Archive for the ‘2.Around Kochi’ Category

Around Kochi – Rainbow Bridge,Mattancherry, Fort Kochi

June 1, 2008

I left the Abad Plaza hotel by 2.30PM. Outside on the main road-Mahatma Gandhi Road which is the prime road in ernakulam city, I caught an autorikhsha to go to menaka, the boating point in ernakulam city.
Autoriksha is the cheapest form of transport in Kerala and in many parts of India. It is a 3 wheeler with a Scooter / Bike engine fitted. In the crowded roads, it speed zig-zig squeezing through & overtaking big vehicles. when we reached menaka, i asked for the fare, he said Rs 10/-. I happily gave him what he asked for. Hardly 100 meters ahead the road is the bank of the backwaters. A rainbwow type small bridge is visible from far. It is an attraction for those who come to the back water side for an evening walk. It is a spectacular sight at sun set. There is a pretty long walking stretch along the backwaters. I found hundreds thronging this side of menaka in the evening. Across the backwaters – Wellignton Island which has the Naval Base, Port Offices can be seen.
It was around 3PM and i walked to the Boat Jetty. A boat was ready for Mattancherry which is an old city of Kochi. I purchased ticket from boat jetty and it cost Rs. 3.50.
The boat is a passenger ferry boat. It has a few wooden bench type seats. I occuppied one of them and looked out into the back waters. The travel through the backwaters was resfreshing in the breeze. The ferry first took us to the Wellington Island. Then to mattancherry. I got down at mattancherry. It was around 30 minutes travel from Ernakulam, Menaka.
Mattancherry is a crowded old city. It is brisk with trading & business actvities too.
Jewish Synagogue

Jewish Synagogue is the main tourist point at mattancherry. An sutoriksha took me to the Jewish Synagogue. Synagogue is a prayer assembly of jews. A miniature Jewish temple.
It was evening 4PM and there were many others visiting the sysnagogue.
The Jewish Synagogue also known as ‘The Paradesi Synagogue’ is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations. It was built in 1568 by the Cochin Jewish Community.The synagogue is located in the quarter of Old Cochin known as Jew Town. The guide told that this is the only one of the seven synagogues in the area still in use. The complex has four buildings. It is built adjacent to the Mattancherry Palace temple on the land gifted to the Malabari Jew community by the King of Kochi, RamaVarma. The Mattancherry Palace temple and the Mattancherry synagogue share a common wall.

The architectural shapes and interior designs of synagogues was spectacular to see. The interior of the synagogue is richly docorated with chandeliers.
The Paradesi Synagogue has the Scrolls of the Jewish Law, several gold crowns received as gifts, many Belgian glass chandeliers, and a brass-railed pulpit. It houses the copper plates of privileges given to Joseph Rabban, the earliest known Cochin Jew, dating from the 10th century, written in Tamil on the two plates, by the ruler of the Malabar Coast. The floor of the synagogue is composed of hundreds of Chinese, 18th century, hand-painted porcelain tiles, all of which are unique. There is also an oriental rug, a gift from Haile Selassie, the last Ethiopian Emperor. The most visible part of the synagouge is the 18th century clocktower. The guide took us around and showed these things. We could see the proud expression on the face of the guide who himself was a jew as he took us around.

Fort Kochi & Chinese Fishing Nets.
I decided to take a bus to fort kochi. There are buses plying from mattancherry to fort kochi. Although the bus was crowded, it is the cheapest form of public transport in Kochi. It took around half an hour to reach Fort Kochi.
Fort Kochi is one of the main urban components that constitute the present day City of Kochi, the other two being Mattancherry and Ernakulam & Palarivattom. At evening there were many people walking along the streets.
Once a fishing village of no significance in the Kingdom of Kochi in the pre-colonial Kerala, the territory was granted to the Portuguese in 1503 by the Rajah of Kochi, who also gave them permission to build a fort near the waterfront to protect their commercial interests.
I saw a  mix of old Portuguese, Dutch and British houses from colonial periods lining the streets of Fort Kochi.
I visited the St Francis Church, It was at walkable distance. I was told that this  was built in 1503 by the Portuguese as a Catholic church and where Vasco da Gama was buried. It is now a national monument.
The landmark that causes the most public and visitor interest is a series Chinese fishing nets on the waterfront. It is believed that these fishing nets have been introduced by Chinese traders in the early 1300s. It was a beutiful site to see the fishing nets in the evening at sunset.
It was around 6PM now. I decided to return to the Hotel. There was a Kathakali festival at Fine Arts Hall, Ernakulam at 7PM. I didnt want to miss it. So i hired a cab and retuned to Ernakulam.