The North Malabar region of Kerala, roughly stretching from Kasargod to Koyilandi has an enchanting natural beauty, warm and friendly people, great food, marvellous architecture, and quite a distinct Malayalam accent. The region is the capital of folk art in Kerala, of which Theyyam is perhaps the most famous. The region is also famous for a local deity, called the Muthappan. Architecture based on laterite stone are also a marked feature of this region. This trip covers the upper portion of North Malabar, from Kannur city in the south to Kasargod city in the north, and is basically a temple trail which can be done in two days. The red of the laterite soil, rock and buildings blends in beautifully with the green of the surroundings. The unique appams (fried rice cakes) of this region are very delicious, and should not be missed.
One day can be allotted for Kannur district and the other for Kasargod district. The famous temples along this route in Kannur are: Muthappan temple (Parassinikadavu), Thrichambaram and Rajarajeshwara temples (Thaliparamba), Annapoorneshwari temple (Cherukunnu), and the rock and temple (Madayi). The ritual dance of the oracles and their consultation sessions start very early in the morning at Parassinikadavu temple, which is an experience not to be missed. Dogs are a constant presence here, and devotees are welcomed with a unique prasadam of pulses and tea. Thrichambaram temple complex has a lake temple in it, and the Rajarajeshwara temple has an ancient rock-built entrance. Madayi is a barren rock, adorned with a beautiful blue floral carpet, from where the Ezhimala hill of geographic, historic and naval significance can be seen. Annapoorneshwari temple is the only temple dedicated to the Goddess of food, and therefore offer lunch to the devotees as a daily ritual.
The highlight of Kasargod district is the village-town of Nileshwaram. It is dotted with temples and sacred groves, and even has a restaurant named "Parippuvada" which serves Parippuvada (Dal vada) at only Rs. 2/-. The wooden footbridge in Kottapuram across the River Tejaswini is again, unique and mesmerising. There is an old ancestral Nair home (Echikkanam tharavadu) at a village not far from, and east of, Nileshwaram and Kanhangad, which has featured in many Malayalam movies. A little north of Kasargod town lies the Ananthapura lake temple and the Madhur temple. The latter holds the mark of Tippu Sultan's sword. Legend has it that Sultan had a change of mind after drinking the water from a nearby well and therefore spared the temple from destruction. The Ananthapura lake temple is home to another legend, a lone crocodile spotted only once in the last 400 years!
The best season to visit the region is from October to April, however, the Theyyam season will start from February. Journey by car is the best option, and the local taxi rate can be anywhere between Rs. 2000 to 3000 per day. This is just a trip which covers temples. There are a lot more other facets like backwaters, hillstations, mosques, palaces and forts that this fascinating stretch of land offers to those who want to explore a lesser known side of Kerala.