Cochin, India

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Cochin (or Kochi) in the Indian state of Kerala has the distinguished nickname of Queen of the Arabian Sea. If that sounds somewhat presumptuous, an afternoon exploring this magical city may leave you convinced that it in fact undersells the port. At the tip of a peninsula overlooking Cochin’s harbor, the old town, or Fort Cochin, feels lost in time. Buildings stand testament to the city’s long history and many cultural influences, from St. Francis Church, constructed by the Portuguese in 1503 (making it the oldest European church in India), to the city’s seven synagogues, which served a Jewish community that has been here since at least the 12th century.While Cochin has its notable landmarks, like the much-photographed Chinese fishing nets and the Mattancheri (or Dutch) Palace, the joy of visiting Fort Cochin is primarily in experiencing the quiet pace of life here and the beauty of its seaside setting. Most of the population of present-day Cochin lives and works in Ernakulam, on the east side of the harbor. That leaves Fort Cochin to the local residents and travelers. Any preconceptions you have of India as a bustling and crowded destination will be quickly dispelled wandering its shady streets, shopping for antiques in its warehouses and having a lunch of southern Indian dishes at a restaurant in a centuries-old building.
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