Hi friends, Its been a while since I sat down to writing a post and sharing beautiful things with you. I needed a break and to spend some time with the family.. my kids Sarah and Shon! Hubby was in the list too. This time around we decided to spend the holidays in God’s Own Country, Kerela. On a previous trip we went to the North of Kerela, so this time we moved south, to the backwaters.
We stayed in Fort Kochi, a tiny fishing village that has transformed into a burgeoning urban town, but still retaining the flavours of past European cultures of the British, Portugese and the Dutch.The Fort Kochi area particularly is a melting pot of these cultures as displayed by the architecture and food found in the restaurants.You get to see tourists from all over the world.It would probably take you around two hours to see the tourists spots in Fort Kochi.A fort was built by the Portugese and though the fort does not exist, the name stayed on.
What to see in Fort Kochi?
#1 St Francis Church: Known for its beautiful architecture, it is one of the oldest churches built by the Europeans in India.The church has a lofty structure with a” gabled timber framed roof covered with tiles”. A stepped pinnacle is constructed on both sides of the façade.
#2 Mattancherry Palace:The palace, opposite the Mattancherry jetty was built by the Portugese for the then king,Veera kerela Varma, to compensate the destruction they caused, by plundering a temple nearby. The building houses a collection of artefacts belonging to that era, including the attire and jewellery worn by the Royalty at that time.What strikes out in this building are the murals that cover almost all the walls depicting the Hindu Gods.
#3 The Chinese nets: They are believed to be unique to this place. It was brought into the country by traders of Kublai Khan. While taking a stroll on the beach, these fishing nets stand out.
#4 Jew Town: The Jew Town is a narrow street between Mattancherry Palace and the Synagogue. It is believed that the Jews that settled here, are the oldest group of Jews in India, possibly from the time of King Soloman. Earlier, there were a number of shops selling the famous spices of India, but what we got to see were the antiques and curio shops. Also, there are a few shops that sell natural fragrances. The owner of the shop that we went into at the end of the lane, told us that fragrances from Kerela were used in preparing branded perfumes like Channel,Hugo etc.
Where to stay?
Fort Kochi has a number of hotels and Homestays to suit all budget types. We stayed in Ann’s Residency,a a neat and clean place, a Homestay.Ms Ann, the owner was a warm and amiable person, who spent a lot of time briefing us about the tourist spots in and near Fort kochi as well as the historical significance of these places.
What to do in Fort Kochi?
The cafe culture is fast and vibrant here… it is also a foodies delight. From the traditional Kerela cuisine to the Continental, you have an array of delectable food to suit your taste buds.
There are also art galleries like the Kashi art gallery, Pepper House cafe etc.One can visit the Kathakali centre to see this beautiful dance form as well as to see the traditional martial art form of Kerela, “Kalaripayattu”. This is regarded as the oldest and most scientific form in the world.
#5 The Back Waters
To unwind, you need a ride on one of those house boats that lazily drift over the waters,almost and unbeaten silence.. maybe the sound of a bird now and then. As the oars gently touch the waters, the wish washing sound created almost becomes a part of you over the three hour ride. We stopped to see a coir factory and then in some body’s backyard to have a traditional meal,( on a banana leaf) the kerela style, served with utmost care by our hostess. We walked around the garden, where our guide showed us the flora unique to the place, including pepper, coffee etc.
A three hour ride does work wonders for the frayed nerves!The backwater trip was on our last day in Kerela. It was a perfect end to an otherwise hectic holiday.