The flight landed at Cochin International Airport at 11pm. I had organised for the hotel I was staying at to send a car for me, a trip of an hour from the airport. Less traffic at night meant the journey was faster than the daytime. I was to sleep for two days after the plane trip from Australia which included a five hour stopover at Singapore.
It was unbearably hot there. The first morning, the Hotels owner drove me to Mass at Santa Cruz Cathedral, and then to see the Fishing nets and walk the Boardwalk, a walking tack along the beach frequented by guys doing exercises and stretching each morning. I was to do this walk every morning for the 8 days I stayed at Cochin. The Chinese fishing nets fascinated me.
In India, Chinese fishing nets (Cheena vala) are fishing nets that are fixed land installations for fishing. While commonly known as “Chinese fishing nets” in India, the more formal name for such nets is “shore operated lift nets“.
Kerala is a Christian Country with many ornate and beautiful cathedrals and churches everywhere. People go to Mass every morning and often in the evening too. The Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica at Fort Kochi is one of the eightBasilicas in Kerala. Counted as one of the heritage edifices of Kerala, this church is one of the finest and most impressive churches in India and visited by tourists the whole year round. It is a place of devotion as well as a center of historic significance, endowed with architectural and artistic grandeur and colours of the gothic style.
Fort Cochin is a very historic and ancient Town. Most of the buildings and the trees are over 400 years old. It is walking in history when you visit places such as the Fish market, the Spice factory and the Government owned and supported Huge shopping emporiums that house beautiful artefacts, carvings, carpets and clothing.
Kochi was a fishing village in the Kingdom of Kochi in the pre-colonial Kerala. The territory that would be later known as Fort Kochi was granted to the Portuguese in 1503 by the Rajah of Kochi, after the forces of Afonso de Albuquerque helped him fighting the forces of Saamoothiri of Kozhikode. The Rajah also gave them permission to build Fort Emmanuel near the waterfront to protect their commercial interests. The first part of the name Fort Kochi comes from this fort, which the Dutch later destroyed.
I was fascinated by the Old Laundry…where the clothes are all hung without pegs on huge double coir clotheslines, which services the whole of Cochin. Clothes are washed here in huge tubs men stand in and dirty clothes are beaten on the concrete walls, then rinsed by guys standing in the huge tubs.
The quaint Dhobi Khana is the only place in Kerala and one of the few places in the country where the traditional method of laundry continues. The community proposed the design of the Dhobi Khana that now stands over three acres on one side of the ground. Inside the walled premises are barrack like rooms to store the laundry, a long, common shed for ironing and drying during the rainy season, two large wells, washing cubicles and sun-filled courtyards with symmetrical clotheslines.
I always head to Cylinder Beach for the sunset. This time I left before the full sunset arrived, and watched the colors light up the sky from the apartment I was staying at with a heap of irritation. The next evening I could not even find Cylinder beach in the dark, and gave up and took the photos from the Main Road as I wound my way back in almost darkness.
The best place for the Sunset is the rocky point between Cylinder Beach and Frenchmans Beach…where tourist collect waving their glasses of beer or white wine as they wait for the sunset watching the last of the surfers below catching the last wave.
I arrived at 5.30 and had to wait until 6.45 for the sunset. I sat on the rocks and talked with three German tourists as we waited for the sunset to begin. There were plenty of mosquitoes around and my legs were well bitten as I had not thought of insect spray.
Below us is Cylinder Beach, the most popular surf beach on the Island for Surfers and they collect there with their surfboards to ride the huge wave to the shore. Then taking their boards, they walk back over the rocks if it’s high tide, along the sand if it’s low tide, to get the wave and ride it back.
Cylinder Beach is also a favourite with surfers when the conditions are right. Lifeguards and lifesavers patrol this beach. The lower waves and fine sand maintain a usually wide, low gradient beach fronted by a continuous bar, with the mobile sand waves and bars extending up to 200m off the beach
In 1803 Matthew Flinders was on his way to Sydney to organise a rescue of shipwrecked passengers from the Porpoise. Flinders and his small crew stopped in the Cylinder Beach/Home Beach area and some Nunukul people helped the sailors to find fresh water. This was the first recorded European/Aboriginal contact on the Island and is commemorated in the Hope Plaque on the edge of the Cylinder Beach carpark.