The indigenous and unique martial art of Kalarippayattu dates back to the 12th century. Lauded as the pride of Kerala, Kalarippayattu is acknowledged and respected across the world. It has influenced many indigenous performance traditions in content, techniques and training exercises, including folk dances such as Kolkali and Parichamuttukali and a variety of ritual performances like Mudiyettu and Theyyam.
A village nestled at Thalassery in Kannur district has an important role in the evolution of Kalarippayattu. Ponniyam Vayal (a paddy field) is where the great legends of Kalarippayattu, Thacholi Othenan and his master Kathirur Gurukkal fought their last Ankam (duel) at the Ezharakandam field of Ponniyam village. North Kerala has produced a host of poems and stories of Thacholi Othenan's valour and chivalry. In the duel, Thacholi Othenan beheaded his master using Poozhikadakam, an unethical combat move in the Kalarippayattu. In an act of revenge, Othenan was shot dead by Mayankutty, another disciple of the master.
The stage where the duel was held is called Ankathattu. Due to its historic importance, after several centuries, a stage was built there.
The air at Ponniyam village and its surroundings is full of stories of courage, valour and betrayal. In memory of the great legends of the 16th century, the Kerala Folklore Academy conducts an annual festival known as Ponniathankam in this field during the Malayalam month of Kumbham, which falls in February-March. It provides a great opportunity to observe Kalarippayattu and several other folk arts of Kerala.
Tourists who want to know more about folk arts and culture in North Malabar can undertake a folklore circuit from Vadakara in Kozhikode to Thalassery. The circuit covers Lokanarkavu Temple, Sree Thacholi Manikoth Temple, Vadakara Thazhe Angadi, Vadakara Thazhe Angadi, Ooracheri Gurukkal Memorial and Kapparatti Bungalow.
Nearest railway station: Thalassery, about 5 km
Nearest airport: Kannur International Airport, about 21 km | Calicut International Airport, about 100 km
Caltex, Kannur, Kerala 670002
Phone: +91 497 2706336, 2702466