With its wealth of historical associations and its magnificent setting on a cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas, Kochi is one of the most fascinating cities of coastal South India. It is a city with indelible marks of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Jewish traditions. Of special mention is the older parts of the Fort Kochi area. It more or less exists as it used to be a thousand years ago. This part of the city reflects an unusual blend of medieval Portuguese, Dutch and English country life grafted on to the tropical Malabar Coast. The 16th century Mattancherry Palace, also known as the Dutch Palace, is a fascinating fort with elegant buildings and interesting collections from the Royal traditions of the region.
The unique feature of Kochi is the unexpected and isolated Jewish community, whose origins date back to AD 52. They are self-contained and have their own synagogue. The area around the synagogue, known as 'Jew Town' is one of the main centres of spice trade. Scores of small firms huddle together in old dilapidated buildings and the air is filled with the aroma of ginger, cardamom, cumin, turmeric and cloves. Kochi has an interesting fishing community, where they still use ancient cantilevered fishing nets called Chinese fishing nets. The nets are fixed to long bamboo poles on the shore. When fishing, the poles with the nets are lowered by a primitive fulcrum mechanism. Then the pole and nets are lifted along with the catch. Subject to permission, you may also be able to visit the coir factory.