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North Paravur

Paravur is an ancient town that was once a trading post and has a Jewish synagogue and once held a thriving Jew community before their migration to Israel.
     
  Cherai Beach
If you like beaches, this is a beach that you will enjoy. About 400 meters of the central beach has been beautified with a walkway, high mask lamps, and trained security staff, making the beach enjoyable even at night. There is also a children’s park at the beach.
 
Paravur Market     
This was an important centre of commerce with historical value, and is situated beside the backwaters. There was a flourishing trade here using ‘Vanchis’(wooden boats) using the river for transportation. A few of the old shops with their rolling shutters can still be seen here. New shops have come, and this market is still a thriving commercial centre.
     
  Kodungalloor Bhagavathy Temple
In this temple an idol of ‘Kannaki’, a deity of the temple was installed about 1800 years ago by Cheran Chenkuttuvan of the Chera dynasty. The presiding deity of the temple is ‘Bhadrakali’ (Goddess Kali). The most popular festival of the temple is the Bharani festival which starts on the Bharani asterism, as per the month of Meenam(March-April) of the Malayalam calendar.
     
The Kottakavu Church
According to history this church is said to be one of the seven churches established by St. Thomas during 52 AD. It is commonly known as ‘Valiapally’(big church). In the 19th century, due to the lack of space in the old church for conducting Holy Mass and community functions, the new church was built. The old church is preserved behind the new one. On the west side is a pond where the Apostle is believed to have baptized the devotees.
     
  Paliam Palace
The Paliam Palace was the home of the Paliath Achans. They were prime ministers to the Maharajas of the state of Kochi. During the 16th century, when the security of the king was under threat from the Portuguese, the then Paliath Achan provided the Raja with a safe place at a place called Chendamangalam. The Dutch renovated this building in Chendamangalam and presented it to him in appreciation of the Paliath achan’s services.
     
Paliam Nalukettu
This classical structure in the ‘Nalukettu’ style of architecture was built by an elder member of the Paliam family, in 1786. This was intended for the women and minor boys of Paliam. It has a large courtyard at the center with many rooms, and a common space for recreational activities, where the members gathered to chat. With minimal ornamentation, the building reflects the Dutch influence in the architecture. It has elaborately carved wooden staircases, balustrades and thick walls with splayed openings.
     
 

Pallippuram Fort
Pallippuram Fort known as Alikkotta was constructed by the Portuguese in 1507. Underneath the floor of the fort, a small cellar opens on to a passage, which runs obliquely from north to south. The Portuguese used this fort as a look-out point to check the ships that sailed through the Periyar River, and the cellar for storing gunpowder. There is a church, a hospital and living quarters near the fort.

The Dutch and the Portuguese had many fights to occupy this Fort. Finally the Dutch succeeded. The strategic location of this fort caught the attention of the Mysore rulers who tried to purchase it from the Dutch. But the English East India company intervened to terminate that proposal. The ruler of Travancore in 1789 purchased both the Pallipuram and Kottapuram forts. In 1964, it was declared a protected monument under the department of Archaeology.

     
Paravur Jewish Synagogue
This was a place for worship of the early Jewish settlers located close to the Paravur market. It comprises of 2 buildings – a double storied section, and the main synagogue. The synagogue is attractive; with a large passage opening to 2 rooms at the entrance, and a prayer hall consisting of 2 rooms; one used for meetings and the larger prayer room with the Bimah and the Arc.  There is also a balcony above the entry. The ceiling and the beams supporting the balcony are decorated with carved wooden rosettes, typical of many ancient synagogues. There is a women’s gallery at the back side of the balcony.
     
Portuguese fort      
Called the ‘Aya kota’,this is the oldest European monument in India. This was built by the Portuguese in 1503. It was constructed with the mission of safeguarding the ancient port of Muziris. It was captured by the Dutch in 1661. The king of Travancore bought it in 1789, and in 1795 it came under the ownership of the British East India Company. This fort was repaired between 1596 and 1605 with a façade added in the Manuelino style, possibly the only such structure in India.
     
  Cheraman Juma Masjid
This is a mosque with a very significant history. This is said to be the very first mosque in India, built in 629 AD by Malik Ibn Dinar. Most historians believe that an old Buddha temple was gifted to the early Muslims to establish the mosque. Today many Muslims and non-Muslims come to this mosque to conduct ‘vidhyarambham’ (the initiation ceremony to the world of letters) of their children.
Kizhthali Siva Temple
According to historical records, this temple existed during the reign of the Perumals (BC 113-AD). It was once destroyed by the Portuguese and then the Dutch. Later when Tipu Sultan invaded Kerala it was further destroyed, razing most of the temple structure to the ground, except the ‘garbagriham’ which is still intact. It is now maintained by the department of archaeology, while the religious functions are carried out by a private trust.
     
  Break-water point
This is at the north end of Cherai beach, where the river Periyar flows into the Arabian Sea. This is an ideal place to sit and enjoy the scenery and watch local fishermen in their traditional canoes and colorful boats. Perfect place to view picturesque sun sets.
     
The Backwaters
The backwaters of Cherai are a charming combination of lakes, lagoons and canals, forming the heart of Cherai. You can travel through the Periyar river with overhanging coconut trees on both sides to watch the daily life unfolding on its shores.
 
Kottappuram Fort
This fort was built by the Portuguese in 1523. It is today known as Kodungallur Fort. It was destroyed by the Dutch in 1663. The Fort had strategic importance as it is located at the mouth of the river Periyar and controlling access to the ships and boats that passed to and fro from the interior of Malabar. Many traditional houses and a church close to the fort built by the Europeans still remain today. This fort played important roles in many wars between the Zamorin and the rulers of Kochi. In 1662 the Dutch invaded the fort, inflicting severe damages. After the takeover, the Dutch used it as an outhouse to guard their ships for trading. Later the Travancore King, Ramavarma Dharmaraja (1758-1798) purchased the fort. An official agreement was executed in 1909, by Raja Kesava Dasa, the Devan of Travancore, and the Dutch Governor.
     
Marthoma Church
The marthoma church is located on the bank of Periyar river. The altar is opened to the public every day upon request, so that they can pay their tribute/ pray. The location has significance. It is at Azhimugham, meaning an opening to the sea, where the river Periyar joins the Arabian Sea. Boating facilities are available at a moderate rate at the Church gate by the river. Other facilities for guests include a light and sound show, dining hall, mini auditorium, shops for mementos, research books and scenic posters.
     
  Thiruvanchikulam Mahadeva Temple
This temple is at least 2,000 years old, and is remarkable for its numerous representations of the Lord Shiva. In front of the Shrikovil, there is a ‘Namaskara Mandapam’ with 16 pillars. During the month of Kumbham (feb-mar), Sivaratri festival is celebrated here in a grand manner. The popular ‘Anayottam’; the spectacular elephant race is conducted here as part of this festival.
This temple is special for devotees who attend prayers held on full moon nights before the temple closing, to receive blessings for a happy married life fulfilled with children.

Paddy fields around Cherai.

These are unique, in the fact that these emerald green fields are cultivated below the sea level amidst a charming village environment. These waterlogged fields tend to be of single crop rice. These fields serve two purposes. Following the harvest the paddy fields are used to farm fish, mainly prawns. Here you can also experience exotic flora and fauna, a variety of butterflies, alluring species of birds and fish.
     
Gowreeswaram temple and festival
Built in 1912, this is an important Hindu pilgrimage centre. It is dedicated to the Hindu God Murugan, the God of war. The idol in this temple was installed by the great social reformer, Sri. Narayana Guru. The major festival here involves the trumpeting of more than 25 elephants in unison. Also there is the percussion of Panchavadya (an ethnic percussion ensemble) playing on the lawn, and the thrilling fireworks display, all part of the tradition.
     
 

Pallipuram Church
This church was built by the Portuguese in 1507 and features an elegant picture of Ave Mary positioned above the altar that originated in Portugal. This church survived the Dutch slaughter of Catholics. It was even improved further by the Dutch who built a chapel and a house for the priests. The annual festival at Pallipuram church takes place for 15 days, and it is an important part of the cultural life of Cherai.

 
Varaha temple and chariot festival
This temple was constructed in 1869. This is the only temple in South India where deities, incarnations of the Hindu God Vishnu are installed beside each other and worshipped as a unity. The structure is renowned for its wood carving, a silver palanquin, the eastern ‘Gopuram’ and the temple tank that are distinctive. The temple chariot is built entirely of silver and Chinese glass. This is perhaps the only temple chariot in the world that runs on rails. The chariot festival takes place twice a year, and involves devotees pulling it around the temple accompanied by a temple percussion ensemble.
     
Munabam fishing harbor
The Munabam fishing harbor is one of a variety of the major fishing harbors in India with more than 1000 fishing boats operating from here. A variety of sea foods are exported from here to Europe and other destinations. Fishing is the main source of income for a population of more than 20,000 local people. Nearby you can see many boat building yards, and the best time to visit the harbor is early morning and late afternoon.

Juma Masjid Munabam
It is not known as to when this mosque was built. But records show that it was reconstructed in 1869. This place of worship makes an interesting excursion for visitors to Cherai.

     
 

Chennamangalam Jewish Synagogue
This Synagogue was constructed around the 17th century and is built in the traditional style of synagogue architecture with a separate entrance for women. The land for construction was provided by a prominent family of Paliam, traditionally ministers in the court of the kingdom of Kochi, who owned the village of Chendamangalam during that period. The department of Archeology has conserved the synagogue, which had deteriorated in the course of time.

The department of Archeology along with Jews living abroad has arranged a display inside the synagogue that is resourceful titled- ‘the Jewish synagogue in Kerala’.

Njarackal Fish Farm

This is 60 acres of water body stocked with a variety of fish. It is a splendid place with coconut palm on both sides. You can get exquisite home cooked food here prepared by the house wives in the area. Fresh fish caught at the farm is prepared in front of you. You can experience the food and relax in the gentle sea breeze. If you like, you can do your own fishing. Rental boats are available if you enjoy boat rides.

Malippuram Fish Farm

This area is predominantly filled with the cool greenness of the thick Mangrove growth. Here you can rent small boats as well as pedaling boats. Fishing gear is also available to be rented. You can either take your catch home or you can have them cooked here to your liking. On the banks are huts where you can relax. You can have a sumptuous lunch here with fish cuisines.
     
 

Fort Kochi & Mattancherry
Fort Kochi’s beach sides are adorned by the characteristic Chinese Fishing nets. You can get some great photographs here. You can see many nets where the back- waters merge with the Arabian Sea. Then there is history. The following are a few of the places that can offer tremendous historical experiences.

  • St. Francis Church where you can see Vasco da Gama’s tomb.
  • The Bastion Bungalow
  • The Portuguese museum
  • Dutch cemetery
  • A walk through the streets will expose you to architecture that gives you a glimpse into the historical relevance of this entire area.


Major Places to visit at Mattancherry:

  • The Jewish synagogue which is over 400 years old.
  • The Dutch palace
  • Police museum
  • Jew street which offers a unique shopping experience

Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary

This is a world renowned bird sanctuary that has become quite popular among visitors. Dr. Salim Ali, the celebrated ornithologist discovered this area. He has spotted and documented over 100 different birds from this area. There is a study centre, snake-park, refugee centre and a mini zoo here. There is also a bird interpretation centre that can be very informative for those interested in birds.