Friday, February 22, 2013

Fort Cochin - Kerala

Lex and I went to Kochi (or Cochin as it was previously called) for the recent long weekend.  We flew down early on Friday morning and then back again on Sunday evening.  Although it was only 3 days away we got to see a lot of this part of Kerala.  On the Friday morning itself we took the ferry from near our hotel across to Fort Cochin.  

In Fort Cochin we wandered up to the cultural centre to investigate booking tickets for the Kathakali dance performance in the evening and booking for a boat trip through the backwaters the following day.  The cultural centre was a great place to start our trip.

Kochi is a major port city.  Back in the 1500s the first European settlement in India was here as the Portuguese arrived with Pedro Cabral.  Portuguese rule was then followed by the Dutch, and finally the British.

Kochi is famous for its spices.  You can't go far without seeing a multitude of shops selling all sorts of local spices.  The smells are amazing.

As we walked further along the main street we came to the area of the Chinese Fishing Nets.  These were a gift from the court of Kublai Khan, the Chinese ruler.  They work on a system of balancing counter weights to submerge them in the water as a way of catching fish.

Following lunch at a restaurant called Teapot, we proceeded to walk further around Fort Cochin.  We went to St Francis Church, which is the first and oldest European church built in India.  It was originally dedicated to St Andrew under the Portuguese, but later changed to St Francis by the English (after the Franciscan friars who built it).  Vasco da Gama was buried here for 14 years after he died on his third voyage to India.  Although his remains were later taken to Portugal, his gravestone can still be seen in the churchyard.

I liked Fort Cochin a lot - I found it a quirky little place (as can been seen by the local reading room below with a huge picture of Che Guevera there).

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