Situated in the lush green southern state of Kerala, Cochin boasts of a wealth of historical and cultural diversity and a fascinating past that is in evidence even today. For centuries, spices, tea, and coffee were being exported to various parts of the world from its hc\lrbour. It was flrst occupied by the Portuguese in the 16th century and then the Dutch took over. The Dutch Palace at Mattancherry, near the harbor, was actually built by the Portuguese in 1557 and later renovated by the Dutch in 1663.
Cochin is also home to the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth. Though constructed only in 1568,
Jewish immigrants had come to Kerala as ear1y as the 1st century AD as refugees, fleeing Roman persecution in .Jerusalem. It is only here that one can come across Chinese fishing nets still being put to use.
Cochin is surrounded by several little islands-many of them linked by a ferry service. One can watch dolphins frolicking on Willingdon Island or enjoying a quiet _stroll along the winding paths on Vypeen Island. Although Cochin has its own airport and railway station. a much more pleasant way to get to the city is to take a ferry from Aleppey and sail down the narrow palm shaded canals.