Also known as Cochim de Baixo (“Lower Kochi”) in the Cochin Portuguese creole, Fort Kochi is a small neighborhood of the city of Kochi, a city in Kerala. Its name has been derived from Fort Manuel of Cochin, now a ruined historic site. Manuel has a very important history. Firstly, it was the Portuguese base in India. Secondly, it served as a symbol of the strategic friendship between the Kingdom of Portugal and the Maharaja of Kochi in the 16th century CE. It was therefore named after the then King of Portugal, Manuel I.
Planning a visit to God’s Own Country, Kerala? Here are some exciting things you can do in Fort Kochi that you will never forget!
Chinese Fishing Nets
The first thing anybody will tell you about Fort Kochi is the Chinese fishing nets!
Folk tales weave a story that a famous Chinese explorer had introduced these special nets to the inhabitants of Fort Kochi more than 500 years ago. Ever since these nets have been the common method of catching fish.
These fishing nets are so famous, that they have now become a source of attracting tourists in the area. You can take the best view of these nets from the Vasco Da Gama Square or take a ferry to see them.
Opening and closing timings of viewing the Chinese Fishing Nets: There is no set timing. You can view the Chinese Fishing Nets at any time on any day.
The Paradesi Synagogue was built in Fort Kochi in the year 1568 to serve the growing population of the Jewish community. Its construction was contributed very generously by Raja Rama Verma of Kochi. It is said to be the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations and one of the few places with a mix of old-world charm and pollution-free air.
It was a shelter for generations of Jewish refugees to the Indian subcontinent. Its arches are made of teak and have some beautiful carvings on them. It also has an Oriental rug gifted by the king of Ethiopia; you can see this rug hanging in the synagogue.
Opening and closing timings: The Paradesi Synagogue is open every day from 10 am to noon, and from 3 pm to 5 pm, except on Fridays, Saturdays, and Jewish holidays.
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You can also visit the Mattancherry Palace which was a gift from the Portuguese to the King of Kochi. They built it for him in the 16th century CE, as an atonement for plundering a Hindu temple nearby.
Today, it is nicknamed the Dutch Palace. This is because in the year 1666, sometime after the Portuguese left, the Dutch came and made several improvements to the Mattancherry Palace.
Inside the palace are many murals and paintings from the colonial era, some depicting stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Not only that, but the oil paintings here also depict the kings of Kochi and their families. There are also murals that resemble the Patan Patola designs. Even the ceilings of the palace have beautiful wooden carvings.
An important thing to note for visitors is that photography is not allowed in places where murals are on display.
Opening and closing timings of the Mattancherry Palace: The Mattancherry Palace is open every day, except on Friday, from 10 am to 5 pm.
St. Francis Church
St Fracis Church is the oldest in Fort Kochi and one of the oldest European churches in the country. It is one of the historical places in India. Franciscan friars of the Roman Catholic constructed it in the 16th century CE. When the Dutch arrived in India, they converted it to a Protestant Church. It eventually became an Anglican Church by the British.
It has a lot of similarities with churches in Portugal and generally in the Mediterranean. At the entrance, you will an arch and windows with stepped pinnacles on either side.
The most interesting fact about this church is that Vasco da Gama – the first European to discover India – was buried its backyard in the year 1524 CE, before moving to the Jeronimos Monastery in Belem, Portugal. You can still see the marking of his burial site within the compound of the church today.
Opening and closing timings of the St. Francis Church: It is open every day. From Monday to Friday, it is open between 9 am to 5 pm; on Saturday, it is open between 9 am to 1 pm; and on Sunday, it is open between 1 pm to 5 pm.
These are some of the best things to do in Fort Kochi.
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