Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Kerala: Cochin

The alarm went off at 4:30am... it was time to say goodbye to the rest of the group as they had to leave for Kochi (Cochin) to catch their morning flight back to Mumbai, and then to London. Although it had only been less than a week together, I felt I’d made some very nice friends and learnt a lot about the travel business in such a short time. I caught up with a few more hours sleep and then it was my turn to leave for Kochi, but I was not quite ready to head back to the UK as yet.
Kochi is just over an hour’s drive from Alleppey and I was immediately struck by the quaint and colourful buildings which echoed of the colonial era. Kochi has seen many European settlers, including the Dutch, Portuguese and British, all attracted to this city because of its strategic location on the coast of the Arabian Sea. Kochi is one of India’s most important ports and is still a key trading port for India. After checking in to the hotel, I wandered around Fort Cochin and its enchanting streets. If ever a city typified religious tolerance and integration, it had to be Kochi. Dotted around the city was an intriguing mix of churches, mosques and Hindu temples. In fact, Kochi also has a synagogue located on the aptly named ‘Jew Street’. The ruling king had welcomed Jews to these shores back in the 16th century and since then there has been a small (and now very small) Jewish community in Kochi.
It was approaching 5:30pm and it was time to take to the waters again for a sunset cruise. Kochi is also famous for its Chinese cantilever fishing nets, which were bigger than the ones I’d seen in Alleppey. I passed everything from small fishing boats to huge barges and the sea momentarily glowed a peachy gold colour as the sun set for the evening.
Since I only had today in Kochi I wanted to check out the various accommodation options in the area. I was very impressed by the variety of places available. I must have seen 12 or so properties, ranging from luxurious heritage hotels to smaller characterful and quaint hotels. Kochi was a refreshing change, and it was a shame I was here only for the one day. Next time, it will definitely have to be for longer.

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