After exploring kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala and cruising the touristy backwaters, we headed up north to Kozhikode (or Calicut as it was called, formerly). We spent a day in this quaint town before heading further up to picturesque and windy, cool Wayanad. I had read about Beypore, its historical significance and importance as a trade and maritime centre. So, over we went to see what we could.
We drove into the narrow lanes that lead to a large expanse at the shore of river Cheliyar. Logs of wood and a large structural base of a ship-in-the-making welcomed us. There was no trace of an ancient craft being practiced here, going by the nonchalant and unassuming demeanour of the men at work.
It takes more than a month, tons of wood, tremendous skill and lots of singing among other things to make an Uru or the Arabian trading vessel, for which this place is famous. There are many folk songs specifically meant to increase the efficiency while lifting and fixing the heavy logs. There are many more interesting features but the most astounding is that not a single nail is used in the making of the ship, it is entirely fixed with an intricate gridlocking system. It was heartening to see a part of this entire process.
Logs of wood at the yard, cut and ready to be fixed
Various processes, cutting of wood, measuring and fixing