Visit to the ” Jewel in the crown ” of Kerala- Fort Kochi , as a part of GoUNESCO Make heritage fun task 1 , was indeed enlivening.
The mixture of cosmopolitan and European heritage, its natural harbor & various sites of historical importance is what made me opt Fort Kochi for exploration.
Started my study with 5 friends by a boat ride from Ernakulam to Mattancherry. Being on the rough sea & to experience the rain was something different.
Kochi, a cluster of small islands including the Willingdon island, Fort kochi & Mattancherry was the seat of princely states. Being the center of Indian spice trade for many years Kochi earned herself a momentous position in the world trading map.
Our first stop was at Mattancherry, Jew street. The Jew town is bursting with antique and heritage shops, you name something and you get it here- Form handicrafts to paintings, spices, perfumes etc. Colonial buildings line both sides of the street. Exploring the shops was quite interesting & did help add on to our knowledge . The place gets the crowd on weekends mostly.
The Jewish Synagogue marks one end of this Jew street. “Paradesi Synagogue ” as it is commonly referred to, is the oldest active synagogue, and is one of the 7 synagogues of Cochin Jewish community.
Next on the list was the Mattancherry Palace or popularly known as the Dutch Palace. Built by the Portuguese and gifted to Kerala Varma , this indeed adds on to the attractions of Kochi. At present it is maintained as a museum. Its architectural style is really astounding. The palace is a 2 storeyed, traditional Kerala “Nalukettu” structure, with 3 temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu & the royal deity Pazhayannur Bhagavathi.
Next we headed to Fort Kochi.
Fort Kochi beach, Dutch cemetery & St. Francis church was up next on our agenda. All These lie at a stretch 10 min distant if we plan to go on foot.
The blue green waters spread along the coast in quite a magnificent manner, attracting tourists from far and wide. The beach is crowded with people on most of the weekends. The cool breeze flowing through your hair can make you feel welcome. The side vendors make the place more happening. Here you get to see and interact with many foreigners, who have come to spend their leisure time exploring kerala.
The old rundown cemetery adjacent to the beach contains the graves of dutch soldiers traders.
Up last was the sacred St Francis church, the oldest European church in India, which has stood through the colonial struggles. Its architectural beauty and vibe is certainly worth the exploration.
This trip to “discover Fort Cochin ” was indeed a learning experience, exploring our heritage while making it fun. A whole lot of “new” history seen , discovered and learnt that we can now share.