Photo Credit : Challiyil Eswaramangalath Pavithran Vipin
Fort Kochi, the eventful history of this city began when a major flood in AD 1341 threw open the estuary at Kochi, till then a land locked region, turning it into one of the finest natural harbours in the world. Kochi thus became a haven for seafaring visitors from all over the world and became the first European township in India when the Portuguese settled here in the 15th century.
The Dutch wrested Fort Kochi from the Portuguese in AD 1663 and later in the last phase of the colonial saga, the British took over, the town in 1795. During 1660′s, Fortkochi peaked in stature as a prime commercial centre and its fame spread far and wide – variously as a rich trade centre, a major military base, a vibrant cultural hub, a great ship building centre, a centre for Christianity and so on. Today, centuries later, the city is home to nearly thirteen communities.
A few interesting sites included in the tour are the Chinese fishing nets along the Vasco Da Gama Square, Santa Cruz Basilica, St. Francis Church, VOC Gate, Bastion Bungalow etc. Restaurants serving fresh seafood are also popular among tourists. The Chinese fishing nets erected on teak wood and bamboo poles work on the principle of balance. Records say they were first set up here between AD 1350 and 1450. Vasco Da Gama Square, the narrow promenade that parallels the beach, is the best place to watch the nets being lowered and pulled out of the sea.
The Santa Cruz Basilica, a church built originally by the Portuguese and elevated Apart from these architectural splendors, an array of to a Cathedral by Pope Paul 1V in 1558, was spared by the Dutch conquerors who destroyed many Catholic buildings.Bishop Dom Gomez Vereira commissioned a new building in 1887. Consecrated in 1905, Santa Cruz was proclaimed a Basilica by the Pope John Paul II in 1984.
Fortkochi is also home to one of India’s oldest churches – the St. Francis Church. This was a Roman Catholic Church during the Portuguese rule from 1503 to 1663, then a Dutch Reformist Church from 1664 to 1804, and Anglican church from 1804 to 1947. Today it is governed by the Church of South India (CSI). important fact about the church is that Vasco Da Gama, who died in 1524, was buried here before his mortal remains were returned to Portugal 14 years later… Each and every structure, street, door, window and brick in Fortkochi has several stories to tell.