Monday, October 7, 2019

St. Francis Church

Kochi: St. Francis Church
AddressSaint Francis Church Road, Fort Kochi, Kochi, Kerala 682001

Believed to be one of the oldest European churches in the subcontinent, Saint Francis Church was built in 1503. The church is famed for being the first resting place of the famous Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama who died in Kochi, on his third visit in 1524. Although his remains were then shifted to his native place in Lisbon after fourteen years from then, the original gravestone can still be seen here. This attracts a lot of foreign visitors. From the church, one can also see an enchanting view of the sea. In the month of April 1923, Saint Francis Church was declared as a protected monument under the protected monuments act of 1904 and is currently under the ASI(Archaeological Survey of India).

Jeevamatha Church

Location: Bazaar Road, Mattanchery, Kochi

Situated on the way to Mattanchery from Fort Kochi and near the Mattanchery Police Station and Jew Street in the Bazar Road is this very serene church called as Jeevamatha church or ‘Church of Our Lady of Life’. It is also known as Koonan Kurish Pilgrim Centre in Mattanchery. It is one of the oldest churches in Kochi, recently renovated.
A major event in the history of Christianity in the Indian subcontinent took place in this church which led to the emergence of the Syrian Orthodox Church or Jacobites in India. In the early 16th century, the Portuguese after their arrival in Kochi did not accept the legitimacy of the local Malabar traditions and made efforts to forcefully Latinise the Kerala church. The oath by the ‘bent cross’ was taken in this church on January 3, 1653, which was a public declaration of the St Thomas Christians (followers of St Thomas, a disciple of Jesus Christ) community that they would not submit to Latin catholic Portuguese dominance. Hence after over 50 years of being dominated by the Latin church, the majority of the St Thomas Christians broke off from catholic supremacy after taking this oath.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Antique Museum

Location: Synagogue Lane, Jew Town, Mattanchery, Kochi

Open: Monday-Saturday: 9 am to 6:30 pm
           Sunday: 9:30 am to 6:30 pm
Entry is free
Photography is allowed

It’s a government-approved museum which exhibits a good collection of a sundry of antiques like weapons, statues, terracotta items, pottery, vintage cameras, cannonball, music instruments,  hunting-related items etc., of which most belong to the period of 16th to 18th century. The museum staff are very amiable and can give information regarding any of those exhibits.

The museum also has a section selling replicas and similar items. Hence visitors can buy some of the best souvenirs from here to take back home. It wouldn’t require long hours to explore this small museum, hence it is a good way of spending around half an hour here, when in this part of Kochi.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Jain Temple

Open:  5:00 AM - 12:00 PM
            4:00 PM - 9:00 PM
            For visitors: 11 am to 12:30 pm
Location: Gujarati Road, Mattanchery, Kochi
Entry is free
Photography is not allowed inside the temple
Decent and respectable dressing is required to enter the temple.
Footwear should be left outside.
Visitors are not permitted to carry any type of baggage inside the temple, hence can leave it at the office room.
Ladies in their menstrual cycles are strictly prohibited from entering the temple

Kochi had been a major spice trade center from the 14th century which attracted many communities. The Jain community from Gujarat and Rajasthan is one such community which later settled in this part of the city. The Jain temple located in Mattanchery around half a km from Jew street and Mattanchery palace was built in 1960, dedicated to Lord Dharmanath, the 15th Jain Tirthankara and a few other Tirthankaras as well. Presently the temple is managed by Shri Cochin Swetamber Murtipujak Jain Sangh. This beautifully built temple has several rooms for offering prayers which are held regularly. These rooms provide a very peaceful atmosphere. Additionally, there are four AC restrooms known as Lalan Athithi Grih in the complex provided by the temple authority where visitors can relax and take rest, but it is subject to availability.
The temple is very popular for its practice of feeding around 20kg of grains to hundreds of pigeons daily around 12-12:30 pm. It is a divine sight to watch the pigeons make 'pradakshina' (circling the temple as a mark of respect to the deity) of the temple while the prayers are offered before feeding. Hence the best time for visiting the temple is during this time. The visitors can also feed the pigeons from off their hands which offers quite an enthralling experience.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Chinese Fishing Nets or Cheenavala

Kochi: Chinese Fishing Net

Kochi: Chinese Fishing Net

Kochi: Chinese Fishing Ner

The major attractions of Fort Kochi are its beaches and the unique type of Chinese fishing nets which are dotted along the coastal lines of this part of Kochi. These Chinese fishing nets are locally called ‘cheenavala’ in Malayalam. The nets are believed to have been introduced during the 14th century by Zheng He from the court of Kubla khan. The influence of those Chinese explorers over the local fishermen in Kochi is highlighted by the fact that these nets still exist in different parts of the city and outside china this method is adopted only in Kerala.   
Basically the 'cheenavala' is a cantilever structure which consists of a huge outstretched net which is suspended into the sea. It is lifted with the help of some counterbalancing weights on the other end which requires around 6 people to pull. The fishermen lower the net around 100-200 times a day to catch fish and they also offer tourists a chance to pull the rope of weights down to lift the net from the water. The little number of fish that they catch is sold locally on the nearby street. Small food counters on the street also sell dishes of fishes. Also, fishing is done depending on the tides. During high tides, the nets are not lowered to avoid damage of the nets.
It is one of the major attractions of the city and hence is a must-see when in Kochi. The best spot to watch these spectacular Chinese fishing nets is from the Vasco da Gama square.