Cochin or Kochi, India

Westerners call it Cochin, but the locals call this city Kochi. Located on the southwest corner of the Indian peninsula and part of the state of Kerala, Cochin is a busy port, center for Keralan art, and a center of communications and industry. The guide claimed that one-hundred percent of the people are literate. Kerala has one of the longest living populations in the world, and Sandy recalled that Kerala was excluded from Indian statistics on health care because it was such an outlier.

First, we visited the Chinese fishing nets, a legacy of the past. The nets are set up on teak and bamboo poles, and were brought by one of the first visitors. The nets are still used, though not while we were there at low tide. They are surrounded by an active, open fish market.

After the fish market we visited a Jewish synagogue, built in 1568 and decorated by original Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers. It is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations. The synagogue is near where one of the early kings lived as the Jews were brought to the area to be under his protection. Vasco de Gama came to Cochin on three occasions and died here on the third visit. He was buried in St. Francis church for two years before his remains were taken back to Portugal. The last photo shows the site of his burial inside St. Francis Church which was built in 1503 and is the oldest Christian church in India. St. Francis was originally Catholic, then it became Anglican, and now it is an active Church of India congregation.

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