Cochin is the melting pot of Indian, Portuguese, Dutch and British cultures and an important spice-trading centre
10/1/2015 11:42:43 AM
|written By : Nithya Subramanian|
Kerala may be a small Indian state, but there are many places of interest for a traveller to explore. The backwaters of Alleppey and the Periyar National Park are extremely popular for its abundant natural beauty, but Cochin – a former spice city is an idyllic retreat on the Arabian Sea.
Cochin, now known as Kochi, is a melting pot of Indian, Portuguese, Dutch and British cultures. Here you can enjoy the natural beauty of the serene backwaters, lagoons with feathery coconut palms, and picturesque islands near the port city.
On one hand you can see the place booming economically with new condominium style housing complexes, malls and gold souks thanks to the large sums of overseas remittances while on the other there are many historical monuments and buildings that are of great historical interest.
The main attraction of the city is in the Fort Cochin area. Here there are neatly arranged colonial buildings, narrow well-paved roads, Anglo-Dutch influenced structures and large antiques shops. Mattancherry is primarily a trading city, famous for its thriving Gujarati settlement brought to the city in the 16th and 17th centuries by the spice trade.
The Portuguese built the palace located here in the early part of the 16th century as a gift to King Veera Kerala Varma with whom they had hoped to establish trading relations. When the Dutch arrived here later, they renovated the building, but neither the Portuguese nor the Dutch ever used the palace. A large throne and coronation costumes are on display and there is an extensive collection of royal chariots, swords and other artifacts. The most interesting part is the mural room, which has the entire Ramayana and Mahabharata depicted in a single mural.
Just at the tip of Fort Cochin it is a well-known fishing pier. Here you can see the traditional cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, which is said to have been brought by a Chinese traveller named Zhang. An interesting way to catch fish on shore, the ‘Cheena vala’ or Chinese nets require about five men to pull in the net using a pulley system made of rope, rocks, teak, and bamboo.