Kochi’s Enduring Appeal
Kochi is not one of India’s younger cities, nor is it one of the more obscure. In fact, the city has long served as a critical port for the spice trade, making it known to both East and West from ancient times. Indeed, its official icons—Chinese giant fishing nets lined up at Fort Kochi Beach—are old gifts, provided to Kochi’s king by the emperor of China in the 14th century.
Its history as one of the great ports of the Arabian Sea has served to ensure that this city’s cultural melting pot has regular infusions of flavor from other shores. This is a place where the culturally-relevant heritage structures are not just Indian (or Chinese, as may be gleaned from the earlier note about the fishing nets) but also Portuguese, Dutch, and even Jewish.
Kochi is rich with temples, shrines and synagogues. It is also the site of the St. Francis Church—the place where Vasco de Gama was originally buried. It has centuries-old Dutch bungalows like David Hall. It also has palaces and forts aplenty, the most noteworthy of which would be the Hill Palace and the Dutch Palace. The former’s museum boasts the blindingly glittery Cochin royal crown and the latter has, among other things, a room where the entirety of the Ramayana and Mahabharata are depicted in a single sweeping opus on the walls.
Festivals also add to the list of attractions for the city. Kochi has some of the country’s biggest festivals—the Kochi festival is internationally renowned for its spectacles—and also hosts the second-biggest fireworks festival in India, for example. There are eco-villages for tourists to visit, as well as an internationally-known bird sanctuary. Amazing goods make their way here from the seas as well as through the skilled hands of local talents, making shopping superb. And then there is the food…
Kochi’s unique melting pot of influences renders it a true attraction for anyone passing by Kerala. Set against the scenic shimmer of the Arabian Sea, this gem of a city offers attractions both ancient and advanced, giving tourists a well-rounded, never-boring experience.