Fort Kochi and Mattancherry – Kerala's two iconic locales known for their diversity and rich cultural heritage – will soon get the much-deserving 'heritage town' status. The state's tourism department is expected to bestow the honour on the twin towns soon.
The status definitely comes with a bonanza. All the heritage buildings in both the towns will be spruced up to maintain their tourism potential. According to the department officials, a private company has been asked to prepare a project report.
A meeting held under the aegis of tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran in August had drawn up elaborate plans to improve the facilities in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry.
The department has sought help from Indian Institute of Technology-Madras to restore the erosion-hit, dilapidated walkway at Fort Kochi. "Construction of a new walkway will begin after finalising the design," said Rajkumar, Joint Director of Tourism at Ernakulam.
Apart from this, the department has prepared master plans to build state-of-the-art toilets, install street lights, and refurbish the iconic Chinese nets. "We have already prepared the master plan," said Rajkumar. "The refurbishing of Chinese nets will be finished this month," he added.
The towering Chinese nets dotting the coastal towns have been a huge draw among the tourists. Some tourists even pay a fee to try their hands at fishing. No photo of Kochi is complete with the nets silhouetted against the backdrop of horizon-bound sun.
Mattancherry is a microcosm of a bygone era – of traders, travellers, culture, culinary traditions and even art of more than three dozen communities with roots spread across a global canvas. It has 39 communities in just 5 km radius.
The Indo-Portuguese museum in Fort Kochi, Dutch Palace at Mattancherry, Jewish Synagogue, Bastion Bungalow, Aspinwall House, Ariyittuvazhcha Kottaram in Mattancherry and the existing jetty, a remnant of the British period are of heritage value.