Kerala is described as “God’s Own Country” due to the laid-back and comfortable lifestyle of the people. It is famous for its beaches, hill stations, traditional dance and cuisine. The state is easily accessible by bus from neighbouring Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. More often than not, it is the backwaters which attract tourists to the state. However, there is more in the state than what meets the eye.
Besides the popular tourist attractions, one particular spot which has managed to evade the much deserved publicity it deserves is Kodungallur. The town is home to the Cheraman Juma Masjid – the first ever mosque to be built in the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka taken together). The mosque was built in 629 AD, approximately 80 years before the first Muslim invasion in to India (in Sind) by the Arab warrior Muhammad bin Qasim.
Legend has it that Raja Cheraman Perumal personally witnessed the moon-splitting miracle of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which the latter performed all the way across the Arabian Sea in modern day Saudi Arabia. On being able to confirm the authenticity of the incident from visiting Arab traders, the king is said to have met the Prophet (PBUH) personally. Due to the king’s untimely death in the Arabian Peninsula, a group of Arabs, led by Malik bin Dinar, took on Cheraman Perumal’s mission of spreading the message of Islam in Kerala (India). Subsequently the first mosque built was in Kodungallur.
So, if you are in South India and planning a trip to places like Taj Mahal and Jama Masjid or the dargahs in North India, you must and other places up there, you must first take a trip to this place of immense historical significance in your own backyard as well. Besides, there are a lot of Biryani dishes to be tasted as well, known as the Malabar Biryani – quite unique to the region. You can always head to the Arabian Sea coast or the beach for watching the magnificent view of the sunset, or just embark on a historical tour to the Cranganore Fort, built by the Portuguese in 1523.
The place may not be that artistically appealing and spacious as Islamic sites in North India, but is nevertheless a historically significant spot. Those with a taste of discovering the past and its impact on modern India must definitely visit this place.