The port city of Kochi has a very colorful and rich history. It was formerly known as Cochin and used to serve as an important trading center in the ancient times. The city occupies a very strategic position geographically, being flanked by the Western Ghats on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. It has, thus, long been a real enticing destination for travelers, traders and seafarers. Slowly it gained the reputation of being a significant spice-trading center.
In many ancient scriptures and history books based on Kochi, one will
find that the ancient travelers and tradesmen who came to the city
referred to it as Cochym, Cochin, Cochi and even Cocym. During those
days, Cochin city of Kerala witnessed successive waves of migration by
the Arabs, British, Chinese, Dutch, and Portuguese, who came here mainly
for the purpose of trade. Many of these groups went on to reside in the
city for sometime before migrating away to other lands.
History before the Portuguese rule
The earliest account of Cochin is derived from the records made by the
Chinese traveler, Ma Huan. Even in other documents belonging from the
same period, the account of Cochin history prior to the Portuguese rule
is quite vague. As per the available information, the city gained its
reputation of being a port city only after the collapse of the
Kulashekhara kingdom. These accounts also state that Cochin was invaded
by foreigners and colonized many times. The king remained the titular
The Portuguese Period
The time during which Cochin was under the Portuguese rule is very
interesting. It is said admiral, Pedro Cabral was sent by the Portuguese
king to set up a factory at the city. The Raja of Cochin succumbed to
the demand of the admiral, but mainly out of fear of the native
Zamorins. Later, it was the legendary traveler Vasco Da Gama, who
managed to pacify the Zamorins. The Portuguese then built Fort Manuel to
protect their factory from any sort of attack.
The Dutch rule over Cochin lasted from 1663 to 1795. They defeated the
Portuguese and disposed the Cochin Raja. After landing confidently at
Njarakal, they went on to seize the Pallippuram fort, which they later
gave to the Zamorins. Cochin prospered under the Dutch rule by shipping
pepper, cardamom and other spices, coir, coconut, and copper. The native
ethnic religious groups in the city like the Hindus, Muslims, Syrian
Christian and Jewish minorities too raked profits of the prosperity.
The British Period and Thereafter
The port city of Cochin had become highly developed during the time of
the British rule in India. Later, this city became the first princely
state to join the Indian Union willingly after India achieved
Independence from the British rule. It slowly developed into not only a
major commercial and industrial centre in the country, but also an
enticing tourist destination. This reputation, Kochi has maintained till
The port city of Cochin has a colorful and rich history. Read on to know about the history & origin of Kochi, Kerala.