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A STATE-OF-THE-ART NAVAL ACADEMY AT EZHIMALA

Ezhimala, located at a distance of 35 km from Kannur houses a state-of-the-art naval training facility of Indian Navy, one of the largest institutions of its kind. The naval academy is situated between the imposing Mount Dilli, the serene Kavvayi backwaters and the majestic Arabian Sea. The academy conducts basic training for all officers being inducted into the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard under various courses.

 
Situated 135 km south of Mangalore, on the west coast of peninsular India, it provides an idyllic setting for training with its picturesque and tranquil environment. The academy is spread over nearly 2,500 acres on a promontory that was once the capital of the ancient Mooshika kings of the Kolathiri dynasty. It was a flourishing seaport and centre of trade in ancient Kerala and one of the major battlefields during Chola Chera war in 11th century AD. It is believed that Lord Buddhavisited Ezhimala.
 
The name Ezhimala is said to have been derived from the seven hills (‘ezhu mala’ meaning ‘seven hill’in Malayalam) that dominate the skyline of this area. The topography of Ezhimala, with Mount Dilli abutting on the Arabian Sea has, since ancient times, inspired the local people to weave a number of myths and tales. The most popular one linked to the puranas is that the while the monkey god Hanuman flew over the south towards Lanka carrying the mountain of herbs to revive Lakshmana from a severe grip of coma during the Ramayana war, rocky bits of the mountain got scattered at different places, one of which is Ezhimala. The local folk believe that the place still possesses some rare ayurvedic medicinal herbs.
 
The nearest railway station is at Payyanur, a town located 10 km away. Payyanur is situated along NH 17 between Mangalore and Kannur. Both Mangalore and Kozhikode are well connected to Payyanur by road and rail.
 
The broad gauge railway line links Payyanur to Mumbai and other major cities in western, central and northern India via the Konkan railway. The broad gauge rail network also links Payyanur to Chennai and other major cities in eastern India (via Chennai) and southern India (via Palakkad).
 
The nearest airport is located at Mangalore, about 145 km from Indian Naval Academy. An international airport is also situated at Kozhikode, 150 km south of the Academy.
 
INS Zamorin is the base depot ship used for the administrative and logistic support for the functioning of INA. It’s named after the Zamorins of Kozhikode who had a strong fleet of warships under the stewardship of the famous Kunjali Marakkar. The Navy has also constructed a memorial for Kunjali Marakkar on the premises of his ancestral house at Iringal near Vatakara.
 
Birth, development & activities
 
During the early 1960s it was realised that the naval cadets coming out of National Defence Academy (NDA) would not meet the requirements of the expanding Indian Navy and hence it was decided to set up an Academy at Cochin. Accordingly a Naval Academy was commissioned at Cochin in January 1969 which was eventually shifted to INS Mandovi (Goa) in 1986. It was decided to obtain sanction for a new permanent naval academy to cope with increasing training load. Similarly, the coast guard too had to train with the navy.
 
The 'essential' requirement was for a site of 100 acres, in the vicinity of the sea or a lake for seamanship and waterman ship training, near a railhead yet removed from the township. The 'desirable' requirements were that the location should be within a short distance of a naval port and have a bracing and moderate climate.
 
Once the Government accepted the need for a permanent naval academy in south India, the Kerala Government offered the Navy 960 hectares of land at Ezhimala in northern Kerala. All basic infrastructure facilities like drinking water, water for construction, electricity, approach roads and bridges, capital dredging of the Kavvayi backwaters (for basic waterman ship training), building of a seawall to prevent erosion, augmentation of the nearest railway station at Payyanur etc., would be provided by the Kerala Government at no cost to the Navy. In 1982, the Central Government approved the site at Ezhimala and gave the Kerala Government a soft, medium term loan for acquisition of land and rehabilitation of evacuees.
 
The foundation stone for the Academy was laid by Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in January 17, 1987. INS Zamorin, the base depot, was commissioned by the then Chief Minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy on 06 Apr 2005, marking Phase I of the Ezhimala Naval Academy project. This base initially supported the construction of the Academy and all aspects of its training and administrative functions. Almost 22 years after its foundation stone was laid, the Ezhimala Naval Academy was finally readied for inauguration. The academy was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Jan 8, 2009. Defence Minister A.K. Antony - who had watched then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi lay the foundation stone two decades back - was also present.
 
The project, initially envisaged to cost Rs.166 crore, was completed at a total cost of Rs.721 crore.
 
The Academy estate covering a vast area spread over 2500 acres is divisible into the coastal strip facing the Arabian Sea in the west, punctuated by the low undulating hills forming the middle strip, and the uplands forming a part of the Western Ghats in the east.
 
The INA is divided into three zones viz., Training zone, Administration zone and Accommodation zone. The training zone comprises Academy Main Building Complex, Physical Training and Extra Curricular Activities (ECA) Complex, Outdoor Training and Watermanship Complex, Firing Range, Cadets' Mess and Cadets' Accommodation. The administration zone consists of Administrative Complex, Hospital, Logistic Complex Motor Transport Complex and Fire Station.
 
Cadets are selected and recruited as permanent commissioned officers on the basis of a written test conducted by the UPSC, followed by an interview by the Service Selection Board (SSB) comprising intelligence/psychological tests.
 
The Academy trains approximately 1100 trainees every year including officer-trainees from the Indian Coast Guard and friendly foreign countries.

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