West view of the main entrance with the image of Kshetrapala, Thaligai Temple, Malabar District, Calicut Taluk
Photographer: Archaeological Survey of India
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the front of the two-storey Thali Temple in Kozhikode (Calicut), Kerala, with the image of Kshetrapala, the entrance guardian, taken by a photographer of the Archaeological Survey of India on the 1st February 1901. The city of Kozhikode on the Malabar coast was India's principal port for the spice trade, with Arab merchants monopolising the trade by the 15th century. This was challenged by the Portuguese when Vasco da Gama came to Kozhikode in 1498. But the Portuguese, after much destruction, left in the 16th century, and Kozhikode's Muslim community maintained its commercial interests until the advent of Tipu Sultan who inflicted damage upon Kozhikode, and the arrival of the British in the 18th century. In Kerala, Shiva and Vishnu are equally worshipped. The 15th century Thali temple is a Shiva temple complex, built near the Palace of the Zamorins, local Hindu rulers of Kozhikode from the 9th to the 18th century who kept cordial relations with their Muslim community. North-east of the complex there is a shrine dedicated to Krishna. In the second volume of his work 'Malabar' of 1887, William Logan wrote about this temple, "The Talli temple is in kasaba amsam in a locality of the same name in the heart of the Calicut town close to the Zamorin's old palace. The temple is a very ancient one... It is dedicated principally to Siva, though Vishnu, Bhagavati, Ganapati and Ayyappan are also worshipped. The temple contains sculptures of a high order as well as paintings intended to perpetuate Hindu religious legends. Attached to the temple is a tank ...used for bathing purposes."