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My hometown of Kannur: The beaches, St. Angelo’s Fort, and more

This is the last post from my travel archives. After all the posts I’ve written about my travels within India and abroad, it’s only befitting I write about my hometown. Although I was raised in Bahrain (16 years) and worked in Bangalore (8 years), I am a native of Kannur (named Cannanore by the Colonial British) in Kerala.

And although it’s one of the largest districts in Kerala by area, Kannur does not offer too much in terms of sights or attractions compared to say, Cochin, with it’s more globally marketable Jew Town and easy access to Kerala’s other famous places. That said, I’m still going to showcase whatever I can from my past visits to Kannur. Or at least the places I’ve visited anyway.

First up, St. Angelo’s Fort.

St. Angelo's Fort Kannur Kerala India
Built in 1505 by Dom Francisco de Almeida, the first Portuguese Viceroy of India (the Portuguese were the first Europeans in India)
St. Angelo's fort tree Kannur Kerala
By the way, these photos were taken in January 2007

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Calicut, Kerala: Beypore and Kappad beach

Date: January 2007

This trip was when I went one weekend to attend my friend Azhad’s wedding in Kozhikode (Calicut). He lived close to Beypore beach, so the day I arrived, we drove straight to the beach.

Beypore beach Calicut Kerala India
It's not the cleanest or the softest beach
Beypore beach lone tree Kozhikode Kerala
Then again, Beypore doesn't see a whole lot of people
Beypore beach stone pier Kerala India
Beypore beach does have one distinct feature though

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Kerala 2009: A day in Cochin – Fort Kochi, Jew Town, Vypin island

We began our day in hilly Thekkady and by nightfall we were in Ernakulam city. We took a rickshaw to Fort Kochi, and once there we took a room at Sonnetta Residency.

Sonnetta Residency double room Fort Cochin Kerala
It cost over Rs. 1000 a night, but it was the nicest room we stayed in on this trip. We didn't mind 'indulging' as we were on the last leg of our journey.
Fort Kochi restaurant Kerala
When we felt like having a drink, we sat at this rather nice-looking restaurant

Fort Cochin Jew town pool hotel Kerala

Fort Cochin classic window design lights
I liked the place's interiors (but I don't remember the name of the club, sorry)
Mithun Divakaran Fort Cochin dinner Kerala
The food was alright and it wasn't too expensive
Fort Cochin restaurant dinner Kerala
We then sat at another restaurant for our main course dinner 🙂

Date: September 1st, 2009 

The next morning, we had breakfast at the famous Kashi Art Cafe.

Kashi art cafe Fort Kochi Cochin Kerala
It was walking distance from where we were staying
Kashi Art Cafe exhibition Fort Kochi Kerala
It's got 'Art' in its name because Kashi is also a trendy art gallery
Kashi art cafe Fort Cochin Kerala India
But I was more interested in the 'Cafe' part
Kashi Art Cafe restaurant Fort Cochin Kerala
It was 8:45am

Ramesh Art Cafe Fort cochin Kerala

Mithun Divakaran Kashi Art Cafe Kerala
While we waited for our breakfast, I went through our day's plan
Kashi Art Cafe breakfast Cochin Kerala
The food was alright

After breakfast, we hired an auto to take us to Jew Town, the first sight on our to-do list.

Cochin reef Kerala
We were dropped by the port side
Cochin port Kerala panorama
That's Cochin Port, on the other side (Panorama comprised of 5 shots)
Sky reflection in puddle water Cochin Kerala
We didn't have a perfectly sunny day, but we just hoped it wouldn't rain

We first entered an old building, which I believe was Mattancherry Palace. It housed artifacts and had several murals, but there was a lot of restoration work going on while we were there. We were in and out very quickly.

Jew town road Fort Kochi Kerala
We walked to Jew Town
Handicrafts art Fort Cochin Kerala India
Plenty of handicrafts and other art for sale here
Fort Cochin Jew town old market Kerala
This area is home to the only Pepper Exchange in India
Jew Town road Cochin Kerala India
We walked towards the Paradesi Synagogue

Jew town Cochin bright yellow wall Kerala

Paradesi synagogue clock tower Jew town Cochin Kerala India
The Jewish synagogue is to the left

Unfortunately, they don’t allow photography inside the Paradesi Synagogue, but from what I saw, it isn’t very big. The tale of Cochin Jews is an interesting one, dating back centuries. It was at this point, reading about how Jews ended up Kerala (and even the Syrian Christians) that I began to realize how Kerala has always had a historical connection with the Middle East.

Jewish synagogue gates to ground Kochi Kerala

Jewish clock tower Mattancherry palace cochin Kerala
We left the synagogue and walked back
Incy Bella book shop Jew town Cochin Kerala
The shops here look very old

Fort Kochi Jew town Ernakulam KeralaFort Cochin Jew Town shops Mattancherry Kerala IndiaSassoon hall Fort Cochin Kerala IndiaJew town market sign Mattancherry Kerala

Yellow green colour buildings Jew town cochin Kerala
The wall exteriors reminded me of ice cream 🙂
Old houses Fort Cochin Jew town Kerala
I saw an old lady, who seemed to be just gazing outside her door at passersby
Mrs. Selam Jew town Cochin Kerala India
Mrs. Selam her name was, and she was Cochin Jew herself
Mrs. Selam Jewish Cochin Kerala India
She told us how many of the Jews went back to Israel and some even chose to move to America (unsurprisingly). The Jewish population in Fort Kochi now number less than a hundred, and the Cochin Jews could very well be an extinct ethnicity in a few years time.

I guess it was a privilege to meet someone like Mrs. Selam, one among the few remaining Jews of Kerala. (Read the story of Yaheh Hallegua, she’s apparently the last remaining Pardesi Jew of ‘child-bearing’ age)

Fishing boats Cochin Kerala
We left Jew Town and returned to the promenade
Cat eating fish under boat cochin Kerala
It was lunch time
Fish stall vendor Fort Kochi Kerala
The cool thing here is that you can buy fresh fish from the fishermen, then take it to select restaurants and ask them to prepare it as you wish

I bought a few tiger prawns and a small lobster for myself (if I remember correctly, both together cost less than Rs. 300). As they were getting grilled nearby, we went for a quick stroll along the promenade.

Boiler cylinders Fort Kochi Ernakulam Kerala
I don't know what these were

Fort Kochi tourists on tree park Kerala

Arabian sea backwaters Fort Cochin fishing nets
Despite being an island, Fort Kochi does not have a whole lot of sandy shores

Fort Cochin sea water Kerala India

Chinese fishing net fishermen Cochin Kerala India
The famous Chinese fishing nets, still being used by fishermen in Fort Cochin

We sat by the fish stalls and had our lunch.

Grilled prawn lobster Fort Cochin Kerala India
Well, I got my seafood lunch. The others waited until I finished so that they could have their vegetarian meals elsewhere.

Post lunch, we went for a stroll.

Dutch cemetery Fort Kochi Kerala India
We walked all the way to the Dutch Cemetery, which was closed
Fort Kochi beach Cochin Kerala India
Then some time on the beach nearby -- which wasn't even a good beach
Princess street Fort Cochin Kerala India
We went back to our hotel, checked out and made our way to the ferry terminal which was a few minutes walk from here
Ferry from Fort Kochi to Vypin island Kerala
We took the ferry to nearby Vypin island
Chinese fishing nets evening sky Cochin Kerala
It was 4pm and we still had some time to kill before leaving Cochin at night
Vypin island fishermen hut fishing nets Cochin
A short walk from the Vypin ferry terminal and we arrived at this stretch
Chinese fishing nets Vypin island cochin Kerala
Thought it would be a good time to record a video demonstrating how these fishing nets work

So here it is:

Vypin island promenade walk Cochin Kerala
We walked a bit further up
Vypin island beach boys running Cochin Kerala
Cherai beach was an auto ride away, but somehow we didn't feel like bothering to check it out
Inside ferry boat Cochin islands Kerala
So instead we headed back, but this time to Ernakulam

Cochin boat ferry taxi Kerala Taj hotel Cochin Kerala IndiaCochin port container ship docked KeralaCochin port ships Kerala India

Cochin seaside Kerala India
Cochin has quite an amazing and varied history, it's no wonder why it remains a popular tourist stop
Cochin Marine drive ferry terminal Kerala
We reached the ferry terminal after a pleasant 20 minute ride
Marine drive sea facing apartments Cochin Kerala
We decided to check out the Marine Drive promenade
Marine drive walk Cochin Kerala
This walkway is one of the most popular hangouts for Kochi's residents and visitors alike

After sunset, we all had something to eat before parting ways. Ramesh and Anand were heading back to Bangalore, while I took a bus to head up north to my hometown in Kerala.

Onam putting flowers Kannur Kerala
It was Onam* in Kannur for me!

*Onam is the biggest festival in Kerala and one of the celebratory highlights include making pookkalam (a floral creation)

Previous posts in this series:

Kerala 2009: Thekkady, Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary

Kerala 2009: Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom

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