During my travels, I am often weighed down by a heavy DSLR. Will cellphone photography gathering steam, I finally decided to take the plunge. Here are snippets of my solo travel across Fort Kochi. While there are many a debates raging on cell phone cameras not a spot on DSLR quality, controls etc, I found myself concentrating on the more important aspects – composition, color schemes et al while shooting through my phone
24 hours in Fort Kochi (as seen through iPhone 5s) 1. I am not sure why monsoons are an off season in Kerala. The state is at its verdant best. Not that I am complaining though, I often found myself wandering on the streets of Fort Kochi without a single tourist in sight, and I loved it. Not to forget, off season meant discounted rates as well.
2. Homestays in Kerala have been often listed on ‘Things to do in Kerala’ lists. For a reason! What better way to get to know a family better. Fort Kochi with its rich history, offers a lot of heritage homestays as well. Do your research well and read traveller reviews before you book a homestay! Also, remember, a heritage home is different from a home in a heritage town, always check that distinction before booking and choose the former. If you fancy luxury, you are spoilt for choice as well, Old Harbour Hotel on Tower Road comes highly recommended.
3. I started my morning by walking down to the Chinese fishing nets. The nets were down, the fishermen hopeful, a new day bringing in the promise of a good catch.
3. After spending a quiet moments watching the fishermen, I decided to walk down the Bazaar Road all the way to Jew Town. Well, a long walk for sure, but had I not taken it, I would have missed the ruins of British warehouses, interesting graffiti on the walls, dilapidated but still ornate wooden doors, sharp fragrant smells of spices and what not.
4. I reached Jew Town market, and as there very few travellers around, quickly became the cynosure of all hawkers’ eyes. Fending off persistent offers to purchase souvenirs, antiques and spices was quite an effort. The Jews are long gone, though one still sees the vestiges, star of David designs in the window grills for example.
I had come here to see the Paradesi Synagogue. First built in 1568 by the Jewish Community of Cochin, it was destroyed by the Portugese, and then recreated again by the Dutch two years later. As one enters the main hall, the delicate glass chandeliers imported from Belgium seek attention. One must not forget to notice the floor beneath your feet, the hand painted blue willow patterned tiles were brought from China in the 18th century and are truly unique.
5. After a sumptuous fish pappas Syrian Christian meal for lunch (at Fusion Curry restaurant) followed by a yum glass of ginger honey lemonade at Kashi Art Cafe, I wandered back to the Chinese Fishing Nets to catch the twilight and silhouettes of raised nets against the skyline. The activity had become more frenzied, the nets were up after the day’s business and the promenade was lined up with baskets of fresh catch – fish, lobsters, shrimps, crabs and all sorts of sea food.
7. I was lucky enough to be in Kerala on the day of Onam. Fort Kochi wore a festive look. Women dressed in traditional cream and gold sarees were deliriously walking up and about- busy preparing for the family get togethers and traditional Onam Sadhya lunch. Open fields, roads and even home porches were bedecked with ‘pookalam’ floral carpets. There were numerous processions on the streets, accompanied by a loud thumping of drums. Onam celebrates the annual homecoming of King Mahabali, it is believed the king comes from the netherworld once a year to visit his people. The Onam procession is led by a man dressed as King Bali carrying an umbrella, followed by Pulikali dancers. Men body painted like tigers in bright yellow, red and black shades, dance, mock – ferociously, to the beats of instruments.