Of Shadows and Light a Night Stroll Through Fort Kochi

I have been to Cochin many times but somehow Fort Kochi and more importantly Jew Town has always eluded me. On a recent trip to Cochin during the Ramzan holidays, we sat peering at each other through stuffed belly full of biriyani and we decided to venture out to Fort Kochi. By the time two kids, three semi adults and a couple of adults got dressed it was time to drink tea and the plan was in danger of being abandoned. But as half of the public was dressed it was decided that we stick to the plan and visit one of India’s ‘haunted’ places in the night but first tea was made.

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Jew town owing to some of the cemetery’s near by has a reputation of being haunted which I think is a disservice to one of history’s landmark spots on earth. Since we crossed Matancherry Jetty on Id which is an important holiday in India we found the bustling shops in Fort Kochi and Jew Town deserted with all shutters closed at seven thirty in the evening. Save for our parked car near the synagogue, there were no other vehicles in the vicinity and no other people around atleast the living ones. One of my cousins braved out of the car with the promise of shouting Aiooo should something happen, we laughed! He came back to report that the synagogue and the surrounding shops are all closed and there is nothing much to see but we could probably go see it.

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Since he came back and did not require any exorcisms done on him, we all trooped out of the car to see the synagogue after all a Hebrew God resided within since the 1500’s. There were some windows and doors open on the the street near the synagogue and the title music of ‘Parasparam’ ( a popular malayalam TV show) streamed out. We saw some old folks on their recliners watching the show ardently and knew that all is well.

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Jew Town dates back to the 1500’s when a boat of Jewish refugees landed in the port of Kochi and were welcomed by the King. They soon set up businesses, trade and a place of worship that still stands here. When the state of Israel was formed most Jews in Kochi went to the promised land or got assimilated with India’s population. Today only a few Jews are reported to still live in Jew Town. I wondered if history would have been different if more Jewish boats had landed in India instead of Germany but that is not for me to postulate.

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We saw the old clock tower that was set up in 1700 AD and some houses with the star of David prominently engraved near the door. When we got back to the main street the atmosphere was still eerie as most muslim business owners in the area were celebrating Id and had closed shop for the day. I will definitely go back to Fort Kochi with its many Chinese fishing nets, Jewish Synagogue, Muslim businesses and Dutch cemetery during day time and spend some more time in the vicinity exploring.

 

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Have you heard of the Bid Wars in Kerala?

Every time the train crossed over to my home state from the Tamil Nadu or Karnataka border a thrill ran down my spine. After some umpteen train journeys we undertook every vacation to God’s Own Country I could distinguish the different states by looking at the landscapes outside the train window. While Andhra Pradesh had dramatic large rock formations and boulders, Tamil Nadu was easily recognized by its palm trees and then as soon as the train crossed over to Kerala it was an avalanche of coconut trees, lush greenery and tiled roof double storied houses with large compounds.

After the advent of the Konkan Railways the train journey itself was something to look forward to with the picturesque route the train took through deep valleys, water falls and sea shores. Kerala itself has a wide range of landscapes from the hilly regions in Malabar, to the tea gardens of Munnar, Coffee plantations in Wayanad, back waters and what not. Recently we also did a road trip along the length of the state and a food trip to my home town of Calicut which is known for its unique Mopla cuisine and hospitality. But we still are a bit restless because there are still some experiences that we yearn for like camping in the Silent Valley to staying over night in a house boat.

The Kerala Tourism department has launched an online bidding game offering holiday packages to the state at virtually no cost.The bid, aimed at domestic travellers, is organised as part of the ‘Visit Kerala 2015’ campaign.

Bid Wars Logo
For example:

A person ‘X’ bids for a package worth Rs. 20,000 with Rs. 10. The package will be awarded to him if no other bid is made which is less than or equal to Rs. 10. An Android based application has also being developed which will allow the Kerala Tourism Facebook fans to bid for packages right from their mobile devices.

Here are the links for you to check out:

For more details check out these links. Considering that this is the best time of the year to visit Kerala, get those bags out and start bidding.

A Photowalk Through the lanes of Kalpathy

A road trip to Palakkad for our little family had a very delightful consequence as we were able to explore the culturally rich lanes of Kalpathy. Kalpathy is an early bramhin settlement or village  known as agraharam in the city of Palakkad. many scholars, eminent IAS officers find their roots in this village along with many other Tamil Brahmins who migrated to Kerala a couple of centuries ago.

Many temples, rituals and scripts and interpretations of the vedic scripts are part of the soul of this historic village. The agraharam for most part is well preserved as the people maintain their way of life through rituals and strict codes of conduct. As we explored the village on a hot day just before afternoon we found women gossiping on the front porches, men returning from the morning rituals at the temple, grown up kids who had come for vacation leave for their own cities.

The village had sleepy look owing to the heat. Few groups of women were talking about the evening pooja and the next meeting as they walked back from the temple. The language has a unique quality as it is a pleasant mix of Malayalam and Tamil giving it a sing song quaility. Kalpathy village has a rich heritage of singers and it is said it be quite difficult to find a tone deaf person from this lineage.

Kalpathy has been named a heritage village and is one of the first in Kerala to be named so.There are very few places that have been unaffected by the passage of time and this is one such place which we must preserve. A few houses seemed to have been abandoned and held the stories of the family that had called it home once upon a time. The city of Palakkad itself is a laid back city with rivers and mountains encompassing the city and adding to its natural beauty.

Kollam in front of the house
Kollam in front of each house
A typical house in Kalpathy
A typical house in Kalpathy
An old gentleman outside his home
An old gentleman outside his home
A house that also operates as a press
A house that also operates as a press
A post office a site which is becoming increasingly rare
A post office a sight which is becoming increasingly rare
The sleepy agraharam
The sleepy agraharam
A goat getting ready for its siesta
A goat getting ready for its siesta
A board proclaiming heritage village Kalpathy
A board proclaiming heritage village Kalpathy
A woman sitting on her front porch
A woman sitting on her front porch
Kalpathy river
Kalpathy river
A water pipe
A water pipe

Pictures credited to Razor Rasu and a property of Traveling Noodles

Kitesurfing in India: The new Adventure

Traveling Noodles is happy to publish this guest post by Stacy Eva. Stacy is a blogger who writes on travel and lifestyle. Her articles have been featured on eurotravel.com and karryon.com. Happy Reading!

Kite surfing, also known as kite boarding, is a water sport of riding on a surfboard while holding on a specially designed kite, using the wind as a means of propulsion. Once the kite is up, the surfer puts his or her surfing board on the water surface and the kite pulls them. This exciting extreme sport is for which the adventurous and courageous are crazy about. India is a good place to enjoy kite surfing. A few places in this country provide a good water surface for the sport as the weather favors these coastal regions. If you want to have a superb and unforgettable experience of kite surfing in India then these places are perfect for that

Morjim Beach, Goa

Aguada Fort Goa
Aguada Fort Goa

This is the best place for kite surfing in Goa alongside Ashwem and Arambol. It is a great spot and a cheap one too but you have to get your time right for the best and enjoyable experience in kite surfing. The best time for this sport is mostly in the afternoon and sometimes in the evening when the water currents are low. To make it even better, there are kite surfing lessons offered by various institutes such as the GUSTYKITE Goa Kitesurf School, which is suitable for people of all ages. The wind speed in this region is 15-20 knots on average which is ideal for learning kite surfing.

Gorai Beach, Mumbai

Beach @ Mumbai
Beach @ Mumbai

The Gorai beach in Mumbai is another ideal spot for kite surfing. The beach offers favourable wind conditions that are perfect for wind surfing. The Mandwa beach which is approximately 16 Km away from Mumbai is also a good place to enjoy this extreme sport. Another location 150 Km away from Mumbai is the Murud-Janjira Fort, in which the first kite surfing contest was held on 25th May 2013. The Fort is enclosed by the sea on all sides.

Panchgani

Panchgani, Maharashtra
Panchgani, Maharashtra

With an elegant hill station incorporated with hiking spots and amazing natural beauties,  Panchgani has definitely become an adventure hot spot. And if crazy for kite surfing, then Hotel Ravine is the place you would rather be. It has a very large open space, clear landing locations and also perfect wind speeds for surfing. The south-western winds give the appropriate wind strength for kite boarding. The surfing site is a 30 minute drive from the hotel and takes you through impressive routes. The ideal time for this sport is during the afternoon as the wind picks itself from them until sunset. The stations easy accessibility from Mumbai makes it a good site to enjoy surfing especially for the holiday goers.

Bangalore

Beach near Bangalore
Beach near Bangalore

Besides being a major tourist attraction and an important metro city in the south of India. Bangalore city has many beaches which offer kite surfing with various schools also offering lessons along with instructors. This is an ideal place to kite surf for people who plan to take a vacation in Bangalore.

Kovalam beach, Kerala

Kovalam, Kerala
Kovalam, Kerala

The Kovalam beach along with other beaches in Kerala, is one of the best places to experience and definitely enjoy kite surfing in India. The best time to visit the place is during September to May.

With these ideal sites, you are guaranteed to have a splendid Kite surfing experience in India. For those applying for Indian visas, don’t forget to checklist the passport, two identical recent passport sized photographs and an online filled application form.

Images copyright RazorRasu. Featured image from http://all-free-download.com

Stacy Eva

Author Bio: Stacy Eva lives in Birmingham, UK and is an avid reader and blogger. Since her early years she had a passion for writing. Her articles have been published in leading UK newspapers. Her areas of interest are Food, Reviews (Book/Movie), Travel, Fashion, and Lifestyle. As of now she is working as a freelance content manager for Indian visas.