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Kerala has a large Muslim population and the country’s finest, oldest and largest mosques are located here. Mishkal Mosque in Calicut or Kozhikode as it is called now is a fine example of Islamic monuments in Kerala. Mishkal Mosque was named after its builder an Arab Merchant whose name was Nakhooda Mishkal about 650 to 700 years ago when Kozhikode was a busy sea port where traders from the Arabia, China and East African countries came to trade.
Mishkal Mosque in Kozhikode is the oldest mosque in Kerala built in the 13th or 14th century AD by an Arab Merchant, Nakhooda Mishkal after whom it is named. Situated on the Malabar Coast which attracted sea trade from across the world for centuries, Mishkal Mosque is in the Kuttichira part of the city near the sea shore.
Originally the mosque had five storey’s or floors but there was an attack from the Portuguese in 1510 which destroyed the fifth floor and now there are only four storey’s to the mosque with evidence of the arson that can still be seen.
Just like other ancient mosques in Kerala, the Mishkal mosque also has influences if Kerala Temple architecture. The entrance is arched with Gopurams on top and there are no Islamic style minarets or cupolas as are found in Mosques of Gulf countries. The mosque is built mainly of timber and stands an impressive four storeys tall. The exterior is decorated with tiles from Italy and there are twenty-four pillars lending support to the imposing structure. The wooden pillars and the forty-seven doors are embellished with beautiful carvings. The main prayer hall is big and can accommodate about three hundred people at a time. The ceiling of the mosque also has artistic carving and is breath-takingly beautiful.
The layout of the mosque is such that allows good ventilation and good natural lighting. The mosque is an example of artistic and architectural finesse that was prevalent at the time the mosque was built.
There are water tanks that form part of the mosque complex near the Kttichira pond which are square or rectangular shaped. The area inside the mosque is well-ventilated and well illuminated with mihrab style doors. Some additional artistic and architectural features were added at the time of renovation of the mosque such as a beautifully carved wood ‘mimbar’ which is a pulpit in the mosque where the imam stands and delivers sermons.
Mishkal Mosque is a true example of communal harmony in the region where the citizens of all religions; mainly Hindus, Muslims and Christians lived in peace and harmony, helping each other and imbibing the common cultural heritage of the place.
When the Portuguese attacked the Mosque causing destruction of the top floor of the mosque and other damages, it was the Hindu King who ruled Kozhikode called Zamorin who donated timber for the repairs to be carried out.
The architecture of the mosque is also not purely Islamic but has been influenced by Kerala Hindu Temple architecture with Gopurams instead of minarets and the wooden carvings on the ceilings, arches and doors also show influence of Hindu temple architecture.
How to Reach
Kozhikode is well connected by Air, Rail and Road and by sea route to the rest of the country and also the world.
The Calicut International Airport has flights mainly from the Persian Gulf countries such as Dubai coming in. Domestic connections to all major cities are also available from Calicut Airport. Kochi or Cochin which is about 170 Kms and Chennai also have international airports and are well connected to Kozhikode. From any of these airports, pre-paid taxi service as well as bus service is available.
Kozhikode is a main railway Junction of the Southern Railways and has innumerable trains from all major cities and towns from all over India. Superfast and high class trains also stop at Kozhikode.
Kozhikode is well connected by road to the rest of the country with state highways and national highways such as the NH17, NH213 passing through or near the city. Buses ply from cities and towns around and within the city bus, taxi and rickshaw are the common means of public transport.