Cochin

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We arrived in Cochin by air and walked out of the airport into the welcoming arms of Jenny with whom we would be staying and a blast of hot humid air
Le Royale

Once at Le Royale we were garlanded with jasmine and hibiscus and given a coconut drink served in the nut
Jenny and Jose are attentive hosts serve excellent meals and also run an efficient travel service, Fourens Travel www.cochinkerala.com
Political Rally
Eager to see the city we took off with a car and driver but we didn't get very far.  The roads were almost blocked .  They seemed like a friendly group so we couldn't resist jumping out to see what was going on.  It turned out to be a political rally, the object was to celebrate the merging of the DIC(K)  party with the NCP, perhaps as well really with a name like that
Don't know who the man with the body of a monkey is but we assumed he was a politician!
Bus after bus rolled in filled with villagers enjoying their outing to the city as we abandoned ours until the next day
 

Definitely not your run of the mill vacation souvenirs

 


 
Cochin is staunchly Catholic and the cradle of Catholicism in India, we have rarely seen so many churches and statuary everywhere.   Eight Franciscan friars arrived in Calcutta from Lisbon on March 9th 1500.  Those who survived the massacre on March 16th traveled on to Cochin and settled there.  Conversion brought many benefits.  Employment in civil offices, freedom from the caste system and Hindu law.  The Portuguese government convinced the Rajas to accord Catholics all the civil rights of their Hindu relatives including inheritance.  With many churches and business names like Little Flower Engineering Works or Infant Jesus Welding we can see at a glance that their legacy lives on

Legend has it there have been Jews in India since the time of King Solomon but modern scholars put the date at early Middle Ages.  Persecution and the pursuit of the spice trade brought them to Cranganore north of Cochin, later accused of interference with the pepper trade they were once again obliged to flee. The Hindu Raja of Cochin granted them land and the area is still known as Jew Town.
They fared badly during the Portuguese colonization but prospered with the arrival of the Protestant Dutch and later the British.  With the Independence of India and the creation of the State of Israel many Jewish families left. There are thought to be only 13 elderly Indian born Jews from 7 families left in Cochin

Pardesi Synagogue
The Dutch style clock tower was added to the synagogue in 1760, it has 4 faces  with Malayalam, Hebrew, Roman and Arabic numerals
 
Still in an ecumenical frame of mind we also visited this exuberantly decorated Tamil Murugan Temple


 
Chinese fishing nets are land based permanent rigs with vast nets operated for short periods of time by six fishermen.
Legend has it they were brought to Fort Kochi from the court of Chinese emperor Kublai Khan, by the Chinese explorer, Zheng He  and have been in operation here ever since

Fanny bargained for our shrimp, catching the fishmonger out giving us short measure (not these guys)

Catch of the day, we then chose a small cafe by the waters edge to cook it for us
We didn't choose well, they over cooked the shrimp and forgot to add any spice to the vegetable rice we ordered to accompany the fish.  Gastronomically disappointing but high on experience and ambiance.

The wedding sari saleswomen drape the gorgeous fabric around themselves to demonstrate how it would look when worn.  For the mother of the bride making her selection that day, it would never again look as good as it did on the model but her husband happily paid a small fortune for it

 Mattancherry Palace aka The Dutch Palace

 
The Dutch Palace was originally built by the Portuguese.    The Dutch modified it in the 17 century and presented it to the Raja of Kochi.  The Coronations of many Kochi Rajahs took place here


Schoolgirls arriving on a fieldtrip
The coronation hall of the palace is now a portrait gallery of Kochi Rajahs.  The palace is noted for it's fine collection of murals depicting scenes from the Hindu epics Mahabharatha and Ramayana
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