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Kerala for us was a quick two week trip in 2001 instead of a safari across to Africa, which was planned for October and the September attacks happened, but more for us, we did not know what was going to happen next as far as counter activities by the US. So, we decided to play it a bit safe, stay in India and visit Kerala that we had heard so much about. We were not disappointed and had a great time there, enjoying Cochin and its harbour and also the backwaters, of which Kerala is justly famous for. We had a few days around Cochin,looking around this old and also growing city with its Jewish quarter,the old palace and the small market streets, before heading for a few days into the backwaters. These are a series of low lying canals and lakes that stretch out inland from Cochin and provide an abundance of wild life and support for many familiy groups scattered throughout.Reminded me a bit of the Bayous outside New Orleans with its small waterways, way of life in many apsects and the great scenic shots that we came across. Kerala is also home to Ayurvedic herbal remedies and medicines and there are many practioners that can be visited for natural herbal remedieswith numerous resorts and facilities dedicated to this healing principle, but just a note of warning here, some have been found to have extremely high levels of dangerous compunds, such as mercury, in their ingredients! Just outside of Cochin there are a couple of beach areas and even further south you have the main beach areas of Kerala called Kovolam, which is today one of the most popular beach holiday spots in India. Kovalam means a grove of coconut treesand there coconut trees along the white sandy beaches that gives it a truely tropical paradise look, competing with Goa for the title of top holiday beach spot in India. These areas we have not visited yet, but I understand that there are tremendous beaches there and very popular with the European traveler and also the group traveler from England!

 
Keralas first kingdom was called "Cheras" and it arose from a union of northern Hindus and native Dravidians. It is an ancient state and one to which attracted traders very early on, with traders and sailors sailing across the Arabian Sea in their dhows for a commodity so valuable that it was called "Black Gold." Now known as pepper, it is the fruit of a vine that is native to Kerala. King Solomon in the 10th century BC is said to have sent ships to get it as did the ancient Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Chinese and many others. Not only was pepper sought by the merchants, but also cardamom, ginger, and turmeric, rice,monkeys, ivory and woven cloth. So great was the demand in Europe for these spices and so much money was to be made in the trade, that in the 15th century countries and city states such as Portugal, Venice, Genoa, France and Spain began to search for all-water routes to the Indies. The Portuguese, under Vasco da Gamma, first discovered Kerala for the Europeans by sailing around the horn of Africa and landing at Calicut in 1498. Throughout most of its history, Kerala was divided into several states headed by hereditary royal families. The Portuguese,Dutch, and French captured areas of Kerala and set up trading posts,but never really ruled the area completely. It was the British who took over all of India early in the 19th century and made it the "Jewel in the Crown" of their empire. They brought their language, laws,educational systems and transportation networks (railroads) to India and even began the tea plantations in the Cardamom Hills. Though they did not completely control the old princely states of Kerala, the British influenced them greatly. Today, English is virtually the second language of south India. Kerala became one of Indias states in 1956 when the several old kingdoms, the main one being Travancore, gave up their sovereignty and joined the great union of peoples and cultures that comprise modern India.
 
Typical building compound in Kerala, - this one a dance school
Mildewed buildings from the monsoon in old city
Part of the grounds of the Dutch Palace
Jewish temple in the old part of Cochin city
Canon mounted on the walls in the old fort of Cochin
Santa Cruz Basilica was built by the Portuguese in 1505 and named as a cathedral in 1558
Cochin Museum
Dutch Palace
Marg in our water taxi going back to hotel
Traditional longboats passing close to these traditional Chinese fishing nets strung along the harbour
The chinese fishing nets, called Cheenavala, are distinctly unique to Cochin it is believed that traders from the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan introduced these nets to Cochin
Chinese fishing nets strung along the banks of the river just in front of large ships passing through the harbour
Jewish tabernacle in Cochin