Queen of Arabian sea
"If China is where you make your money, then Cochin is surely the place to spend it."
When 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.
Fort 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.
In 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.
The huge, elegant Chinese fishing nets that line the northern shore of Fort Cochin and the southern side of Vypeen island 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 cheena vala , 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.
To get to town from Airport
PREPAID TAXI SERVICE AT COCHIN AIRPORT
The flight was supposed to arrive at 0245 AM but it came in at 0345 AM. The luggage delivery and getting out of the customs area was fast enough
Yet another line. ( Indians love standing in line: on this trip, I have stood in line: once at Bombay immigration, second at the customs, third trying to get into air india area, fourth at luggage taping, fifth at the air india counter, sixth at the immigration to go into the terminal, seventh at the customs area, eighth at the security area, ninth at the departure lounge, tenth at the customs and immigration in cochin, so this was the eleventh time between arrival in India at 10 45 pm and arrival in Cochin at 03 45, in five hours in India.
The lady behind was pleasant, I wanted to go to MG Road, she prints out ( for an IT country, the computer and the printers are from another era, the kind you expect to see in an impoverished country) a receipt. 466 INR, roughly 8 Euros, to travel the 40 km to Ernakulum. I go out in the rain to the marked car. The driver does not speak English, so I say clearly the name of the hotel, and in 45 minutes through the heavy monsoon rain, we are in front of the hotel.
The English word the driver did know was, after the car stopped, without offering me an umbrella which he had in his possession, he said a favourite English Word:
TIP TIP DRIVER TIP.
I would recommend highly the Pre Paid Taxi service. The price is right, the cars are the old fashioned but charming Ambassadors without air conditioning.
An ancient colourful performing art. This is a 'must do'. Go an hour before the show to watch the transformation of the artists while doing their make-up. The show then consits of 2 parts. The first part gives a background of kathakali and also explain many of the movements and expressions used. The second part is a performance of kathakali. The Cochin Cultural Centre is an airconditioned venue which was great.
You can take photographs during make-up and the show.
Ticket costs 300Rs, and the show lasts for about an hour.
The Last Jews of Cochin
is the name of a well researched book by Dr Katz now at Florida International University in Miami. But who were the first? They had arrived close to 2000 years ago on this coast, possibly at Cranganore, their leader Joseph Rabban given the title of a Noble by the Cherumal of Cochin. They had built a synagogue in 1411 in nearby Kochangadi long before the arrival of "white" jews around 1500. LIke Hindus, Moslems and Christians of India, Jews also practised a caste system: white, Brown and Black Jews were thus classified. Intermarriage among these groups were rare. about 8 white jews and 35 other jews remain, but for all purposes this community is dead: culturally from the jewish point of view
Jew Town is an area south of Fort Kochi, around the synagogue. It is one of the centres of the Kochi spice trade. Today it's home to lots of antique shops which are almost like museums than shops, art galleries and dilapidated buildings such as shops and warehouses which are home to wholesalers selling rice and spices.