Apart from being the largest artificial island in India, Willingdon Island is an aesthetic setting in itself. The island harbors a host of administrative buildings, some of them tracing back to British colonialism in India. Not to mention, the construction of the island is attributed to one Lord Willingdon, erstwhile Governor of Madras Presidency. Kochi’s hospitality industry has set up some fine hotels on Willingdon Island, luring hordes of tourists all year round.
Kerala Kathakali Centre
Classical Indian dance forms can have an enchanting effect on the spectators and Kathakali—Kerala’s dance-drama—is no different. A performing arts theater in Kochi, Kerala Kathakali Centre, is at the forefront of dance and martial arts, treating its patrons with captivating performances since 1990. Kathakali dancers undergo years of rigorous training that manifests during the performances through delicate facial expressions, aggressive movements and occasional nonchalant dialogues.
St. Francis Church
India’s tumultuous history needs no introduction. It’s safe to say that colonialism changed the course of the country entirely, if not for the better. However, colonialism had its perks too, at least as far as the architectural remnants are concerned. St. Francis Church in Kochi is perhaps one of the most celebrated souvenirs of Portuguese presence in the Indian subcontinent. Although unassuming in architectural front, St. Francis Church’s significance is abundant as it was legendary explorer Vasco da Gama’s graveyard briefly, until the Portuguese saw him too dear to be buried on foreign soil and took his remains to Lisbon.
The Portuguese built a modest Mattancherry palace and gifted it to the erstwhile local ruler as a sign of goodwill. Later on, due to the power shift, the palace fell into the clutches of the Dutch. Mattancherry Palace was subject to subsequent renovations, further earning a nickname, Dutch Palace. As it stands today, Mattancherry is a popular tourist destination, home to some of the most exotic murals that depict the grandeur of the bygone era.
Chinese Fishing Net
The primary attraction of Kochi is the extensive use of Chinese fishing nets by the local fishermen, which are otherwise indigenous to China. Legend has it that these fishing nets were a gift from a Chinese emperor to the then ruler of Kochi, but caught on with the fishermen through centuries. Fishing nets lined up beside the seaside promenades are a sight which is appealing and distinctive to Kochi.
The genesis of Jewish settlement in India can be traced back to Kochi and the presence of Paradesi Synagogue further strengthens the notion. Paradesi Synagogue is supposedly the oldest active one in the entire Commonwealth, let alone the Indian subcontinent. The opulent structure came into existence in 1567 and it’s been operating ever since. Paradesi, meaning foreigners, is a sobriquet corresponding to the non-native status of the first of the Jews in India. However, with the passage of time, Jews have found a niche in India, especially in Kochi where they have an entire namesake town attributed to them.