Today, embark on a unique heritage tour of about the many faiths and cultures of the Malabar Coast.
Muziris (1 hr from Cochin) is an ancient port city that traded in spices, silk, and precious stones with Rome, Greece and Egypt. Muziris became a melting pot of world cultures. The earliest Jewish settlers in India landed on the Malabar Coast and flourished in Muziris. St. Thomas the Apostle is said to have landed here in 52AD, bringing Christianity to India. The first ever mosque in India was also built here.
After nearly 1000 years of thriving trade, the port of Muziris was damaged in a major flood, and Cochin took its place as the most important trading port in Kerala. However, the Muziris area continues to be as multi-cultural as ever. Old churches, synagogues, mosques and temples attest to the great confluence of cultures that Muziris was. In a world full of strife, the monuments and bazaars of Muziris stand as beacons even today, a testament to the harmonious co-existence of multiple faiths on the Malabar Coast.
On the tour, you’ll visit
– Kodungalloor Bhagavathi Temple: An ancient Hindu temple to Goddess Bhadrakali
– Old synagogues of the Malabar Jews, constructed using Keralan building traditions, but adapted to suit Jewish ritual and liturgical requirements. Near one of the synagogues is also the first Christian Seminary and the first printing press in India.
– A Syrian Christian church, serving a community believed to be the one of the seven originaly established by the Apostle St. Thomas
– Paliam Dutch Palace (Museum): The residence of the Paliath Achans, the prime ministers to the Rajas of the State of Kochi.
– Cheraman Juma Masjid: The first mosque in India, built after the Chera king of Kerala met the Prophet Muhammad.
– Local bazaar: Walk through an interesting and colourful local bazaar, selling everything under the sun
Those who are interested can also visit the excavation site at Pattanam. This is a small archaeological site which contains some artifacts which were traded between Muziris and the rest of the world.