Sunday, February 19, 2017

Kochi/Cochin - Day 1 (Kerala Day 4)

After the delightful tummy satisfying lunch in Travancore Court, honestly, the next thing I would have sincerely appreciated is returning to my room, blasting the air-cond and tucking under the thick comforter for a few hours. Oh-heaven! Imagine, can you imagine? Snoozing away to catch up on tiredness, especially after a fat meal, also, when long walks called for while sightseeing from the time I arrived in Kerala (Allepey Houseboat & Trivandrum/Kovalam - Kerala Day 3). Worst for me. Remember I told you, I really don’t sleep well whenever and wherever I travel? Yep. Moreover, it is like this my friends when age catches up. We may proclaim we are fiddle-fit, but the reality is otherwise. Whatever it may be, tiredness will literally crack every little bone in our body. Trust me please, I know. I'm not shy to admit that after being pushed to the fifties age zone, its been "hack-crack" tiredness. By far or by near, you know what? I should have travelled when I was, maybe in my early thirties, but sadly, “no money, no travel Nava darling" Agreed?. No two ways about it. 

Still, nothing to sob-regret about. Tired or not tired, I've caught up with my share of globe trotting by tightly gripping my stamina. Pheww!! Body, mind and soul touching travel ventures (Sapporo/Hokkaido, Sri Lanka, South Africa & Chiangmai/Chiangrai, to quote a few). And here I was at the southwestern tip of Indian peninsula. Here at Kerala. A picture-postcard unspoiled gem, but I had no clue whatsoever why Kerala is known as “God’s Own Country”. I could have asked our forever smiling and humble tour guide, but this guy hardly spoke. Tour guide, mind you. I sensed that most probably he was intimidated with my loud voice and bold character. So, there went fact finding on god, though not sure if god called me or I called him at Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple (Trivandrum) this morning. 

This afternoon, albeit feeling rather sleepy and tired, I thought I might as well move my butt to move on with sightseeing with another tour guide. Oh-blessings! This sparkly lady spoke from the time she hopped into our van. Within the next approximately twenty minutes, we arrived at Manttancherry and walked via the long street lined with shops, stalls, and eateries on both sides to enter "Dutch Palace". 

Built by the Portuguese in 1557, renovated by the Dutch in 1663 and standing by the panoramic Kochi backwaters, Dutch Palace is a typical Kerala style mansion with a Bhagavathi Temple in the central courtyard. As we walked from each of the rather cramped sections, we viewed the exquisite collection of murals, collectively covering over 300 sq ft of the walls. Really interesting. Really knowledgeable. Legend has it that some of these murals themes are borrowed from the great Indian epics of Ramayana and Mahabharatha and mythology of Hindu gods, one to quote is Guruvayurappan. Whereas other scenes are from Kumarasambhavam and other works of the great Sanskrit poet, Kalidasa. Finally, after noting the displays of royal paraphernalia like weapons, swings and furniture which reflects on the royal family's lifestyle, we headed to the close-by 400-year-old Jewish Synagogue.

Constructed in AD 1567 by the Jews who migrated to this area for trade, Jewish Synagogue is rated as the oldest synagogue in all the 53 member-countries of the Commonwealth of Nations, I was quite disappointed because pictures were not allowed, but I think removing our shoes is pretty much a norm as in elsewhere sightseeing spots. Once we walked inside, we felt akin we've been transported to back then 16th Century. We appreciated the collection of the gifted chandeliers, the blue willow-patterned Chinese floor tiles, the Scrolls of the Law, the several gold crowns, the brass-railed pulpit and the copper plates. Equally admirable are the Oriental rug and the tablet from the earlier synagogue in Kochangadi in Kochi (built in 1344), which is placed on the outer wall. 

A couple more places on our list, geetz!, Kochi’s evening traffic jam is also bad-mad-hell-mell. The same despised daily grind evening rush, thankfully, we made it fifties minutes before the closing time of St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India.
Quickly we went into the church at the constant irritating reminder of the impatient staff on time-caring, the A-1 catcha inside is the burial spot of the famous explorer Vasco Da Gama, who died 1524 during his third visit to Kochi. Goose bumps! Really. Well, Vasco Da Gama became my hero from the time I had to "mug-him" upside down to get through my secondary history exams. I did well though. Distinctions. Dot. Now, we also we glimpsed at his tomb in the compound before journeying to the next spot.   

To be continued.
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  1. Kerala is such an amazing place to visit.. these pics portray a different side of it.. well captured

  2. loved your travelogue ...very nice pics too

  3. Church and history seem similar to Malacca except the synagogue

  4. Another side of Kerala I hope to see some day. Beautifully captured!

  5. I missed out cochin during my Kerala visit


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