Kerala is probably few of the places in India that embraced Islam blithely. Whether it was of the state’s cordial trade relationship with West Arab or some other unknown reason, but Kerala humbly accepted Islam and that too as early as in 600 AD, during the lifetime of Prophet Mohammed. The history of Kerala also reveals that not only did the state welcomed Islam in brotherly love but also in form of inter-religion marriages between Family of Nairs and traders from Arab, thus coining a new word Mapilla which means Son-in-Law. Not only this, Muslims in Kerala were also given high profile rankings by ruling Hindu Kings, which made majority of Kerala Muslims a forward class of people, unlike their counterparts in other parts of the country. All this resulted in giving the religion of Islam an important place in Kerala, which certainly points out at building of a large number of mosques and that of mausoleums or dargah. But what marks the difference of Muslim pilgrimage places in Kerala are that they do not follow the Persian style of architecture but that of the Hindu Temple style. Though, in recent times, the newly built mosques do have the influence of the Arab architecture. Another thing that is worth noticing is that unlike other parts of India, a mosque is not referred as masjid in Kerala but as Palli.
Kerala is surely an important Muslim pilgrimage destination in India as the state not only allow believers the tour of sacred places but also of some historically important religious places as well.
Amongst the top pilgrimage places in Kerala is the Cheraman Palli or Cherman Juma Masjid in Kodungallor. It is the oldest mosque in India and the second oldest mosque in the world that is believed to have been built in 629 AD after Medina Mosque in Saudi Arabia. Dedicated to Cherman Perumal, who was a great Chera Emperor and converted to Islam after seeing the Prophet’s miracle. The mosque is constructed in the traditional Hindu Kerala architecture, adorned with murals, Hindu motifs and lamps. Also a white block of marble blessed by Prophet Mohammed is put here from Mecca. Other important Islam pilgrimage places in Kerala is the Palayam Pally , which is located in heart of Trivandrum and is considered one of the largest mosques in Kerala. The Thazhathangady Juma Masjid in Kottayam is one of the heritage sites in Kerala, it is believed to be one of the oldest mosques in India and is more than 1000 years old. The mosque is famous for its rich architecture and wood carvings. Odathil Palli in Thalassery is another old mosque that was constructed 300 years ago. This was the first mosque to have a Dome and Minaret, where the original dome was made of sugarcane. Pazhayangadi Mosque, somewhere close to Malappuram is yet another important place of worship for Muslims. It is a Mughal style mosque and has a beautiful white dome and intricate filigree work. Apart from these, Malik Dinar Mosque in Thalangana in Kasargod; Jamat Mosque on Malappuram-Venkara Road; Chempittapally in West Kochi and Kanjiramattom Mosque in Kaniramattom are some of the major Muslim pilgrimage sites in Kerala.