Kochi, important port city • Kerala, India

Discover Kochi's Essence in 20 Captivating Minutes! Dive into the entrancing art of Kathakali makeup and witness the mesmerizing performances. Let the rhythmic dance of launderers at Dhobi Khana, an age-old tradition, captivate your senses. Wander through the rich history of the Jewish quarter, the traces of traders, and the legacy of ancient settlers. Explore the tales and traditions of Kerala, where the past meets the present in every corner. Join us on this journey through Kochi, a city of stories, heritage, and vibrant cultures. Don't miss this 20-minute visual treat!

This film was made on the basis of photos and videos taken during the trip India • South India 2018 • Tamil Nadu and Kerala (EN)

vimeo chapterA click on this icon above displays the list of chapters of this film about Kerala • state in southwest India in India. A click on a dot goes directly to a chapter.

Reading the text below will help you better understand the historical context of the sites shown in this video.

00:00 • intro

00:51 • Kathakali Theater

01:00 • makeup actors

01:39 • the performance

08:51 • Dhobi Khana

12:51 • the sea and the beach

14:32 • Chinese fillets

17:17 • the tomb of Vasco da Gama

17:54 • the jewish quarter and the ginger factory



Kochi, which the British called Cochin, is the largest city in Kerala, India. Kerala is a state in southern India known from ancient times for the delicacy of its spices. At all times, Arab, Greek and Roman, Jewish, Syrian and Chinese traders came to stock up on spices on this part of the Malabar coast. The port where traders' boats moored was Muziris, north of Kochi. After catastrophic floods in 1341, Muziris was gradually ousted by Kochi.

In 1498, Portuguese navigators arrived in Kochi Bay, opening up a new sea route and a new era of commerce. The first European colonial settlement on the territory of India was born.

Kochi hosted the tomb of the most famous Portuguese navigator, Vasco da Gama, in the grounds of the Church of Saint Francis until the transfer of his remains to Portugal in 1539. The original but empty tomb is still in Cochi.

The Dutch succeeded the Portuguese as colonizers. Dutch rule would last until 1814, when an agreement was signed with the British, ceding Kochi to them in exchange for the island of Bangka in eastern Sumatra.

the Khatakhali theater

Khatakhali is a form of dance theater that originated in the Kerala region. Codified since the 15th century, Khatakhali is a combination of drama, dance, music and ritual. This codification covers the costumes, the color and the form of the make-up of the actors according to the character they play.

A traditional khatakhali piece lasts several hours, and is less and less performed these days. However, the tradition has continued to this day and shortened performances are regularly given to tourists.

This show consists of two parts, the first being the public make-up of the actors, followed by the play itself.

Dhobi Khana

When the Dutch took over from the Portuguese in Kochi, they called on Tamil villagers to wash their clothes. These launderers bear the name of Dhobi in India (see also the Dhobi district in Mumbai). For 300 years, families of washing clothes have worked in a place called Dhobi Khana in Kochi. Many restaurants and hotels in the area use their services, but there are also many individuals who prefer hand-washed laundry.

Chinese fishing nets

For centuries, the people of Kochi have installed huge nets on the beach. The principle of the Chinese net is relatively simple. A net several meters square is submerged in the sea at a certain depth. Regularly, these nets are hauled up by the force of the arms of the fishermen aided by a kind of lever system and the fish are recovered. Sometimes this fishing is done at night, and the fish are attracted by the light of a lit lamp on the surface of the sea.

Considering the size of these nets which are nearly 20 meters apart, it is difficult to prevent birds from taking their share in the process ...

the jewish quarter

Many Jews left the Roman Empire following the persecutions of the Romans and the destruction of the Tempel of Jerusalem by Titus in 70. A number of them took refuge on the Malabar coast and regrouped in the Manttacherry district in Kochi. The Jews integrated perfectly into Indian society and enjoyed the protection of the princes over the centuries. The Kochi Synagogue is one of the largest in the Commonwealth.


about the place, Kochi:

Kochi, located on the southwest coast of India in the state of Kerala, is an iconic city blending history, culture, and natural beauty. Known for its lagoon networks, spices, and historical port, Kochi has been a major trading hub for centuries, attracting European, Arab, and Chinese traders. The city is famous for its Chinese fishing nets, colonial buildings, and the Paradesi Synagogue, reflecting its rich multicultural heritage. Kochi is also known for Kathakali and Kalaripayattu, providing visitors with a glimpse into Kerala's deep artistic traditions.

chinese fishing nets, Kochi, Kerala • India

What's the weather like in Kochi?

Spoken comments in the film: 



The son of the king of the sky is sitting quietly, when suddenly a beautiful woman appears, who slowly approaches him, dancing. They like each other from the first sight.

The king's son asks her: Are you a woman from heaven, or what world are you from?

From the heaven  retorted the young woman. She was very fond of sex. This put the chip in the ear of the king's son who understood that she was not part of the kingdom of heaven.

In reality she is a demon, and the young man punishes her by disfiguring her and cutting her breasts.

A moral...? "Evil must always be punished" ...

Dhobi Khana


The Dhobi Khana of Cochin (FortCochin) is one of the last traditional washhouses in South India.

In its current form Dhobi Khana was created in 1976 and offers work to many families in the area.

Initially, the Dutch occupation troops created a laundry to wash soldiers' uniforms. It was around 1775.



 - Gerry Mulligan - Absolutely the best of Gerry Mulligan - Blues at the Roots

 (Inde)  - India Folk Music - Dhun, Columbia Records (91 A 02021)

 - Suresh Prajapati (Inde)  - Indian Classical Instrumental - Flute Tabla Raga 1, Suresh Prajapati

 (Inde)  - India Folk Music - Kathakali (Malabar Village Dance Drama), Columbia Records (91 A 02021)

 - Giuseppe Verdi - Nabucco - Ouverture, Deutsche Grammophon (410512-2)

drying ginger, Kochi • India • Kerala

drying ginger

Kathakali show, Kochi • India • Kerala

Kathakali show

chinese fishing nets, Kochi • India • Kerala

chinese fishing nets

dhobi (clothes washer) at work, Kochi • India • Kerala

dhobi (clothes washer) at work

Kochi, Kerala, India

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