Attend a huge local fair (February) at ALUVA
If you happen to be in Kochi sometime in the second half of Febraury, you're in time for ALUVA SHIVARATRI. It's a sacred day for Hindus. Take a local bus to ALUVA, and head for the sand banks of ALUVA RIVER.
If you're into photograpghy, you will LOVE it.
P.S. Careful about your belongings. Expect a huge crowd.
Lunch at Hotel Metropolitan
RESTAURANT AT THE HOTEL METROPOLITAN
Lunch on 15th August 2008
Delicious. Extremely good service. Good ambience.
In summary, Good Indian food, in an un affected Indian atmosphere with typical kerala hospitality.
Visit the Synagogue in Jew Town
The Jewish population in southern India was first established there more than 2500 years ago. Over the following centuries the continuing diaspora brought new members to the community from the middle east and northern Europe. In 1344 the first Jewish settler came to Cochin but it would be another 200 years before the first Jew Town was established in 1567. The construction of a Synagogue in 1568 consolidated their position in Cochin under the protection of the local Indian royal princes.
Women in their society were granted freedoms inusual within the Jewish tradition like for example their right to sing prayers and hymns of praise..
It was not until the colonial rule of the Portuguese that they encountered any discrimination and in 1662 the Synagogue was partially destroyed by the colonial power. It was rebuilt soon after and under the more benign rule of the Dutch and British who followed the community flourished and prospered , playing an important part in the commercial and trading activities of Cochin.
The beautiful decoration of the Synagogue was enhanced by gifts of brass from Indian rulers, the import of chinese tiles from Canton in 1762 and glass chandeliers from Belgium.
I did not think that the synagogue was still in use as a place of religious observance - our guide told us that the last of the Jewish population had left the town - many to settle in Israel.
We got lost while taking a walk in the tree lined roads in the roadsnear Jew Town and saw many lovely, but derelict, houses standing in large neglected gardens. Some seemed to be inhabited by squatters. Further along were more houses in a similar condition and we were told that in these houses the Jewish people had lived, in the second place just one British resident remained (that was Jan.1999)
This was actually what drove us to Kerala.
Backwaters are a network of lakes, canals, estuaries and deltas of forty-four rivers that drain into the Arabian Sea. The backwaters of Kerala are a self supporting eco-system teeming with aquatic life. The canals connect the villages together and are still used for local transport. Over 900 km of this labyrinthine water world is navigable.
Make sure to make a trip on a houseboat, at least a couple of hours. Fabulous !!!
Kochi and the Spice Trade
Kochi, formerly known as Cochin is one of the largest seaports in India and is located about 220km (137 miles) north of the state capital Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). It's famous for being occupied by the first European settlers in India, when the Portuguese arrived in 1503. It was (and still is) the centre of the Indian spice trade and was known to the Yavanas (Greeks) as well as Romans, Jews, Arabs, and Chinese since ancient times. Spices became so important to foreign traders that they were worth more than their weight in gold and Kochi became an important trading post which the Europeans wanted to occupy.
Fort Kochi in Kochi was the first European colonial settlement in India. From 1503 to 1663, Fort Kochi was ruled by Portugal. This Portuguese period was a harrowing time for the Jews living in the region, as the Inquisition was active in Portuguese India. Kochi hosted the grave of Vasco da Gama, the first European explorer to set sail for India, who was buried at St. Francis Church until his remains were returned to Portugal in 1539. The Portuguese rule was followed by that of the Dutch, who had allied with the Zamorins in order to conquer Kochi. By 1773, the Mysore King Hyder Ali extended his conquest in the Malabar region to Kochi forcing it to become a tributary of Mysore. Meanwhile, the Dutch, fearing an outbreak of war on the United Provinces signed the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814 with the United Kingdom, under which Kochi was ceded to the United Kingdom in exchange for the island of Bangka. It then remained part of British India until independence in 1947 when it was the first princely state to join the Indian Union.
Since then it has become a major tourist attraction in Kerala thanks to its colonial background with some beautiful churches, India's oldest synagogue, some unique Chinese fishing nets, an Indo-Portuguese museum and some nice cafes and restaurants. However, it could do with a bit of a clean and a lick of paint here and there but this is India and they seem to like to leave buildings with that 'rustic' feel instead of maintaining them.