HERITAGE TOURISM

Fort Cochi


The colonial heritage of Fort Kochi leaps at you from every nook and corner of this historic town. Sprinkled with forts, ancient churches and palaces, this town lives in a world of its own. Fort Immanuel and the Dutch cemetery are two notable colonial relics and the Thakur House, belonging to a renowned tea trading firm, is an edifice of the colonial era. Then there’s David Hall, built by the Dutch East India Company and St. Francis church, one of the oldest European churches in India, now under the Church of South India. This is where Vasco-da Gama, the famous Portuguese seafarer, is buried and his tombstone stands to this day.
While walking along Church Road, one simply can’t miss the Cochin Club, set in a well laid out garden, a remnant of the British colonial era. The Bastion Bungalow, at the Stromberg Bastion of the ancient Dutch fort, is another colonial monument that can transport you back in time. The Vasco-da Gama square is next, a narrow walkway bound by Chinese fishing nets along the water and stalls serving delicious seafood to landward – an ideal place for just chilling by the waterfront. From the waterfront verandahs of the Pierce Leslie Bungalow to the Koder House, the colonial history of Fort Kochi follows you everywhere and seeps into your consciousness.
Princess Street, one of the earliest streets, is dotted with European style buildings and fresh flower sellers on its pavements. Also, don’t miss Loafers Corner, fun loving folk of Fort Kochi hangout. The Santa Cruz Basilica and the Delta Study, a 19th century heritage bungalow and Vasco house, the oldest Portuguese residences in Fort Kochi are some of the other must-see buildings. The residence of the Portuguese governor, now the Bishop’s house has gothic arches you simply cannot miss.
Berijam Lake located at a distance of 21-km from Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu is one among the beautiful lakes of South India. Spread over an area of 24 hectares, the lake is star shaped and is known for its pure water.
Fort Kochi can transport you across time like no other town in Kerala can. A walk through its narrow lanes will transform you and linger in your memories long after you’ve reached home.
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Bekel Fort
This sprawling fort, built at the shores of the Arabian Sea near Kasargode, predates the Kolathiri family that ruled the area in the 12th century. The highlights of this fort are the stairway leading to the water tank, the tunnel opening towards the south, and the broad steps leading to the observatory. Three fourths of this stately fort is washed by the sea and its fortifications have been modified to suit the needs of different rulers and their security priorities. Unlike other forts, Bekel Fort is a stand-alone structure with no other administrative buildings nearby. The view of the sea and Bekel Beach, from the fort is awesome and the fort is a popular venue for filmmaking.
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Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple
Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, one of the 108 holiest abodes of Lord Vishnu, is located inside the East Fort at Thiruvananthapuram city. The city takes its name from the Ananthasayanam, the reclining posture of Lord Vishnu. It is a classic example of Kerala temple architecture. The pagoda or gopuram of the temple is seven-storeyed and can be accessed for an entrance fee. The top of the pagoda offers a splendid view of the city of convenient hills. The sanctum holds the reclining Vishnu with access from three doors. Three temple porches or mandapams, Ottakkal Mandapam, Kulashekara Mandapam, and Abhisheka Mandapam are among the remarkable structures of this famous temple.
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Mangala Devi
This temple is situated high on a hill, 1337 meters, within the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, about 15 km from Thekkady. Entrance is barred to visitors except on Chitra Pournami, the full moon day that falls between April and May every year. The structure has fallen into ruin and one can see remnants of an ancient temple dedicated to the goddessKannaki and a few statues of deities. The path leading to the temple winds its way up slopes of hills that offer some of the best views of tropical grasslands. The view from the summit is also awesome and breathtaking. The temple is open to visitors only on Chitra Pournima and remains inaccessible for the rest of the year as it is well within the protected area of Periyar wildlife sanctuary.
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Muziris
KThe historic port of Muziris, a famous trading port of the first century, is located about 10 km from Kodungalloor. It was the hub of various cultures and religions and legend has it that India’s first church was established here by St. Thomas the apostle. The port was inundated probably by a huge tsunami, around the middle of the 14th century and then came under the rule of the colonists - the Portuguese, the Dutch and then the British.
The government of Kerala is developing the area around Muziris as a heritage site and plan to have timeline tours, museums and various cultural tours centered around the heritage site.
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Madurai Meenakshi Temple
Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple is the heart and lifeline of the 2500 year-old city of Madurai, in Tamil Nadu. It is the spiritual centre of the ancient city of Madurai and a temple complex that forms the abodes of various Hindu deities. A Shiva shrine occupies the centre of the temple, an indication of earlier worship patterns and the fact that veneration of the goddess Meenakshi happened much later.
Outside the shrine is a huge statue of Ganesha, carved from a single rock adjoining a temple for the same deity. The Meenakshi shrine is to the left of the Shiva shrine and is of less sculptural value than the shrine for Shiva. This temple is surrounded by twelve towers, the tallest of which is the famous South Tower that rises to 172 feet. Ancient Tamil classics talk of the temple being in the centre of the city with roads radiating outwards like the petals of a lotus.
It is among the few temples in Tamil Nadu with entrances at the four quadrants. The temple grounds are a sprawling 45 acres with 12 magnificent towers, and the city walls are built in concentric squares around the temple complex. The towers are inlaid with intricate carvings depicting celestial beings, gargoyles, heavenly nymphs, guarding spirits, mythological characters and scenes. The most important festival, celebrating the divine marriage of Meenakshi, is in April – the Meenakshi Thirukalyanam.
This temple has given birth to a distinct vibe and mood that pervades the streets surrounding its four gates. A temple city to the core, Madurai has bonded with this temple so much that the city throbs around the temple. The clatter of drums, nadaswarams, the wafting smells of incense sticks and fresh flowers fill your senses as you imbibe the spirit of Meenakshi and Madurai.
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