Gateway to the Kerala Backwaters
Flying in the land was very lush, green and just teeming with palm trees. You could see the water canals that they call the backwaters. Houseboats go from 3 and 4 night cruises into the backwaters to view the flora and fauna of the region. The canal cruising is becoming more and more popular. This is a quieter place and actually a prosperous area. We saw some large homes flying in with swimming pools and large grounds. The state is called Kerala and there is a lot of IT investment in the community with many Americans are working in this area. The state boasts 100% literacy.
We went to a show of the performers of KATHAKALI, the stately dance of Kerala. This is the only area in all of India where you can see these performers. I expected a typical folk dance show but it was not like that at all. The show started with watching the men apply the make-up. This takes literally hours to do. They paint their faces for certain characters completely. Watching this was quite fascinating. The show starts with an explanation of the traditions of the dance and that each performance tells a legend of the Hindu religion. Then, they explain what all the actions and facial expressions mean.
This is where we all sat up and really took notice. The way these men could move only certain facial muscles was truly fascinating, just one cheek up and down and around. How do they do that? It is said it takes four years and 16 hour days to gain the muscle skills and expertise to perform. They are able to express the emotion they are wishing to display so incredibly well it is easy to follow the story. There are word spoken from the actors, as the stories are told only using their expressions; like a highly skilled mime. I have never seen anything like this before. The costumes are really elaborate and the dance tells a story that you can actually follow. We all loved the show. I highly recommend this to anyone who comes to Cochin as it would be a shame to miss this experience.
These attractions are featured on a local city tour. As far as city tours go this is not all that impressive. The most interesting are the murals on the walls at the Dutch Palace.
The Chinese Fishing Nets
The fishing nets are used to catch fish close to the shore on piers that stretch out onto the water. These are not very efficient but are still in use. Close by is a fish and local market.
The Jewish Synagogue
The Jewish Synagogue is in the Jewish area and the story of the Jewish community here is interesting. All the Jewish people have now left and at our visit there were only four families left from the original Jewish community. In this area, there are a lot of local shops selling the typical souvenirs but fun to look through.
The Dutch Palace
This palace has a long history and is now being used as a museum. This is in the same Jewish area and is worth a visit. The wall paintings are the highlight of the museum depicting Hindu legends.
St. Francis Church and the Santa Cruz Basilica
Two key Christian churches in Cochin. These are both in a historical area featuring many British, Dutch and Portugese buildings with interesting architecture.