Geographically, Dharmadam is an island, situated between Kannur and Thalassery. It is surrounded by the Anjarakandy river on three sides and by the Arabian sea onthe fourth side. The Jews and the Arabs have named this place ‘DAHFATTAN’ in their records in 12th century, British named it as ‘DARMAPATAM’ and the Portugese called it ‘DARMAPATAO’.
During 1660 A.D, the French, Dutch and the English started competing with each other for better business deals in India. These competitions influenced the history of Dharmadam a lot. Easy accesibility and availability of condiments like pepper and cardamom in large scale in nearby areas attracted the foreigners.
During the year 1683-84, the English East India Company sent their agents to Thalassery and by 1708, they managed to get a permission from the Kolathiri Kingdom to build a fort there.
The struggles made by them to dominate this island itself shows its importance.
King Aali of Arakkal family was already planning to take control of Dharmadam. This part of the land was taken on lease by Arakkal Biwi (a delegate of Arakkal family) from a Kolathiri King and she was paying a certain amount to him annually. In the early stages of the 18th century, Arakkal family got independence from Kolathiri. They had succeeded in gaining control of Dharmadam in the meantime, with the help of the Dutch. But Kolathiri defeated King Aali with the help of Kottayam King and regained control of Dharmadam.
British continued their attempt to reign Dharmadam. At last with the agreement between British and Udayavarman Kolathiri in 1734 British acquired Dharmadam.
Seeing the importance of Dharmadam, British thought of shifting their headquarters from Thalassery to Dharmadam. But because of large expenses which might have occured, they dropped the idea.
Biwi tried to recapture Dharmadam from the British. But the latter never allowed her forces to enter Dharmadam.
In 1780 July 12 when Sardar Khan’s army reached Melur, the British withdrew from Dharmadam. According to the Sreerangapattanam agreement in 1792 between Tippu Sultan and the British, the latter got Malabar. Since Dharmadam was also part of Malabar, the British gained control over Dharmadam.
It was also recorded that the army of Pazhassi arrived in Dharmadam to attack the British. But it was unsuccessful.
All these show how important Dharmadam was in the past.
During the independence struggle Dharmadam was also the scene of many political incidents. In 1956 in India, when states developed based on language, Dharmadam became the part of Kerala State.