Kannur, December 10, 2011: Sunbathers and fishermen with boats on Cherai beach showing rocks formations in the foreground and coconut palms as backdrop at sunset along Malabar coastline, Kannur, Kerala, south India.

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Under the Kolathiri rajas, Kannur (formerly Cannanore) was a major port bristling with international trade – explorer Marco Polo christened it a ‘great emporium of spice trade’. Since then, the usual colonial suspects, including the Portuguese, Dutch and British, have had a go at exerting their influence on the region, leaving behind the odd fort. Today Kannur, 80km north of Calicut, is an unexciting, though agreeable, town known mostly for its weaving industry and cashew trade. For travellers, this area's appeal lies in its entrancing theyyam rituals and untouristed golden beaches (particularly Thottada Beach, overlooked by a smattering of easy-going guesthouses).


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