Brief History of Kochi
The Malabar coast in the western side of south India was a famous maritime centre even before the Roman empire. Artifacts from 2500 BCE found in what was ancient Sumer, mention the famous port of Muziris on the Malabar coast. Kochi (Cochin) is a part of that maritime tradition. In its culture and in its people, it carries the signs of intermingling of people from distant lands over thousands of years.
In 1663 Kochi came under the Dutch rule. The Dutch were defeated by the Mysore king Hyder Ali in 1773. In 1814 Kochi came under the British and remained under them till India's independence in 1947.
Sea trade of spices was an important part of activities of the Europeans. They all created their trading warehouses in Fort Kochi and in the neighbouring Mattancherry, small seaside areas in the city of Kochi.
Staying in Fort Kochi
Fort Kochi with its colonial architecture, old houses and quaint streets is a fascinating place for holidays. It is full of small and big hotels as well as home-stays.
However, if you like a beer with your food, the choices are rather limited outside the big hotels. The only place for a beer that I discovered was the XL restaurant on Rose Street near the sea. There is a wine and liquor store behind the XL restaurant, but it is a seedy looking place.
Kochi international airport is about 50 km from For Kochi while the main railway station is in the twin city of Ernakulam. The most convenient way to reach Fort Kochi from the airport is to take the orange-coloured AC bus of KSRTC starting from the airport.
Seaside Walk and Monuments
The huge cantilevered Chinese fishing nets along the sea coast are a symbol of Fort Kochi. These were introduced in Kochi around the end of 14th century. I have also seen similar home-made systems of fishing nets in Assam in the north-east of India. With seagulls and other birds hoping to get some of the fish caught by the fishermen, this area is usually full of persons clicking pictures.
Along the seaside promenade, you can see some remains of the old Fort Emanuel built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. An old canon marks this place (in the image below).
Churches, Temples, Synagogues and Mosques of Fort Kochi
Christianity in Kerala dates back to Roman times. The old Christians have their own traditions rooted in the local culture and include groups like Syrian-Malabar, Jacobites and Orthodox Syrians. For example, the image below shows a traditional Christian shrine at Mattancherry, not far from Fort Kochi, that shares some symbols and rituals with other Indic religions.
The image below shows the Bhagwathi temple in Mattancherry (the image below was clicked from outside the temple)
The clock-tower of the Jewish Synagogue has four clocks - each with the numbers written on it in different styles (in the image below).
I loved my holidays in Fort Kochi. In a way, with its ambiance, it reminded me of my visits to different seaside towns across the world. I loved taking long slow walks on the seaside promenade, sitting near the sea and talking to strangers or reading or simply soaking in the lovely breeze. I am looking forward to going back there.