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Historic Cochin

Listed under Historic Towns and Villages in Kochi, India.

  • Photo of Historic Cochin
  • Photo of Historic Cochin
  • Photo of Historic Cochin
  • Photo of Historic Cochin
  • Photo of Historic Cochin
  • Photo of Historic Cochin
  • Photo of Historic Cochin
  • Photo of Historic Cochin
Photo of Historic Cochin
Photo by Jenny Fowler
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Cochin, or Kochi is a centre for touring Kerala. Today, international flights land here. Historically, the city, based around a huge natural harbour, has looked both inwards and outward. It has linked the foreign influences that arrived over the centuries with the productive hinterland, the beautiful fertile state of Kerala. I visited just as a stopover, but it is worth a longer visit.

Holland, Britain and Portugal have left historic buildings marking their period of trade and tenure. Many of these are open to visit. A Jewish prescence dating back to ancient times has left a small synagogue, situated in an area still known as Jew Town even though emigration to Israel has left few worshippers here. This area and adjoining Matttancherry is a rewarding part of Cochin for visitors in search of eclectic shopping experience.

Small streets are home to shops and stalls selling fabrics, clothes, handicrafts and antiques. Indian print fabrics hang from stalls while a leather goods factory diverts some of its export-oriented Western-style handbags and briefcases to their shop here, at good prices. Antique shops hold a mix of objects that evoke palace, temple and farm, piled in dusty splendour to the rafters or set in strange juxtaposition, St Stephen with his arrows next to a many armed Ganesha and carved wooden rocking horses.

A must for the visiting photographer are the Chinese fishing nets, counterbalanced wooden structures that dip nets into the water and raise them, collecting a haul of fish. As night falls, a market sets up alongside the nets. Lamps hiss and glow as fish from the nets and from returning boats are laid out silver on the rough wooden boards. Dishes of octopus and squid, piles of shrimp and prawn join longjawed needlelike predator fish, thornback rays and shoals of snapper.

As I only had one day in Cochin I packed as much as possible into my time there. Then I enjoyed dinner, seafood Kerala-style, at Brunton Boatyard. This hotel, developed by sympathetic restoration of a Victorian boatbuilding yard, has a wide view over Cochin harbour where boats and ferries passed to and fro, a peaceful view for my last evening in Kerala.

Written by  Jenny Fowler.

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