Our ship, Oceania’s Nautica, had sailed past Chinese fishing nets as we arrived in the port city, Cochin, aka Kochi, giving it a more Asian than Indian flavor – at least based on my preconceived notions of India.
|Off to tour Kochi, India|
|Tiny Tuk Tuks - Cochin, India|
Our driver obviously had transported tourists before though because he set off for the old historic part of town. . .an area simply called Jew Town, once the hub of the Kochi spice trade.
First a stop: Kochi’s Public Laundry
|Kochi, India's Public Laundry|
Cochin/Kochi – A Quick Bit of History
|Modern Cochin, India|
Before India’s independence in 1947 Kochi, in southern India’s Kerala state, was ruled by the Portuguese (1498-1663), the Dutch (1663 – 1795) and British (1797 – 1947). Maritime traders seeking Keralan spices, sandalwood and ivory are credited with setting the stage for today’s blending of cultures and the rather cosmopolitan look of the city.
|Santa Cruz Basilica - Cochin, India|
[Now why I didn’t expect Chinese fishing nets to be followed by Jew Town and reminders of the Portuguese, Dutch and British influence in India, I’ll never figure out. But next time I’ll be doing a lot more research about our destinations before I see them and not after so I can more fully appreciate what I am seeing.]
Off to Jew Town
Kochi Jews are descendants of Jewish refugees who had fled from Palestine 2,000 years ago. Jew Town got its beginning back in 1524 when a Hindu Raja (another version says, King of Kochi) granted them land to them near his palace.
|Today's Jew Town - a mix of old and new - Cochin, India|
Jew Town, a thriving enclave in the 1500’s is today a still-bustling area area between Mattancherry Palace (built by the Portuguese in 1555 and remodeled by the Dutch in 1663) and Pardesi Synagogue (built 1568).
Although still a busy area, most of the Jews who lived here emigrated to Israel after its creation in 1948. Several recent news articles say the numbers of Jews in Jew Town these days have dwindled to double digit figures and there is concern that its rich history will be lost to future generations.
|Goats wandered streets and sidewalks - Cochin, India|
Lonely Planet describes the streets as being ‘thick with the smell of the past’ and those smells were an intoxicating blend of ginger, cardamom, cumin, tumeric and cloves. Huge gunny sacks of spices piled high on delivery trucks and in doorways.
|Squeezing through spice streets - Cochin, India|
|Unloading spices - Cochin, India|
|Ginger water and ginger ice cream - a respite in Cochin, India|
Our pre-arrival port information cautioned, “. . it is considered offensive to photograph local women and courtesy demands to ask permission before taking pictures of men.” So I didn’t intentionally take aim at women, nor did I ask men if I could take their photos.
What they hadn’t prepared us for was being approached by a twosome of beautiful young women who asked if they could take OUR photo. . .(btw, now we know how that feels and it is rather strange!)
So we posed for them and they snapped away with modern cell phones. But then it was our turn - one more photo. . .
|Photos are fun - no matter what the country! Cochin, India|
Linking up with:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening
Mersad's Through My Lens
Photo Friday - Pierced Wonderings
Fascinating, thank youReplyDelete
Thanks, Cloudia - glad you enjoyed the post!Delete
Interesting post! Somehow, I find the name of "Jew Town" to be offensive, but I guess it was acceptable in its day.ReplyDelete
Love that sculpture of the woman flaring her skirt. Beautiful!
I have to admit that at first I was taken back by the name, which is very much a part of present-day Kochi, but as we have learned time and time again, things are seen differently elsewhere in the world. This name is plastered on directional and welcome signs; they are so proud of the area and its history that it makes you wonder how and why in some places in the world you have that knee-jerk reaction to things. While one society sees it as offensive another society uses it with pride?Delete
I really enjoy your touring style and sense of adventure. Not many people would stop by the public laundry. Thanks for all the details. I feel like I am riding on a tuk tuk with you.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the visit and comment, Ruth. Glad you were along on the tuk tuk ride!Delete
What a trip. I believe the laundry is famous, I'd like to see it. I also love the sound of your Tuk Tuk tour. I would definitely prefer that to going with the crowd from the boat.ReplyDelete
We passed the boat tour buses several times and were so glad we were in the tuk tuk. The size of the bus alone would have prevented them traveling down that spice road and the atmospherically-controlled interior (air-conditioning) would have kept them from ever enjoying those intoxicating aromas.Delete
Fascinating article of a another wonderful trip, I could almost smell those spices.ReplyDelete
Glad you enjoyed it! It was pretty amazing.Delete
I'm with Doreen, above, kind of put off by the name "Jew Town." But I guess it's been called that for hundreds of years. Sounds like a great tour, and it was fun to take the tuk tuk ride with you!ReplyDelete
As I responded to Doreen, it did make us think about the cultural baggage we bring with us when we travel. My initial response was 'they call it that?' but then when you experience the area and the pride of the locals pointing out the highlights and contributions, you wonder why one society can make something so negative out of words while another can make it a thing of beauty.Delete
Wow, Jackie! There's so much I don't know about India, and as I've mentioned before, I find my lessons in history, culture and geography amazing right here, on your amazing blog, very informative and interesting! I can imagine the strong aroma of those spices filling the air and how it certainly seemed intoxicating from the heat. Thanks for taking us along with you on your adventure in Cochin's Jew Town.ReplyDelete
Oh Poppy, I was starting my next post on Mumbai this morning and I was researching a couple of things and thought to myself, "There is so much I don't know about India!" so we are in the same boat. . .I think I'll just have to go back one day and continue my studies! ;-) Have a great week - hugs, J.Delete
Like you, I am surprised that Cochin has so many cultural influences. Did the Jewish refugees who arrived long ago intermarry with the Indian locals or have they kept separate? From your description, I can almost smell all the spices in the air and feel the wind rushing by riding in the tuk-tuk.ReplyDelete
Oh Michele, there are so many cultural influences in India that I had paid little or no attention to. . .guess they were all overshadowed by the British Raj - thanks to books and movies I've read and seen. There is a lot to this amazing country and we've had just a taster of it. Thanks for your visit today!Delete
Great tour of the little part of city.ReplyDelete
Thanks Rajesh! It only made us want to see and do more in India!!Delete
Cochin is indeed a great tourist spot in the map of India. The different cultures there make it a very interesting place. You got great pics, particularly the one with the locals. :)ReplyDelete
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