Though most of the residents and the tourists who throng Fort Kochi, pass by this street which is located close to many tourist attractions like art galleries, most of them seem to be unaware of the historic connection associated with the Burgher street. There are only two streets in Fort Kochi which still bear Dutch names, Burgher Street and Petercelli Street as the other streets have been renamed by the British who came later.
The word Burgher in Dutch means ‘clerk’ in reference to the Portuguese descendants of clerks here who had built the street. Though there are no Burghers on the street anymore, it remains a mute testimony of a 300 year old Dutch legacy. It is ironical that this erstwhile Dutch street has a number of Portuguese descendants but no Dutch residents.
The legacy says that in the 15th Century when the Portuguese first came to Kerala, they built a fort in the area and the city around it was called Fort Kochi. But soon the Dutch came in and they destroyed the fort and many other Portuguese buildings and brought in the Protestant reign which made them unpopular among the local populace, which ultimately forced them to leave the area for the Portuguese.
Even today, the Burgher Street has some ancient buildings that showcases specks of Dutch architecture including high ceilings, thick walls and a small courtyard. However it is alarming to note that many modern constructions have come up in the heritage zone, violating the norms, which makes the conservation of these vestiges an uphill task. Like the many pieces of forgotten history, the Burgher Street too has lost its historical significance somewhere; nonetheless let us hope that these vital links of history are not lost forever.
Kochi: It is expected that with the development of boating facilities, the Kottayil Kovilakom tourism project, will get a major boost. Located at Chennamangalam in Ernakulam District, this palace was the erstwhile seat of Kshatriya chieftains of Villarvattom. Kottayil Kovilakom was a coveted center of learning during the Chola reign and it has a larger than life role in the history of Kochi. It is situated at a distance of 39 km from Ernakulam and is about 14 km from Cherai enroute to Kodungallur. Chennamangalam is world famous for handloom weaving and coir manufacturing.
According to the legend, the fort of Paliyam kotta was built by the Dutch as a gesture of goodwill to the Paliyathachans and within which a palace (kovilakam) exclusively for women was built, which gave it the name Kottayil Kovilakam.
It is also a centre for religious integration as a Shri Krishna Temple, an old Syrian Catholic Church, a mosque and a Jewish Synagogue are located very close to each other, bearing testimony of the enviable cultural harmony of Kerala.
Kottayil Kovilakam is blessed with the choicest of natural bounties. It falls in the confluence of three rivers including the Periyar and the Chalakudy Rivers, seven inlets, hillocks and vast stretches of rolling green plains. The Paliam Palace, the erstwhile royal homes of the Paliath Achans, hereditary Prime Ministers to the erstwhile Maharajas of Kochi testifies the marvel of the traditional Kerala architectural style at its best. The palace is a rich repository of ancient documents and relics.
The remnants of the Vypeenkotta Seminary dating back to the 16th century, built by the Portuguese, the ancient Kunnathali temple and the imposing Malavana Para, standing tall amidst the fast flowing waters are some other attractions nearby.
In the second phase of the Kottayil Kovilakom tourism project, road connectivity will be improved apart from introducing boating facilities.