Sunday, February 19, 2017

Kochi/Cochin - Day 1 (Kerala Day 4)

Mouthwatering, tummy filling, absolutely splendid Kerala cuisine in Travancore Court (Trivandrum Part 2). Whether I have been enjoying Kerala sightseeing so far besides the point, I definitely can't put a stop to blowing big hot air balloons on Kerala cooking (Allepey Houseboat & Trivandrum/Kovalam - Kerala Day 3). Food love Kerala deliciousness I must stress is most probably the other side to Kerala hailed as one of the best tourists spots in India. Of course. I am not at all doubting. By far, a close cousin to my another favourite Sri Lankan cuisine (Colombo Sri Lankaand unlike not so favourable Western array of dishes (Norway/Denmark & Italy). So, we ate. Up next? Obviously, finding out what's in store for us in Cochin. Another of the other in this southern tip of Indian Peninsula, overall known as “God’s Own Country”. "God's Own Country? Honestly, I really couldn't compute, neither did our forever smiling, humble but really shy-shy tour guide cum driver could explain. This forever grinning guy I also felt was intimidated by a woman like me who is bold, vocal, loud and outspoken. He just wouldn't make any eye contact neither nor he wanted to communicate with me. Full-stop! 

While journeying, half way through, hopped into our coach our lady tour guide. Demure, sweet lolly and mid age character who walked alongside us once we got down in Manttancherry for us pursuing our sightseeing as we passed by the lined on both sides shops, stalls, and eateries, prior to us entering "Dutch Palace". 

Portuguese built in 1557, renovated by Dutch in 1663 and panoramic Kochi backwaters leaning, Dutch Palace is a typical Kerala style mansion where Bhagavathi Temple is in the central courtyard. We went from one cramped section to the other for viewing the exquisite collection of murals, collectively covering over 300 sq ft of the walls. Interesting and knowledgeable. Legend also has it that some of the themes of the murals are a spillover of Ramayana, Mahabharatha and Hindu gods epics. One specifically to quote is Guruvayurappan whereas other scenes originating from Kumarasambhavam and works of the great Sanskrit poet, Kalidasa. All seen and respected, including the royal paraphernalia displays like weapons, swings and furniture, reflecting the royal family's lifestyle, we headed to the close-by 400-year-old Jewish Synagogue.

Constructed in AD 1567 by Jews who migrated to this area for trade, Jewish Synagogue is rated as the oldest synagogue amongst the rest. All of it grouped in Commonwealth Nation's 53 member-countries. Picturing out of bound and removing your shoes is part and parcel before walking in and feeling as though you have been transported back then 16th Century prior for seeing the gifted chandeliers collection, blue willow-patterned Chinese floor tiles, law scrolls, several gold crowns, brass-railed pulpit and copper plates. Equally admirable are the Oriental rug and earlier synagogue in Kochangadi in Kochi (built in 1344) tablet, placed on the outer wall. 

By this hour, as we departed, the evening ugly side of Kochi's traffic jam played sparks. Hack. Traffic is no escape seemingly in most parts of the world? The same despised daily grind after work traffic ugliness? Still, for people in this part of Kerala, I think they are accustomed to cutting lanes and no law is traffic law, therefore, we made it fifties minutes before the closing time of St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India.
Quickly without much ado walking in and a speed up fast tracking sightseeing at the constant irritating reminder of the impatient staff who was so adamant in Cochin time-caring,  the A-1 catcha inside is Vasco Da Gama's burial spot. The famous explorer Vasco Da Gama who departed to heaven in 1524 in Kochi during his third visit. Goose bumps! Really. Well, Vasco Da Gama became my hero from the time I had to "mug-him" upside down for getting through my secondary history exams. I did well though. Distinctions.  And now, the honour of seeing his burial spot, as well as his tomb on our way out of the compound.     

To be continued.

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