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Madhu Krishnan

May 21, 2020

My first acquaintance with southern city of India

Sharing my travel experience at Kochi


Our first acquaintance with India is in the southern city of Kochi. Our friends always say that India is quite overwhelmed. We prepare for the worst. With today's knowledge, we are happy that we started in the South. Despite the hustle and bustle of the city, it is quiet in the tourist Fort Kochi by Indian standards. That way, we can let the craziness of the country sink in. And there are a lot of fun things to do! That is why we share these recommendations for a visit to Kochi.

People and the travel guides used to call it Tuk-tuk.


Santa Cruz Cathedral Kochi

Most tourists stay in Fort Kochi. That is not for nothing. In this part of the city, you will find the most famous sights. We choose to do a city tour in a tuk-tuk. In a few hours, we see a large part of the fort in this way. We are taken to Santa Cruz Cathedral, one of the most beautiful cathedrals in India, and St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India. Then we drive to an ancient Dutch cemetery, to which we are unfortunately only allowed to peek over a wall, and the driver takes us to the so-called 'Dutch Palace. Built by the Portuguese, but takes its name from the fact that the Dutch have renovated it.


Sparkling sheets at Dhobi Khana

The most unique place that we visit during the tuk-tuk tour is the hand launderette Dhobi Khana. This is a place with a particular story. The laundromat dates from colonial times. British officers brought villagers from Tamil to Kochi to put them to work in the laundry. They washed the clothes of officers and high-ranking officials. The handwashing industry was large in Kochi. Today Dhobi Khana is the last hand launderette still in use. There are about 45 families who run their own business here. The hotels and restaurants from the fort bring tablecloths and linen to Dhobi Kana. Chances are you sleep in Kochi under a blanket that has been washed there. If you skip the tuk-tuk tour, you can also visit the laundry on your own.


Early on for the Chinese fishing nets

We have to get up early for it, but we get something beautiful in return. In the small harbor of Fort Kochi, there are gigantic wooden structures. They are at least 10 meters high. It is difficult to guess precisely what these complicated constructions are for. But we have done our homework: these are the Chinese fishing nets. The scaffolding acts as a lever, using large stones as a counterweight. At the same time, six fishermen balance on the wooden beams. They ensure that the large net drops into the water. The counterweight raises the net again. In this way, the men catch fish and lobsters, which they sell to the market people a little further. Most fish are found in the early morning. Then the activity is most celebrated. Most nets are stationary later in the day. So early on.


Folklore theater

The theater we enter is small and virtually empty. We are early on the advice of our host. Then we can also see the preparation of the spectacle. On the stage are two half-naked, sturdy men who make themselves up with a mirror and thin brushes. More people slowly trickle in. With a half-painted face, one of the men lies down on the floor. A third man cuts figures out of an A4 sheet and tapes the pieces of paper onto the man's face with high precision. When all decorations have been placed on the two actors, the narrator takes the floor. He explains the traditional Kathakali. That is a dance-drama that has been performed in Kochi for hundreds of years. The actors do not speak but communicate with subtle facial expressions.


Kochi Kathakali Dance

The storyteller begins to tell a story while singing. We can't understand it, but it sounds intense. The program booklet contains a brief explanation of the legend portrayed by the two actors. They don't say a word. We have to read everything from their facial expressions. Sometimes they make violent movements. Until the end of the story, the larger of the two fall over to get up. Traditional theater that you won't find anywhere else in the world. This cannot be missed!


Kerala backwater tour

A week after we left Kochi behind us, we spent a few days near Allepey. From there, we book a boat tour, sailing over the famous Kerala backwaters. You can book most boat trips from Kochi. But note it makes a big difference which boat you choose. We consciously choose a ship without a polluting diesel engine. Besides, many boat owners (and the local population) throw waste into the water. The owner of our boat does not participate. Here you can read about our special trip in a traditional houseboat. We are transported by water in the old fashioned way. The silence is lovely. Dozens of special birds fly around us. On the way, we fish some waste from the water to help. That also works. We enjoy it to the fullest. Without guilt.


Ayurvedic massage

In the first months of our trip, we had a full schedule. The longer we carry our backpacks, the heavier they feel. We notice that we are tired. That is why we go for a massage on one of the last days in Kochi. Not just any massage, but an Ayurvedic massage. This massage form uses warm herbal oil, which is also said to have a healing effect. The offer of Ayurvedic massages in Kochi is large. We chose a massage at the Fort House Hotel. A chic hotel where we receive a friendly welcome. In a short preliminary interview, the 'doctor' asks whether we are bothered by anything specifically. Then we are both taken to another room, and I get the best massage I've ever had.


Costa Gama Homestay

Plenty of choices when it comes to hotels in Fort Kochi. We chose Costa Gama Home to stay. The Benson family rents the second floor of their house to tourists. We got a private room and had a shared sitting room and kitchen. The owner Midhu is friendly and incredibly helpful. He helped us plan our onward journey to Munnar and tipped some nice vegetarian restaurants nearby. Recommended!


Are you also excited about this story about Kochi?