Kochi tales

I had to make a quick trip to Kochi (formerly Cochin) to attend a wedding in the family. Only my second trip there, this time I did manage to see a bit of the city which is situated on the western coast of India.

Kochi, known as the queen of the Arabian Sea, was a centre of trade in days gone by. The Portuguese, Arabs, Chinese, French, British and Dutch traders have left their mark on the city. The sea front of the fort is flecked with Chinese fishing nets. Beside that are stalls selling fresh catch from the sea. One could even buy one's fish of choice, take it to a nearby restaurant, get it cleaned, coated with a marinade and cooked, at a nominal cost.

Fresh catch of the sea
The fellow on the right was a bit frisky  
The pearl spot is considered a delicacy
Flower crab, mullet, grey pomfret and pearl spot


Red snapper, seer fish, squid and tiger prawns

Vasco de Gama discovered the sea route from Europe to India. He died at Cochin in 1524 A.D. and was buried at the St. Francis Church. Fourteen years later, in 1538 A.D., his remains were moved and reburied in Lisbon. This church is the oldest European church in India and was originally built of wood. Later it was rebuilt with stone. One can still see Vasco de Gama's gravestone in the grounds of the church.

St. Francis Church

 Outside the church was this stall selling shell craft.

Mattancherry is the Jewish centre of Kochi. We were there on a Friday so most of the shops and the synagogue were closed. Still, we admired the lovely old building that housed the more than 400 year old Paradesi synagogue.

The synagogue

We passed shops selling spices, handicrafts shops and Kashmiri shops selling shawls and jewellery. We were fortunate to wander into a shop selling petit point, fine hand embroidery worked on baby clothes, bed spreads and table runners. Fabulous, exquisite needlework.

Strolling into a store selling handicrafts, we were amazed to see a vallom, a boat that is used in races during Onam. Also known as a snake boat, this huge boat occupied pride of place from one end of the store to the other. We were told that it could seat 85 people!!

One end of the snake boat or vallom

the middle

...and almost the other end

Our last stop was at a store selling spices, vanilla beans, cashewnuts, almonds and of course pepper. The air was heady with the aroma of spices. I picked up cashewnuts, some pimento, and star anise. And a few vanilla beans, of course.

Kochi is a lovely old city, full of history, yet modern and cosmopolitan. Definitely worth visiting again.  


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