Cochin - Cocktails of Cultures
Eulogised as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Cochin, Kerala's commercial capital is an anachronism. The dashing metropolitan city prides itself on a historical heritage stretching back to ancient times and embracing within its far reaching hold, cultures as diverse as Hindu, Chinese, Arab, Jewish, Syrian Christian, Portuguese, Dutch and English. One of the finest harbours in the world, nature has generously endowed Cochin with clear lagoons, emerald plantations and sprawling beaches whose splendour is perfectly complimented by forts, palaces, temples, museums, old churches, and today, modern sky rises.
Essentially a collection of islands and jutting peninsulas, Cochin is made up of Ernakulam, Willingdon Island, Mattancherry and Fort Kochi. Ernakulam, the business centre comprises the mainland, separated from Fort-Kochi and Mattancherry by the Periyar River, while the man-made island of Willingdon lies between Ernakulam and Mattancherry. An international airport and seaport connects Cochin with the great world outside and an efficient internal network of roads, railways and water works keeps the city machinery moving.
However it is its social and cultural extravagance, rather than the physical, that distinguishes Cochin amongst other unique Indian cities. Graced with a port that enjoyed optimum exposure to foreign influences, Cochin has developed into a rare mishmash of influences: Here is where you'll find the oldest European church in India St. Francis Church. Here is also where a 16th century synagogue provides spiritual succor to a thriving, if miniscule, community of Jews. Besides, Cochin showcases Hindu Temples, a Portuguese palace (presented to a Hindu Raja and renovated by the Dutch!), forts, streets and shops in a delightful tapestry that often blurs the individual threads. So much so that the origin of its name remains a mystery. Believed to be a modification of 'Cochazi' or 'small sea' in Malayalam, it could as well have been the Chinese traders from the court of Kublai Khan who named it 'Kochi' after their homeland - Cochin is almost the only place in the world where you can see the quaint Chinese fishing nets outside China.
No mystery surrounds Cochin's rise to prominence as a port. In 1340 AD, the world famous Kodugallur Port, just north of Cochin, was destroyed by flooding of the Periyar River. Kodugallur's loss however, was Cochin's gain, as it soon assumed importance as a substitute port for carrying on the trade in spices such as cardamom, pepper, cloves and cinnamon.
While the Chinese and Arabs enjoyed trade with Cochin as much as 2000 years ago, Christians are said to have originated from the visit of the apostle St. Thomas himself and Jews are believed to have settled here in AD 388.
In 1500, Pedro Alvares Cabral, a Portuguese navigator pioneered a settlement in Cochin. Vasco de Gama established the first Portuguese company and in 1503 the Viceroy Alfonso de Albuquerque built a fort. The British, who took over Cochin in 1635, were driven out by the Dutch in 1663. In 1776, Cochin fell in the hands of Hyder Ali, but was lost by his son Tipu Sultan in1791. After passing through British hands again in 1795, the Dutch finally ceded Cochin in 1814.
Such an influx of the Chinese, Arabs, British, Dutch and Portuguese, including great travelers like Fa Hien and Sir Robert Bristow gave rise to a flowering of commerce and culture in Cochin, making it a centre of cross cultural interactions. The prosperous spice trade, of which all Cochin's racial and religious groups including Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Jewish minorities were beneficiaries as they shared in the city's prosperity, facilitated this.
Off all these inhabitants of Cochin, the Jews are perhaps the most interesting. The oldest of the Jewish communities in India, and distinct from the much larger and more absorbed Bene-Israel Community of Maharashtra, they are known to have been in India since more than a thousand years. While their arrival in India has been speculated to occur around the time of the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 BC, others speculate it to coincide with the Assyrian exile in 722 BC or Babylonian exile in 586, or even from the era of King Solomon himself.
Persecuted by the Moors and later the Portuguese, many Indian Jews settled in Cochin under the protection of Cheraman Parumal known to the Portuguese as the "King of the Jews", where they prospered. Today however only a handful of Jews remain in Cochin, where the Pardesi Synagogue in Jew Street stands testimony to better times enjoyed by the community.
Jew Street remains one of the lasting anachronisms of Cochin. A corner of the city where the earlier Jewish traders had their establishments, the ancient cobbled street lying between rows of old timber wood buildings is almost medieval. Shops selling different varieties of spices still exist here and the combined fragrance of these condiments hangs heavy in the air. At the end of the street is the Jewish Synagogue also known as the Pardesi Synagogue. An ancient structure built in 1664, it uses oil-burning chandeliers from the 19th century to light up the interior while blue and white hand-painted Cantonese tiles make up the flooring. The Torah - The Jewish scriptures- written on sheepskin scrolls are lovingly housed in ornate metal receptacles.
Cochin's charms remain timeless.
This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news
Things to Make Your Gap Year in Africa Easy!
The kind of things you pack when you go on a trip says a lot about where you're heading and what you're going to be doing.Taking a warm top and a 'blanky' is OK if you're going to stay at Granny's house, but when you're taking a gap year in Africa, these items come highly recommended.
Arrowhead Hunting and Rock Collecting
We weren't planning to go rock and arrowhead hunting in Arizona. My wife and I just liked that hotspring in the desert.
Should You Buy a Used Inflatable Boat?
There are two types of used inflatable boats for sale - those that have never been patched before, and those that have been repaired. Repaired boats are worked upon by factory technicians using the same glue and same techniques used for a new boat, and hence are as good as new ones.
Crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel with an RV
New experiences make me nervous, and I assume that holds true for most of us. Towing our fifth wheel through a major tunnel for the first time was such an experience.
Amazing Trek Across TIbet!
Today Bookpleasures and Sketchandtravel are pleased to have as our guest, Brandon Wilson, author of Yak Butter Blues.In 1992, Brandon and his wife Cheryl travelled 40 days from early October to the end of November in 1992 over 1000 kilometers travelling along the ancient pilgrimage route across Tibet.
Inflatable Boat Trailers
An inflatable boat trailer is needed if the user has a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB), since those boats have only a deflatable collar surrounding a solid hull. RIB's are regular boats in many ways.
A meal in Greece is highlighted with a selection of hot and cold plates known as mezedes. Soups are few but they are meals by themselves.
Student Travel - Backpacking In Europe
For the fortunate few, life isn't complete without a backpacking trip through Europe. This right of passage is believed to further the maturation process of college students, according to sociologists.
Scotland - The New White Water Rafting Capital of Europe
Scotland has taken its place as the new Mecca for white water rafting and extreme sports enthusiasts. With over 120 activity centres around the country you can do it all here - from jumping off cliffs, sliding through canyons and rolling down hills in plastic balls, to more traditional activities such as white water rafting, quad biking and clay pigeon shooting.
Costa Rica White Water Rafting Trip
Costa Rica's mountainous topography and copious rainfall are both responsible for one of the best white water rafting river choices in the world. Experienced rafting outfitters regularly run about half a dozen of rambunctious rivers, and those river trips not only provide plenty of excitement, but also allow enjoying gorgeous scenery.
Creative Camp Cooking
For most people, outdoor cooking is synonymous with barbeque, but there are many other ways to cook outdoors. If you have been camping, you are probably at least familiar with the portable propane stoves which provide a burner or two similar to the stovetop burners you have at home.
Hiking Shoes Versus Hiking Boots
Hiking shoes versus hiking boots? Hiking shoes win. Okay, next issue? No, really.
Mount Chimborazo: Climbing Glaciers Near The Equator
The climb up the glaciers to the summit of Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador isn't considered highly technical. Technically, it is mountaineering, but how hard could it be, considering that I went to 20,600 feet the first time I used crampons and an ice axe? Okay, I had used them once for practice, on a sledding hill near my house.
Shark Pictures Not The Real Thing
Pictures of a massive dead Great White shark on the back of a bakkie are doing the rounds on email with the subject line saying "Caught at Monwabisi and Strandfontein Beach yesterday" - but experts have dismissed it as a hoax.The grim pictures show the shark with a hook and trace still attached.
Stay Out of That Old Mine!
It seems like the most adventurous thing in the world. That dark opening in the hillside beckons, tantalizes, excites.
Code of Conduct for Outdoor Enthusiasts
My favorite outdoor related quote comes from John Muir, the father of our national park system and founder of the Sierra Club. He said, "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
The Cast of Culture in South Africa
Drive along one of South Africa's scenic strips and you will notice a landscape composed of a backdrop of wide open spaces, blue mountains and blood-red sunsets. These scenes abound, but given the nature of the culture in South Africa, your attention could swiftly switch to a small boy gallantly escorting herds of cattle, end to end, over a rainbow-like walkway crossing one of the largest and busiest highways in South Africa.
Croatia has quickly become Europe's hottest destination, and for good reason. The rocky coastline continues for 1778 kilometres and includes pine-fringed coves, wide sandy beaches and cozy inlets.
Hiking Safely on the Hills
SAFE WALKING TREKKING OUTDOORSIf you are contemplating a long distance walk, or indeed a day walk, on the any of the high level routes in the UK, such as The Pennine Way, for the first time, between October and May, please be aware that you are embarking on a test of your endurance and stamina, especially when carrying a backpack.Each stage in a long distance walk involves a period of several hours spent outdoors, often in isolated and remote locations and sometimes at altitudes above 400 metres, in possibl;y rain or snow.
Dancing With Whales
We've all heard about whalewatching from boats or shore, and a few companies are now offering the possibility of actually swimming and snorkeling with whales in the wild. Is this a good thing?Some whalewatching operators in the Kingdom of Tonga, South Pacific islands, advertise the possibility of swimming and snorkeling with humpback whales during the cetacean's annual migration from July to October.
|home | site map | Ocean Photography|