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COCHIN



Kochi lies here in the glittering of the sun, swept by the waves of the Arabian Sea known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea. Kochi surrounded by, white colonial bungalows, tall churches, Jewish Synagogues straddles this majestic city.Kochi was an important spice-trading centre on the west coast of India from the 14th century. Occupied by the Portuguese Empire in 1503, Kochi was the first of the European colonies in Colonial India. It remained the main seat of Portuguese India until 1530, when Goa was chosen instead.

The city was later occupied by the Dutch and the British, with the Kingdom of Cochin becoming a princely state. Kochi ranks first in the total number of international and domestic tourist arrivals in Kerala. Kochi has been ranked the sixth best tourist destination in India according to a survey conducted by the Nielsen Company on behalf of the Outlook Traveller magazine.Kochi was one of the 28 Indian cities found to be among the emerging 440 global cities that will contribute 50% of the world GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by the year 2025, in a study done by McKinsey Global Institute.

Today Kochi combined with its dual Ernakulam, comprises the middle sector of Kerala, and continues to be a commercial entrepot for merchants dealing in cashewnut, coir, tea, coffee, rubber, timber, sea food, spices, and most important pepper.Pepper is the privileged spice, as it the largest foreign exchange collector, among India’s cash crops.

AROUND COCHIN

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St. Francis Church

St. Francis Church, in Fort Kochi, originally built in 1503, is the oldest European church in India and has great historical significance as a mute witness to the European colonial struggle in the subcontinent. The famous Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama died in Kochi in 1524 when he was on his third visit to India. His body was originally buried in this church, but after fourteen years his remains were removed to Lisbon.

Vasco de Gama, explored and discovered the sea route from Europe to India, landed at Kappad near Kozhikode (Calicut) in 1498.Pedro Álvares Cabraland Afonso de Albuquerque, followed him. They built a fort at Kochi with permission from the Raja of Cochin. Within the fort, they built a church with a wooden structure, which was dedicated to St. Bartholomew. The neighbourhood is now known as Fort Kochi. The gravestone of Vasco da Gama can still be seen here. It is on the ground at the southern side. The gravestones of other Portuguese are on the northern sidewall and the Dutch on the southern wall.

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Chotanikkara Temple

The Temple curing people of Evil Spirits

An inspirational story of how the temple is believed to be built by dacoit, Kannappan, who found the images of Goddess Rajarajeshwari and Lord Vishnu in his cow-shed. After Kannappan died, the temple fell into disrepair, until suddenly a grass-cutter struck a stone, and fresh red blood began flowing out from the stone. A learned priest understood its significance and restored the temple to its former glory. Today, the temple is dedicated to the Goddess Rajarajeshwari or the fiery Bhadrakali, also perceived variously as Saraswati, Durga and Bhagavati.

Today, thousands of men and women surrender themselves to the Goddess through a pattern of prayers for removing the devil who has possessed them through black magic. The ritual follows as – the possessed person lives on the temple premises, eating only food provided by the temple, rising at 3.a.m to pray, and binding herself in all ways to the Devi, till the moment of cure is upon her.

At the right moment, Goddess Bhardrakali rises and comes down amongst her devotees. With her divine powers, destroys the evil spirit who has viciously possessed a human soul. The patient is then rushed to the pala tree to perform the final horrific act of exorcism, which consists of hammering a long iron nail (8” to 12”) into the bark of the tree with his / her bare forehead. Once this is done, the patient awakens as a new person, completely cured and restored to normal self. As for the evil spirit, it has been hammered into the tree, and so it cannot escape. Such is the quality of belief, the strength of faith in the Goddess is seen at Chotanikkara Temple.

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Fort Kochi

Board your vehicle on to the huge ferry from Kochi. Sail along the waters of the Arabian Sea, reveling in the beauty of modern technology sailing on the waves of the sea for the 10 min and disembark at Fort Kochi. As Kochi was a fishing village in the Kingdom of Kochi in the pre-colonial Kerala. The territory known as Fort Kochi was granted to the Portuguese in 1503 by the King of Kochi (Raja of Kochi), after the forces of Afonso de Albuquerque helped him by fighting the forces of Saamoothiri of Kozhikode.

The Raja also gave them permission to build Fort Emmanuel near the waterfront to protect their commercial interests, which in turn, all prospered under his reign. The name Fort Kochi comes from this fort. In time, the Portuguese then built their settlement behind the fort, including a wooden church, which was rebuilt in 1516 as a permanent structure, today known as the St Francis Church. Fort Kochi remained in Portuguese possession for 160 years.

In 1683 the Dutch captured the territory from the Portuguese, destroyed many Portuguese institutions, particularly Catholic including convents. The Dutch held Fort Kochi in their possession for 112 years until 1795, when the British took control by defeating the Dutch. Foreign control of Fort Kochi ended in 1947 with the Indian independence.

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Hill Palace

The Hill Palace, Kerala's first heritage museum noted for royal collections of the erstwhile Maharaja of Kochi (King of Cochin), is today the largest archaeological museum in Kerala. Built in 1865, the palace complex consists of 49 buildings in the traditional architectural style of Kerala, sprawled over 52 acres of beautifully landscaped terraced land which houses a deer park and facilities for horse riding. Numerous species of flora including rare medicinal plants grow here.

On display in the full-fledged Ethno-archaeological museum are oil-paintings, murals, sculptures in stone and manuscripts, inscriptions, coins, belongings of the Kochi royal family and royal furniture including the simhasana (throne). One spectacular crown made of gold and jewels is definitely something to adore!

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The Chinese Fishing Nets

Do visit this place early in the morning or towards the evening, as the fishermen will return to their wharf to sink their extravagant massive fishing nets to catch their daily earnings. The huge nets are sunk into the Arabian Sea with the weight of bamboo sticks and huge boulders of rocks. To sink the nets, about 2 or 3 of the fishermen will climb upon the bamboo sticks and with the weight of the rocky boulders and them will sink the nets into the ocean.

After about approx. 15 minutes, it is time to raise the nets back into their wharf, to find the fish they have caught. About 8 or 10 fishermen, again pull the huge bamboo sticks with the help of a pulley into the air. The fishermen quickly remove the fish from their nets and deposit them into iceboxes ready to go to the Fish Markets. One amazing spectacle to see is, The Jumping Dolphins in excitement!

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Jewish Synagogue

The Holy Jewish Synagogue or also called Paradesi Synagogue has the Scrolls of the Law, several gold crowns received as gifts, many Belgian glass chandeliers, and a brass-railed pulpit. It houses the 10th-century copper plates of privileges given to Joseph Rabban, the earliest known Cochin Jew. These two plates were inscribed in Tamil by the ruler of the Malabar Coast. The floor of the synagogue is composed of hundreds of 18th-century, Chinese hand-painted porcelain tiles, each of which is unique. A hand-knotted oriental rug was a gift from Haile Selassie, the last Ethiopian emperor.

The synagogue has an 18th-century clock tower, which, along with other parts of the complex, was restored between 1998 and 1999 under the direction of the World Monuments Fund. A tablet from the 1344 synagogue in Kochangadi in Kochi was installed on the outer wall of the Paradesi synagogue. The inscription states that the structure was built in 5105 (in the Hebrew Calendar) as "an abode for the spirit of God." The synagogue was built to protect the Jewish people from people trying to harm them.

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Mattancherry Palace

Standing at the marvelous stone courtyard, gazing up at the splendid Mattancherry Palace was a generous gift presented to the King of Kochi, Veera Kerala Varma (1537–61), as a gesture of goodwill by the Portuguese in 1555. The Dutch renovated the palace in 1663, hence its alternative name, the Dutch Palace. The palace is a double-storey and built with a central courtyard which has a Hindu Temple dedicated to Goddess Pazhayannur Bhagavati. The Upper story of the building is the inauguration hall where costumes, palanquins, and various royal ornaments are decorated.

The star attractions here are the astonishingly preserved Hindu murals, depicting scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranic legends in intricate detail. There are many of vibrant canvas paintings of the Royal family during the reign of the kings for years which have been screened in rich frames of wood.

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Police Museum

Very close to the Mattancherry Palace, lays the duties of the Police of Kerala. The museum is impeccably clean with clear guidance of each photo specifying the different uniforms and armoury of each policeman ranging from the highest authority to the constable. The pictures range from the colonial period to the present. There is a policeman statue with impeccable confidence, enabling you to take photos next to it.

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ATHIRAPPILLY

The most famous waterfalls of Kerala, Athirappalli and Vazhachal are situated on the Chalakudi River, which originates from the upper reaches of the Western Ghats. At the entrance to the Sholayar Forest, is the largest waterfall in Kerala, Athirappalli. This magnificent waterfall is a stunning picnic spot where water powerfully plunges from a height of approx. 80 feet before joining the Chalakudi River. Just a short drive from Athirapally, the Vazhachal Waterfall is close to dense green forests that are home to many endangered and endemic species of flora and fauna. The waterfalls are located on the edge of the Sholayar forest ranging just 5 km apart. This is the only place in the Western Ghats where four endangered Hornbill species are seen. Athirappalli is about 63 km from Thrissur and Vazhachal about 68 km.