Kochi City has always been special for its Heritage and Pluralistic Culture through its history, which is primarily based on trade shipping activity. Being an Island City, Kochi has unique environmental features and a cultural heritage, which is intertwined with the environment. The city’s ever-growing demand and potential for growth opportunities constantly interact and depend on its valuable natural and cultural heritage.

fishing nets, Fort Kochi
Image by Keralavacations via Flickr

Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, The History of the City of Kochi starts with the natural phenomenon in 1341 AD when the great flood in Periyar washed away a sizable piece of land creating the sea mouth and natural harbour of Kochi. During 1440 AD Kochi City grew around Mattancherry settlement as a city of 5 miles of circumference and Chinese and Arabs used to trade with the natives of the town. Kochi was ruled by the Kochi Rajas in the period from 12th Centaury onwards. In 16th Centaury AD Portuguese came to Kochi and subsequently built their Fort and thus the formation of Fort Kochi. The trade activities flourished after the decline of Kodungallur port and Jews, Konkinis and many other ethnic groups moved to Kochi and settled here. In 17th Century AD, the Dutch and subsequently British in 18th Century invaded Kochi. The Fort Kochi, Mattancherry and Fort Vypeen placed right at the sea mouth has experienced immense trade related activities and has developed a rich pluralistic culture and tradition unique to this heritage zone. This is reflected in the heritage of this area, which exhibits great monuments, structures and settlements of outstanding heritage value. Fort Kochi & Mattancherry can proudly claim the uniqueness in the entire heritage zone which is not seen anywhere in the region, and this makes it a major attraction for the tourists as well.

Willingdon Island Heritage Zone. During the period of the British Rule, in early 20th century, Dredging of Port and formation of Willingdon Island was executed under the design and direction of Sir Robert Bristow. Subsequently Kochi emerged as the major port in the entire region. Willingdon Island grew as the port and seat of power for British rule. The entire port town was designed by Sir Robert Bristow and left an outstanding heritage settlement built during the British period. The Heritage structures including that of the Port Trust, Palacial Bungalows, Commercial godowns and Public spaces of the Southern Naval command area etc. become part of this heritage zone.

Ernakulam Central Area Heritage Zone. In 19th Century during the British Rule, Kochi rulers shifted to Ernakulam. As a result, market and associated settlements flourished. The Ernakulam Heritage Zone is in fact the heart of today’s City of Kochi. Most work places, Administrative and institutional centers and market places are located here. Moreover the City’s widely used parks and public open spaces are located defining the landward edge of this zone, which connects the city to its natural heritage of backwaters. Institutions such as the Kochi University on foreshore road, Maharaja’s College, Law College, St. Theresa’s college and St. Albert’s College etc. Many cultural and religious institutions with some of the oldest temples churches, mosques and synagogues also become part of this heritage zone. Old commercial streets with buildings abutting roadsides are also seen in this area, especially in Broadway. Re development of the area on conservative principles will increase the productivity. Historical heritage structures, which represent many cultural and ethnic groups who have come and settled here during its history, are spread all over. City level institutions such as the Corporation of Kochi, GIDA etc culminate at the northern part along with the High Court complex of the state. More to mention, the city’s breathing spaces such as the Subhash Park, the walkway at Marine Drive and the Durbar Hall ground etc are the most used and celebrated public spaces of the city.

Canal & Backwater Network Heritage Zone. Canal Network is part of our regional traditional heritage planning. These canal systems can be commonly experienced throughout in Kerala in the low-lying coastal areas. They, once upon a time, used to be the drainage system, transportation corridor & irrigation system of traditional development. The entire development in the low-lying coastal areas has been dependent on such canal systems integrated by backwaters, lagoons and Estuary and was instrumental for trade and commercial activities. The Canals Network in Kochi is very much intertwined with rivers and backwaters. Most of the traditional areas and heritage zones are connected by such canal system. Most public spaces, settlements and institutions are also grown along them. Issues Related to Heritage. The canal Network is both a natural as well as cultural heritage of our city. It has played an important role in the history of Kochi.

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