76.22
Country India
State Kerala state
District(s) Thrissur
Population 33,543 (2001)
Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)


9 metres (30 ft)

Kodungallur (Malayalam: കൊടുങ്ങല്ലൂര്‍, anglicised name: Cranganore) is a municipality in Thrissur District, in the state of Kerala, India on the Malabar Coast. Kodungallur is located about 29 km northwest of Kochi city and 38 km Southwest of Thrissur, on National Highway 17 (India). Muziris the ancient seaport at the mouth of the Periyar River (also known as Choorni Nadi) was very near to Kodungallur. Kodungallur was the capital of Kulasekhara dynasty (Second Cheras), called Mahodayapuram or Shinkli, who ruled Kerala and some parts of Tamil Nadu from 9th century to 12th century AD.

Though situated in Thrissur district, the Corporation of Cochin has drafted a Master Plan that aims to develop Kodungallur as the satellite township around the Kochi city.[1] But Kodungalloor has great tradition,culture and being a historical nerve centre of Kerala has got an identity of its own and some people say that it should not be made a satellite town of Kochi city.Moreover,culturally,linguistically and dialectically Kodungalloor is closely connected with Thrissur city, the cultural capital of Kerala.



The name Kodungallur is derived from Kodi-linga-puram (10 million Siva lingas) according a belief. There is mention in Sangam literature of a ruler with the name Kudako (ruler of Kudanad, the land between river Periyar and river Ponnani). Kodungallur was the revenue collection center of Kudako for the goods coming to the port, hence the name Kudakonallur which later reduced to Kodugallur.

Kodungallur has enjoyed various names over the past centuries. Jangli, Gingaleh, Cyngilin, Shinkali, Chinkli, Jinkali, Shenkala and Cynkali are the other names. These names were all derived from the name of the river Changala (or Chain i.e. Shringala in Sanskrit) which originates at Kanjur from the Periyar River (the Periyar was known as Choorni in Sanskrit and Chulli in ancient Dravidian language). Yet other names are Columguria, Vangi, Musirippattanam, Mahodayapuram, Kotilingapuram, Kudalingapuram, Makodai, Kodunkaliyur, Thiruvallur, RaviVisvapuram and Balakreetapuram.



The early political history of the Thrissur and Thrissur District is interlinked with that of the Chera Dynasty of the Sangam age, who ruled over vast portions of Kerala with their capital at Vanchi. Kodungallur was also the capital of Cheraman Perumals, the rulers in the 7th century A.D.. The legend is that an unknown Chera dynasty ruler abdicated his throne and divided his kingdom among the local chieftains and left for Mecca to embrace Islam. This place was later ruled by the Kingdom of Cochin (Perumpadapu Swaroopam). During the time of the Chera ruler, Kodungallur was an important trade link in Indian Ancient Maritime History.

The whole of the present Thrissur district was included in the early Chera empire. The district can claim to have played a significant part in fostering the trade relations between Kerala and the outside world in the ancient and medieval period. It can also claim to have played an important part in fostering cultural relations and in laying the foundation of a cosmopolitan and composite culture in this part of the country. Muziris (Muchiri) was an important port city in the pre-historic era, was a part of it.


Part of a series on the
Chera dynasty
 · Uthiyan Cheralathan
 · Imayavaramban Nedun-Cheralatan
 · Cheran Senguttuvan
 · Tagadur Erinda Perumcheral
 · Yanaikat-sey Mantaran Cheral
 · Kulashekhara Alwar
 · Rajashekhara Varman
 · Rama Varma Kulashekhara
Vanchi Muthur
Karur · Muchirippattanam 
Mahodayapuram · Kulasekharapuram
After the Cheras
Kingdom of Calicut
Kingdom of Cochin
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Muziris (1st century B.C.), is a lost port city in Kodungallur and was a major center of trade in Tamilakkam between the Chera Empire and the Roman Empire.[2]Muziris (Cranganore) was destroyed by massive flooding of the river Periyar in 1341 AD, opening a new port called Kochi.[3]Muziris was also known as Mahodayapuram, Shinkli, Muchiri (anglicised to Muziris) and Muyirikkodu. It is known as 'Vanchi' to locals.[2]Muziris opened the gates for Arabs, Romans, Portuguese, Dutch and English to Indian sub continent and South East Asia. Muziris dealers had set Indo-Greek and Indo-Roman trade with Egypt, which comes in gold and other metals, pepper and spices, precious stones and textiles. [4] It was famous as a major port for trade and commerce for more than 2,500 years. Muziris became of interest to classical authors because of the Romans' interest in trading, and their desire to have contact with regions beyond the reach of easy conquest and they set up trading routes with these places. Merchants from a number of cultures are believed to have operated in the port, and there are numerous Indian finds from the time as well as Roman ones.

There has always been a lot of confusion about the exact location of the port, as also about other aspects of it. For long it was considered to be Kodungalloor. However, in 1983, a large hoard of Roman coins was found at a site around six miles from a place called Pattanam, some distance away from Kodungalloor. Excavations carried out from 2004 to 2009 at Pattanam has revealed evidence that may point out the exact position of Muziris.[2] [5] [6] [7]

The recent archaeological work done in the area has revealed fragments of imported Roman amphora, mainly used for transporting wine and olive oil, Yemeni and West Asian pottery, besides Indian roulette ware (which is also common on the East Coast of India, and also found in Berenice in Egypt).[2] [5] [6] [7] This suggests that Muziris was a port of great international fame and that South India was involved in active trade with several civilizations of West Asia, the Near East and Europe with the port as a means to do so.

Cape of Kodungallur, where Periyar River empties into Arabian Sea

While there is a consensus on that both the port and the city ceased to exist around the middle of the 13th century CE, possibly following an earthquake (or the great flood of 1341 recorded in history, which caused the change of course of Periyar river), there does not seem to be clear evidence as to when the port might have first come into being. Presently, researchers seem to be agreed on that the port was already a bustling center of trade by 500 BCE, and there is some evidence that suggests that Muziris was a city, even if not certainly a port as well, from before 1500 BCE.[8][9][10][11]

It is called as 'Murachipatanam' in Sanskrit and Muchiri in Tamil. Later it was also called as Makothai, Mahodayapuram, Mahodayapattanam. The port was familiar to the author of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea who described it as being situated on Pseudostomos river (Ψευδόστομος: Greek for "false mouth" – a precise translation of the Malayalam description of the mouth of the Periyar, Alimukam) two miles from its mouth. According to the Periplus, numerous Greek seamen managed an intense trade with Muziris:[12]

"Then come Naura and Tyndis, the first markets of Damirica (Limyrike), and then Muziris and Nelcynda, which are now of leading importance. Tyndis is of the Kingdom of Cerobothra; it is a village in plain sight by the sea. Muziris, of the same Kingdom, abounds in ships sent there with cargoes from Arabia, and by the Greeks; it is located on a river, distant from Tyndis by river and sea five hundred stadia, and up the river from the shore twenty stadia" – The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, 53–54

Muziris is also mentioned in the epics Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Akananuru, and Chilappathikaram. The poets Pathanjali and Karthiyayan have referred to it, as well as the travelogues of both Pliny the Elder and Ptolemy under different names. Moreover, Kodungallur (Muziris) is mentioned in the stone writings of Ashoka. It was known as Muziris to Pliny the Elder (N.H. 6.26), who describes it as primum emorium Indiae. The ancient Greek explorer Hippalus landed at this port after discovering the patterns of the Indian monsoon trade winds on his way from the aast African coast. Evidence of the Peutinger Table suggests that there was a temple dedicated to the Roman emperor Augustus. The Greeks, the Romans (known locally as the Yavanas) and the Jews, Arabs etc. all have come to this place at different times in its history.

Roman gold and silver coins bearing impressions of Roman Emperors Tiberius and Nero were discovered in the village Kochal in Valluvally near Paravur near the town in 1983. A 2nd-century papyrus from Egypt concerning the transshipment of goods originating in Muziris from the Red Sea to Alexandria attests to the continued importance of the port in the Indian Ocean commerce trade a century after Pliny and the Periplus.[13]

Thomas the Apostle (A.D. 5152)

Statue of St. Thomas at Palayoor in Thrissur district. In A.D. 52 St Thomas landed at Palayoor by boat from Muziris. He came to visit the Jewish merchants at Palayur Judankunnu and to preach the good news in course of time.

The indigenous church of Kerala has a tradition that St. Thomas sailed there to spread the Christian faith. He landed at the ancient port of Muziris. He then went to Palayoor (near present-day Guruvayoor), which was a Hindu priestly community at that time. He left Palayoor in AD 52 for the southern part of what is now Kerala State, where he established the Ezharappallikal, or "Seven and Half Churches". These churches are at Kodungallur, Kollam, Niranam, Nilackal (Chayal), Kokkamangalam, Kottakkayal (Paravoor), Palayoor (Chattukulangara) and Thiruvithancode Arappally – the half church. [14][15]

"It was to a land of dark people he was sent, to clothe them by Baptism in white robes. His grateful dawn dispelled India's painful darkness. It was his mission to espouse India to the One-Begotten. The merchant is blessed for having so great a treasure. Edessa thus became the blessed city by possessing the greatest pearl India could yield. Thomas works miracles in India, and at Edessa Thomas is destined to baptize peoples perverse and steeped in darkness, and that in the land of India." – Hymns of St. Ephraem, edited by Lamy (Ephr. Hymni et Sermones, IV).

Cheraman Juma Masjid (A.D. 629)

File photograph of the Cheraman Juma Masjid showing influences of traditional Hindu architecture on the mosque.

Believed to be built in 629 AD by Malik Bin Deenar, Cheraman Juma Masjid is considered as the oldest mosque in India, and the second oldest mosque in the world to offer Jumu'ah prayers.[16][17] Constructed during the lifetime of Muhammad, the bodies of some of his original followers are said to be buried here.[18] Unlike other mosques in Kerala that face westwards this mosque faces eastwards. Though, generally it is considered to be the second mosque of the world after the mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

The legend has it that a group of Muhammad's Sahaba (companions) visited Kodungallur. An unknown Chera dynasty ruler had witnessed a miraculous happening — the sudden splitting of the moon, the celebrated miracle of Muhammad — and learned on inquiry that this was a symbol of the coming of a Messenger of God from Arabia. Soon after, Perumal travelled to Makkah, where he embraced Islam, and accepted the name Thajudeen. On his way back to India he died at Salalah in the Sultanate of Oman. On his deathbed he is said to have authorised some of his Arab companions to go back to his kingdom to spread Islam. Accordingly, a group of Arabs led by Malik Bin Deenar and Malik bin Habib arrived in north Kerala, and constructed the Cheraman Juma Masjid at Kodungalloor.[16][19][20]

Flood of 1341 A.D.

The flood of the river Periyar in 1341 AD resulted in the splitting of the left branch of the river into two just before Aluva. The flood silted the right branch (known as River Changala) and the natural harbour at the mouth of the river, and resulted in the creation of a new harbour at Kochi. An island was formed with the name Vypinkara between Vypin to Munambam during the flood. During this time there was the rise of the Samoothiri Rajas of Kozhikode. The town was nearly completely destroyed by the Portuguese (Suarez de Menezes) on September 1, 1504 in retaliation for the Samoothiri Raja's actions against them.


Raid on Cranganore

India Malabar Coast c.1500

October, 1504 While in Cochin, Lopo Soares receives reports that the Zamorin of Calicut has dispatched a force to fortify Cranganore, the port city at the northern end of the Vembanad lagoon, and the usual entry point for the Zamorin's army and fleet into the Kerala backwaters. Reading this as a preparation for a renewed attack on Cochin after the 6th Armada leaves, Lopo Soares decides on a preemptive strike. He orders a squadron of around ten fighting ships and numerous Cochinese bateis and paraus, to head up there. The heavier ships, unable to make their way into the shallow channels, anchor at Palliport (Pallipuram, on the outer edge of Vypin island), while those ships, bateis and paraus that can continue on.

Converging on Cranganore, the Portuguese-Cochinese fleet quickly disperses the Zamorin's forces on the beach with cannonfire, and then lands an amphibian assault force – some 1,000 Portuguese and 1,000 Cochinese Nairs, who take on the rest of the Zamorin's forces in close combat. The Zamorin's forces are defeated and driven away from the city.[21] The assault troops capture Cranganore, and subject the ancient city, the once-great Chera capital of Kerala, to a thorough and violent sacking and razing. Deliberate fires were already started by squads led by Duarte Pacheco Pereira and factor Diogo Fernandes Correa, while the main fighting was still going on. They quickly consume most of the city, save for the Syrian Christian quarters, which are carefully spared (Jewish and Muslim homes are not given the same consideration).

In the meantime, the Calicut fleet, some 5 ships and 80 paraus, that had been dispatched to save the city are intercepted by the idling Portuguese ships near Palliport and defeated in a naval encounter.[22] Two days later, the Portuguese receive an urgent message from the ruler of Tanur (Tanore)or Vettattnad, whose kingdom lay to the north, on the road between Calicut and Cranganore. The raja of Tanur had come to loggerheads with his overlord, the Zamorin, and offered to place himself under Portuguese suzerainity instead, in return for military assistance. He reports that a Calicut column, led by the Zamorin himself, had been assembled in a hurry to try to save Cranganore, but that he managed to block its passage at Tanur. Lopo Soares immediately dispatches Pêro Rafael with a caravel and a sizeable Portuguese armed force to assist the Tanurese. The Zamorin's column is defeated and dispersed soon after its arrival.

Relics of the Cranganore Fort built by the Portuguese on the shores of the Kottapuram River

The raid on Cranganore and the defection of Tanuror Vettattnad are serious setbacks to the Zamorin, pushing the frontline north and effectively placing the Vembanad lagoon out of the Zamorin's reach. Any hopes the Zamorin had of quickly resuming his attempts to capture Cochin via the backwaters are effectively dashed. No less importantly, the battles at Cranganore and Tanur, which involved significant numbers of Malabari captains and troops, clearly demonstrated that the Zamorin was no longer feared in the region. The Battle of Cochin had broken his authority. Cranganore and Tanuror Vettattnad showed that Malabaris were no longer afraid of defying his authority and taking up arms against him. The Portuguese were no longer just a passing nuisance, a handful of terrifying pirates who came and went once a year. They were a permanent disturbance, turning the old order upside down. A new chapter was being opened on the Malabar coast.

Cranganore Fort (1523 A.D.)

Cranganore Fort was built by Portuguese in 1523 AD and later it in 1565 AD it was enlarged. It is also known as Kottappuram Fort.The fort was named as Fortaleza Sao Tome, by the Portuguese. The Dutch took possession of the fort in 1661. In 1776, Tipu Sultan seized the control of fort. The Dutch wrested it back from Tipu Sultan, but the fort eventually came under the control of Tipu, who destroyed it in the following year. The remains of the fort show that the original fort wall was 18 feet in thickness. The ruin is also known as Tipu's fort.

Notable landmarks

A scene from Kodungallur Bharani festival in Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple
  • Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple: It is believed to have been constructed during the reign of Chera King, Cheran Senkuttuvan. It is famous for its Bharani and Thalappoli festival. The temple requires the pilgrim to carry pepper and turmeric powder as one of the offerings to the deity.
  • Bharani festival: The Bharani festival at the Kodungallur Bhagawati temple is a month of festivities of the Bharani asterism in the month of Aquarius to seven days after the Bharani asterism in the month of Pisces. Traditionally, the temple (especially during the Bharani festival) has been associated with animal sacrifices. The blood of the sacrificed used to be spilled over two stones in the prakaram(closed precincts of a temple), but these customs have been abolished in the 20th century. William Logan, a social historian of Kerala, noted in 1887 that, "after Onam, the national festival, Kodungallur Bharani was the most important celebration in Kerala."
  • Cheraman Juma Masjid: The masjid was built around 629 AD by Malik Ibn Dinar[citation needed] in the typical local style of architecture and the bodies of some of the original followers are said to have been buried here. This is said to be the first mosque constructed in India.
  • Mar Thoma Church: The apostle St Thomas is believed to have landed in Kodungallur in 52 AD. He established the church, which is believed to be the first Christian church in India. It still houses ancient relics which are displayed to visitors at certain times.
  • Thiruvanchikulam Mahadeva Temple: It is one of the oldest Shiva temples in South India where Lord Shiva is said to have lived along with his whole family. This temple has got a relation with Tamil Nadu's famous Chidambaram temple. This temple has another rare event called "Anayottam" (elephant race) which is part of the annual festival. Lord Shiva of the Thiruvanchikulam temple is the family god of Cochin Royal Family (Perumpadapu Swaroopam). Thiruvanchikulam temple has the oldest reference in history in old Tamil Sangam literature, well before Malayalam was formed.
  • Edavilangu sivakrishnapuram Temple: It is one of the oldest temples in Kodungallur. It is currently under the Cochin Devaswom Board, but is now looked after by the devotees of Edavilangu. Here, Lord Siva and Krishna are the main idols.
  • Cranganore Fort: Also known as Kodungallur Fort, was built by the Portuguese in 1523. The Dutch took possession of it in 1661 and later it came under the control of Tipu Sultan. The ruin is also known as Tipu Sultan’s fort. The fort is about 2 KM from the town of Kodungallur.[23]
  • Chirakkal Kovilakam: This is the palace of Royal Family of Kodungallur. Kodungallur was an autonomous principality subordinate to the Raja of Cochin until India's Independence in 1947.
  • Puthen Kovilakam


As of 2001 India census,[24] Kodungallur had a population of 33,543. Males constitute 47% of the population and females 53%. Kodungallur has an average literacy rate of 83%, which is significantly higher than the national average of 59.5%. Male literacy is 86% and female literacy is 81%. In Kodungallur, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age.



Chinese fishing nets in Kodungallur

The coastal highway NH 17 connecting Cochin to Mumbai passes through this town and the construction of bypass for NH 17 already started and completed within 15 months. Kodungallur is well connected by KSRTC buses and private transport buses. It have a private bus stand and KSRTC bus stand in the town. The town is connected to Kochi (30 km), Thrissur (38 km) and Guruvayur (50 km). There are frequent bus services from here to Thrissur, Irinjalakuda, Chalakudy, Mala, North Paravur, Ernakulam, Aluva, Guruvayoor, Calicut etc. There are also long distance private bus services from and towards places like Kottayam, Pala, Kattappana and towards northern towns like Kannur, Iritty, Payyanur, Sultan Battery, Kasaragod etc.


The nearest railhead to Kodungallur is located at Irinjalakkuda, at a distance of 22 KM away. Only few express trains stop here. The major railway station near to Kodungallur is Aluva Railway Station. Aluva and Irinjalakkuda railway stations lies in the busy Shoranur-Cochin Harbour section. It is in the main route connecting Kochi and Palakkad.


The nearest airport to Kodungallur is Cochin International Airport, Nedumbassery, at a distance of 35 KM away. The airport is well connected to all major airports in India and also connected to many foreign cities. Direct flights are available to Chennai, New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.


The KollamKottapuram National Waterway 3 (India) ends at Kodungallur. The West Coast Canal, maintained by Inland Waterways Authority of India, is one of the most navigable and tourism potential area in India and has much to offer to the potential tourist. A terminus is located close to Kottapuram bridge.


Kodungallur Municipality was formed in the year 1978. It covers an area of 17.3 km2 and is divided into 24 electoral wards. The Municipality has a total population of 31,249 with a density of 1,806 per km2. Kodungallur is the headquarters of the Kodungallur Taluk and is a Grade-II Municipality. [25] Kodungallur assembly constituency is part of Chalakudi (Lok Sabha constituency).[26]


  1. ^ "Kochi Master Plan". http://www.corporationofcochin.net/DevelopmentPlan_KCR_2031.html. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Search for India's ancient city". BBC. 2006-06-11. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4970452.stm. Retrieved 2010-09-05. 
  3. ^ "History of Kochi". Centre For Heritage Studies, India. http://www.centreforheritagestudies.com/html/history.htm. Retrieved 2010-09-05. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Kerala Tourism". Muziris, A cultural tourist destination in kerala. http://www.kerala360.net/muziris.html. Retrieved 2010-09-05. 
  5. ^ a b "Excavations highlight Malabar maritime heritage". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2007-04-01. http://www.hindu.com/2007/04/01/stories/2007040106021000.htm. Retrieved 2010-09-05. 
  6. ^ a b "Hunting for Muziris". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2004-03-28. http://www.hindu.com/lf/2004/03/28/stories/2004032800050200.htm. Retrieved 2010-09-05. 
  7. ^ a b "Archaeologists stumble upon Muziris". The Hindu. http://www.hinduonnet.com/2004/03/23/stories/2004032303340500.htm. Retrieved 2010-09-05. 
  8. ^ http://www.samachaar.in/Delhi/Trade_links_of_Kerala_city_date_back_to_500_BC_19220/
  9. ^ "Study points to 500 BC Kerala maritime activity". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 2008-01-09. http://www.hindu.com/2008/01/09/stories/2008010956451300.htm. 
  10. ^ http://www.orientalthane.com/archaeology/news_2008_01_30_4.htm
  11. ^ http://indiatoday.intoday.in/index.php?issueid=&id=3689&option=com_content&task=view&sectionid=21
  12. ^ "Ancient History Sourcebook: The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea: Travel and Trade in the Indian Ocean by a Merchant of the First Century". Paul Halsall. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/periplus.html. Retrieved 2010-09-05. 
  13. ^ Thür, G. 1987. Hypotheken Urkunde eines Seedarlehens für eine Reise nach Muziris und Apographe für die Tetarte in Alexandria (zu P. Vindob. G. 40. 8222). Tyche 2:229–245.
  14. ^ T.K. Joseph (1955). Six St. Thomases Of South India. University of California. p. 27. 
  15. ^ "Nasrani Syrian Christians". Kuzhippallil.com. http://kuzhippallil.com/nsc.html. Retrieved 2010-01-17. 
  16. ^ a b "World’s second oldest mosque is in India". Bahrain tribune. Archived from the original on 2006-07-06. http://web.archive.org/web/20060706220818/http://www.bahraintribune.com/ArticleDetail.asp?CategoryId=4&ArticleId=49332. Retrieved 2006-08-09. 
  17. ^ Cheraman Juma Masjid A Secular Heritage
  18. ^ "A mosque from a Hindu king". indiatravels. http://www.indiatraveltimes.com/travelogue/mosque.html. Retrieved 2006-08-09. 
  19. ^ "Hindu patron of Muslim heritage site". iosworld.org. http://www.iosworld.org/interview_cheramul.htm. Retrieved 2006-08-09. 
  20. ^ "Kalam to visit oldest mosque in sub-continent". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2005-07-23. http://www.hindu.com/2005/07/23/stories/2005072306490500.htm. Retrieved 2006-08-09. 
  21. ^ Castanheda, p.272
  22. ^ Mathew (1997: p.14)
  23. ^ "Kodungallur". Kerala Tourism. http://www.keralatourism.org/kerala-article/193/kodungallur.php. Retrieved 2010-10-15. 
  24. ^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2004-06-16. http://web.archive.org/web/20040616075334/http://www.censusindia.net/results/town.php?stad=A&state5=999. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  25. ^ "Profile". Janasevana Kendram. http://www.janasevanakendram.org/Content/M080300.htm. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  26. ^ "Assembly Constituencies – Corresponding Districts and Parliamentary Constituencies". Kerala. Election Commission of India. http://archive.eci.gov.in/se2001/background/S11/KL_Dist_PC_AC.pdf. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

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