Calicut is famous as an ancient Port City, also known during the Zamorins' heyday as The City of Truth. But one would not ordinarily describe Calicut as a city of many hills - till one gets either an aerial view of the city as the plane maneuvers to land on the Karippur runway OR a view of the city from the Arabian Sea in an approaching ship or boat.
This is the view described by early mariners who would approach the shores of Calicut. They would first sight the Nilgiri hills at a distance and Wynad hills further to the north. As one gets closer, the undulating hillocks in and around Calicut come into focus. This is the impression of Calicut port as portrayed in contemporary paintings and engravings of the 15th - 18th Centuries. The accompanying engraving which figures in the Oriental Memoirs by Forbes (1810) is an instance.
A graphic description of Calicut from the sea is provided by Richard Burton in his book, Goa and the Blue Mountains (1851) : Seen from the sea, all the towns on
this coast (of Calicut) look like straggling villages, with a background of distant blue hill and a middle space of trees, divided by a strip of sand from the watery plain. He explains further what he meant by the 'distant blue hill' in a foot note : The mountains distinctly visible from the sea off Calicut in clear weather, are the Koondah range of the Neilgherries, or Blue Hills.
Come to think of it, Calicut has a large number of places with 'hill' suffixed - the most obvious are West Hill, East Hill, Silver Hills and Florican Hills (Florican, incidentally is a bird of the bustard family which is virtually extint now in Calicut). Then there are the vernacular names : Pokkunnu, Eravath kunnu, Katcheri kunnu, Kariyakkunnu, Kalathilkunnu etc.
Interestingly, there is an ancient Nair family in Calicut called Palakunnath (literally, Of Many Hills). Its original location is near Chevaur (Kovoor) and the many branches of this family used to hold possession of several hillocks around stretching from Chathamangalam to Kuttikkattor.
Today, the hillocks of Calicut have been overshadowed by the high-rise apartments, as seen in the accompanying picture!