Chinese Fishing Nets     

The huge, elegant Chinese Fishing nets that line the northern shore of Fort Cochin add grace to an already characterful waterside view, and are probably the single most familiar photographic image of Kerala. Traders from the court of Kublai Khan are said to have introduced them to the Malabar region. Known in Malayalam as cheenavala, they can also be seen throughout the backwaters further south. The nets, which are suspended from arced poles and operated by levers and weights, require at least four men to control. You can buy fresh fish from the tiny market here and have it grilled on the spot at one of the ramshackle stalls.

       St.Francis Church      

Walking on from the Chinese fishing nets brings you to a typically English village green. In one corner stands the church of St.Francis, the first European church in India. Originally built in wood and named Santo Antonio, it was probably associated with Franciscan friars from
Portugal. Exactly when it as founded is not known, but the stone structure is likely to date from the early sixteenth century; the land was a gift off the local raja, and the title deeds, written on palm leaf, are still kept in the church today. The facade, with multi curved sides, became the model for most Christian churches in India. Vasco da Gama was buried here in 1524, but his body was later removed to Portugal.

Under the Dutch, the church was renovated and became Protestant in 1663, then Anglican with the advent of the British in 1795 and since 1949 has been attached to the Church of South India. Inside, various tombstone inscriptions have been placed in the walls, the earliest of which is from 1562. One hangover from British days is the continued use of punkhas, large swinging cloth fans on frames suspended above the congregation; these are operated by people sitting outside pulling on cords.

The interior of the twentieth-century Santa Cruz Cathedral, south of St Francis church, will delight fans of the colorful-verging on the downright Gaudy-Indo-Romano-Rococo school of decoration.