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Approximately 4¼ Hours
Tropical Cochin boasts a stunning location between the Arabian Sea and the backwaters, spread across coconut-covered islands and headlands. Its unique history of foreign influence is reflected in a variety of architectural styles -- fine colonial houses built by wealthy British traders, Dutch cottages with split farmhouse doors, and narrow streets where the dwellings hide behind yellow walls. Your tour today will offer you views of some of the differences reflected in the streets as you drive by. You will see the newer parts of Cochin as well as the older ones -- all from the comfort of your motorcoach.
Drive through the city of Ernakulam first, to view the architecture which reflects the diverse influences brought by the early settlers in this land. You will pass along Mahatma Gandhi Road, which is the main thoroughfare, to see its colorful markets, shops and temples with photo stops along the way.
Your first photo stop will be at the Temple of Lord Shiva -- the destroyer of evil. Then, proceed to the Fort Cochin area. This is where most of Cochin's historic buildings, constructed by Portugal's Alfonzo de Albuquerque in 1500, are located.
You will stop to view the large, graceful Chinese fishing nets. These line the shore of Fort Cochin and are probably the single most iconic image of Kerala. Watch how the nets are operated -- an art that is said to have been introduced by traders from the court of Kublai Khan. They operate by a system of weights and levers and are raised periodically to check the catch.
Walk across to the Church of St Francis to take photos. Its simple style is enhanced only by the handsome floor tiles that line the main aisle. A holdover from colonial days is the continued use of punkahs -- large swinging cloth fans suspended above the congregation, and manually operated from outside the church. These are visible from the doorway in case you'd like to take a peek.
Before you return to the ship, there's one last stop at a local hotel where you'll watch a private Kathakali performance. Kathakali is one of the oldest theatre forms in the world. It originated in the area of southwestern India in the state of Kerala. It is a well-developed dance-drama, where the actors depict characters from the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The Kathakali dance performance is very dramatic and is enacted with elaborate masks and costumes; recitals are emotive and narrative, and combine dance with dialogue to bring myth and legend to life in the temple courtyards of Kerala.
Light refreshments will be served.