A circuit boat tour through Muziris Heritage sites
Updated: Apr 2, 2020
If you have a love for history, art, culture and architecture, there are some exciting programs available at the town of Paravoor, less than an hour from Kochi. History tell us that once, there existed a port town on the banks of the River Periyar and the Arabian sea. Where traders and sailors far from Greece and Rome arrived with gold in exchange for "Black Pepper", it was otherwise fondly called "Black Gold."
The Port was called "Muchipattam", when translated into the local language of Malayalam, it meant "a cleft palate." Ships came from Southern China and Persia for Ivory and precious gems. This prosperous port was known to most civilizations that existed since the first century. Two world religions Christianity and Islam are believed to arrive India through the harbor of "Muchiripattanam," and It was this very same port where Jewish refugees came after the destruction of the second Temple at Jerusalem. Finally in the fourteenth century came the tragedy, the port faced a natural catastrophe, the great floods of the river Periyar. The port was destroyed and merged itself into the river silt. The present day Vypeen Island was formed after these great floods, a long narrow stretch of land on the shores of the Arabian Sea, that expands from Fort Kochi to Cherai - The second largest densely populated Island in the world.
The port of "Muchiripattan" became history, everyone who escaped the catastrophe fled wherever they can. Thirty years later a new harbor was identified South of "Muchiripattanam", and that is the modern day Kochi. Trade resumed, and that was when the European conquest begins, initially as traders, and later as invaders. The Story continues, trade was picking up at the Port of Kochi, the Chinese and the Arabs were the very first to resume business through Kochi. The Chinese fishing nets that you still see in Kochi was an introduction from Chinese traders who came to Kochi. Vasco Da Gama arrives at Kappad in the Malabar, some two hundred kilometers north of Kochi. He sailed all through the Atlantic ocean, crossed cape of good hope and came on the Shores of the modern day Kerala in the late fifteenth century. That was the beginning of the European conquest of the Indian subcontinent. Most of the stories and history from then, have been recorded in different forms. The Portuguese could not manage to hold power for too long after the arrival of the Dutch, and finally the British established their power and ruled India till 1947. That was a quick glance at the history of the modern day Kerala.
The Archaeological Survey of India conducted various excavations in and around the banks of the river Periyar, many striking findings and discoveries have been made, like that of Roman coins, beads, precious gems, pottery, and terracotta. The government of Kerala further invested in a tourism project named the Muziris Heritage Project that aims in the conservation of whatever monuments and sites that were still available of the ancient and the colonial era where once the great port of Muziris existed. Since most of these monuments lived on the banks of the River Periyar, the most effect mode to see and explore these preserved monuments would be to cruise through the river in a boat, hop in and hop off at each point of interest. That was how the hop on hop off boat service was initiated and started in 2015. The below would be a video about one of their tour circuit.
That was one of the best and the most exciting day trips you could have about the history of the land. To my surprise I did not find any tourist, most of the people who traveled along with me were from nearby towns. Our guide, Mr. Charles is very well learned guide who knows a lot about all the places around, he claims to be a historian than a guide. The Muziris Heritage Project has mostly conserved two historic Synagogues, forts built by the Portuguese (preserved in its destroyed form) and the Palace of the Paliath Achan (The prime minister of the Kochi Maharaja) and few other excavation sites. Apart from religious centers, most of the sites are today converted into museums. The boat you cruise around is a cute one, with the exterior artwork done by the Kochi Muziris Biennale. It is an air-conditioned boat with individual bucket seats for a comfortable cruise. If you have a love for history, art, culture and architecture, you should be going for this boat tour. Otherwise, it would be just a day's cruise along the river Periyar in an air-conditioned vessel.
If you are looking for an interesting tour across the old Jewish Settlements in and around Paravoor, or a circuit boat tour through some of the interesting cultural and historical sites, we would be more than happy to assist, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org