A Kochi Spice Safari


In South India, diverse cuisines and cultures are the true spice of life.

By Sharon McDonnell

Kochi is a melting pot to end all melting pots.

Within a short walk, one can see the vivid murals depicting scenes from Hindu epics on the walls of the Dutch Palace (actually built by Portugal in 1555 for the local Maharajah, but renovated by the Dutch in the late 17th century), then stroll past a 16th-century synagogue (India’s oldest) or visit St. Francis Xavier Church, built by Portugal soon after Vasco da Gama’s 1498 landing in Kerala. Strung like hammocks over the Arabian Sea, Chinese fishing nets form striking silhouettes against the sky. In my hotel – Vivanta by Taj Malabar, a 10-minute ferry ride away on an artificial island – I hear Muslim prayers wafting across the sea at sunset.

Thousands of years ago, Romans, Phoenicians, Arabs, Chinese and Jews came here, followed by the Dutch, Portuguese and the British. All were drawn for one reason: spice.

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