The state of Kerela is known as God’s own country due to its lush greenery and beautiful backwaters. The first change I noticed was the language; I was lost yet again amidst the signs in Malaylam which are just as curvy as Tamil yet so different.
The plan was to only spend a night in Cochin but somehow it turned into two, mainly due to laziness and the fact that we somehow managed to gain an extra day on our itinerary.
David and I stayed at a homestay which felt more like an overpriced motel room. There was nothing homely about it other than the dinky little rooms. Fort Cochin seems to have an abundance of these so-called homestay type accommodations.
I have been a long time believer in Lonely Planet and till now it has never failed me. For some reason the Kerela section seems flawed in every way, as if the writer had never even been here. I felt the same for some parts of Tamil Nadu that we went to (especially Pondicherry) but I have now lost complete faith in LP; the restaurants recommended are not worth it, and the map is not reliable. This definitely made our stay in Cochin a little unpleasant. Luckily we met some couchsurfers who were able to give us the inside scoop and we ended up hanging out with the whole time we were here.
Fort Cochin is infamous for its Portuguese and Dutch influence which is still evident in its architecture. The houses and churches especially. It’s actually an island with bridges and ferry connections to the main land area known as Erankulum (a very busy main city). There is a mosaic of religions who survive harmoniously in this place – Muslims, Jews, Christians and Hindus.
We also had a chance to watch the traditional Kerelan dance – Kathakali. There are a lot of similarities to the Tamil traditional dance of Bharathanatyam such as the hand gestures and the facial expressions, but Kathakali is much slower paced and it always tells a story which can go on for hours. We saw a performance specifically for tourists so it was only one hour long (thank goodness!) and features of the dance was explained making it much more enjoyable.
Fort Cochin is like every other place we have been so far on this trip – a tourist attraction! The small city is catered towards houseboat tours, internet cafes, international cuisine, tailor shops and souvenir markets. I’m getting quite sick and tired of all the touts trying to sell us stuff everywhere we go.
Another discovery I have made in Kerela is about the food – it is very similar to the Sri Lankan cuisine. They eat appams (hoppers), stringhoppers and pittu which are very hard to find in Tamil nadu. After speaking with the Csers I’ve realized that they also were unaware of this fact.