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Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Incredible India - Page 4

Written by Russ and Emily Firlik
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Goa is blessed with natural harbors and wide rivers, and was an ideal base for the seafaring Portuguese of the 16th century. Due to its location, Goa became the vice-regal seat of the Portuguese Empire in the East. What was quite evident were the glorious white-sand beaches and vibrant local culture. Unfortunately, we could only stay in Goa for two days. Our guide, Arjun, a tall handsome man, has lived in Goa his entire 65 years, and claims that he “knows every corner and secret places in Goa.” He suggested first visiting Old Goa. We slowly and carefully observed and lingered at the historic villas of the Portuguese era; the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which contains the silver casket of Saint Francis, Goa’s patron saint.

The final day, Arjun drove us a dozen kilometers to the ancient capital of Goa, Margao-Chandor, to explore the ruins, as well as other important sites such as the Sarah Fernandez Heritage Home and Braganza Mansion. Incredible India!

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We left Goa with a heavy heart, but with renewed appreciation for the Indian History and culture, which are firmly imprinted on our minds. After a four and a half hour flight we arrived at Cochin International Airport.

 

Cochin or Kochi, is flanked by mountains on the east and sea on the west, and is the capital of the state of Kerala. Cochin has been ruled by numerous empires and its multicultural history and religious diversity are reflected in the colonial architecture and temples that dominate the landscape. Cochin was a vibrant, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, culturally eclectic southern India port city whose cuisine was characterized by seafood, coconut, and spices and whose residents are becoming increasingly cosmopolitan and fashion-conscious. Naina, our intelligent and attractive guide for the next four days, was pleased to take us around this gorgeous port city. I asked her about the meaning of her name, she said “eyes,” in Hindi.

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We explored some of Cochin’s 500-year- old Portuguese homes and the harbor area, where picturesque Chinese fishing nets are cantilevered over the water. We had a slow stroll along beautiful Marine Drive, a waterfront promenade, and a visit to the oldest church in India, St. Francis, where Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was originally buried. On our final day we explored the historical city highlights, including the first European church in India (1502), the Dutch Palace and the Jewish Quarter and ancient Synagogue. Naina explained to us that Cochin is very European as the Portuguese, Dutch and Brits all contributed since the 1500‘s to the art, architecture and cuisine of Cochin.

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Cochin was our favorite place to visit in India. Our reflection of Cochin:

 

(1). A three part inland state: fishing and tourism makes this a unique state in India;

(2). The European influence, e.g., architecture and cuisine, were delightfully evident;

(3). The temperatures were extremely hot and humid, even during this winter time, e.g., 93 degrees F;

(4). Less visible poverty, not implying to be judgmental, was here;

(5). People moved about very slowly in Cochin. And so did we!

 

 

I am happy and proud to admit that all my bad dreams of India, one by two, have not come true - Namaste Incredible India!

 

©Russ and Emily Firlik

(Page 4 of 4)
Last modified on Thursday, 01 July 2021

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