Do you know that the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is going on right now? If you haven’t read about it, please check the information about the same on the website http://kochimuzirisbiennale.org/ – but I am pretty sure that there will be enough information about the same on most of the newspapers of India, and it is abundant on the newspapers of Kerala. For those who are not aware of the same, it will be there till the twenty nineth of March this year. Everybody needs to attend a biennale at least once.
That would make people wonder if I am writing this from the location, and the answer is no. I haven’t been to this year’s Biennale. But I have been to the last festival which had its times during 2012-2013 and I have to admit that it was so well arranged, and impressively managed. So, is this post about that journey? No, this is more about Fort Cochin in general. I have been to the last Biennale and enjoyed it, and those four journeys to the Biennale were part of my multiple journeys to the place. Fort Cochin is a place which I have visited so many times.
A journey to Fort Cochin shouldn’t be limited to one place. It should consist of four places – Fort Cochin, Mattanchery, Thoppumpady and Kumbalanghi, the last one being a tourist village and an island with so much of natural beauty – I certify the same. The second last one is on the way to Fort Cochin, and Saint Sebastian’s Church there, a heritage building and a famous religious structure, is worth your time, and you can also have a nice view of the lake from the back side of the building.
Then, about Fort Cochin and Mattanchery – they can’t be seen separately. The latter has the Dutch Palace which I am yet to visit, and the Jew Street with the Jewish Synagogue which is India’s oldest functioning synagogue. It also has the Holy Cross Church where Church the Coonan Cross Oath took place where an oath was taken by the ancient Christians not to submit to the Portuguese and in the need to continue their culture and traditions. Mattanchery Jain Temple is another much visited destination.
Coming back to Fort Cochin, one has to admit that there is no better place to conduct the Biennale considering how much of history this place has, and how much of colonial as well as some of the traditional Kerala culture can be witnessed on the streets of the town. There are the Chinese fishing nets as well as the buildings of its colonial past which form the major part of this end of the extended Cochin city. Given to the Portuguese by the King of Cochin in return for military aid, this place has been under Portuguese as well as Dutch occupation and finally coming under the British till independence.
Saint Francis Church remains a significant landmark as the oldest European church in India, originally built by the Portuguese, and where Vasco da Gama was buried. It comes under the Archaeological Survey of India and the Church of South India as of now. Santa Cruz Basilica originally built by the Portuguese which was destroyed by the British and was later re-built, remains another symbol of the area’s long history. You would love its Gothic interiors with some beautiful works.
Then there is the beach, where sometimes the love of football can be seen in full power, and some of the monuments as well as the remains of other few, including that of Fort Emmanuel. You can walk on the paved area or the beach itself and see those ships, boats as well as the Chinese fishing nets. You can also see some more churches, temples and mosques, as well as the Dutch Cemetery. There are some huge trees to add to the beauty and serenity of the already lovable world. When is the best time to visit? Right now, for there is Biennale going on!
All photos were taken on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 during 2010-2012 period.