A pilot accompanied our two men, with orders to take us to a place called Pandarani, below the place (Capna) where we anchored at first. The captain-major was then deposited at the house of a man of rank, whilst we others were provided with food, consisting of rice, with much butter, and excellent boiled fish. The captain-major did not wish to eat, and as we had done so, we embarked on a river close by, which flows between the sea end the mainland, close to the coast. The two boats in which we embarked were lashed together, so that we were not separated. There were numerous other boats, all crowded with people. As to those who were on the banks I say nothing; their number was infinite, and they had all come to see us. We went up that river for about a league, and saw many large ships drawn up high and dry on its banks, for there is no port here.
Can anybody guess what these words signify? Think back to this day 509 years ago…
Rice with much butter – Calicut Ghee rice or Biryani
Place – Calicut
Time – 1498
Date – 22nd May
Captain Major – Vasco De Gama
Moors – Mapplias
Pandarani – Koilandi (documented as a port since the 11th century!)
Capna – Kappad
Of the people of 15th century Calicut
They are of tawny complexion. Some of them have big beards and long hair, whilst others clip their hair short or shave the head, merely allowing a tuft to remain on the crown as a sign that they are Christians. They also wear moustaches. They pierce the ears and wear much gold in them. They go naked down to the waist, covering their lower extremities with very fine cotton stuffs. But it is only the most respectable who do this, for the others manage as best they are able. The women of this country, as a rule, are ugly and of small stature. They wear many jewels of gold round the neck, numerous bracelets on their arms, and rings set with precious stones on their toes. All these people are well-disposed and apparently of mild temper. At first sight they seem covetous and ignorant
Hey Malayali girl’s – now you know what to tell the Parangi’s when you meet them
When we were at anchor, a message arrived informing the captain-major that the king was already in the city. At the same time the king sent a bale, with other men of distinction, to Pandarani, to conduct the captain-major to where the king awaited him.
When we arrived (at Calicut) they took us to a large church, and this is what we saw: The body of the church is as large as a monastery, all built of hewn stone and covered with tiles. At the main entrance rises a pillar of bronze as high as a mast, on the top of which was perched a bird, apparently a cock. In addition to this, there was another pillar as high as a man, and very stout. In the center of the body of the church rose a chapel, all built of hewn stone, with a bronze door sufficiently wide for a man to pass, and stone steps leading up to it. Within this sanctuary stood a small image which they said represented Our Lady. Along the walls, by the main entrance, hung seven small bells. In this church the captain-major said his prayers, and we with him.
Temple (called Church) – Tali temple Calicut (or was it Bhaghavati temple – Badagara?)
Chapel – Sanctum
Our lady – Durga? ( but the deity there was Siva)
King – Samoothiri Manivikraman Raja
Castaneda – The guy who recorded all this in his diary (actually transcribed from the ship journals of Gama).
Well Well – what a journey – and the first food they ate – Calicut Biryani – No wonder they chose to stay. The irony of it, as soon as Gama shifted to Cochin, he succumbed to Malaria and died...but the Portugese stayed, despite valiant efforts by the Mappilas and the Maraikars…till the Brits came..
Pictures - Courtesy various sites acknowledged with thanks..