Cleansing my chakras in Fort Cochin

Due to the abundance of spices on the Malabar coast Kochi (or Cochin) has long been a magnet for traders and colonialists. First, Chinese traders set up giant, claw like fishing nets on the waterfront and Arabian ships, laden with spices, sailed to Europe. Through colonisation Fort Cochin gained an eclectic mix of Portuguese, Dutch and English influences. This fascinating history is displayed through the varied architecture as mosques, synagogues and churches rub shoulders with a smattering of European traders mansions.

After a week on the beach in Goa I was itching again to explore ‘proper’ India and took the Konkan railway headed to Kochi in Kerala. We had to take 3 rickety local buses just to reach the Goan train station of Magadon. The rust bucket buses shock and vibrated so much it gave me a headache and I thought that the floor would fall through. The train was over 4 hours late but we passed the time trying all of the snacks on sale at the train station (not all nice) and talking to some Indian business men, who were really nice. The train trundled through the countryside for 15 hours but it was hard to sleep as I started to feel ill again and the journey seemed like it would never end.

When we finally arrived we stayed in a nice old colonial villa set around a courtyard in the historic area of Fort Cochin.

For 900 rupees (£10) we scored a really large, clean, bright room with lots of character, a wall mural, proper shower and bathroom, wifi and satellite TV. I holed up here for a few days watching the ‘animal planet’ channel.

In my desperation to feel better I signed up for a full moon meditation session that was held on the roof of the hotel. A group of us sat crossed legged on the roof, among candles and incense, with our eyes closed. Ommmm, Ommmmm. We had to do different breathing exercises and say ommmm a lot while the Australian Yogi Linda spoke soothingly about our chakras radiating and spurting out purple lights. While this was happening a ‘swami’ man came round (while my eyes are still closed) and put holy ash on my head. Despite being sceptical I think I did actually feel some light in my head. Then we wrote wishes on bits of paper and burnt them releasing the wish into the air. She swung a crystal pendant over your head to see if your chakras were in balance. Mine, unsurprisingly, weren’t.

The meditation must have worked as the next day I was well enough to explore Fort Cochin. The Mattancherry Palace (also known as the Dutch Palace) has an excellent value museum – 5 rupees! No foreigner pricing here yet! We saw impressive old Hindu murals, portraits and bejewelled outfits of maharajahs and learnt about the history of Cochin: the traders, the royal family and European colonialists and influences. I also learnt that in old Indian currency before 1957 a rupee was sub divided into 16 Annas and 12 Pies made up 1 Anna.

We walked along the tourist waterfront by the Chinese fishing nets, watching them haul up the old, massive spider like contraptions. Wading in the water below were people fishing just with a rope and net. I watched as, by hand, he meticulously gathered together his net and threw it out in the water. However, when he hauled his net back in all he had caught was twigs and rubbish. The massive Chinese nets didn’t come up full by any means either.

Then I realised why as we saw as a massive fishing dredge ship float past.

A clash of modern and traditional fishing methods. The Chinese fishing nets looked fascinating but for their size they didn’t catch as much as I expected and seemed more like a tourist attraction.

By the fishing nets people had set up fish stalls and were hassling us to buy crabs and fish saying “You buy, I cook”.

I love seafood but after being ill already I couldn’t take the chance on this offer.

3 Comments

  • Lakshmi Loves To Shop says:

    Isn’t Fort Cochin divine…I visited there in November 🙂 can’t wait to go back again!

  • The Goktor says:

    I loved Fort Kochi – lived there for five months, and still miss it, my friends, and the amazing food… not the power cuts and rubbish internet though!

    Thank you for linking to my blog – very much appreciated… although it has now moved to here: http://www.nicolelestrange.com/india-fishermen-in-kerala/

    If you’re interested, I have blogged quite a few recipes from the region, over at http://www.yumsome.com 🙂

  • Sreejith says:

    Hi. I am glad you liked my hometown Cochin. I just thought I will point out that the Goan train station is misspelled in your post. It is actually spelled Madgaon (Or more popular Portuguese name Margao). I really enjoy all your blogposts and fb updates. Keep them coming. Thanks!

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