Incredible India 13 – Cochin and the Backwaters of Kerala

Located on the southwest coast of India, Cochin (original Indian name is Kochi) has been a major port since Roman times.  The Portuguese were the first Europeans to come here and the great explorer, Vasco da Gama, landed here.  Pepper has always been an important export.  Additionally crops of coconut, ginger, tobacco, cashew nut and other fruits are the backbone of Kerala’s economy today.

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St Francis church in Fort Kochi (the old town of Cochin) was build in 1503.  It is the oldest European church in India.  Vasco de Gama died in Kochi in 1524 and was buried in this church.  Fourteen years later his remains were taken to Lisbon.  The rigging and “sails” in the sanctuary are actually fans that are moved by pulling on ropes.

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Chinese fishing nets were introduced by traders from the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan.

Fort Kochi also has a popular shopping area called “Jew Town” with small shops and markets.

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Near our hotel in Cochin was a park.  It had seen better days but there were groups of school children visiting.

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I’m thinking these statues are Indian storybook characters ….?

We made a stop at a factory that makes door mats out of coir.  Coir is the fibrous material found between the hard, internal shell and the outer coat of a coconut.  It is shredded, dried in the sun, then spun into a yarn and woven.

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The final trip highlight – traveling the backwaters of Kerala. 

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Here’s our traditional houseboat.  The bedrooms were tiny but we had our own bathroom with shower.  Most of our time was spent in the common areas – outside during the day and inside at night, to escape the bugs.

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Kerala Backwaters are a vast interconnecting system of rivers, canals, lagoons and lakes near the Arabian Sea coast.  There are more than 900km of navigable waterways.  These water highways keep tiny farms and villages connected to the mainland.

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We saw quite a few of these roof/awnings built over flat roofed houses.  The roofs are used for all kinds outdoor living including drying laundry.  The extra roof keeps the space dry on rainy days and cooler in the sun.  Great idea!

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It was really hot and humid in Kerala (in November).  Lots of umbrella used for shade from the sun.  These workers are wearing umbrella-like hats.

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More on the backwaters of Kerala in my next post!

About graciamc

Gracia's Travels is a photo blog. I always take too many pictures on trips so I justify my compulsion with this blog! The blog is mostly photos - they tell the best part of the story. Please contact me if you would like to use any of my photos.
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4 Responses to Incredible India 13 – Cochin and the Backwaters of Kerala

  1. m.lever says:

    fantastic images

  2. Janet Freeman says:

    Interesting how many of the signs are in English – for the tourists? Beautiful end to your trip spent on the waters of Kerala. I will look forward to the next installment. Thanks again, Gracia.

    • graciamc says:

      English is the common language of the country and of the government, though Hindi is the official language. I was actually surprised how many people we came in contact with that did not speak English. Wikipedia says individual “mother tongues” number in the hundreds!

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