Kochi is Not a City, It's a Feeling.....with Drums!

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January 20th 2018
Published: January 21st 2018
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Woolly says – Our last day in Kochi arrived with the sun blazing in, a slow get up and the need to pack everything back into the bags, it never ceases to amaze me how much mess can suddenly disappear into two backpacks and three rucksacks, but it does. A breakfast of boiled egg and toast hit the mark well and we set off to amble around the fort town for the last time. Fort Kochi has little left and is now more about the small town rather than the fort itself, the Fort was built in 1538 as a Portuguese settlement and remained in their possession until 1683, when the Dutch colonial troops captured the territory and destroyed the Portuguese institutions. The Dutch held the fort in their possession until 1795, when the British took control by defeating the Dutch. By 1806 the Dutch, and later the British, had destroyed most of the fort walls and its bastions. We sat watching the Chinese fishing nets being sunk into the sea and pulled out again using huge rocks as weights to get the catch in, as we looked on not a single fish seemed to be in the nets, maybe a bad day for the men or maybe a lack of fish in general.

It was a pleasant way to spend a few hours before moving further inland to the rather splendid Basilica.

Woolly says – We had seen this glowing cream building several times on our walkabouts, it’s freshly painted exterior stood out amongst the blues and whites of the surrounding buildings. The Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica is one of the eight Basilicas in Kerala, it was built originally by the Portuguese and elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558 and was spared by the Dutch conquerors who destroyed many Catholic buildings. Later the British demolished the structure and João Gomes Ferreira commissioned a new building in 1887. Consecrated in 1905, Santa Cruz was proclaimed a Basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1984. Inside was nearly as stunning as the outside, beautifully painted pillars and ceilings met our eyes along with a wonderful altar, the stained glass windows were plain but colourful in design and the whole place was certainly worthy of it’s Basilica title. As we left the cool interior we noticed a domed blue chapel to the right of the main building, unsure quite why it was there it was lovely all the same.

Having collected our bags and enjoyed a lovely spinach and potato curry we sat waiting for our transport for our next overnight bus to arrive.

Woolly says – Just as I was paying the bill my ears were assaulted by loud drum beats and the clash of cymbals, having nearly fallen off my chair in surprise, I peered over the balcony to see a long line of people all holding candles, the women dressed in white and dusky pink sari’s and the men in pure white. The drumming was coming from a quartet of men who stood in front of a red and gold canopy that was being held aloft by six men. Most mysterious, a few minutes of drumming passed, and more and more people joined the line also holding candles, our waiter came to take the money and by now dying to know what was happening I took the opportunity to ask, ‘A new church is opening’ he replied to my question. At this moment six motorbikes rode into view carrying bright yellow flags followed by a very large white car which halted, allowing a gentleman to get out sporting what looked like a small Bishops hat. The drumming became faster and faster and as the cymbals crashed more and more, everyone in the street started to walk away from us turning into a driveway of what must have been the church. Moments later church bells rang out and the street returned to the normal buss of traffic and horns. What a show and an amazing way to finish our time in Kochi.

Our bus had arrived and as we climbed into our bunks ….. near luxury in comparison to our last overnight bus journey…. We had a ten hour trip to our next city, our fifth, having crossed from one coast to another we now start to head towards the North and the delights that we might find there.

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