Day 15. Fort Kochi

Overnight – Brunton Boatyard

Enjoy breakfast in the Armoury Restaurant and select from a menu of fresh Keralan, North Indian, and western items. The fresh fruits served here are incredible, and you can eat indoors or alfresco with a bay view.

This day’s exploration will start with a 1-minute walk from the Brunton Boatyard to the most photogenic of Cochin’s attractions, the Chinese fishing nets. Folklore will have it that these enormous nets (or at least their design) were brought here by famed Chinese explorer Zhang He about 600 years ago. Local fishermen manipulate these massive nets with an ease that comes from centuries of generational experience. Ownership of the net and its prized location is handed down from generation to generation. The lowering and raising of the nets, with the fishermen deftly walking up and down the angled wooden poles and manipulating them in and out of the water with thick, well-worn ropes, has a synchronicity and rhythm that is fascinating to observe.

Continue exploring more with an 8-to-10-minute walk through historic Fort Kochi’s charming streets and alleys that are surrounded by Portuguese, Dutch and British architecture, and full of chic small cafes, boutique stores, art galleries, and a lot more. Arrive at Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica and experience its impressive collection of colorful artworks. A 5 minute walk from here will bring you to the St. Francis Church, which was established by the Portuguese Franciscan Friars in 1503. This is the first European church built in India, and the famous Portuguese explorer, Vasco Da Gama, the first European to reach India by sea, was buried in its courtyard for a few years before his remains were returned to Portugal.

A 2-minute walk will bring you to David Hall (closed on Mondays), a 17th century historic building that has painstakingly restored and houses a rotating selection of art exhibits, mainly focusing on young artists. David Hall is operated by the CGH Earth Group, owners of the Brunton Boatyard, and a company that is quite possibly the most socially and environmentally progressive hotelier on our planet. The excellent and popular small café in the building will be your stop for lunch, and you will order ala carte. The food is CGH Earth quality, but here the focus is on comfort Indian and western cuisine and drinks, including woodfired thin crust pizza’s prepared in an Indian clay oven – we strongly recommend trying the seafood topped ‘Fort Cochin’ Pizza!

After lunch a 10-minute drive through Fort Kochi will bring you to the Dutch Palace which was actually built by the Portuguese in 1555 and is famous for its detailed carved wooden murals depicting scenes from the Ramayana and the Puranic legends. Also known as Mattancherry Palace, this is an unattractive squat building that bears no similarity to the opulence of other palaces, or even mansions, in India. Very near the palace is the Jewish Synagogue (closed to visitors on Fridays and Saturdays), which was built in 1568 and is still an active house of worship for the few remaining Jews in the area.

To get to the synagogue you will walk on Jew Street which runs through Jew Town – ancient street signs still identify these names! Fort Kochi ’s ancient and colorful Jew Street now has antique stores and souvenir and art outlets. There was a Jewish presence in Kochi from 70 A.D. and the charming synagogue you will visit once was a busy house of worship for the locals. Return to the Brunton and enjoy the facilities and surroundings for a little while.

Private ‘Taste of History’ Cooking Lesson with Brunton Chefs: At around 4:30 this afternoon you will join the chefs for a private cooking lesson with the most amazing array of coastal flavors you can imagine. The menu of the fine dining restaurant, History, is based on recipes gathered over many years from local residents of Fort Kochi. These include immigrants who are of local Keralite, Syrian Christian, Jewish, Persian, Dutch, British, Konkan (from the Goa region), Tamil and many other origins. The first Executive Chef at the Boatyard started gathering these recipes a long time ago by visiting local homes, and the practice has continued until this day, as they continuously refine each recipe to perfection.

Your preferences for the main ingredients will be solicited this morning and you will now learn about dishes that most Indian chefs do not know how to make, but rave about when they get to try them. Around 7 pm, after you have had an opportunity to freshen-up, you will dine at the wonderful History Restaurant on a six-course menu that you have helped prepare.


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