Fort Cochin is a beautiful little fishing village with everything I personally could hope for in a destination. Eco friendly hotel, decorated by an owner with exquisite taste, delicious food, walk able town, great shopping and historic sites. Known as a center of the spice trade, it is filled with narrow shops and alleyways filled with antiques and unusual finds. Our mistake was having less than 24hrs to explore it. Let ‘s just say we hit the ground running. Are you ready?
Like I said, the Malabar House
was one of the loveliest hotels we stayed in. The historic mansion has a successful mix of old-world charm and delightful euro chic decor. The minimalist open air courtyard, with evening music performances, centers around a Keralan temple style pool. Off to the side is a simple open air restaurant serving delicious local fare-especially fresh fish.
This sculptural gem was indicative of the treasures we found in nooks and crannies all over the hotel.
After a quick bite to eat, we headed out to stop at the church of St. Francis. It was the first European church built in India in the 1500’s, and its curved facade became the model for most Christian churches later built in India. Today, the congregation continues to use the punkahs or large swinging cloth fans suspended from the ceiling, a throw back to the British days.
Then it was on to Jew Town and the Pardesi Synagogue. The attractive interior is a bit of a hodge podge with blue and white tiles on the floor from Canton and a collection of glass chandeliers representing many different styles. An elaborately carved Ark houses four scrolls of the Torah encased in silver and gold. The once thriving Jewish community has been reduced to only about four remaining families
Despite the fact that this area is a tourist destination, traditional trade is still the most important revenue generator here. The heady aroma of spices that filled the streets was just a prelude of what was to come at our next destination.
We stumbled upon the filming of a Bollywood movie, complete with prima donna director.
The make- up for the traditional Kathakali dance performance takes hours to apply. We had a backstage pass.
The mesmerizing high energy performances are true theatre in every sense of the word. The talented performers convey hundreds of messages thru their facial expressions and body gestures.
Trust me, this mouthwatering selection of three varieties of fresh fish was much better than my overexposed photo would lead you to believe! With a bottle of our ever present Sula chenin blanc, and traditional Indian music in the background, it was a perfect end to a power packed day.
The huge Chinese fishing nets along the shoreline of Ft. Cochin greeted us in the early morning and are probably one of the cities most famous sites. They are thought to have been introduced by the traders of Kublai Kahn, and are still maintained with the traditional levers and rocks requiring at least four men to operate.
We tried our hand at hoisting the rock weights into the air…
And the fishermen were unimpressed with our catch!
Some hard core power shopping and gallery hopping and before you knew it, we were off to our next stop-the spice hills of cardamom dreams. So should you ever find yourself in the lucky position of traveling to Fort Cochin, learn from our mistake and stick around!