Muchunti Mosque in Kuttichira is one of the most ancient mosques in Calicut. It is of particular importance to historians of Calicut’s heritage for several reasons: Firstly, it bears a stone inscription of circa 13th Century, itself a rare occurrence. The only other stone inscription of the Zamorin era is the one in Guruvayur Temple. Secondly, the inscription provides interesting clues to the linguistic evolution of Malayalam in the 13th Century. Thirdly, the contents of the bilingual inscription (in Malayalam and Arabic) records the grant of land for the up-keep of the Mosque, evidencing the continuation by the Zamorin of the secular tradition of the earlier Chera period grants of Sthanu Ravi to the Christian Church (Tarisappalli) and Bhaskara Ravi’s grant to the Jewish guild (Anchuvannam). According to historian Pius Malekandathil, however, this grant represented a reward to the Muslims by the Zamorin for supporting his state-building efforts. (Coastal Polity and the Changing Port- Hierarchy of Kerala)
Why is this Mosque called the ‘Muchunti Mosque’? Prof. MGS Narayanan explains: “Perhaps the name is a corruption of ‘Muchiyanre palli’ meaning the mosque founded by a person called ‘Muchiyan’. The term ‘Muchiyan’ itself appears to have contracted into ‘Muchin’ in course of time. There is an old aristocratic Muslim house called ‘Muchinrakam’ or the ‘house of Muchin’ close to the mosque. A Jaram or burial monument is also found there. It is likely that a certain Arab merchant prince called ‘Muchiyan’ came and settled down here and built a mosque which was endowed with landed property by the Zamorin also.” (Cultural Symbiosis in Kerala , 1972)
This is admittedly a conjecture. Could there be an alternative explanation, we wondered?. Sure enough we found an alternative possibility on the streets of faraway Penang in Malyasia. On Pitt Street to be exact, named by the British after the Prime Minister, William Pitt, the Younger. The street is now called Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, after a mosque built by a South Indian Captain of a ship. Down the street one finds the Tamil area of Chulia Street, formerly called Muchanti (junction). A little away from this junction on the Penang Road, we come across a notable Malabar monument, in Kampung Malabar (the Malabar colony), named after a faith healer from Calicut named Syed Mustafa Idris Koya. The entire Penang Road is known in Tamil locally as Ezhu Muchanti (the junction of seven roads). Muchanti in Tamil means a junction and perhaps meant the same in 13th century Malayalam, too. Muchunti Palli in Calicut is also situated on a junction where three paths meet. Did Muchanti Palli become Muchunti Palli in due course?
This could have been an idle guess, unless we had a more tangible evidence to support it. And we stumbled upon a piece of evidence in the form of a judgement of the Madras High Court delivered exactly a hundred years ago ( dated 16th July 1912). The learned Judges, Justice Sundara Aiyar and Justice Sadasiva Aiyer were adjudicating a dispute relating to this Mosque between Muthalakkandi Kattori Koya Molla and Palliveettil Abubacker regarding their respective rights to perform religious ceremonies in the Mosque. (http://www.indiankanoon.org/doc/759892/) Lo and behold, the learned Judges called this Mosque Muchanti Mosque, not once but throughout the judgement. We, therefore, conclude that the Mosque was called Muchanti palli (and not Muchunti palli as now) till a century ago. Linguists may be able to enlighten us as to how the transformation took place over the last hundred years.