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Clare Harris and M. E. Heston

[Kuchi Bandar]

City on the coast of Kerala, India. Facing the Arabian Sea, Cochin experienced strong contacts with Europe and other parts of Asia from early times, and signs of Portuguese, Chinese, Jewish, early Christian, Dutch and British influence are evident everywhere.

Clare Harris

St Thomas the Apostle is said to have visited the area in ad 52, making Cochin the oldest European settlement in India. The Moplah Christian colony dates from this period, and the first Jewish community in Cochin is said to have been established at around the same time; both Jewish and Syrian Christian communities are reported to have been well developed by the 8th century. A friar named Jordanus was in Cochin in 1347, Chinese travellers stopped there in 1409, and a Persian visited in 1442. Many of the early visitors to the port were seeking spices from the Kerala hinterland: in 1500 the Portuguese explorer Pedralvares Cabral (...