Monday, November 25, 2019

Down the Memory Lane- Exploring Kochi

Bolgatty Island
I have never planned a trip at such short notice like this one! The smog in Delhi had forced the closure of schools in the NCR. andy wife and I who are now teachers got an opportunity to pack our bags for the long weekend, It was with a bit of some mental exercise and rummaging through the airlines and travel site that by afternoon we were good to go, The late afternoon flight to Kochi ended the suspense, as we happily boarded the flight leaving behind plumes of smog that had engulfed my once clean Delhi! By evening we were able to breathe the fresh whiff of the sea breeze as the flight descended on the Cochin International Airport. It was heartening to see the place as this is the only airport that is fully powered by solar light to meet it's operational requirements.

The hotel at M G Road was comfortable and by the time we settled, it was night. I was lost in the dreams of the first time as 20 odd years old I had arrived here to begin my professional career at the Naval Academy. As I woke up in the morning, it felt so good to see the ships moored around Thevara bridge from where the train had chugged into the Cochin Harbour Terminus almost 42 years ago when I had first come to the city. It was still fresh in my mind. So many times I had seen the divers from the Diving School assembled on the bridge to dive headlong into the fast-flowing waters. Their instructors awaited on the rubber Gemini boats to haul them out.

We managed to enter the Naval Base from the main gate after producing my Armed Forces Identity Card. Though there were several new constructions, the intrinsic character had not changed much. The beautiful lush green manicured gardens, the dense foliage of the swaying coconut trees provided the relief to the eyes that had been struggling in the fumes of Delhi till the day before. Every morning we used to run around the base during the training time. A nice cup of tea at the canteen had retained the flavour.
Chinese Fishing Nets

Later in the day, we headed to Fort Kochi and started to explore the place. The first halt was at the Chinese Fishing Nets where the traditional nets are used to catch the local fish. It is interesting to see the operation of lowering and after some time hauling the nets with the catch. Egrets and other birds are waiting to make their selection before any humans can lay their hands on. 
Basilica of Santa Cruz
Within short walking distance is the Basilica of Santa Cruz, Maritime Museum and Indo Dutch museum. The church has lovely interiors and was built by Portuguese in 1558. It is one of the eight sacred edifices in Kerala. I had seen some of these places on an earlier visit too.
Naval Academy Sailing Camp Nov 1977
Next day, we took a boat ride to explore the Bolgatty Island. Whilst training at the Naval Academy, we had gone for a 10-day sailing regatta on sailboats around the backwaters. We had stopped over at night at this very island and I almost drowned when I slipped on a rock and crashed into the waters. The memory still sends a chill down my spine.
The Bolgatty Island Resort
On the very spot today there is the Bolgatty Palace Island Resort a sprawling property which has all possible luxuries. I stood transfixed for a while wondering how the winds of change hade transformed the place. We then went to Cherai Beach almost 25km away on Vypen Island. It is perhaps one of the cleanest beaches I have come across recently and is not to be missed.

Our final day was spent in exploring the Mattancherry Island well known for the Dutch Palace and the Jewish Synagogue. The adjacent  Jewish town is a unique settlement of the jews. A huge spice market is also an interesting place well worth a visit. Among the modern places that one must experience in Kochi is a Metro train ride and visit Lulu-one of the largest malls in India.

It was a trip which will go down the memory as one of the best trip planned at super short notice. It gave me an opportunity to revive the old memories of time spent at Kochi.

PS: All pics are mine