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Location of Kodungallur
in Kerala and India
Coordinates Template:IndAbbr 10°13′N 76°13′E / 10.22°N 76.22°E / 10.22; 76.22
Country Template:Flag
State Kerala
District(s) Thrissur
Population 33,543 (2001)
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)

9 m (30 ft)

Kodungallur (anglicised name: Cranganore) is a town and a municipality in the Thrissur district in the Indian state of Kerala. It was known in ancient times as Mahodayapuram, Shinkli, Muchiri (anglicised to Muziris) and Muyirikkodu. Muchiripattinam was a famous and prosperous seaport at the mouth of the Periyar (also known as Choorni Nadi) river in the southern Indian state of Kerala. It is located about 38 km from the present day city of Kochi at 10°13′N 76°13′E / 10.217°N 76.217°E / 10.217; 76.217upon NH 17.

The name Muchiri (Malayalam for cleft lip) denotes the three branches of the Periyar river which open into the Arabian Sea at the town. The flood of the river Periyar in 1341 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. Durng the flood, an island was formed with the name Vypinkara between Vypin and Munambam.

Major schools and colleges

  • KKTM Govt College, Pullut, Kodungallur
  • MES Asmabi College, P.Vemballur
  • GKVHSS Eriyad
  • GGHSS Kodungallur
  • GHSS Kodungallur
  • THS Kodungallur
  • VK Rajan Memorial High school, Pullut
  • Gurusree Public School Pullut
  • Amrita Vidyalayam, Lokamaleswram
  • Bharathiya Vidyabhavan, Srigapuram
  • St.Anne's High School, Kottapuram


Kodungallur is located at 10°13′N 76°13′E / 10.22°N 76.22°E / 10.22; 76.22.[1] It has an average elevation of nine metres (29 feet). Kodungallur is situated 35 km north of Kochi and Ernakulam, 38 km south-west of Thrissur, 45 km south of Guruvayur near the Arabian Sea shore.


As of 2001 India census[2], 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.


The coastal highway NH17 connecting Ernakulam and Mumbai passes through this town. The nearest railway station is Irinjalakuda and the airport is Kochi International. There is a KSRTC and a private bus stand in the town. 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 Kollam - Kottapuram National Waterway III ends at Kodungallur. A terminus is located close to Kottapuram bridge. It is expected that the waterway will bring down the cost of transportation of goods in Kerala. Krishnankotta bridge has reduced the distance between the towns of Kodungallur, Mala and Chalakudy. A new bridge at Thuruthipuram is under construction, which will open a new route to Angamaly. This road is expected to reduce the distance between Malabar and the Kochi International Airport.


The Bhagawati temple at Kodungallur is of great renown throughout the state of Kerala.

Kodungallur Bhagavathy

Kodungallur Bhagavathy.

File:Kodungallur Temple.jpg

Kodungallur is a part of ancient Muziris (Muchiri),which is important not only in the history of Kerala, but also of India as a whole. Muchiri is 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 Asoka.

The Kodungallur temple is one of the four Devi temples which Bhargava Raman is said to have installed at the four boundaries of Kerala. The popular belief is that in order to save the devotees from the epidemic of chicken pox, the Lokambika was installed in the Kodungallur temple by Bhargava Raman. This is one of the rare temples where the Brahmins are not performing the pooja, since it was originally a Dravidian Temple.

Kodungallur was also the capital of Cheraman Perumal, the last Chera ruler in the 7th century AD. The legend is that he 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. It was known as Muziris to Pliny the Elder (N.H. 6.26), who describes it as primum emorium Indiae. 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 [3].

Studies by archaeologist Dr. K.P. Shajan and his associate Dr. V. Selvakumar of the Centre for Heritage Studies have unearthed the clues to this ancient port at a place called "Pattanam" (meaning 'the city' in Malayalam) around 10 km from Kodungallur. Among the many things unearthed were Roman amphora pieces, West Asian pottery (200 BC - 700 AD), Chinese pottery (1700 AD), rouletted ware and copper coins. They also excavated a boat made of a single wood which indicates that the place had waterways. Radio carbon dating shows the age of the boat to be approximately 2,500 years. The brick structure excavated is a clear indication of early human settlement in this area. Studies on Charcoal obtained from the site by Dr. P.J. Cherian indicate that there was human habitation in Pattanam 3000 years back.


Muziris, near the tip of India, in the Peutinger Table.

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 second-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.[4]

Thomas the Apostle of Jesus landed in Cranganore in the year AD 52 and preached the gospel and built the Church in Truth and Spirit among the Jews and Namboothiris of Kerala. Monuments built in the memory of Thomas still exist.
Kodungaloor Mar Thoma Church

The renovated Mar Thoma Church, Kodungaloor which is believed to be the first Christian church in India, and was built by St. Thomas in AD 52.

A thriving Christian belief attracted the attention of others and the bishops who came from Asyria after Mar Sapor first landed in Kerala in 825 AD at Kollam, chosing this place for their residence. The bones of the right hand of St. Thomas were placed in 1953 as a memento.

Malik Ibn Dinar and 20 others who were the followers of Prophet Muhammad, the Messenger of God (Islam), first landed here when they came to India. Islam received royal patronage in some Indian states and later spread to other parts of India. Muhammad built a mosque in the shape of a Hindu temple. It could well be the first mosque in the Indian subcontinent as the exact date of making is not known but is believed to be in 629 AD. However, generally it is considered to be the second mosque of the world after the mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia

File:Cheraman Juma Masjid.gif
Cheraman jumamasjid

The renovated Cheraman Juma Masjid

The church was firmly established in Kodungallur before the 9th century. However, the arrival of Mar Sapor in Kollam on invitation of namboothiris of Deva Loka Kara who was not accepting Adi Shankara's denouncement of Christ, made Christianity a thriving religion of the oriental orthodox order until Udyam Peroor Sunahadose in the 16th century, when the Roman Catholic Church took control over the Malabar Church with the help of the Portuguese.

In fact, the settlement of the Jews in Kodungallur was still earlier. They claimed to hold grants dated back until 378 AD. The cruelty of the Portuguese drove most of the Jews to Cochin. Up to 1314, when Vypin harbour was formed, the only opening in the Cochin backwater, outlet for the Periyar was at Kodungalur, which must then have been the best harbour on the coast. In 1502, the Syrian Christians invoked the protection of the Portuguese. Under their influence, most of the Syrian Christians accepted Latin Rite in Kodungallur. Kodungallur became Archdiocese in 1609, but was annexed to the Vicariate of Verapoly in 1838. Further in 1886, the diocese itself was suppressed. In 1987, the Archdiocese of Verapoly was bifurcated and the Diocese of Kottapuram was formed. Catholics in Kodungallur today belong to this diocese.

There was the rise of the Samoothiri Rajas of Kozhikode in the early 16th century. The town was nearly completely destroyed by the Portuguese (Suarez de Menezes) on 1 September 1504 in retaliation for the Samoothiri Raja's actions against them[5].

In 1523, Portuguese built their first fort and entlarged it in 1565. In 1661, the Dutch took the fort and its possession was contested between this nation for the next forty years. In 1776, Tipu Sultan seized the stronghold. The Dutch recaptured it two years later and gave it to Tipu Sultan in 1784. He sold it to the Travancore Raja and again in 1789 to Tippoo, who finally destroyed it the following year.

After Tipu's death, the Kodungallur Kovilakam controlled the lands of Kodungallur. Kodungallur then formed an autonomous principality subordinate to the Raja of Cochin and remained thus until Indian Independence in 1947. The Kodungallur Kovilakam was renowned as a centre of learning [6] during this period. Scholars from all over Kerala came to live in the palaces and study Sanskrit and Vedic science.


Kodungallur assembly constituency is part of Chalakudi (Lok Sabha constituency).[7]


Kodungallur Bharani

Kodungallur Bharani festival

File:Kodungallur Thalapoli.jpg

The present day town has some very interesting sights:

  • Kodungallur Bagavathy temple 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, 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 Jama Masjid was built around 629 AD 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 Church: the apostle St Thomas 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.
  • Thiruvanchikulam Mahadeva temple is one of the oldest Siva temples in south India where Lord Siva is said to have lived along with his whole family. This temple has got a relation with south India'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 before Malayalam was formed. Kavalappara Komban’s (Tusker) last crazy aggression was happened during the festival time of Thiruvanchikulam. This place is said to be the Capital of Ancient Chera Empire.
  • Edavilangu sivakrishnapuram temple 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 or also known as Kodungallur Fort, was built by the Portuguese in 1503.
  • Ramanchira Kulam
  • Padaa Kulam
  • Bala Ganesapuram Ganapathi temple
  • Cheriya KattuPuram
  • [[[Chirakkal Kovilakam]][8]] [2]
  • [[[Puthan Kovilakam]]][9]][3]

Various names

Kodungallur has enjoyed various names over the past.

In addition to those mentioned above, these names are Jangli, Gingaleh, Cyngilin, Shinkali, Chinkli/Jinkali, Shenkala and Cynkali. These names were all derived from the name of the river Changala [or Chain i.e. Shringala in Sanskrit] which originates at Kanjur from River Periyar [Periyar was known as Choorni in Sanskrit and Chulli (Ref: Poem No 149, Akananuru of Sangam literature) in ancient Dravidian language]).

Yet other names are Columguria, Vangi, Musirippattanam, Mahodayapuram, Kotilingapuram, Kudalingapuram, Makodai, Kodunkaliyur, Thiruvallur, RaviVisvapuram and Balakreetapuram.

There is also a belief that the name Kodungallur is derived from Kodi-linga-puram (10 million Siva Lingas). 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. The famous "Tazhapaya" market "Edavilangu" is situated in Konducalloor Taluk.

See also


  1. Falling Rain Genomics, Inc - Kodungallur
  2. "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. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  3. Menachery, Professor George. Kodungallur - The Cradle of Christianity In India, Thrissur: Marthoma Pontifical Shrine, 2000, Ch.I
  4. 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.
  5. Logan, William. Malabar Manual, Delhi, Asian Educational Services, 2000, 1186 pgs. pp 312, ISBN 81-206-0446-6 (Originally published in Madras, 1887).
  6. Wood, Ananda. Knowledge before printing and after - The Indian tradition in changing Kerala.[1]
  7. "Assembly Constituencies - Corresponding Districts and Parliamentary Constituencies". Kerala. Election Commission of India. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

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