The Kannur district is the heartland of the Moppilahs (Kerala's Muslim community). It's also a center for the hand-loom industry as well as the manufacture of beedis, potent hand-rolled cigarettes made from tobacco sweepings. The town itself was for many years at the center of the maritime spice trade. The ruling Kolathiri rajas profited from the spice trade as did the European colonists. Today Kannur is a good hub for visiting several coastal sights—to the north and the south—including forts and undeveloped beaches. Come quick, though; massive development in the works at Bekal could change everything in five years.