Fort Kochi, the first European Township in India and home to nearly 13 communities, is a historic town brimming with the tales of myriad traders. During 1660s, Fort Kochi peaked in stature as a prime commercial centre and its fame spread far and wide - as a rich trade centre, a major military base, a vibrant cultural hub, a great ship building centre, a centre for Christianity and so on. The town has innumerable interesting sights like Chinese fishing nets along the Vasco da Gama Square and the St. Francis Church. Walking 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. The 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.
Chinese Fishing Nets The huge, elegant Chinese Fishing nets that line the northern shore of Fort Cochin add grace to an already characterful waterside view, and are probably the single most familiar photographic image of Kerala. Traders from the court of Kublai Khan are said to have introduced them to the Malabar region. Known in Malayalam as cheenavala, they can also be seen throughout the backwaters further south. The nets, which are suspended from arced poles and operated by levers and weights, require at least four men to control. You can buy fresh fish from the tiny market here and have it grilled on the spot at one of the ramshackle stalls.St.Francis Church Walking on from the Chinese fishing nets brings you to a typically English village green. In one corner stands the church of St.Francis, the first European church in India. Originally built in wood and named Santo Antonio, it was probably associated with Franciscan friars from Portugal. Exactly when it as founded is not known, but the stone structure is likely to date from the early sixteenth century; the land was a gift off the local raja, and the title deeds, written on palm leaf, are still kept in the church today. The facade, with multi curved sides, became the model for most Christian churches in India. Vasco da Gama was buried here in 1524, but his body was later removed to Portugal. Santa Cruz Cathedral The interior of the twentieth-century Santa Cruz Cathedral, south of St Francis church, will delight fans of the colorful-verging on the downright Indo-Romano style of decoration. The irresistible beauty garnered by stained glass and the imposing Caryatids over the confessional boxes might have persuaded the Dutch to spare it. Mattancherry With high-rise development restricted to Ernakulam, across the water, the old fashioned character of Mattancherry and near by Fort Cochin remains intact. Within an area small enough to cover on foot bicycle or auto-rickshaw, glimpses of Kochi's variegated history greet you at virtually every turn. As you approach by ferry (get off at Mattancherry), the shoreline is crowded with tiled buildings painted in pastel colors, a view that can't have changed for centuries. Jew Town The road heading left from Mattacherry Jetty leads into the district known as Jew Town, where N.X.Jacob's tailor shop and the offices of J.E.Cohen, advocate and tax consultant, serve as reminders of a once-thriving community. Nowadays many of the shops sell antiques, Hindu and Christian woodcarvings, oil lamps, wooden jwellery boxes and other bric-a-brac. Mattancherry Palace Although known locally as the Dutch Palace, the two-storey palace was built by the Portuguese as a gift to the Cochin raja,Vira Keralavarma(1537-61), and the Dutch were responsible for subsequent additions. While its appearance is not particularly striking, squat with whitewashed walls and tiled roof, the interior is captivating. The murals that adorn some of its rooms are among the finest examples of Kerala's much underrated school of painting; friezes illustrating stories from the Ramayana. On the first floor, date from the sixteenth century. Packed with detail and gloriously rich colour, the style is never strictly naturalistic; the treatment of facial features is pared down to the simplest of lines for the mouths, and characteristically aquiline noses. Downstairs, the women's bed chamber holds several less complex paintings, possibly dating from the 1700s. Bastion Bungalow Built in the Indo-European style way back in 1667, the Bungalow gets its name from its location on the site of the Stromsburg Bastion of the old Dutch fort. The building blends beautifully into the circular structure of the bastion, has a tiled roof and a typical first floor verandah in wood along its front portion. Though it has been said that a network of secret tunnels runs beneath the Bungalow, none have been found.
Shop at Mattanchery Despite the large number of tourists visiting daily, trade is still the most important activity here. Many of the streets are busy with barrows loaded with sacks of produce trundling between godowns (warehouses) and little shops where dealers to business in tea, jute, rubber, chillies, turmmeric, cashew, ginger, cardamom and pepper.Ayurveda Having an occasional ayurvedic massage, something offered at tourist resorts all over Kerala,is relaxing, but to reap any long term benefits necessitates rather more dedication-usually a 15 day or even a 41 day commitment which may involve certain dietary abstentions and exercises as well as regular massages from a qualified practitioner. Watch Kathakali Ernakulam has a permanent Kathakali theatre. Every evening the Kathakali performance will be performed irrestpective of number of audience. Taste Kerala Cuisine Ernakulam has lots of traditional Kerala cuisine restaurants serving exotic sea foods and other non vegetarian foods. Do not miss it. Visit local attractions Old European settlement area. Important are Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue, Santa Cruz Basilica, St.Francis Church and Chinese fishing nets.
Nearest bus stations: Ernakulam, about 17 km away. Nearest railway station: Ernakulam, about 15 km away. Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 45 km awayLocation Latitude: 9.964793, Longitude: 76.242943
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