Get to Know Kozhikode, UNESCO’s Newest City of Literature: Essential Facts

Get to Know Kozhikode

Kozhikode, the cultural hub of northern Kerala, was officially recognized as a UNESCO ‘City of Literature’ on Sunday. The city’s rich literary heritage and vibrant publishing scene have earned it this prestigious title. The state government has designated June 23 as a ‘Literary City‘ day in Kozhikode for the coming years. Learn everything you need to know.

Thiruvananthapuram: Kozhikode, the cultural hub of northern Kerala, is named after S.K. Pottekkat, Vaikom Muhammad Bashir, and M.T. Known to literary luminaries like Vasudevan Nair, it was officially recognized as a UNESCO “City of Literature” on Sunday. Home to 70 publishers and 550 libraries publishing over 500 books a year, Kozhikode’s rich literary heritage and vibrant publishing scene have earned the city this prestigious title.

Last December, Kozhikode was awarded the status of ‘City of Literature’ by UNESCO, thanks to the dedicated efforts of students of the National Institute of Technology, Calicut. Kerala Local Self Government Minister M.B. Rajesh made the official announcement of him on June 23.

A new day was added to the history of Kozhikode

Also, the state government has designated June 23 as the ‘City of Literature’ day in Kozhikode for the coming years. Kozhikode is a city famous for writers like the late SK Pottakkad and Vaikom Muhammad Basheer.

According to the LSGD announcement, special prizes will be awarded in six categories that day.

During the event, PA Mohammad Riyas, Tourism Minister unveiled the ‘City of Literature’ logo designed by UNESCO.

City of Literature: Kozhikode

Kozhikode, formerly known as the city of Zamorin, also known as Calicut during British rule, served centuries ago as an important entry point to the coast for many foreigners, including Persians, Arabs, Chinese, and eventually Europeans.

Kozhikode, famous as the birthplace of the Kerala liberation struggle, has long been a renowned destination for book festivals. It has more than 500 active libraries, which serve as the center of the literary activities of the famous Malayalam writer M.T. Vasudevan Nair.

Kozhikode’s literary heritage dates back to the 14th century. Over the years, the city has hosted major literary events that attract readers from across the country and beyond.

Kozhikode‘s love for literature is further enhanced by the tributes to literary greats that are visible on all the main streets, including S.M. Street, also known as ‘Mittai Theruvu.’

The students who made it possible

In 2023, students of the Department of Architecture and Planning at NIT Calicut conducted a comprehensive study as part of their curriculum, which was instrumental in Kozhikode obtaining this degree.

According to Mohammed Firoz, dean of the student guidance department, no other city can match Kozhikode’s network of publishing houses and libraries.

UNESCO also examined several initiatives in Kozhikode aimed at expanding the role of literature in urban development and improving citizen participation. This included Second Pen, a forum for writers in the medical field, as well as other efforts to promote literature to the public and preserve the city’s literary heritage.

55 Indian cities in the new UCCN list

Recently, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) welcomed 55 additional cities to its network, including Gwalior and Kozhikode in India. The updated list was published on the website on World Cities Day on October 31.

With the latest additions, UCCN now covers 350 cities in more than 100 countries, representing seven creative sectors: music, media arts, crafts and popular arts, design, film, gastronomy, literature, and media arts.

UNESCO announced that newly designated creative cities have been invited to participate in the UCCN 2024 Annual Conference in Braga, Portugal, scheduled for July 1-5, 2024. The theme of the Braga conference is “Bringing youth closer to the table for the next decade.


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