a leisurely breakfast, we proceed on a guided tour of the City.
The true character of the city is to be found in the older parts
of the Fort Cochin area. It more or less exists as it used to be
a 1000 years back, when it was first built. The roads have not
been widened because the old haggard buildings, through
patchwork repairs over the centuries, still stand on the edges.
This part of the city reflects an unusual blend of medieval
Portugal, Dutch and English country life grafted on to the
tropical Malabar Coast. The fishing community of Cochin is also
very interesting. They ancient cantilevered fishing nets called
Chinese Fishing Nets. The net is fixed to a pole on the shore.
While fishing, the entire net is lowered by a primitive fulcrum
mechanism using long bamboo poles. By the same mechanism the
pole is lifted along with the catch. We will explore the sights
of Photographic as well as cultural interest. We would also
visit the 16th century Mattancherry Palace, also known as the
Dutch Palace since the Dutch substantially renovated the palace
in the 17th century. The double storied quadrangular building
surrounds a courtyard containing a Hindu temple. The Central
Hall on the first floor was the coronation hall of the Rajas of
Cochin; on display are their dresses, turbans and palanquins.
The most important feature of this palace, however, is the
astonishing murals in the bedchambers and other rooms, which
depict scenes from the Ramayana and other religious legends.
These murals are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful and
extensive anywhere to be seen in India. The unique feature here
is the unexpected and isolated Jewish community, whose origins
date back to AD 52. They are self-contained and have there own
The area around the Synagogue, known, as 'Jew Town' is one of
the main centres of spice trade. Scores of small firms huddle
together in old dilapidated buildings and the air is filled with
the aroma of ginger, cardamom, cumin, turmeric and cloves. The
area is very busy. The potters are loading gunny bags of spices
on to carts, which keep running up and down the narrow lanes. We
would visit Jew Town, in the Mattancherry section and a short
walk from the ferry, is one street long. Jews used to occupy
virtually all the houses on Jew Town Road, where they sold
fruits, vegetables and spices or worked as oil pressers or
carpenters. The spice markets are still located on the narrow
A special treat awaits us this evening as we proceed to witness
the strength and vigor of Kathakali dance drama, as it enacts
episodes from great Indian epics. The extremely stylized
gestures, the elaborate make-up, the masks and the splendid
costumes of these all-male dancers, recreates an incomparable
sense of pageantry.
Overnight at Brunton Boatyard