A weekend along the beaches & forts of Kannur, Kerala

posted in: Asia, Beaches, Heritage, India, Kerala | 70

Some things don’t change. Even though it has been some time that I have left my corporate job, I still track those long weekends and when I get a drift of one, my travel planning mode just switches on. Despite my regular travels, I still need those for some fun time with my family and friends. Naturally, I wasn’t going to let my Independence Day weekend getaway. Packed and loaded with our bags, we set forth for yet another road trip – this time to the beaches of Kannur in Kerala.

Setting off for Kannur
Setting off for Kannur

With 4 families & kids, we wanted to try out some beaches within 7-8 hours drive from Bangalore. Kannur fit the bill perfectly. Without further ado, we booked our stay at least 2 months prior to the weekend – not wanting to take any chances. At the dawn of the marked weekend, we set forth to discover this little town in Kerala. It sure was an experience that made our weekend perfect – giving us enough to do and still have a relaxing holiday. I definitely would be recommending this as a weekend outing for any one who comes to Kerala or Karnataka and before I give you reasons why, a little bit about Kannur.

About Kannur

Kannur is also, popularly known as Cannanore, an anglicized version of the original Indian name. The name Kannur was in fact, derived from Lord Krishna’s name – Kannan, as there was a temple dedicated to him in this place. The place was ruled by the Kolathiri Kings of Kerala. Later in the 1500s, this became a Portuguese colony and the first Viceroy here built the famed St. Angelo’s fort. The Dutch took over this fort and place in the 1660s and built some more bastions within the Fort. Eventually, they sold the place to Ali Raja of Arakkal, who in turn, lost it to the British in the 1790s.

Cannanore or Kannur in Kerala
Cannanore or Kannur in Kerala

With the change of numerous hands in Kannur, there were is a fusion of cultural influences that you can still see in this town. This makes it even more interesting and attractive. And then, of course, there are my reasons for why one needs to visit Kannur.

1)The drive to Kannur from Bangalore

Drive through Mysore to Kannur
Drive through Mysore to Kannur

Through Mysore and the green Nagarhole forest, past Mananthavady in Wayanad right up to the sandy beaches of Kannur, our drive was completely refreshing! For one, we did not take the regular Mysore road but came through Kanakpura where the roads are lined with that cheer you on as you drive along. After Mysore, the banyan trees with their hanging roots beckoned us to stop around and swing on them as monkeys. Nagarhole forest was a completely different experience for as we entered, we were greeted by a herd of prancing deer as they crossed the road. Finally, the cool, green covers of Wayanad and its tea estates kept us company till we reached Kannur. Not for a minute, did we get bored and it helped that it was the monsoon season that brought out the best of these places.

Tea estates of Wayanad
Tea estates of Wayanad

2) Thottada Beach in Kannur

Sunset on Thottada Beach in Kannur
Sunset on Thottada Beach in Kannur

Our destination and the first stop at Kannur was the Kanbay resort by the Thottada Beach. One glimpse at the beach and I was transported back to Gokarna. With its rocky ledges and water splashing high against it, the Thottada Beach was quite mesmerizing. I found my favorite seat on those very rocks – just so that I could look at those waves for hours together as they gathered force to leap up those huge rocks.

My favorite place on Thottada Beach
My favorite place on Thottada Beach
Fun on the beach stretch
My Twisted Twin – Somya and me on Thottada Beach

However, that was not all to this beach. A walk away from the resort was its sandy shore where one could indulge in a bit of wading and some crazy games as we did. I loved my morning runs on this beach for I discovered two hidden aspects to it – at one end, the lovely backwater stretch and at the other end, a small little entrance that lead to a hidden stretch of this Beach. The Thottada beach was perfect for adults and kids alike!

The entrance to a secret section of the Thottada beach
Crawling through the entrance to find the secret section of the Thottada beach
The secret section of the Thotadda beach
The secret section of the Thotadda beach
The backwaters at the Thottada Beach
The backwaters at the Thottada Beach

3) St. Angelo’s fort in Kannur

St. Angels's fort, Kannur
St. Angels’s fort, Kannur

St. Angelo’s fort is a symbol of the various European influences that this town had. The moss-covered fort with its huge moat had me intrigued from the time I walked through its narrow alley. The fort is quite small as compared to the huge ones that I have seen but interesting nonetheless. Being a sea fort, you are treated to the view of the Arabian Sea from all sides. As you enter, you can spot the cannons that were used by the British – which are not in its original place but out there nonetheless for us to see.

Cannon at St. Angelo fort
Cannon at St. Angelo fort
St Angelo's fort from within
St Angelo’s fort from within

Further on, you can spot the remains of the tall lighthouse that was used to guide the ships to the fort and below that, what remains of the horse stables. While you are at the lighthouse, don’t forget to spot this symbol of the Dutch (I think).

Dutch symbol at the Fort in Kannur
Dutch symbol at the Fort in Kannur

Walking through those stables with its high arches, reminded me of the many passages that I had encountered in the Mughal palaces up north. There are small cells around the stable, that were used as storerooms or possibly imprisonment cells. The lack of signage just leaves you guessing as to their original purpose.

The Horse's stables at the St. Angelo's fort
The Horse’s stables at the St. Angelo’s fort
Cells within the fort
Cells within the fort


Church within the St Angelo Fort
Church within the St Angelo Fort

You can walk up to the water tank and the underground cells within this small fort while passing by the old Church that was used by the European occupants. The current ASI office used to be the office of the Fort earlier and around here you can spot many bunkers like structures. My favorite part of the fort – was this arched gateway that led to the sea on the other side.

My favorite archway at St. Angelo fort, Kannur
My favorite archway at St. Angelo fort, Kannur

4) Payyambalam Beach

Spend a day in Kannur just beach hopping!

Payyambalam Beach, Kannur
Payyambalam Beach, Kannur

Among the myriad beaches that were there, one of the beaches that we spend a lot of time on was the Payyambalam beach. This is by far the longest beach stretch in Kannur – with all of 7 kms covered with soft sand and green hairy boulders that look like trolls from a fairy tale book. The beach is well developed for tourists and even has lifeguard facilities in certain parts, making it an enjoyable outing for everyone. You will find a lot of restaurants around this place. Thus, if you want to ditch running around and stay put on one sandy shore – Payyambalam beach should be your choice!

The sea weed covered stones on Payyambalam Beach, Kannur
The sea weed covered stones on Payyambalam Beach, Kannur

5) Drive-in beach at Kannur

Muzhappilangad beach
Muzhappilangad beach

While at the resort, we heard of this drive-in beach and though it was not a season for us to do the drive-in, I could not but pester my better half – Ash to just allow us a glimpse of this beach. In any season, other than monsoons, you can just drive along the shore and splash water off your tyres, just as you see in various movies. Greed prevailed when I saw the beach and I really wished that we could have zipped through the water in our Ecosport. However, better sense prevailed as we had to drive back to Bangalore and could not have afforded the car being sunk into the soft sands of this gorgeous beach.

6) Kerala Food at Kannur

Raandhal restaurant in Kannur
Raandhal restaurant in Kannur

I am huge fan of the local food in Kerala  – the Karimeen Polichattu (Pearl Fish), the idiyappam, the appams, Ulli Theeyal (Shallots Curry), Alleppey Fish curry…I think I better stop before I drool on the keyboard! Kannur gives you ample opportunity to sample all these. The one restaurant that bowled us all over was Raandhal . Don’t miss their special drinks and desserts, besides, of course, sampling their Karimeen Biryani and Mango Fish curry. If you are a vegetarian, you cannot go wrong with their vellappam and stew.

7) What we missed in Kannur

Being an idyllic holiday, we did not want to rush around and cover the whole town in a haste. There were a few misses that we had on this trip of ours, which I know I shall set right on my next visit. One of the biggest ones was the Arakkal Museum that had relics of the Muslim kings that ruled the place. I saw it on the way to the Fort but knowing the time it would take, left it for my next visit.

Thottada Beach in Kannur
Thottada Beach in Kannur

And then, there is a water park as well as a snake park that you can visit while here. They say that it is a good one for the kids but in our case, the kids were just as happy on the beach. Besides these places, there are also, the famous Theyyam Dance performances that you can see when you are in Kannur.

At the risk of repeating myself, I still say that though there isn’t too much to do, there is still enough here in Kannur and that is precisely what makes it a perfect weekend destination for anyone in Kerala or Karnataka. Don’t you agree?

Getting here:

  • Kannur is 350 kms from Bangalore (8 hours drive).
  • For those abroad looking to book flight tickets to India, you can opt for Kozhikode as the nearest airport. This is around 92 kms from Kannur and one can easily get a cab to this place.
  • Mangalore is yet another airport that is close to Kannur, at a distance of 140 kms.

Travel Tips:

  • The best season for Kannur is between October to February when the sea is not as rough.
  • Kannur has a fair number of resorts and home stays. However, it is quite full during the season. Make sure you do your reservations in advance.
  • The sea can be rough at certain beaches. Please make sure you take adequate precautions before going all out into it.

Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting me with this.


Share the Thrill of Travel

70 Responses

  1. Royal Enfielder

    I was looking forward to reading this post, mostly for the sheer lack of social media updates when you were road tripping to Kannur. I knew, a lot more would land up on a blog post when nothing has been spoken off on twitter et al. Kannan is also a name for Lord Krishna? Something new I learned today 🙂 When you say that there was a Krishna temple, it isn’t there any more or is Trichambaram Temple the same one?

    Also, good call on not revealing the actual way to the secret place in Thottadda beach! Wouldn’t have been too secretive after that! We need more of Mallu Jones!

    • Ami

      Indiana Jones if you please!!! 🙂
      The Trichambaram temple I believe, is the main temple here. I am pretty sure that if I had stayed on, I would have discovered more. Got to leave it for some other weekend outing. So, trust me, I shall be back with more on this 🙂

  2. quirkywanderer

    fabulous pics!! Love the sea weed one. What patterns! 🙂 I had hardly heard of things one could do in Kannur! 🙂 The Thottada beach looks so awesome esp the secret section. Total Mallu jones you look (agree with Vineet ) :p I am so tempted to do this road trip now!

    • Ami

      Come over to Bangalore Divsi and we shall do it together again. I did leave a few things to be discovered as yet. 🙂 Cheers

  3. sindhu

    Kannur is a beautiful place with beaches and forts…also there are some very beautiful temples wherein the age old rituals are still followed maintaining the sanctity.

  4. maya menon

    A weekend is a bit too short to see places in Kannur. If you want to know about more places do check out more destinations in Kannur

  5. Synz

    I have a few friends who came from India, and it is one of the places I want to visit in the future. Anyway, your post is full of information about the place. I might consider to add Kannur on my list. 🙂

    • Ami

      You will enjoy Kannur for its peaceful beaches and the little history. I do hope you get to it soon. Cheers

  6. Tatum

    Something about these beaches are just amazing! Seems like you had the best time exploring! So happy you didn’t disclose the secret to the beach haha spoiler alert!

    • Ami

      Ha ha. It might not be so secret then. Though I must tell you that I have shared it in some ways. Thanks for stopping by

  7. Thelittlelai: Beyond limits

    wow, what a wonderful weekend that you have experienced here. I love all the places that you have been to and your photos speaks so much about the innate beauty of the place. The Pristine beaches are really beyond compare and would love to amble around and traipse my feet on these places. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    • Ami

      Glad you enjoyed this one. It is quite an offbeat place in India and if you ever get an opportunity to visit. you should try it out. Thanks for stopping by

  8. My Travelogue by Bhushavali

    I agree! I too track those long weekends, so I can explore a new place with my man, than alone… As much as I love my solo travels, those romantic getaways are necessary too! Kerala is just too gorgeous and needs multiple trips. I’m yet to explore Kannur. Thottada Beach is just too gorgeous!

    • Ami

      I bet you will have a good time here Bhushavali with your other half. Head over on a long weekend – though from Chennai, it would be best by rail.

  9. Sandy N Vyjay

    I know Kannur is a slightly off the beaten track destination and is all the more charming for it. Have been planning to head there for some time, but plans have not materialized. But reading your post and the pics galvanizes me into action. The secret section of the Thottade Beach and the fort has piqued my interest.

  10. Abhinav Singh

    South India is easily one of my favourite regions of India. There are so many offbeat, hidden beaches. I had not heard of Kannur until you told me about it. The Dutch symbol at the fort is quite interesting.

    • Ami

      True, there are a lot of hidden places down South and I am having a good time unearthing those. Kannur was fun indeed. I hope to be able to go there again.

  11. Watersports Mag

    A friend told me about Kerala and I went there last year from Goa. Beautiful. One of the greenest places I have visited. I loved Periyar, Munnar, and the backwaters. Missed Kannur. Perhaps next time 🙂

    • Ami

      No doubt kerala is one paradise. Am sure you can club Kannur with a lot of the other places you might have missed in Kerala. Like maybe wayanad

  12. mayuri patel

    all the pics here are so beautiful that i tempted to visit it in next year along with south india trip.secret section on beach what I like it most 🙂
    its probably best weekend gateway

  13. Followingtherivera

    It’s nice to read about these places that are completely new to me. I’ve heard of Kerala, but not of Kannur and its rocky beaches. It’s clearly an area of great beauty, and one that’s not so busy with tourists either! Thank you for sharing this!

  14. Annie Albert

    This would be the best blog about Kannur that I have read so far. You have done a wonderful work and it is truly remarkable. We have vacation apartments in kannur and most people are not aware of the historic significance of Kannur. Your blog is really helpful for us. It is very informative and it is worth sharing.

  15. Vyshak

    Hi, this blog about kannur is so beautifully captured and written. Well there are few more places which are absolute getaways from the town like paithalmala, palakkayam thattu, ezhi mala etc. Little far from the city but worth it. For people who got enough bliss from the beaches, these places are perfect for little mountains and bit of trekking.

  16. Arun Bhaskaran

    Very informative indeed!
    Cannanore is my hometown though I was born in Delhi and spent most of my childhood in the north and west of India.
    I visited Fort St.Angelo in 1971 and haven’t been there since.
    Your article was very descriptive and the photographs are excellent!

    I have made many visits to Kannur in the pasr few decades but only for a few hours to attend a wedding or visit relatives.
    Now, it’s time to explore all the lovely beaches and other interesting places like the Arakal Museum.
    I will definitely plan a visit to Kannur soon.

    • Ami

      Thank you Arun. Given this is close to your heart, a praise from you goes a long way in encouraging me. Hope you can visit here soon and relive your moments.

  17. Lambert

    Thanks 4 your beautiful write-up about my amazing hometown. During yr next visit I suggest that you also visit 2 scenic hilltops viz. Paithalmala & Pallaikam Thattu which are situate adjacent to each other .. keep in mind that u will have to reach these locations at least by 10 in the mrng becoz fog settles over the whole area by 3 in the noon. Also maybe Madayi para .. All the best and God bless.

  18. Anjith Sasindran

    Regarding getting to Kannur, there’s a new airport (KIAL -> Kannur International Airport) which recently started flights. So I recommend changing the information in the blog. Thank you.

  19. melbin

    Hi Thanks for sharing the information about the weekend beaches forts in kannur kerala

  20. swaroop ramesan

    WOW! Beautifully written. Never knew kannur have so much to offer, well maybe people should start looking at what nature has to offer and put an end to all political drama. No matter what part of the world, nature never fails to amuse.


  21. Soumya Shrivastava

    Hey, I absolutely loved your blog. Planning to visit Kannur this November.
    Can you please suggest regarding the accommodation in Kannur? And also how is the public transport there? Will we get transport at night ?

    • Ami

      Try getting an accommodation somewhere close to the beaches. As for the transport at night, I am honestly not sure as we had our own vehicles

  22. Ramesh

    Hi, Kannur is my fav place. Once I visited a temple there. Pazhassini. That was a wonderful experience. Your blog made me nostalgic. Thank you for the article.

    • Ami

      Am glad that I got you all nostalgic. Thanks for stopping by the blog and sharing a note.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.