In the Jew Town of Kochi

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After few minutes of walk among the streets of Fort Kochi, I ended up in the Burgher Street where one of the most famous cafes of Kochi is located. Yup, the Kashi Art Galley! Located in an old house built in the traditional Kerala style, it welcomes the tourists with it’s collection of paintings and arts created by local artists. As I passed the front hall which is full of wall-posters and paintings, the house transformed into a beautiful cafe filled with rich aroma of coffee and what impressed me were the huge art pieces fixed in middle of the pathways and the walls.

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Kashi is best known for its Continental and British menu, and also for its coffee. But, it’s too hot out and I don’t want to add a hot cup of coffee to it. So, I opted for an orange juice as it was the exact way how I like to drink, no sugar and no water πŸ™‚ . I clicked some pictures of the cafe and left forΒ the Indo-Portuguese museum. This museum is situated in the garden of the Bishop’s House and is a confluence of Indian and Portuguese art and architecture. And sunday, it’s closed :(. Though the watchman allowed me to go around the Bishop’s House, I couldn’t see what’s there in the museum 😦

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I took an auto from here and reached the Dutch Palace in Mattancherry, another must-visit place in Kochi. The palace doesn’t resemble any royal palaces like the Mysore Palace or the Palaces of Rajasthan, but is unique in it’s own aspect. The Palace is a two storied building and is currently under the Archaeological Survey of India and the entry ticket is just Rupees Five.

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This palace was actually built by the Portuguese colonizers of Kochi in 1555 and gifted to the local ruler Veera Kerala Varma. This was later renovated by the Dutch in 1663 and hence the name Dutch Palace. This is now a museum which houses the royal memorabilia, weapons, the family tree, furniture and many more. The walls are adored with striking murals depicting the scenes from the epics Mahabharata and the Ramayana and represent the finest of traditional Hindu temple art. The palace also has a temple of the Goddess Bhagawati.

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As I walked away from the Dutch Palace on to the roads, I entered into another different world, the world of Jews right in the heart of Forth Kochi. Kochi’s connection with the Jews dates back to a thousand years ago. I walked towards the famous Synagogue, one of the few remaining relics of the city’s Jewish past, and this Synagogue is known as the Paradesi Synagogue to the locals. The first thing that attracted me is a 18th century working clock tower just infront of the Synagogue. It is said that this is one of the oldest Synagogues among the commonwealth of Nations and the chintz, chandeliers and the Chinese hand-painted tiles are well-preserved.

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The area is full of art galleries, museums and heritage restaurants and one of the famous being the Jew Town restaurant. This is not only a restaurant, but an antique shop which also sells books and some jewelry. One can pick up jewelry, wooden pillars, wooden and metal figurines, carved wooden furniture, antiquities and clothes, but we just need to bargain hard. Have a sip of coffee or a bite of Italian Pizza or taste some other cuisines in any one of those cafes and restaurants.

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It was at this time, I remembered that there is a market dedicated to spices. How can one forget these exotic spices which were the most sought-after commodities once upon a time and made Cochin an important hub of trade and commerce in the earlier days. The Jew Town has a lot of spice shops and warehouses. There is also a market called the ‘Old Spice Market’ from where one can get good quality spices like Cinnamom, Cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander and many more. But again, the market will be closed on Sundays.

I had my lunch at a vegetarian restaurant called the Krishna Cafe and took an auto to Veli ground, from where the Kochi carnival’s procession starts. On the way, I came across another land mark the ‘Santa Cruz Basilica’. This church was also constructed by the Portuguese and in the 19th century, the British demolished the old structure and commissioned a new building. Subsequently in 1984, it was proclaimed a Basilica by Pope John Paul II. The architecture of the Basilica is an impressive blend of the Indo-European and Gothic styles.

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14.30 hrs – The people at Fort Kochi told me that the procession would start at 14.00 hrs. But now they told me that it would start only at 16.00 hrs and I got no other choice rather than skipping it as I have to leave to Trivandrum (can’t skip the office 😦 ) . Took a bus to South Railway Junction and around 19.00 hrs, I was back in Trivandrum to enjoy my favorite Mushroom Biryani with fresh Pineapple juice at the Hyderabadi restaurant ‘Haveli’ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

And that’s how my New Year Started πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

 

My New Year Celebrations..

The last day of the year 2016. The second time in my life, I was going to be away from my family for the New Year. Yup, it was a routine ritual for me to be at home on the last day of every year to welcome the New Year. By evening, be with my mom and aunts to send wishes to everyone on the roads by having some sort of rangolis welcoming the new year, watch a movie with dad later, and a cake cutting ceremony @ 12.00 hrs on the first day of the New Year.

But 2015 was the year which brought a change in this family tradition and for the first time, I worked on the New Year Day. And though this year i.e. 2016, the New Year Day was on a Sunday, I weren’t able to be home as I don’t have so many leaves. So, what am I going to do?? Luckily, few days back, a friend of mine invited me to his wedding on 31.12.2016 at his hometown ‘Mala’, which is 35 kms from Aluva, Kerala. So, I decided to attend his marriage. But, what about 01.01.2017??

31.12.2016:

05.00 hrs – I woke up, got ready, packed my backpack, took my camera and left my home to reach the Trivandrum Railway Station. 05.50 hrs – I was at the Railway station walking towards Platform No. 3 to get into the train Jan Shatabdi. The train was already there and I got into the compartment and made myself comfortable. Thanks to my friend Kiran, who booked my ticket in Tatkaal the other day πŸ™‚ . The plan is to get down at Aluva and reach Mala by a bus. 10.05 hrs – The train reached Aluva and I remember the instructions of my friend Jeff about getting a bus to Mala.

10.30 hrs – I reached the Kerala Transport Bus Depot in Aluva, which is some 500 mts from the railway station. After quick inquiries, I got into a bus which heads to Mala. 12.00 hrs – I was at Mala bus Depot waiting for Jeff’s cousin to pick me up. 12.15 hrs – I was dropped at the St. Stanislaus Forane Church which is the marriage venue. Mala is a small township which is quiet beautiful with lush green coconut groves, beautiful houses and churches. The marriage rituals were ongoing. But, what after the marriage? When should I go home? Should I go back to Trivandrum or stay back here for a night and start the next morning?

13.20 hrs – The marriage was over and we headed to the reception hall, where I wished my friend and his wife a happy married life! And told him that I would be leaving in another couple of minutes as I have to travel a long way. But then, I changed my mind. After all, it’s New Year, and I was away from my family, and if I go back to Trivandrum, what am I going to do? Sit back in my room all day?? Too bad for a new year day. Isn’t it? So, it’s decided. I will goΒ Kochi! A perfect New Year Destination πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

14.40 hrs – I was dropped at the Mala Bus Depot where I got into a bus to Kochi. In the meanwhile, I called up my office to make arrangements for my stay at the Office Guesthouse. The bus would be going to Vytilla Hub in Kochi, and they asked me to get down there and take an auto to the Ernakulam South Railway Station where my Guest House is located. It is a 2 hour journey from Mala to Kochi and I thought of going around the shopping malls for the rest of the evening, as Kochi is famous for it’s shopping malls.

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17.50 hrs – The bus bypassed the Lulu Shopping Mall at Vytilla and then it clicked in my mind that it’s better to get down here, check these out and then head to my Guest House. Lulu Mall, located in Edappally is said to be the biggest mall in India and one of the biggest in South Asia. With it’s hypermarket, fashion store and one of the biggest food courts and with the maximum number of brands (around 320), Lulu is perhaps the most happening market place in Kochi.

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A quick bite in the Mc Donald’s and a hot coffee from the Costa Coffee.. watching the hanging Santa clauses from the ceiling at the center, the giant snowmen and the twinkling and shining jingle bells and stars all over the mall is fascinating. Though I didn’t shop anything, this place is a must-visit for any tourist πŸ™‚ . Out of the mall, I took another bus to the South Railway Station. One thing I didn’t like about Kochi was that the Ola Cabs weren’t serving in all places, Uber is not able to mark the locations, auto-rickshaws don’t want to come where we want to go, if they are willing, they charge way too high and the transport buses – too crowded 😦

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It was only at 20.00 hrs I reached my guesthouse. A quick shower and I drifted deep into my sleep.

GOAN CELEBRATIONS

If one asks any youngster in India about a perfect place for celebrations, especially the Christmas and New Year parties and celebrations, the only place that will be thought of would be Goa! And when we were thinking of a perfect travel destination in last December, the place that struck our minds is Goa.

Christmas and Goa – the perfect shot.. So, it’s decided and we chalked out a plan which obviously didn’t work as we planned, but turned out to be a good one and better than the one which we planned. Lol! The people on this trip should be Mythri, Guneet, Sunil, Shiva, Ruthwik and I, but as usual 3 of our friends dropped and two of my other friends joined us accidentally in Goa. A surprise πŸ™‚

So dear friends, come join me on this trip to see what the sea conversed with my body, mind and soul and what I explored in the smallest state of India in a small duration.. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚