Atithi Devo Bhava!
It’s been about a week now that Travel Smart! has arrived in India, more precisely in a city called Fort Kochi (see the map here).
Located on the south west coast of India at the Arabian Sea, Fort Kochi has been ranked the sixth best tourist destination in India and offers many interesting sights such as the ancient Chinese fishing nets, the Jain Temple, or the Backwaters of Kochi.
The official languages spoken are Malayalam and English and with more than 600,000 inhabitants it’s the most densely populated city in the state of Kerala. 97.5% of the people are literate, and with an only 1.1% lower literacy rate for females, Kochi has amongst the lowest such gaps in India. Hinduism is the major religion (47%) followed by Christianity (35%) and Islam (17%) and all the believers live peacefully next-door to one another and interrelate in very good relations. As a local Muslim told us: “You can call it water, agua, or Wasser – it’s always the same thing, just the way we call it changes. God is always God.”
Known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Fort Kochi was an important spice trading centre from the 14th century onwards and is still a major port city with some industry surrounding it. As one of the first of the European colonies in colonial India it was occupied by the Portuguese in 1503, following later by the Dutch and the British as well. It was the centre of Indian spice trade for many centuries, and known to the Greek, Romans, Jews, Syrians, Arabs, and Chinese since ancient times. Therefore Kochi has been influenced by many cultures and religions and developed to be an unique place in India.
Arriving at Kochi you are immediately welcomed by many warm smiles, prying but friendly eyes and an unknown generosity. People are incredibly nice, open-minded and interested in each other. They desire to increase your happiness and they help you to make your stay rememberable. The culture’s hospitality is based on an ancient Sanskrit verse that everybody knows and lives: “Atithi Devo Bhava! – The guest is equivalent to God!”
We are excited to get to know this place and its people more and more and to share with you our discoveries and adventures in this wonderful country in following articles!