The seaside town of Kochi is a fascinating cultural mash-up, a port city brimming with the influences of its diverse trading partners. Its laidback atmosphere makes it a place you could easily get lost in. While you’re soaking up this special place, be sure to experience these treasures to find all the wonder Kochi has to offer.
Catch some Kathakali-
Kochi is a great place to see some Kathakali, the traditional storytelling dance of Kerala. It’s a fascinating art, the practice of which requires an impressive mastery of details, from the positioning of fingers in a pose to rolling the eyes in a facial expression. The elaborate costumes and traditional make-up are downright mesmerizing. Visit the Kerala Kathakali Centre to catch one of their daily shows, which include a chance to glimpse the performers’ intricate make-up application beforehand. The shows themselves include demonstrations and explanations of Kathakali movements before a performance of a traditional tale (accompanied by welcome translations.)
Watch Worlds Meet in Jew Town-
Legend has it that Kerala’s Jewish population dates back to the 10th Century and the time of King Solomon. The area also saw an influx of Jewish immigrants expelled from the Iberian peninsula in the 1500s, as well as those fleeing Jerusalem during the Crusades. The Paradesi Synagogue, nestled in the heart of the neighborhood still called Jew Town, was built buy these new Jewish residents in 1568. Its beautiful integration of Keralan architecture brings a unique quality to this peaceful place of worship. Jewish visitors can partake in Shabbat services there each Saturday.
While the Jewish population has dwindled, as has the thriving spice trade that once filled the area with its scents, the neighborhood is still a vibrant shopping district. Wander amongst the shops of antiques, craft goods and souvenir trinkets in this unique culturally mashed-up pocket. If you’d like to take a little flavor home with you, the Spice Market here still offers high quality goods of all kinds.
Soak-up the Seaside-
There are certain advantages to being by the sea – one of which is the freshest seafood you can imagine. Go down to the shore to pick your own catch of the day, then take it to a food stall or restaurant for preparation into something delicious. Just be ready to guard your heartstrings against the begging eyes of the ubiquitous seaside cats.
While you’re seaside, be sure to check out the Chinese fishing nets. These incredible contraptions have been in use for over 500 years. Unfortunately the cantilevered nets are disappearing as fishermen are forced to seek more profitable fishing methods. Grab a fresh juice and sip seaside while watching this fading tradition in action.
Book a Boat-
Kochi serves as a starting point for many boat tours into Kerala’s backwaters. Get a glimpse into traditional village life and the beauty of the jungle along the river. It’s worth it for the natural beauty of the area alone, though you’re sure to discover other delights along the way.