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Documenting Kozhikode’s rich tradition

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Unique architecture: The Miskal mosque at Kuttichira in Kozhikode is reminiscent of Kerala temple architecture.
Unique architecture: The Miskal mosque at Kuttichira in Kozhikode is reminiscent of Kerala temple architecture.

Maleeha Raghaviah

‘Kozhikotte Pallipuranam’ documents the religious traditions of the Muslims of Kozhikode.

KOZHIKODE: Ancient mosques in the port city of Kozhikode are repositories of a rich, glorious history that dates back to the 13th Century, when the Arabs, the Chinese and the Portuguese were engaged in lucrative trades of spices and aromatic oils.

Kozhikotte Pallipuranam, a 45-minute documentary produced and directed by Musthafa Mohammed under the aegis of Expression Media, is set against this background. The inputs come from Hani Musthafa and Naushal, among others.

Through enchanting visuals of spacious interiors of mosques and the historic beach and breezy, informative narration, Kozhikotte Pallipuranam encompasses the inherent religious traditions of the Muslims of Kozhikode centring on the teeming Kuttichira Thekkepuram suburb.

“Gujaratis, Jains and other communities reside in the predominantly Muslim Kuttichira and Kozhikotte Pallipuranam is also a commentary of the communal amity that has existed here from time immemorial,” says Mr. Mohammed.

The viewer is taken on a tour of the ancient mosques such as the Miskal Mosque, Muchundipalli, and Jumatpalli mentioned by Ibn Batuta, Abdu Razak, besides in detailed accounts of an African scholar, and numerous others built between the 14th and 17th Century purportedly during the golden period of Kozhikode.

The standoff between two factions of Koyas years ago and who now live in harmony is mentioned.

It was a minor dispute that resulted in the creation of ‘Valiya bhakam’ and ‘Chriya bhakam’.

The comments come from the Khasis Nalakath Mohammed Koya and S.V. Ahmmed Koya, besides historian M.G.S. Narayanan, who says the documentary would have been more enriched if the peculiar social customs and lifestyle of the Muslims of Kozhikode were also highlighted.

The peculiar architecture of the mosques such as the Miskalpalli, for instance, with ornate carvings of lotuses and creepers, is reminiscent of Kerala temple architecture.

The mosques have been built by local masons. Dr. Narayanan refutes doubts that they were originally temples.

The granite slab in Muchundipalli with the order of the Zamorin embossed in Malayalam on one side and Arabic on the other mentioning the rich Arab merchant who built it is probably the only one of its kind in mosques in South India and mentioned in the Indian Council of Historical Research publication on Arabic Urdu inscriptions of South India.

Puzhavakkathpalli on the Kallayi river banks, Makhampalli where ‘appavanibha nercha’ is held, Pazhayapalli, Silk Street, Sabhapalli, South Beach, Mudakarapalli of Kutchi Memons, Patalapalli built by Tipu Sultan, Valiyangadi Kalifa Masjid and Palayam Mohiyudinpalli are some of the mosques familiarised to viewers.

Visuals of the elaborate roofing of Muchundipalli, one of the oldest mosques in the State where religious scholars from abroad camped, add to the depth of the documentary.

Moyinkutty Vaidyar, poet, camped here when compiling his verses.

The documentary carries an inherent appeal that the mosques be conserved without damage to the original architecture.

The documentary, part of a series titled Paithrukam Thedi, will be released by P.M.A. Salam, MLA, at a programme here on Monday.

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