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Not to be confused with Kadungallur.
This article is about the municipality. For the medieval kingdom of the same name, see Kodungallur Kovilakam. For former capital city, see Mahodayapuram.

Municipal town

Dutch East India Company ships in Kodungallur (1708)

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
District Thrissur
 • Total 17.3 km2 (6.7 sq mi)
Elevation 9 m (30 ft)
Population (2001)
 • Total 33,543
 • Density 1,900/km2 (5,000/sq mi)
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 680664
Telephone code 0480
Vehicle registration KL-8 / KL 47

Kodungallur (Malayalam: കൊടുങ്ങല്ലൂര്‍, anglicised name: Cranganore) is a municipality in the Thrissur district of Kerala, India. Kodungallur is 29 km northwest of Kochi and 38 km southwest of Thrissur, by National Highway 66.

Until recently the location of one of the greatest seaports of ancient eastern world, Muziris (ca. 100 BCE – 1341 CE), was usually identified in Kodungallur. However, some recent archaeological studies and evidences from excavations suggest that the location of the disappeared port could have been at Pattanam, a small town 9 km south of Kodungallur.[1] Kodungallur was an integral part of Mahodayapuram, the capital city of the kingdom of Second Cheras. In the post-Chera period, the area was a feudal principality ruled by a royal family, Kodungallur Kovilakam, subordinated at early stages by the kingdom of Zamorin, and at later stages by the kingdom of Kochi, till the independence of India.

It is postulated that the city was devastated by natural calamities—a flood or an earth quake—in 1341, and consequently lost its commercial importance thereafter.[2] Further, it came under military attacks on various occasions: in 1504 by the Portuguese-Kochi allied forces during their movement against Zamorin, in 1524 by the Mappilas during their attack against the Portuguese, and in 1565 again by the Portuguese.


The name Kodungallur is derived from Kodi-linga-puram ("the land of 10 million Siva lingas") according to common belief. Kodungallur was perhaps the revenue collection center of Kuda-kons (the Chera rulers) for the goods coming to the nearby port, hence the name Kudakonallur, which later shortened to Kodungallur.

Historically, Kodungallur has been identified as Jangli, Gingaleh, Cyngilin, Shinkali, Chinkli, Jinkali, Shenkala and Cynkali, which are all derived from the name of the River Changala (or the Chain river, i.e., Shringala in Sanskrit), a tributary of Periyar.[3] Columguria, Kotilingapuram, Kudalingapuram, Kodunkaliyur, Thiruvallur, Ravivisvapuram and Balakreetapuram are a few other names, identified as Kodungallur in various related records or literary works.


During Chera period

Main article: Muziris

Kodungallur was an integral part of Mahodayapuram, the capital city of Later Chera dynasty.[4] During this period,[5] Muziris, near present day Kodungallur, was an important trade link in Indian maritime history.[6] Roman empire had continuous trading connection with this region. Along with Pepper, commodities such as pearls, muslin, ivory, diamond, silk and perfumes were exported using the maritime facilities of Kodungallur. Sulaiman, an Arab visitor to Mahodayapuram during this period, recorded the economic prosperity of the region and also testified to the high morals, kept by its people. Also, he describes the Chinese trade in the city; they are described as purchasing articles such as pepper, cinnamon, ivory, pearls, cotton fabrics and teak wood, while selling fishing nets, silk and porcelain goods here.[7] Kodungallor also played as an important gateway of the cultural relations and laid the foundation of a composite culture in this part of the Chera country; Christianity, Judaism and Islam entered the region in the earliest centuries of common era.

In the 11th century, Mahodayapuram was captured by Rajendra Chola I of Chola dynasty. For the next few centuries, Kodungallur was a principality, named Padinjattedathu Swaroopam, under the control of a royal family, Kodungallur Kovilakam, allied either to kingdom of Cochin or to Calicut.[4] Muziris is supposed to be destroyed by massive flooding of Periyar in 14th century and consequently, the trade got diverted to other ancient ports of the Malabar coast, such as Kochi.[8]

The tradition of Thomas the Apostle

Main article: Thomas the Apostle

Traditional belief of Saint Thomas Christians of Kerala is that Thomas the Apostle landed in or around Kodungallur in the middle of the 1st century and founded Seven Churches, or Ezharapallikal: Kodungallur, Kollam, Niranam, Nilackal (Chayal), Kokkamangalam, Kottakkayal (Paravoor), Palayoor (Chattukulangara) and Thiruvithamcode Arappally  – a "half church".[9][10][11] According to one view, a Cochin Jew colony in Malabar Coast (later named Anjuvannam near Kondungallur), probably established before 6th century BCE, attracted the Apostle to this region.[12]

Cheraman Juma Masjid

Main article: Cheraman Juma Masjid

The tradition holds that Cheraman Juma Masjid in Kodungallur, built in 629 AD by Mālik bin Dīnār, is the oldest mosque in India and the second oldest mosque in the world to offer Jumu'ah prayers.[13][14][15] Constructed during the lifetime of Muhammad, the bodies of some of his original followers are said to be buried there.[16] Unlike other mosques in the region that face westwards this mosque faces east.

The legend has it that a group of Muhammad's Ṣaḥāba (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, the Chera ruler traveled to Makkah, where he embraced Islam, and accepted the name "Tajuddin". On his way back to India he died at Salalah in 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 Mālik bin Dīnār and Mālik bin Habib arrived in northern Chera kingdom and constructed the Cheraman Juma Masjid at Kodungalloor.[14][17][18]


The glory of Kodungallur, as a global trade centre, is believed to be destroyed by natural calamities.[2] According to one view it was heavy floods in the river Periyar that destroyed the city in 1341, while others point out to an earth quake in this regard. The floods further split the left branch of the river into two, just before the city of Aluva. The flood silted the right branch (known as River Changala) and the natural harbour at the mouth of the river to make it poorly navigable for large ships. The misfortune of Kodungallur helped other major ports of Malabar coast, such as the one at Kochi, to rise to prominence.[20]

Colonial period

During Portuguese period, Kodungallur was a tributary state in the kingdom of Zamorin, the most powerful of independent rulers of Malabar region. Since the location of Kodungallur sandwiched between the kingdom of Zamorin and the kingdom of Kochi, it was often a matter of dispute for both the kings and sometimes the chieftain of Kodungallur switched the allegiance.[21] Portuguese landed in Calicut in 1498 and soon they reached in an agreement with the Zamorin for establishing their trade with his subjects and also to open a factory in Calicut. Nonetheless, Portuguese forces tried to establish monopoly in spice trade using violent methods against the Arabs and other Muslim merchants from the Middle East, who had a longstanding loyal relation with the Zamorin.[22] In fact, Calicut was the only independent state in the Indian Ocean region at that time to militarily meet the Portuguese transgressions in the region, whereas Kochi opted to ally with the foreign forces to contain the aggression of Zamorin.[21]

The tussle between Zamorin and Portuguese, though started arising in 1500, broke into the form of a regional war in 1504.[21] Portuguese forces extended their attack on Calicut to allied coastal states, including Kodungallur. The town was almost completely destroyed by the Portuguese (Suarez de Menezes) on 1 September 1504.[23]

Kodungallur, being a port city at the northern end of the Vembanad lagoon, was a strategic entry point for Zamorin's army and fleet into the Kerala backwaters. Hence, in October 1504 Zamorin dispatched a force to fortify Kodungallur. Reading this movement as a preparation for a renewed attack on Kochi, the Portuguese commander, Lopo Soares, ordered a preemptive strike. A squadron of around ten fighting ships, accompanied with numerous fighting boats of Kochi, headed up to Kodungallur. The heavier ships, unable to make their way into the shallow channels, anchored at Palliport (Pallipuram, on the outer edge of Vypin island), while smaller frigates progressed to the destination.

Converging on Kodungallur, the Portuguese-Kochi fleet quickly dispersed the Calicut forces on the beach using cannon, and launched their composite army – some 1,000 Portuguese soldiers and 1,000 Nair warriors of Kochi – who took on the rest of the enemy force in Kodungallur.[24] The assault troops captured and sacked the city of Kodungallur, and was set on fire by the squads led by Duarte Pacheco Pereira and Diogo Fernandes Correa. Nonetheless, according to some records, Portuguese arsonists spared the Saint Thomas Christian quarters in the city. (At the time the community was in a tenuous position: though thriving in the spice trade and protected by their own militia, the local political sphere was volatile and the Saint Thomas Christians had found themselves under pressure from the rajas of Calicut, Cochin and other small kingdoms in the area. Hence the community had sought an alliance with the Portuguese newcomers. Since they were one of the major suppliers of pepper in the region, Portuguese also found the relation as reciprocating.[25]) This might have helped the ancient Christian community of Kodungallur from extinction during the 1504 assault on the city.

The Calicut fleet, some 5 ships and 80 paraus, that had been dispatched to save the city was intercepted by the idling Portuguese ships near Palliport and defeated in a naval encounter.[26] In the meantime, the ruler of Tanur (Vettattnad), whose kingdom lay to the north, on the road between Calicut and Kodungallur, who had a spoiled relation with the Zamorin, offered to place himself under Portuguese suzerainty. It is recorded that the military of Calicut, which was led by Zamorin in person, was defeated on their way to Kodungallur by a sizeable Portuguese army with the assistance of the Tanur king.

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. The battle set the scene for Portuguese to expand their colonial authority over a significant area of the Malabar coast. By 1510, their fluid power in the Malabar coast solidified into a perceptible territorial entity.[21]

In 1662, the Dutch entered the competition, sacked the Portuguese in a fortnightly war, with the help of Zamorin, and occupied Kodungallur.[27] The Dutch took the control of Kodungallur fort in 1663 and it eventually protected the southern Kerala, especially Travancore, from the Mysorean invasion in 1776. In 1786, Mysorean troops again marched to northern Kerala, but failed to progress ahead of Kodungallur. On 31 July 1789, the Dutch handed over their establishments in Kodungallur and Azhikode to the Kingdom of Travancore for 300,000 Surat silver rupees.[19]


Till 1980s, it was generally believed that Kodungallur and Muziris are synonymous in the historical point of view. In 1983, a large hoard of Roman coins was excavated at a site in a small town, called Pattanam, about six miles from Kodungallur. Now this location is one of the most significant archaeological sites in South Asia. The excavations carried out at Pattanam from 2007 to 2011 have uncovered a plethora of archaeologically important materials: over 20,000 articles have yet been recovered including terracotta objects, beads, amphora pieces, cannon balls and four skeletons.[28] It has prompted many historians to hypothesize Pattanam as the location of Muziris.[29][30][31][32]

Kodungallur fort

Cranganore Fort, also known as Kottappuram Fort, was built by Portuguese in 1523 and later in 1565 it was enlarged. The fort was named as Fortaleza Sao Tome, by the Portuguese. The Dutch took possession of the fort in 1663. 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.[33]

Muziris Heritage Project

A project, named Muziris Heritage Project, was launched by the Department of Cultural Affairs, Kerala in 2006 to scientifically retrieve and preserve the historical heritage of the region, extending from North Paravur to Kodungallur. The project envisages a combination of heritage management initiatives in its restoration, conservation and access to the public. Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR), identified as the nodal agency for Muziris Heritage Project, provides academic guidance and undertakes archaeological and historical research in the region.[34]

Notable landmarks

  • 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. 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 Kodungallur Bharani could have been the most important celebration in Kerala if Onam, the national festival of Kerala, was excused.
  • Cheraman Juma Masjid: The masjid was built around 629 A.D. by Malik Ibn Dinar 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 Syro-Malabar Catholic Church: The apostle St Thomas is believed to have landed in Kodungallur in 52 A.D. 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.[35]
  • 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.[36]
  • 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.


As of 2001 India census,[37] Kodungallur municipality had a population of 33,543: males constitute 47% of the population and females 53%, while 10% of the total population was under 6 years of age. The municipality had an average literacy rate of 83%: male literacy is 86% and female literacy is 81%.



The coastal highway NH 66 connecting Cochin to Mumbai passes through this town and the construction of bypass for NH 66 already started. Kodungallur is well connected by KSRTC buses and private transport buses. It has 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 North Paravur, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Guruvayoor, Mala, Chalakudy, Calicut etc. There are also long distance private bus services from and towards places like Kottayam, Pala and towards northern towns like Iritty, Payyanur, Kasaragod etc.


The nearest railhead to Kodungallur is located at Irinjalakuda Railway Station, at a distance of 22 km away. Only a 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.

Inland water transport

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.

Local government

Kodungallur Municipality was formed in the year 1978. It covers an area of 17.3 km2 and is divided into 44 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. [38] Kodungallur assembly constituency is part of Chalakudi (Lok Sabha constituency).[39]



Satellite image

  • Satellite image of Kodungallur.

External links

  • Indian Christianity – Cranganore:Past and Present
  • Indian Christianity – The Glory that was Cranganore
  • Catholic Diocese of Kottapuram
  • Cherman Juma Masjid, Kodungallur
  • Muziris Heritage Site: Circuit tours at
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