Situated within the lush Malabar Coast of Western India, the historic town of Kochi has been a site for trade and commerce since millennia. Records point to the region having flourishing trade links with the Phoenicians, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.
Consequent to the trade, the region attracted settlers from around the world, including the Chinese, Arabs, Syrians and Jews. From the 16th century onwards, a trio of colonial powers – beginning from the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch and concluding with the English – established trading outposts and controlled lands in connivance with the Kings of Cochin.
This multitude of cultures and layers of history have given the old town of Kochi an intriguing mix of influences and monuments that range from Chinese fishing nets, the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth Nations, one of the only eight basilicas of India and historic palaces belonging to the various ruling powers.
A booming tourism industry and the well-attended Kochi-Muziris Biennale during which the city hosts numerous art and cultural events have added to the old town’s mix of colours, textures and urban fragments. In this photo-essay are a series of images that capture the essence of historic Kochi through some bits that are old and others new, some that are vibrant and others that are decaying.
Text And Photos By Kunal Bhatia