Street names – Burgher Street, Princess Street and Peter Cellie Street (who was Peter Selie?) – , old warehouses and colonial houses, the Dutch Palace and a Dutch cementary show the influence of the Dutch in India. You will also find some small outside stairs next to the frontdoor, for the popular Dutch hobby to ‘discuss’ the latest news in the neighbourhood.
From 1604 tot 1795 the VOC has been active in India, mainly along the coast, in an area larger than the better known VOC strongholds in all other Asian countries together.
In Cochin the Dutch chased the Portuguese away in 1663, leaving the city in 1795 to the Brits. Good business was done, but the Dutch had difficulties coping with the tropical coastal climate. This led Hendrik Adriaan van Rheede, the VOC Governor in the coastal area called Malabar, to write a monumental work on the medicinal properties of the Malabar plants – 12 volumes and nearly 800 illustrations – the Hortus Indicus Malabaricus – which remains unsurpassed even to this day.
I didn’t learn this at school but from the most aimable hotel manager in Cochin, who also showed me an old map with city wall towers bearing the names of the 7 Dutch Provinces.
But Kerala is not only about history. It is perfect for an exciting & relaxing holiday. Great beaches, rolling hills with tea and spice plantations, backwater boat trips, wild elephants (if you are lucky), friendly people and gorgeous seafood – the best I had in India.
And you can do and see some fun things. Kerala is famous for its snake boat races and elephant processions. But what would you think of washing an elephant or taking an elephant shower?
Very very wet!