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.
It was walking distance from where we were staying
It's got 'Art' in its name because Kashi is also a trendy art gallery
But I was more interested in the 'Cafe' part
It was 8:45am
While we waited for our breakfast, I went through our day's plan
The food was alright
After breakfast, we hired an auto to take us to Jew Town, the first sight on our to-do list.
We were dropped by the port side
That's Cochin Port, on the other side (Panorama comprised of 5 shots)
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.
We walked to Jew Town
Plenty of handicrafts and other art for sale here
This area is home to the only Pepper Exchange in India
We walked towards the Paradesi Synagogue
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.
We left the synagogue and walked back
The shops here look very old
The wall exteriors reminded me of ice cream
I saw an old lady, who seemed to be just gazing outside her door at passersby
Mrs. Selam her name was, and she was Cochin Jew herself
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)
We left Jew Town and returned to the promenade
It was lunch time
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.
I don't know what these were
Despite being an island, Fort Kochi does not have a whole lot of sandy shores
The famous Chinese fishing nets, still being used by fishermen in Fort Cochin
We sat by the fish stalls and had our lunch.
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.
We walked all the way to the Dutch Cemetery, which was closed
Then some time on the beach nearby -- which wasn't even a good beach
We went back to our hotel, checked out and made our way to the ferry terminal which was a few minutes walk from here
We took the ferry to nearby Vypin island
It was 4pm and we still had some time to kill before leaving Cochin at night
A short walk from the Vypin ferry terminal and we arrived at this stretch
Thought it would be a good time to record a video demonstrating how these fishing nets work
So here it is:
We walked a bit further up
Cherai beach was an auto ride away, but somehow we didn't feel like bothering to check it out
So instead we headed back, but this time to Ernakulam
Cochin has quite an amazing and varied history, it's no wonder why it remains a popular tourist stop
We reached the ferry terminal after a pleasant 20 minute ride
We decided to check out the Marine Drive promenade
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.
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)