We decided that we were going to catch a rickshaw and travel the 24 km down the island
and then catch a ferry over to Fort Kochi. The ride cost 400 rupees ($8) and would take about 45-55 minutes. We only got down the road a few kilometers when our auto came to a screeching halt… a man on bicycle turned right out in front of the motorcycle right in front of us. Jamie saw the accident happen right before us…I didn’t as I was too busy taking pictures of the elephant right beside us. No one was hurt, thank goodness, as I remembered an accident I saw in India last time – between a bicycle and a motorbike; that time the man on the bicycle didn’t make it! Once we saw that everyone was ok (except the tire & rim on the bicycle), we continued our way. The travel did take about 55 minutes to the ferry, where we purchased a ticket and made the 6 minute trip across the water to Fort Kochi.
Fort Kochi is the first European township in India. Some of the oldest buildings in the country are located here. Here is the summary from Wikipedia….
“Kochi was a fishing village in the Kingdom of Kochi in the pre-colonial Kerala. The territory that would be later known as Fort Kochi was granted to the Portuguese in 1503 by the Rajah of Kochi, after the forces of Afonso de Albuquerque helped him fighting the forces of Saamoothiri of Kozhikode. The Rajah also gave them permission to build Fort Emmanuel near the waterfront to protect their commercial interests. The first part of the name Fort Kochi comes from this fort, which the Dutch later destroyed. The Portuguese built their settlement behind the fort, including a wooden church, which was rebuilt in 1516 as a permanent structure, today known as the St Francis Church. Fort Kochi remained in Portuguese possession for 160 years. In 1683 the Dutch captured the territory from the Portuguese, destroyed many Portuguese institutions, particularly Catholic including convents. The Dutch held Fort Kochi in their possession for 112 years until 1795, when the British took control by defeating the Dutch. Foreign control of Fort Kochi ended in 1947 with the Indian independence.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Kochi
Our first place to stop was Jew Town to see the Synagogue. The Paradesi Synagogue was constructed in 1567 and is the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations. The Malabari Jews (also known as Cochin Jews) formed a prosperous trading community of Kerala, and they controlled a major portion of world wide spice trade. Unfortunately no photos could be taken inside the synagogue, but it was amazing to walk through the small place and see the very old benches and other Jewish pieces.
We continued to walk through the small area known as Jew Town which continues to be the center of Kochi spice trade. On every corner you can see a shop with bags and bags of spices. You walk into a store and the air is filled with aromas of ginger, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, pepper and cloves and more. I wanted to purchase some of everything just knowing it was fresh and grown right here in India.
We decided that we’d just get Jamie some fresh pepper and continue making our way through the MANY antique stores in the area. If only we had an EASY way to get this stuff back to Canada! Of course all the shop owners said they could ship (didn’t even ask about that price). Once we finished looking and making our few purchases, it was off to Princess Street for a bite to eat.