THE CHINESE, THE PORTUGUESE, THE DUTCH, THE ENGLISH & THE JEWS: FORT KOCHI

DURING MY RECENT VISIT TO GOD’S OWN COUNTRY, I LANDED IN NADEMBESSERY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, KOCHI OR COCHIN. AND THE EXPLORATION BEGAN. 

Even before I start showing what this part of the country is all about, let me take you back to sometime before Christ, that means about 2000 years ago.  Around this time, the place we all know as Kerala was covered by mangrove woods. (I only found coconut trees). The rise in sea level created this most beautiful place.  And it came to be known as Cochin meaning like China (co-chin) when the Chinese landed during 14th century. and their fishing techniques gave birth to the now famously known as ‘Chinese fishing nets’.

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Neymeen, Karimeen Chemmeen, Kozhuva, Kakka and live crab are the hot sellers.

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I found this black granite plaque under total neglect of the authorities and left best for its preservation to the mother nature.  The information narrates the Milestones in the formation of Cochin from 1503 – 1920.13-_DSC2068

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The steam boilers used for repairs in the dry dock. With such a history, the Port Authorities have not used this as an opportunity to showcase the past.  Very sad.

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Lord Willingdon and Lady Willingdon are two dredgers brought from Scotland in 1938 had a colourful career upto 1979.  Sir Robert Bristow was responsible in commissioning these ships to make Cochin a world class Port.  Lord Willingdon met with sunk in an accident in the Arabian Sea in the year 1979.

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This is the first Anchor of Lord Willingdon, amazing engineering. 

The MARINA: Walking on the marina, the only place I can show with due respect to the history of the place is the following pictures.

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THE DUTCH & THE SPICY WARS OF MALABAR.

THE DUTCH COIN, 1744 OF  EAST INDIA COMPANY

Although it is believed the prime cause of any war is a woman, the Dutch thought differently.  The lucrative pepper trade on Malabar coast motivated The Dutch to many lengths to fight the Portuguese. Finally in 1663, Cochin came under The Dutch.  Their influence is shown by the architecture of building mostly Churches.  One such church is  St Francis Church. this beautiful Church has a very illustrious history.

 

St. Francis Church was the first European church to be built in India within the oldest European settlement of Fort Cochin.  Presumably it owes its origin to the Franciscan Friars who accompanied the Portuguese expeditions in 1500.

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Originally it was erected of wood, but later rebuilt in stone and roofed with tiles by 1516 and dedicated to St. Anthony.
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It remained in the order of St. Francis till 1663 when it came under the control of the Dutch who reconditioned and converted it into a protestant church.
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In 1779, the Church was renovated  but continued in the possession of the Dutch even after the British control over cochin in 1795.  Presumably it was renamed after the patron saint during the later half of 19th century. Please notice the huge arms which swing over the people sitting in the Church to provide cool breeze.
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The Church has the grave of Vasco Da Gama, the first European navigator from Portugal to India was laid to rest in 1524 until his remains were removed and taken to Portugal in 1538.
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The grave stones of the Portuguese and The Dutch that were removed from the floor and re fixed on the side of the Church.
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A few memorial brass plates erected in memory of important persons in service of the Church are later additions to the walls. The Church is under the control of the Church of South India.
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One other important influence and contribution of the Portuguese and the Dutch to Cochin is the Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica. This is one of the eight Basilicas in India and considered as one of the important edifices of Kerala, the Basilica is the finest and most impressive Churches endowed with architectural and artistic grandeur of Gothic Style.
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The Basilica builkt originally by the Portuguese and elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558. The British for they perhaps knew what they did demolished the structure and rebuilt a new building in 1887.  The new Structure was consecrated in 1905, Santa Cruz was proclaimed a Basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1984.

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Now let look at another dimension; The JEWS.

Cochin Jews are called Malabar Jews, perhaps the oldest group of jews in India and with possible roots claimed to date to the time of King Solomon.  St. Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus is believed to have visited India.  It is possible that many of the Jews who became Christians at that time were absorbed by what became the Nasrani or St.Thomas Christians.

 

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The Jewish Market, Fort Kochi

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Its time for a siesta after a good fish curry rice lunch. Local artist.

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