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Travel special: Explore Fort Kochi's diverse treasures

What: In May 1498, Vasco da Gama and his fleet landed in Kozhikode, Kerala. Centuries later, his influence, impact and lore have left its imprint in the southwestern tip of India.

Picture postcard views dot Fort Kochi. PICS/FIONA FERNANDEZ
Picture postcard views dot Fort Kochi. Pics/Fiona Fernandez

Installation at the popular Kashi Art Gallery and cafe on Burgar Street, Fort KochiInstallation at the popular Kashi Art Gallery and cafe on Burgar Street, Fort Kochi

To relive his landing, and the European stamp that remains here, we took a walk around Fort Kochi, known for its diverse influences that reached here via the Arabian Sea.

Kitschy sculptures dot the sea facing wall near the waterfront at Fort Kochi
Kitschy sculptures dot the sea facing wall near the waterfront at Fort Kochi

From its Chinese fishing nets, Portuguese villas to its now-abandoned Dutch cemetery, it’s a treat for the intrepid and curious traveller.

The Dutch Cemetery near the waterfront is not in use
The Dutch Cemetery near the waterfront is not in use

Bob Marley’s messages find space on a sea-facing wall
Bob Marley’s messages find space on a sea-facing wall

St Francis Church
St Francis Church

Where: Tank up for your trail at Kashi Art Gallery, on Burgar Street, an old Dutch home, converted into a buzzing, kitschy gallery and cafe that serves delicious, organic food. As you walk down Tower Road to reach River Road, you’ll catch glimpses of the Arabian Sea, as well as Chinese fishing nets.

Kashi Gallery and Café
Kashi Gallery and Café

Tree-lined avenues make for a pleasant walk Tree-lined avenues make for a pleasant walk

Parts of a shipwreck on display at Fort Kochi’s waterfront
Parts of a shipwreck on display at Fort Kochi’s waterfront

Passing by clean, tree-lined roads; you’ll notice huge steamers make their way to Kochi’s natural harbour. The paved walkway parallel to the Mahatma Gandhi beach is dotted with spots like Vasco da Gama square, a sea-facing promenade, ship wrecks and remnants of graffiti and sculptures from the recent Kochi Biennale.

The spot inside St Francis Church where Vasco da Gama was buried for 14 years after his death after which it was taken back to Portugal
The spot inside St Francis Church where Vasco da Gama was buried for 14 years after his death after which it was taken back to Portugal.

Inscription near the wall of St Francis Church stating Vasco da Gama's presence and travels to Kerala
Inscription near the wall of St Francis Church stating Vasco da Gama's presence and travels to Kerala

Vasco da Gama died in Kerala in 1524, and was buried at the stunning St Francis Church, a stone’s throw from here.

Well manicured lawns and heritage bungalows are a common sight in Fort Kochi
Well manicured lawns and heritage bungalows are a common sight in Fort Kochi

An ice cream vendor does brisk business by the waterfront in Fort Kochi
An ice cream vendor does brisk business by the waterfront in Fort Kochi

Look out for quirky facades in the streets and lanes of Fort Kochi
Look out for quirky facades in the streets and lanes of Fort Kochi

His body was taken back to Portugal 14 years later. This former burial site is now a tourist attraction. Charming bungalows, lush lawns, traces of colonial rule and quaint names like Napier Street, offer a heady dose of the best of all worlds.

How: Reaching Fort Kochi is best by road. Hired taxis will take you all the way to the waterfront. We suggest you halt before the actual stretch begins, so you can gradually slip into the sights and sounds of its eclectic, multi-cultural influences.

The world famous Chinese fishing nets positioned by the Fort Kochi coast are a major tourist attraction.
The world famous Chinese fishing nets positioned by the Fort Kochi coast are a major tourist attraction.

Log on to: www.keralatourism.org for details and information about this stretch.
Log on to: www.mid-day.com for more photos

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