theindialog

December 9, 2009

Fort Kochi

Filed under: Kerala,Leisure — loggers @ 11:01 am

Often times I (and others) forget that we had Western colonizers and settlers other than the British, dating back to the 15th century. The coastal regions were where most of this took place, and our exposure to those areas was limited in previous states. A visit to Fort Kochi, an island off the city Ernakulum and right next to the bustling Cochin Port, reminded me of that fact.

Vasco da Gama landed at Kozhikode back in 1498, and the church that was built[1] by the Portuguese soon after, still stands today. He was buried at that church, with the tombstone still present till date. In addition to the Portuguese, the Dutch also staked their claim to the port, with a palace and cemetery reflecting their past presence.

Dutch Cemetery

Chinese, Jews and Arabs were prominent traders[2] that came, and left their mark on the Malabar coast. Chinese fishing nets, so called because of their unique process as introduced by the Chinese, feature prominently along the shore. There is also a Jewish synagogue, supposed to be the oldest in the British Commonwealth, in an area of the island called Jew town.

Chinese fishing nets

Homestays are a very popular mode of accommodation on this island, where local families host tourists in their home for as little as Rs.400. Bicycles are the best mode of transport, which can be rented for Rs.50/day. Fort Kochi, with all its multicultural past, is definitely worth a visit prior to continuing further south towards the backwaters.

-Mihir


[1] St. Francis Church was the first European church to be built in India, in 1503

[2] Spices such as ginger, cardamom, cloves and pepper dominated trade then

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