UNESCO Recognizes Kozhikode as India’s First City of Literature

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On the celebratory occasion of World Cities Day, Kozhikode, a captivating city nestled in the heart of Kerala, achieved an extraordinary milestone. It was officially declared as India’s very first ‘City of Literature’ by UNESCO. This remarkable recognition places Kozhikode on the global map and marks a momentous occasion for the city.

UNESCO Recognizes Kozhikode as India's First City of Literature
UNESCO Recognizes Kozhikode as India’s First City of Literature

Kozhikode’s Remarkable UNESCO Honor

Kozhikode, situated in the picturesque southern state of Kerala, has gained global recognition as one of the latest entrants into the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

This prestigious acknowledgment was conferred on Kozhikode on World Cities Day, where it shared the limelight with Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, recognized as a ‘City of Music.’

What makes this distinction even more special is that Kozhikode is the first city in India to hold this coveted title.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network brings together cities from around the world celebrated for their commitment to nurturing culture and creativity as fundamental components of their development strategies.

These cities stand out for their innovative practices in human-centered urban planning. With Kozhikode and Gwalior joining the network, it now comprises 350 creative cities in over 100 countries, representing seven diverse creative fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts, and Music.

The Journey to the ‘City of Literature’ Title

Kozhikode’s journey to becoming the ‘City of Literature’ started in 2022 when the Kerala Institute of Local Administration proposed the idea.

The Kozhikode Corporation swiftly embraced the idea, seeking assistance from the University of Prague in the Czech Republic during the preparation process.

Prague was the inaugural recipient of the ‘City of Literature’ title in 2014, making it a valuable mentor for Kozhikode.

Ludmila Kolouchova’s Pivotal Role

Ludmila Kolouchova, a research student from the University of Prague, played a crucial role in Kozhikode’s quest for recognition.

She visited Kozhikode and conducted a comprehensive study, drawing parallels between Kozhikode and Prague.

Her research revealed that Kozhikode boasts more than 500 libraries and over 70 publishers, forming a robust foundation for its application.

A Multifaceted Triumph

Kozhikode’s UNESCO ‘City of Literature’ recognition is a multi-layered triumph. The city’s status as a permanent venue for the annual Kerala Literature Festival and various book festivals added weight to its claim.

Kozhikode has successfully met most of the criteria for the ‘City of Literature’ title, including numerous institutions dedicated to its literary life, the ability to organize diverse literary events and a high standard of literary education.

Combined with the city’s impressive quantity, quality, and diversity of literary activities, Kozhikode stands as a fitting recipient of UNESCO recognition.

The Future Awaits in Portugal

As a freshly designated creative city, Kozhikode, along with Gwalior, is invited to participate in the UCCN (UNESCO Creative Cities Network) annual conference scheduled from July 1 to 5, 2024, in Braga, Portugal.

The conference’s theme, ‘Bringing youth to the table for the next decade,’ spotlights the vital role of youth in shaping the future of creative cities.

This presents an excellent opportunity for Kozhikode to share its experiences, exchange ideas, and contribute to the global creative community.


  • Kozhikode becomes India’s first ‘City of Literature’ by UNESCO.
  • Part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, Kozhikode is lauded for its commitment to culture and creativity.
  • Kozhikode’s journey began in 2022 and received assistance from Prague, the first ‘City of Literature.’
  • Ludmila Kolouchova’s research played a pivotal role in the city’s recognition.
  • The city meets key criteria, making it a well-deserved recipient of the UNESCO title.
  • Kozhikode and Gwalior will participate in the 2024 UCCN conference in Portugal, focusing on youth involvement in creative cities’ future.

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