Streetscape of Fort Kochi

Posted on March 28, 2020 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

fort cochin

fort cochin

The famous Chinese fishing nets

 

In February, I was lucky enough to travel to Kerala before lockdowns began around the world. It was an extraordinary trip and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I feel grateful that I was able to make this trip, and I hope I can visit India again when it is safe to do so. My month-long trip begain in Kochi, the capital of Kerala. With only three nights in town, I decided to spend the initial night in Fort Kochi and then two more nights at a B & B in Fort Vypin (accessible via ferry from Fort Kochi).

Kochi (also known as Cochin) has been a major port city since 1341, and it is the most densely populated city in Kerala. The historic Fort Kochi is an area within the city which used to be a fishing village in the Kingdom of Kochi in the pre-colonial Kerala. In 1503, the territory was granted to the Portuguese by the Rajah of Kochi, after Afonso de Albuquerque's military forces helped him fight off the forces of Samoothiri of Kozhikode. The Rajah also gave them permission to build Fort Emmanuel near the waterfront (hence 'Fort' is used in its name), which was later destroyed by the Dutch. Fort Kochi remained in Portuguese possession for 160 years until the Dutch defeated the Portuguese in 1683, and subsequently destroyed many Portuguese Catholic churches and convents. The Dutch held Fort Kochi in their possession for 112 years until 1795, when the British took control by defeating the Dutch. After over 500 years of foreign control, the area finally gained its freedom when India became indpendent in 1947.

 

fort kochi

fort kochi

fort kochi

 

My first impression of Fort Kochi was that it doesn't feel very 'Indian'. Perhaps it is due to the Portuguese and Dutch architecture, the tree-lined streets and abundance of nature; the pace here is also quite slow and relaxing, which differs from my image of many Indian cities. The minute I arrived at my accommodation, I knew I would love it here.

Since I arrived very early in the morning, and check-in wasn't possible yet, I had some time to wander around. Actually I didn't make any plans on where to visit in Fort Kochi, and I thought it might be fun to just go with flow and see.

There isn't an enormous amount of must-see sights in Fort Kochi, which meant that I didn't have a jam-packed itinerary and stroll in a more idle manner. Although Kerala is considered a popular tourist destination in India, I didn't see heaps of tourists in Fort Kochi excpet for solo/small groups of independent travellers.

 

fort kochi

fort kochi  fort kochi

fort kochi

Fort Kochi

fort kochi

fort kochi

fort kochi

 

Although it was quite hot, I still chose to walk as I think walking is the best way to see a new place (this may not apply to the US). Wandering around, I was captivated by the enormous old trees, as well as all the exotic plants and flowers everywhere, which certainly help to beautify the area.

One of the most famous attractions in Fort Kochi is the Chinese fishing nets. When I spoke to the locals, they told me that the city name Kochi/Cochin originated from ‘co-chin', meaning ‘like China'. Apparently, the 10m high stationary lift fishing nets were introduced by Chinese explorers who landed here by ship in the 14th century. This way of fishing is unusual in India and unique to Kerala. Each one is operated by a team of up to six fishermen, and it is quite fascintating to watch them operate the nets. However, since it is more touristy in Fort Kochi, I recommend taking a short boat ride to Vypin where you can watch them without street vendors and tourists around (see my other blog entry).

I also recommend a morning stroll along the beach/waterfront (less crowded and not as hot), where you can see old canons, steam boilers and a huge art installation made of recycled plastic bottles which addresses the issue of plastic waste.

 

fort kochi

fort kochin

Fort Kochi

Fort Kochi

Fort Kochi

fort kochi

fort kochi

Fort Kochi

Fort Kochi

Fort Kochi

Fort Kochi

fort kochi

fort kochi

 

Since the pace is quite relaxing here, I naturally slowed down my pace. When I am not rushing around, I am able to observe the quirks and surroundings more. Even though the colonial days are long gone, the imprints are still there. The area also has a bohemian vibe, and the streets are cleaner than many other Indian cities. It is easy to understand why this area draws many tourists as it feels more like Portugal than India. And if you love colonial style architecture, this is THE place to visit. In my next few posts, I will write about the beautiful churches, cool shops and street art etc.

 

fort kochi sign

fort kochi

Fort Kochi

fort kochi

Fort Kochi

fort kochi post box  fort kochi

fort kochi

Fort Kochi

Fort Kochi

fort kochi

Fort Kochi

fort kochi

 

 

Flowers & Nature

 

fort kochi

fort kochi

fort kochi

fort kochi

fort kochi

fort kochi

 

 

Birds and animals

 

fort kochi

fort kochi

cat fort kochi  fort kochi

fort kochi

fort kochi

 

To be continued...

 


This post was posted in Photography, Travel, Nature, Hiking & walking, Street life, India, Kerala and was tagged with walks, nature, street life, walking, India, Fort Kochi, Kerala

Comments