Kannur is that part of the legendary Malabar Coast, the ancient port of Naura, where King Solomon's ships anchored to collect timber to build the 'Temple of the Lord' and to secure most needed spices. Known even to the Greeks, Romans and the Arabs, Kannur's trade links goes back a long way. Acclaimed by celebrated traveller Marco Polo as the great emporium of the spice trade, this nature-rich land has been a key contributor to the cultural, religious, political and industrial heritage of the State.
Kannur , previously known by its Anglicised version 'Cannanore', is situated 518 kms north of the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, and is the largest city North of Cochin. It is known as the land of Looms and Lores due to the many looms that function here and the ritualistic folk art held in temples, Theyyam, which is unique to it.
During British rule, Kannur served as the British military headquarters on India's west coast until 1887. In conjunction with her sister city, Tellicherry, it was the third largest city on the western coast of British India in the eighteenth century after Bombay and Karachi. Kannur then , was part of the Madras province in the North Malabar District. The Guerrilla war by Pazhassi Raja, the ruler of Kottayam province, against the British, had a huge impact in the history of Kannur.During the 17th century, Kannur was the capital city of the only Muslim sultanate in India, known as Arakkal.
Kannur is of great strategic military importance. One of the 62 military cantonments in the country is located in the Kannur Cantonment, and Kannur is the current headquarters of the Defence Security Corps and Territorial Army's 122 Infantry Battalion (under Madras Regiment). Ezhimala Naval Academy (INS) is situated 35 km north of Kannur City. It is Asia's largest and the world's third largest naval academy.
Kannur has a long history of religious tolerance and the major religions of Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity coexist in harmony. The culture is basically agrarian and the people are simple, warm and helpful. Though the vices of rampant urbanization are happily missing from the common psyche; urban facilities, like super markets, shopping malls, multiplexes, water theme parks etc. exist in the city.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, during the regime of the Kolathiri Rajas, Taliparamba, in Kannur was renowned as a seat of learning, enlightenment and culture. The beginning of western education in the district may be traced back to the middle of the 16th century. The first English school, known as the Basel German Mission English School, was started on 1 March 1856 at Thalassery, near the current campus of Kannur University.
Kannur University started functioning in 1995 with the objective of providing higher education in Kasargod and Kannur revenue districts and the Mananthavady Taluk of Wayanad district. Kannur University is a multi-campus university.
Government College of Engineering, Kannur was established in 1986 near Taliparamba as a center for imparting engineering education in northern Kerala. Today the college is among the top ten engineering colleges of the state, providing higher studies in the field of technical education.
Pariyaram Medical College was established in 1999 near Taliparamba. The medical college is at a distance of 10 km from Taliparamba and 32 km north of Kannur. Kannur Medical College was established in 2006 at Anjarakkandy with a 500-bed hospital. The thirteenth National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) Campus in Kannur is located near Taliparamba in Dharmashala, 15 km north of Kannur town.