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Kochi (Cochin) Introduction
Kochi, the commercial capital and largest city of Kerala, has long been of interest to foreign visitors - the Arabians, the Dutch, the British, the Chinese and the Portuguese have all taken advantage of the deep water harbour here to establish a trading centre during their periods of dominance in Southern India.
At the centre of the spice trade Kochi prospered and became known as the "Queen of the Arabian Sea". Much of the old town was established by the Portuguese 500 years ago, and along with the neighbouring Dutch town of Mattancheri it's considered one of India's finest colonial heritage sites. Other historical sights such as the cantilevered Chinese fishing nets predate even this - being brought here by early Eastern travellers in the 13th century.
But this is far from just a picture postcard town. The deepwater port is now used by large container ships, and cargoes of spices are now joined on the dockside by cars and consumer goods. The Southern Command of the Indian navy has its base on one of the city's islands, and naval vessels sail alongside commercial ships in the blue waters of the bay.
Soaked in sunshine through the summer and battered by typhoons in the monsoon, you should choose what time you visit carefully. In the right light Kochi might just prove your favourite place in India; blending the old and the new India with European influences that have long been present on the subcontinent. Add to this the beauty of the Arabian Sea and you have a destination tailor-made for tourist colonisation.
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