An important trading centre since the 14th century, Kochi, also known as Cochin, is a port city on the south-west coast of India. A highly cosmopolitan Kochi is a part of the Greater Cochin region—largest urban agglomeration in Kerala. The city has had many cultural influences over the past few centuries. These include the Jews, Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch, and the British successively. The influences can be seen in a 400-year old synagogue, pre-historic mosques, Portuguese houses, and other architecture of the British Raj. In recent decades, Kochi has grown to create an identity of its own as a developing new-age city.
Kochi’s identity as a forward city is evident in its many enterprises. The Kochi International Airport is the world’s first fully solar-powered airport, and one of the busiest in India. The Kochi International Marina is the only marina in India, while the LuLu Mall is the largest shopping centre in India. Onam—the Hindu festival marking the summer harvest, sees the city rejoice to many festivities. Boat racing, flower arrangements, religious worship, folk dance and music make up the general atmosphere in the city. Many sight-seeing venues make Kochi a great place to spend a leisurely time. The Paradesi Synagogue is one of the oldest active synagogues, and features an ornate gold pulpit and intricately hand-painted floor tiles. The Mattancherry Palace, also known as the Dutch Palace, is a grand structure housing murals depicting scenes from the Ramanaya and Mahabharata. It was a gift from the Portuguese to the Raja of Kochi. Another intriguing experience awaits the discerning traveller. The Kerala Kathakali Centre hosts performances of the intense dance-drama art form of Kathakali, along with performances of the traditional martial arts Kalaripayattu. Apart from sight-seeing, Kochi offers many indulgent options for shoppers. The Jew Town, encircling the Paradesi Synagogue hides antiques and souvenirs in its narrow lanes, while the LuLu Mall houses both Indian and international brands.
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