Kozhikode — India's First UNESCO City Of Literature

Kozhikode, Kerala, earns the prestigious title of India’s first UNESCO City of Literature, celebrating its rich literary heritage and vibrant cultural scene.

Published On Jun 24, 2024 | Updated On Jun 24, 2024


In a historic moment for Indian literature and cultural heritage, Kozhikode, a coastal city in Kerala, has been recognized as the first UNESCO City of Literature in India. This prestigious title places Kozhikode among a global network of cities that are committed to fostering a rich literary environment. This blog delves into the significance of this achievement, the city’s literary legacy, and what this means for Kozhikode’s future.

UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network aims to promote cooperation among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. The City of Literature designation celebrates cities with outstanding contributions to literature and a robust literary culture. With this recognition, Kozhikode joins the ranks of literary giants like Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Dublin.


Kozhikode, also known as Calicut, has a deep-rooted literary tradition that dates back centuries. The city has been a melting pot of cultures, languages, and ideas, contributing to a vibrant and diverse literary scene.

Historical significance: Kozhikode has been an important trading port since ancient times, attracting scholars, poets, and writers from across the world. This exchange of ideas and cultures has enriched its literary heritage.

Prominent literary figures: The city has produced many renowned writers and poets who have significantly contributed to Malayalam literature. Notable figures include S.K. Pottekkatt, whose works vividly depict the life and culture of Kerala, and M.T. Vasudevan Nair, a celebrated writer, and filmmaker.

Literary institutions and events: Kozhikode is home to several literary institutions and hosts numerous literary events, including the Kerala Literature Festival, which attracts authors, poets, and literary enthusiasts from around the globe. These events and institutions have played a crucial role in nurturing and promoting literary talent.

The journey to becoming a UNESCO City of Literature involved meticulous planning and concerted efforts from various stakeholders, including the local government, literary organizations, and cultural enthusiasts. Kozhikode’s proposal highlighted its rich literary history, contemporary literary activities, and plans to enhance its literary scene.

Cultural policies and initiatives: The local government has implemented policies to support the literary community, including funding for literary projects, promoting reading and writing among the youth, and preserving literary heritage sites.

Community engagement: Kozhikode’s literary community actively engages with the public through book clubs, literary workshops, and reading programs, fostering a love for literature among all age groups.

Plans: As a UNESCO City of Literature, Kozhikode plans to expand its literary initiatives, including establishing more libraries, organizing international literary festivals, and creating platforms for emerging writers to showcase their work.

The UNESCO City of Literature title is expected to have far-reaching impacts on Kozhikode’s cultural, social, and economic landscape.

Cultural impact: This recognition will bolster Kozhikode’s cultural identity and pride, encouraging more people to engage with literature and preserving the city’s literary traditions for future generations.

Tourism boost: Literary tourism is set to receive a significant boost, with literature enthusiasts from around the world visiting Kozhikode to experience its rich literary culture. This influx of tourists will also benefit local businesses and the hospitality industry.

Economic opportunities: The title will attract funding and investments in literary and cultural projects, creating new job opportunities and stimulating the local economy.

International collaboration: As part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, Kozhikode will have opportunities to collaborate with other Cities of Literature, sharing knowledge, resources, and best practices to promote literature and creativity on a global scale.

Kozhikode’s designation as India’s first UNESCO City of Literature is a testament to its rich literary heritage and vibrant literary community. This recognition not only honours the city’s past achievements but also paves the way for a promising future, where literature and creativity continue to thrive. As Kozhikode embarks on this new chapter, it stands as a beacon of literary excellence, inspiring other cities in India and beyond to celebrate and nurture their own literary cultures.

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