GLOSS Issue 2 ( July / August 2017 ) - Page 59

WA N D E R L U S T Starting my adventure about 36km away from the city, I couldn’t help but feel the freshness of the air. I went straight to the Mattancherry Palace and Museum that was built in 1555 by the Portuguese for the Raja of Kochi. As soon as you enter through the old-fashioned gate, you come across fruit sellers, selling slices of pineapples, leaving you refreshed. The palace looks more like a mansion or an old- fashioned villa, a quadrangular structure built in Nalukettu style, the traditional architecture of Kerala. Here you pay an entrance fee of five Rupees, but you are not allowed to use cameras inside. A mystical feeling captures you as you step into the well preserved rooms through small wooden doors that send you back in time. One thing that makes you enjoy the palace is the fact that the rooms are not festooned with too much art or antiques. It’s just enough to get your attention and wonder how things were in that era. You can see a collection of art, royal regalia and exhibits, but it is the murals that make the entire trip worth it. The warm coloured murals depict religious scenes from Hindu art. Also impressive are the portraits of the Rajas of Cochin, from 1864 onwards, painted by local artists in a western style. The details are so precise that it makes you believe that the Rajas are looking right through you. The colours used and the way the eyes are painted makes them more absorbing. After that short tour, your next stop would be to do some shopping on Princess Street, which is one of the oldest streets in Fort Kochi. The prices here are usually marked up but you can also find some of the best quality of souvenirs, specially made for tourists who want to grab a good trinket to remember the journey by. Another thing that you must be careful of is that the drivers have connections with all the shops or get a certain commission; hence you might be taken to the most overpriced shops by your tuk tuk guide. You must negotiate, and if they see a genuine interest from your end, they are willing to bring the price down. 59