Cochin - Gateway to Kerala

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Cochin - Gateway to Kerala
 
Cochin is a lovely seaside city situated in the state of Kerala on the west coast by the Arabian sea. Often referred to as Ernakulam, which is the western part of the mainland Cochin, it is the second largest city and the largest urban agglomeration in Kerala. 
 
Famously known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Cochin was a prominent spice trading centre even during the 14th century. Cochin was in fact the first of European colonies in India, having been occupied by the Portuguese. The city was later also occupied by the Dutch and the British, making the Kingdom of Cochin a princely state.
 
Cochin is host to a wide variety of tourist attractions. Prominent among these is the Chinese Fishing Nets or the Cheenavala. The coastline from Fort Kochi to Vypeen is dotted with these nets. A sunset stroll along the Fort Kochi beach with the setting golden in the background and massive Chinese nets looming nearby is truly a rare experience. The landscape of Fort Kochi is very different from the rest of Cochin, with its narrow streets lined with numerous European style bungalows converted into restaurants or hotels and dotted with many tiny curio shops selling interesting looking amulets, pendants, and other jewellery pieces at not so cheap rates. The coast line is also famous for its tiny stalls that serve spicy traditional Kerala style fish preparations. The streets are also lined with tiny stalls that mainly cater to the foreign tourists with their international cuisine and also international rates.
 
The St Francis Church here is said to be the oldest church built by Europeans in India. It is also famous as the burial place of the prominent Portuguese trader Vasco da Gama whose remains were later taken back to Portugal. Santa Cruz Basilica is another ancient church built by the Portuguese in 1505. Destroyed by the British in the year 1795, the existing structure was later raised to the status of a Basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1984. Cochin is also the site of the splendid Jewish Synagogue built in 1568. Adorned with Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers, it is located near another popular sightseeing attraction in Cochin, the Dutch Palace in Mattancherry. This palace was originally built by the Portuguese and later presented to the Raja of Cochin after being modified by the Dutch. The palace has a fine collection of mural paintings depicting scenes from the Hindu epics Mahabharatha and Ramayana.
 
The Hill Palace in Cochin is a beautiful palace built by the Raja of Cochin, which is now a museum displaying a fine collection of articles belonging to the kings. The Pallipuram Fort on Vypeen Island is the oldest surviving European fort in India built by the Portuguese in 1503.
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Cochin - Gateway to Kerala

This article was published on 2012/03/05