About Kochi (Cochin)
Kochi, formerly known as Cochin is the largest city in Kerala. It is considered to be the economic capital of the state. Located in the district of Ernakulam, it has an urban population of sixteen lakhs. Kochi was the site of the first European settlement in Kerala and is a beautiful and vibrant metropolis. Migration over the course of several millennia, has made Kochi a melting pot of different cultures; a blend of tradition and modernity. Kochi is the commercial hub of Kerala, and is one of the fastest growing second-tier metro in India
History Of Kochi
Before the arrival of the Portuguese, the history of Kochi is somewhat obscure. Kochi rose as an independent kingdom from the ruins of the Kulasekhara Empire. The advent of the Portuguese in Kochi proved to be the turning point in its history. The Kochi Rajas readily welcomed the Portuguese, seeing in them a valuable ally against the common enemy, the Zamorin of Calicut. The Jews received royal patronage during the reign of Kesava Rama Varma (1565-1601). These Jews had fled from Kodangalur, which was their original settlement. They participated in trade and commerce as go-betweens for foreigners seeking trading rights.
By 17th century, the Dutch had managed to capture the Kochi port. The subsequent Kochi rulers turned out to be incompetent, till Saktan Tampuran or Rama Varma ascended the throne in 1790. He proved to be an able administrator, and Kochi flourished under him. However, in 1795, Kochi passed into the hands of the British who ruled the territory till India gained independence.
Geography of Kochi
Kochi is located on the southwest coast of India, in the southern state of Kerala. The city lies at the sea mouth of seven major rivers which start from the Western Ghats and travel through Kerala’s midlands, lowlands and coastal areas, to drain out into the Arabian Sea. Earlier, Kochi was used to refer to the region encompassing Mattancherry, Fort Kochi, Palluruthy and Thoppumpadi. Today, Kochi comprises the mainland Ernakulam, old Kochi, Kadavanthra, the suburbs of Edapally and the exurbia of Kalamassery and Kakkanad to the northeast; Tripunithura to the south east; and a group of islands closely scattered in the Vembanad Lake.
Tourist attractions of Kochi
Cochin is a historic town where many colonial rulers of the past have left their mark. The Portuguese, Dutch and English all have made their presence felt in Cochin. Some of the tourist attractions that one can see in Kochi are as follows:
Chinese Fishing Nets in Cochin Harbor: The fishing nets in Cochin harbor are a beautiful sight. Suspended from a wooden framework these cobweb-like structures form a delicate silhouette as the sunset paints the twilight sky in shades of ochre and crimson.
St Francis Church: This Portuguese church is the first European church to be built in India. Vasco do Gama, the Portuguese explorer was laid to rest at St Francis Church, Cochin, in Kerala, India in 1524. Later his body was moved to Portugal. His sepulcher can be seen in the historic St Francis Church at Cochin, on Kerala tours.
Matancherry Palace: Also called the Dutch Palace, this structure was built by the Portuguese and given to the Raja of Cochin in 1555 AD. It was renamed the Dutch Palace in 1663. The central hall is an impressive auditorium where the coronation ceremonies of the Rajas of Cochin were held.
Jewish Synagogue: Located in Matancherry near Kochi, this historic synagogue was built by a thriving Jewish community in 1568 A.D. Now the community has dwindled in numbers, however the synagogue is beautifully preserved. You can see the religious scrolls and the beautiful hand-painted tiles from China, which decorate the synagogue.
Dutch Palace: Situated on an island off the coast of Cochin, and accessible by boat, the palace was built by the Dutch in 1744. Previously used as the residence of the Governor by the Dutch and the British, the palace is now a heritage hotel in Cochin and is famous for its canopied garden.
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