Fort Kochi, one of the major tourists spots in Kochi, deserves mention for its historicity and ethnic diversity-ancient buildings, churches, synagogues, the bygone memories of the Jewish community and its heritage buildings, the ebb and flow of the sea waters, a number of quality home stays, panoramic harbour, strung with Chinese fishing nets, a legacy of Kochi’s ancient maritime relations with the Chinese Empire.
Kochi, the commercial hub of Kerala and the Queen of Arabian Sea, is spread across islands and promontories in a stunning location between the Arabian Sea and backwaters. Its main sections-modern Ernakulam, in the east, and the old districts of Mattancherry and Fort Cochin on a peninsula in the west- are linked by a complex system of ferries, and distinctly ancient and historic bridges evoking the memories of the evolution of the city through the ages. Kochi was born in 1341, when a flood created a natural safe port that swiftly replaced Muziris (Kodungallur, 50km north) as the chief harbour on the Malabar coastline. The royal family transferred here from Muziris in 1405, after which the city grew rapidly, attracting Christian, Arab and Jewish settlers from the Middle East. Its name probably derives from’kocchazhi’, meaning new or small harbour. The history of the European involvement in Kochi from the early 1500s onwards is dominated by the aggression of, successively, the Portuguese, Dutch and British, competing to control the port and its lucrative spice trade. From1800, the state of Cochin was part of the British Madras Presidency; from 1812 until Independence in 1947,its administration was made the responsibility of a series of Divans, or finance ministers. In the 1920s, the British expanded the port to make it suitable for modern ocean-going ships; extensive dredging created Willington Island between Ernakulam and Fort Cochin.
Fort Cochin’s marvel is its unique foreign influence, evident in its assortment of architectural styles. A journey through Fort Kochi means to relive the bygone past- spice markets, Chinese fishing nets, a synagogue, a Portuguese palace, India’s first European church, Dutch homes, and a village green that could have been transported from England’s Home Counties, to name a few. The city is also one of the few places in Kerala where traditional arts like Kathakali are performed in the special tourist theatres.
The huge, elegant Chinese Fishing nets that line the northern shore of Fort Cochin are said to have been introduced to the Malabar region by traders from the court of Kublai Khan. These nets, known as Cheenavala’ in Malayalam, are common sight along the backwaters of Kerala. Suspended from arched poles and operated by levers and weights, the nets require at least four men to control.
Walking on from the Chinese fishing nets brings visitors to a typically English village green where the church of St. Francis is located-the first European church in India. Originally built in wood and named Santo Antonio, it was probably associated with Franciscan friars from Portugal. The date of construction is not known, but the stone structure is likely to date from the early sixteenth century. 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.
Fort Kochi Beach is well known as the location of the magnificent Fort Kochi. This 17th century fort was built by the British, and now houses a hotel, apart from a museum. So you can combine your Fort Kochi BeachTour with a cultural and museum tour to this fort. Another attraction of Fort Kochi Beach is the annual Kochi Festival, held on the white sands of Fort Kochi Beach. The festival is a major tourist attraction, and draws hordes of participants as well as onlookers. In Fort Cochin, there is also the famous Jewish Synagogue built in 1568 and preserved till today.
“The population of the Jews dropped drastically with the establishment of the Jewish State of Israel, as many Jewish settlers in Cochin and other parts of Kerala left the country for Israel”, says a Fort Kochi resident.
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- Chinese Fishing Nets
- Synagogue, Kochi
- Koder House
- Best of Kerala : 11 Nights/ 12 days
- Incredible Four (4nights/5 days)
- Signature 2011 Fashion Show by Nirmala College of IT on June 18th, 2011
- Hangouts in Kochi
- Amazing Seven (7nights/8 days)
- Inland waterways on its Route to development in Kochi
- Fantastic Four (4nights/ 5 days)