MELTING POT OF CULTURES
commercial capital of Kerala and the most cosmopolitan of Kerala’s
cities, Cochin is a fascinating blend of cultures. From time immemorial,
it has been the favorite destination of globe-trotters and explorers.
Blessed by one of the finest natural harbors in the world, Cochin
has been eulogised as the Queen of the Arabian Sea.
and around Cochin are several cities of monumental value, but step
into Fort Cochin, and you are in a totally different world. The
Chinese fishing nets, the Jewish Synagogue, the Dutch palace, the
Portuguese and British Architecture, all finely blend with the rich
heritage of the land, intricately woven folklore and fact.
an international airport, an international sea port and a busy network
of road and rail transport, the city is well connected to the rest
of the world.
can either board a bus or hire a three-wheeled auto rickshaw. If
you prefer the ferry, the trip begins either from the Main Boat
Jetty or the Terminus Jetty near Willington Island.
through Fort Cochin
through this old Portuguese settlement at a leisurely pace, will
take you up to an hour and a half. The most pleasant time for the
walk is between 9 am and 12 noon or between 3 pm and 6 pm.
most ideally suited attire in this sub tropical country is cottons
and soft walking shoes or thong. A wide-brimmed straw hat is of
great help on a sunny day.
Cochin. Where time stands still "If China is where you make
your money, then Cochin is surely the place to spend it."
Nicolas Conti, the legendary Italian traveler said this, Cochin
was flourishing in trade as one of the most desirable destinations
approachable by sea. And Fort Cochin, once an obscure fishing hamlet,
found itself at the hub of all this bustling activity. It was soon
to be the first European township in trade as one of the most glorious
cities in its history.
Cochin probably has the best preserved history of colonial times
and the ideal way to bring it alive is to take a walk down its old
colonial roads, with its tree-lined avenues and quaint little lands
and beside the seashores – where magnificent Chinese fishing
nets sketch a spectacular skyline. It is believed that Chinese travelers
during the reign of Kubla Khan had introduced this art of Chinese
fishing to Cochin.
AD 1341, a cataclysmic flood threw open the estuary at Cochin. Thanks
to the strange ways of nature, out of this land-locked area was
born one of the finest natural harbors of the east. This in turn
paving the way for a deluge of seafaring visitors, from the Arabs
to the Chinese and later, from the Portuguese to the British. The
features of the latter ones characterize the façade of Fort
Cochin, to a great extent.
through Fort Cochin will transport you back to the last years of
the 15th century. When the adventurous Vasco da Gamma and valiant
Cabral let their religions to this land lured by the fabulous riches
of Malabar Coast and established flourishing trade relations.
1553 with the permission of Maharaja of Cochin, Fort Immanuel ,
the first European Fort in India was constructed here. Within its
vast confines, the Portuguese built houses, Churches and other buildings
while generously contributing to the indigenous cultural fabric,
the standard of which still endures.
traveling down the streets of Fort Cochin, the Dutch influence is
profound, they laid out most of the town in its present form. In
doing this, they cut down the Fort to about a third of its original
extent, when they wrested it from the Portuguese in AD 1663.
During the Dutch era, Fort Cochin climbed the heights of fame as
a rich commercial center, major military base, an illustrious cultural
hub, a noted ship building yard and an age old center of Christianity.
last side of colonial regime seen at the Fort Cochin are those of
British, who took over the town in 1795.After those glorious years
it was then relegated to the role of an administrative outpost.
Yet, the spices and tea trade kept it in the lime light. In many
of the Bungalows here, you will notice the grandeur of European
Villa; evidence of distinct strain of Indo/European Architecture
that matured mostly in this period.
into the past
the enlightening walk through Fort Cochin, and if ones curiosity
is still asking for more, walk on for the Jewish settlements of
Mattancherry is just 20 minutes away. The Dutch Palace and the Jewish
Synagogue, that are over 400 years old, are places where you can
treat be immersed in the glorious past of this land.
Fishing Nets/Vasco da Gamma Square
huge cantilevered fishing nets are the legacy of one of the first
visitors to Malabar Coast. Erected here between 1350 and 1450 AD
by traders from the Court of Kubla khan, these nets are set up on
teak wood and bamboo poles.
best place to watch the net being lowered into the sea and catch
being brought in is Vasco da Gamma square, a narrow promenade that
runs along along the Beach.
square is an ideal place to idle with stalls serving fresh delicious
sea food and tender coconuts.
historic Church was built by the Portuguese and elevated to a Cathedral
by Pope Paul IV in 1558. In 1795 it fell into the hands of the British
when they took over Cochin, and was demolished.
In 1887 Bishop Dom Gomes Ferreira commissioned a new building at
the same site. The Church has since been proclaimed a Basilica in
1984 by Pope John Paul II.
in 1503 by Portuguese Franciscan Friars, this is India’s oldest
European Church. This was initially built of timber and later reconstructed
in stone masonry. It was restored in 1779 by the Protestant Dutch,
converted to an Anglican Church by the British in 1795 and is at
present governed by the Church of South India. Vasco da Gamma was
buried here in 1524 before his remains were moved to Lisbon, Portugal.
The tombstone can still be seen in the premises.
tomb stones here are the most authentic record of the hundreds of
Europeans who left their homeland on a mission to expand their colonial
empires and changed the course of history of this land. The cemetery
was consecrated in 1724 and is today managed by the Church of South
The synagogue, magnificently decorated by Chinese tiles and Belgian
chandeliers, was built in 1568. Giant scrolls of the Old Testament
can be found here. The
exquisite hand painted blue Chinese tiles offer an interesting sight.
Not one of the nearly two hundred year old tiles resembles another.
In mid-18th century, the clock tower was added. There are several
finely wrought gold and silver crowns gifted to the synagogue by
the various patrons