Many people go to Kerala for the houseboats but you should also have some time on land to experience the different areas. I was surprised to see the beautiful Portuguese style buildings which certainly gave a European feel to the place. I tasted some excellent southern curries in its many cute restaurants and had a drama filled postal experience. (You don’t need the details; just don’t post something home from India unless it is urgent). But what had drawn me here are the famously photographed fishing nets.
After a hearty breakfast where I was correctly but randomly handed a mug branding my star sign, I walked towards the lake. I was met with a dramatic image of ten metre high by twenty metre wide fishing nets, laden with up to six busy fishermen. Each man is clear on their role, but with constant ramblings of communication that contrast with their meticulous movements, they have to be careful not to sink the nets. Some say that this is actually the most humane way to catch fish, no hooks and the limited time the nets are underwater means that injuries are kept to a minimum.
Never has a walk along a waterfront been met with such excited activity, the process from fishing to selling to cooking all adding to a vivid scene along Fort Cochin. You will quickly get caught up in all the action and it is easy to understand why Kerala tourism uses this unique sight to their advantage.
The nets did originate from China as the name suggests, brought here by Chinese explorer Zheng He in the 13th century. Various bit of wood are all carefully joined together to create a platform base. Multiple wooden beams are joined over the base to create the almost tent like effect when the nets are added. The act of fishing is completed by dropping the nets into the lake for what seems like only a matter of minutes before they are lifted up by the busy fishermen hoping to trap unsuspecting fish. Rocks of various weights are carefully suspended from ropes and as the nets are raised some of the rocks will fall to rest on the platform in order to keep it all perfectly balanced.
Only small numbers of fish are generally captured on each occasion and the process of lifting the nets requires strength and speed but whilst delicately being balanced, this is a unique art of the area. The scene is mesmerizing and as the sun begins its descent after a long day exploring, the silhouette effect only adds to the theatrical image and the unique charm of Cochin. I am ready for dinner and an early night before the next stop on my Indian adventure.
Enjoyed this post? You should ready my thoughts on Pondicherry https://lisalovesunlife.com/2016/02/26/pondicherry-a-european-india/