Monuments of Kerala
The most prevalent architectural style in the traditional historic and cultural monuments of Kerala is Nalukkettu or Ettukettu (four or eight sided structures with a centre courtyard and verandah opening out to it). The low sloping roofs and brick walls were designed to match the climatic conditions and texture of the land. Areas close to the harbors like Fort Kochi show a unique blend of typical Kerala, European, Chinese, Jewish and Arabic styles.
Chinese Fishing Nets/Vasco da Gama Square
These huge cantilevered fishing nets are the legacy of one of the first visitors to the Malabar Coast. Erected in Fort Kochi between 1350 and 1450 AD by traders from the court of Kublai Khan, these nets are built of teak wood and bamboo poles. The best place to watch the nets being lowered into the sea and catch being brought in is the Vasco da Gama Square, a narrow promenade that runs along the beach. The square is an ideal place to idle, with stalls serving fresh delicious seafood and tender coconut.
In Fort Cochin, there stands the famous Jewish Synagogue built in 1568, and preserved till today. The population of the Jews has dropped drastically with the establishing of the Jewish State of Israel, many Jewish settlers in Cochin and other parts of Kerala left the country for Israel. There are only about 17 Jews left, and that the number of adult males does not come up to the required number for a Priest, the Community is without one. The Jewish Synagogue will be probably be taken over by a Trust, and because of it's historical importance to the history of Cochin (Kochi), will be preserved.
Built in the Indo-European style way back in 1667 AD by the Potuguese, Bastion Bungalow of Ernakulam get its name from its location on the site of the Stromberg Bastion of the old, Dutch fort. The building blends beautifully into the circular structure of the bastion, has a tiled roof and typical first floor verandah in wood, along its front portion. Though it has been said that a network of secret tunnels runs beneath the bungalow, none has been found till now. Today, the bungalow is the official residence of the Sub-Collector.
A scenic island near the city of Ernakulam, Bolghatty is famous for the Bolghatty Palace built by the Dutch in 1744 AD. This palace was once a Governor's palace for the Dutch and later the home of the British Governors that has now been converted into a hotel. The palace is two-storeyed and contains well-decorated bedchambers and a huge lounge wherein historical portraits are displayed. The ferry ride from the mainland Ernakulam to the island is a pleasurable experience. There is a golf course to boot.
Koder House, the magnificent building constructed by Samuel. S. Koder of the Cochin Electric Company in 1808 AD is a supreme example of transition from colonial to Indo-European architecture. Features like Veranda Seats at the entrance, floor tiles set in a chess board pattern, red colored brick like facade, carved wood furniture and a wooden bridge connecting to separate structure across the street are unique to this Bungalow.
Pierce Leslie Bungalow
The charming mansion was once the office of Pierce Leslie & Co., the famous coffee merchants. Founded in 1862 AD, this building, a representative of Fort Cochin Colonial Bungalow reflects Portuguese, Dutch and local influences. Characteristic features of this bungalow are wood panels that form the roof of ground floor, arched doorways, carved doors and sprawling rooms. Water front verandas are an added attraction to the magnificent house.
Residence Of Vasco Da Gama
Believed to have been the residence of Vasco da Gama, this is one of the oldest Portuguese residences in Fort Cochin. Built in the early 16th century, Vasco House sports the typical European glass paned windows and Balcony cum Verandas characteristic of the times.
Built in 1506 as the residence of the Portuguese Governor, the Bishop's House stands on a little hillock near Parade Ground in Ernakulam. The facade of the house is characterized by large Gothic Arches and has a circular garden path, winding upto the main entrance. The building was acquired by Dome Jos Gomes Ferreira, the 27th Bishop of the Diocese of Cochin whose jurisdiction extended over Burma, Malaya and Ceylon in addition to India.
Chittur Gurumadam, situated in Thekkegramam near Arikkode in Palakkad district, on the banks of the River Sokanasini, Chittur Gurumadam is a memorial to Thunchath Ezhuthachan, the author of 'Adhyatma Ramayana'. It is believed that the poet-saint spent his last days here. A 'srichakra', some of the idols worshipped by him, a stylus, wooden slippers and a few old manuscripts are exhibited here.
Gundert's Bungalow at Nettur is on the outskirts of Thalaserry. It is a historically significant place for all lovers of Malayalam Language. Home of Dr. Hermann Gundert (1814-1893), a scholar of the German Basel Mission, who compiled the first Malayalam English dictionary, it is said that the revered German priest and lexicographer lived in the bungalow for 20 years from 1839. Mr. Gundert was the publisher of one of the Malayalam's oldest newspapers, the 'Paschimodayam', and also authored several books on Malayalam grammar.
Idukki Arch Dam
Idukki arch dam is the world's second and Asia's first arch dam, constructed across the Kuravan and Kurathi hills. 550 feet high and 650 feet wide, the dam lies close to the Cheruthoni Barrage. To its west is the Kulamavu Dam. Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is located close by. The sanctuary spreads over 77 sq. km and is about 450-748 m above sea level. Three dams, namely, Cheruthoni, Idukki and Kulamavu extending to 33 sq. kms, form the Idukki Reservoir.