Beypore, also known as Beypur, is an ancient port city in Kozhikode district, in Kerala. It was formerly known as Vaypura or Vadaparappanad before Tipu Sultan renamed it as Sultan Pattanam. The Beypore port is one of the oldest ports in Kerala, which historically traded with the Middle East.
Beypore is well known for building wooden ships, which are known as Uru in Malayalam. These ships were generally purchased by the Arab merchants who used it for trading and fishing purposes; but at present, these are being used as tourist ships. The port is considered to be the second largest port in Kerala, after Cochin.
The port has a depth of about 5 m alongside the wharf and approach channels. It is proposed to be developed in stages; and utilities like storage sheds, cranes and tugs have already been installed here.
Best Time To Visit The Town
The place can be visited anytime throughout the year; however, being at a seaside, this port town tends to get hot and humid during the summer months. Hence, visiting this place would be ideal during the winter months.
History Of Beypore
Beypore was ruled by four Kovilakams, or kingdoms, namely, Karippa Puthiyakovilakam, Manayat Kovilakam, Nediyaal Kovilakam and Panagad Kovilakam. As historians explain, the Beypore Amsam had four Kovilakams, which were called Manayatt Kovilakam, Nediyal Kovilakam, Puthiya Kovilakam and the Panangat Kovilakam that belonged to the family of the Parappanad.
The place was first thronged by the Romans and soon followed by the Chinese, Syrians, Arabs and Europeans for trade. The place has a long history of being a center for shipbuilding, which began in the 1st century AD and was further expanded by the East India Company some time during the early 19th century.
The Indian Ocean trade, which began from ancient times, was strengthened during the medieval times. In the olden days, Malabar conducted direct trade with the Greeks and Romans. It concentrated more on the exchanges with the Middle Eastern ports in the medieval times. This eventually resulted in transfer of people from Malabar to the Middle East.
While it was noted that many people from Malabar were found along the African ports and even at the ports of Egypt, the fact is that it was mostly the Arabs who migrated to the Malabar coasts mainly to administer, control and conduct the trade with their associates in Yemen, Basra and Egyptian ports. The Beypore port was virtually free with only export-import duty being imposed by the ruling Zamorins.
The Building Of Uru
Uru, or Fat Boat, is the local name for the large Dhow type of wooden ships made by the Vishwabrahmins in Beypore in the southwestern coast of India. These wooden ships were used by the Arabs since a very long time for trading purposes. Even now these majestic structures are built and exported to the Arab countries from here.
The boats are made out of different kinds of wood with more prominence given to teak wood. In earlier times, the teak wood was brought from the much-famed Nilambur forests; but has now the Malaysian teak is being used. One can still notice a couple of boat-building yards near the Beypore port.
The art of making the Uru here cannot be traced back to a particular date as to when it began, so it can be said that it is as old as the trade relations between Mesopotamia and India are existing. Without second thoughts, the Urus built here are indeed the largest things to be made in the world. These boats connect the sleepy town of Beypore to the peak of the spice trade, across the foreign countries.
One can hear loud thuds of the craftsman's tools on timber from the crafting yards; and these sheds greet each visitor to the islands located on the banks of the Chaliyar river, which has kept this unique tradition alive for over a millennium now.