04-06 October 2019
Kochi also known as Cochin has been an important spice trading center since the 14th century. The Portuguese founded the first European settlement in India here in 1500. They were followed by the Dutch and then the British.
Interesting too is that St Thomas travelled to Kerala in 52 AD. His evangelistic activity Christianized India before Europe and when the Portuguese arrived there was already an organized Christian church that still exists as “Syrian Christian”, not from Syria but the Syriac language of St Thomas. In Church here, mass is still conducted in Syriac.
Kerela is so different from the north of India you might think you were in a different country. For a start, it’s hot and humid tropical jungle. Kerela was never invaded, only settled by traders and there’s an intriguing mix and blending of cultures and religions that all live in harmony. The traffic is light and the streets way less chaotic so you can easily walk, or cycle around.
We stayed at Francis Residence, a very comfortable modern guest house in Fort Kochi owned by Francis and his wife Rosy.
Rosy is an outstanding cook and we enjoyed a multi-course seafood dinner based on the day’s catch. Rosy is so famous people from other guest houses come to eat here!
Bala of Gully Tours took us on a 3 hour bike ride around the Fort Kochi area. A 6.30am departure allowed us to see the town waking up and coming alive.
Kathakali is a unique blend of dance, drama and music. Elaborate makeup takes at least an hour to apply and is a production in itself. The characters (men) enact stories from the Ramayana using hand gestures and facial expressions. We didn’t want to miss this show; it is only performed in Kerela.