Kochi also known as Cochin is situated on the south-west of India in the state of Kerala. Kochi is a port city and attracted a lot of trade from all over the world during the 15th and 16th century specially for its spices. But today it attracts people for its rich cultural heritage and scenic beauty.
We reached Kochi in the evening just in time to catch the sunset over the tranquil backwaters. Like other tourists we boarded a ferry which took us around, while the guide told us about the city and it’s heritage. But we hardly paid attention as we just sat back and enjoyed the cool evening breeze.
Cochin is famous for spices and had a lot of shops which offered plethora of options for the same. We bought the famous banana chips fried in coconut oil to take home along with the spices.
We got up all excited to roam around and headed to the Kochi fort. The minute you arrive you feel like a magnet drawing in all the hawkers in the vicinity. There are numerous shops selling different wares. The entire market is covered by the large green trees, which adds to the beauty of the place.
Just a few steps will lead you to the Chinese nets which adorn the coastline. If you are in for it, you can try your hand at fishing using the nets for a small fee. We did and definitely enjoyed it.
We paid a visit to the Mattancherry palace which is an old palace which is now turned into a museum exhibiting various murals, paintings,antique furniture, etc. which gives a peek into the life of former royals and aristocratic families of Kerala.
Close to the palace lies the oldest Jewish settlement in India. Although Jew town now houses a few Jewish families it was a thriving Jewish town with over 250 Jews living here. Most of the Jews have left but the streets still has street signs written in Hebrew, a few Jewish houses and of-course the Paradesi synagogue. This synagogue is the oldest functioning synagogue in the commonwealth nations. Tourist are allowed inside the synagogue but its closed on the sabbath. This is a street shoppers paradise. There are a lot of small shops on either side of the road. The antique shops interested me the most with a range of antiques to buy from.
After having a quick lunch we wandered around the streets of Kochi and admired the architecture and street art. We made our way to the Indo Portuguese Museum which is near the Bishop’s house.
The Indo Portuguese Museum has the only surviving part of the former Kochi fort after which this part of the city is named. Most of the fort structure was destroyed in floods and battles, this part is preserved and kept for public viewing.
The highlight of the trip was the Kathakali dance. We went in early and watched the artists do their transformation from men into pretty damsel, protective husband and cruel king, right in front of our eyes. All with the aid of elaborate makeup and colourful costume. The performance was awes inspiring. the performance was so powerful that it made us forget the bitter experience we had before the start of the dance by myriad tourist and instagramers who took so many photos and videos and blocked everyone else from enjoying the moment, even after repeated requests from the rest of the audience.
Whether its for the cultural value, the scenic backwaters or just the food Kochi is lovely. It’s very close to Munnar and Alappuzha (or Alleppey). I loved every bit of the Kochi and i bet you would too.