Skip to main content

Featured Post

Book Review: On Philosophising, Philosophers, Philosophy and New Vistas in Applied Philosophy, by Dr. Sharmila Jayant Virkar

A little bit of context before you begin reading this book review. I have recently enrolled for an MA in Philosophy at the University of Mumbai. Philosophy is something I have been getting interested in, over the past few years, as those of you who have been reading my blogs and Instagram posts would know. During the pandemic, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do next, and this is what I eventually came up with. It has been a challenge, getting back into academics as a student at this age, especially in a subject I have no academic background in. However, it has also been very exciting, especially thanks to my wonderful classmates (who, surprisingly, are of all age-groups, including some quite near my own) and my teachers, who have been very supportive and understanding. How well I will do is something that remains to be seen, but so far, I am enjoying this new journey and look forward to where it leads. Now that you know the background , you probably get an idea of how

Fort Kochi - Part 2: Chinese Fishing Nets

“Go see the Chinese Fishing Nets” was what almost everyone told me, the minute I said I was going to Cochin! And why not! These nets are seen only in and around Cochin, and are a prime tourist attraction. Even the auto driver we hired to show us the sights was more enthusiastic about them than he was about the museums and art galleries I wanted to visit!




So there we were, near the beach, where a row of depressing looking fishermen sat awaiting the tourists. It was May, and with vacations on, there should have been scores of visitors around, but Fort Kochi apparently isn’t on the bucket list of Indian tourists. It is foreigners who come here, and mostly in winter. Besides, the fishing nets are best seen at dawn and dusk when the sky comes alive with colours, providing a dramatic backdrop to these nets, attracting the photographers. We were there in the evening, on a cloudy day, with rain threatening to rob us of the spectacular sight… no wonder we were the only tourists around!



Our arrival galvanized a few of the fishermen, and I finally saw the nets in action…. I was fascinated by the sight of the huge nets being lowered and raised by a cantilever, a row of rocks tied to one end, and the fishermen walking on the pole to balance the weight on the other end!



There is no doubt that these fishing nets are Chinese in origin, though how they came here is apparently under debate. While some claim that these nets were brought here by Chinese traders during the reign of Kublai Khan (13th century AD), others attribute it to the great Chinese navigator Zheng He (14th century). Meanwhile, there is even an argument that it was the Portuguese who brought it here from China, along with some Chinese who operated these nets for a long time. Whatever the source, these nets have been in Cochin for well over five centuries, and are an inherent part of the landscape. Interestingly, these nets are confined to Cochin and nearby areas, not seen anywhere else, even in Kerala!



These nets must have been quite a profitable source of income at one time (which is probably the reason they have survived this long), but today, for various reasons, the nets are little more than a tourist attraction. The nets look huge, but at a time, they manage to catch just a few fish, and we wondered if it was worth all the men, and the effort it entailed. The catch is not large enough to be sold in the market, and indeed, their primary customers are tourists, who pay to see the sight, and buy fish to be cooked in one of the nearby stalls. Their disappointment was evident when they learnt that we were vegetarians and didn’t want to buy the fish. However, they all had a good laugh when one of them got Samhith to hold a fish in his hand, and he squirmed more than the fish itself!



While this was our first encounter with the Chinese Fishing Nets, we saw them all over the place as we explored, first Fort Kochi, and later, Cherai. Everywhere, the story was the same, and I began to wonder how much longer they would last.



These fishing nets had made their way across the ocean (figuratively of course), and lasted centuries, surviving changes of rule and massive upheavals in every sense. Will they be around, another five centuries from now? Or will they succumb to the tide of modernization and indifference? Time alone will tell!




P.S. Here is a video of Shankar trying his hand with the fishermen at raising and lowering the net. 




Comments

  1. Nice post! These would soon become a pure tourist attraction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Niranjan! I think they already are :(

      Delete
  2. Nice post! It was worth reading,keep up the good work :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nicely written. The image of the fish in his hand adds a nice personal touch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sabyasachi! It did add a personal element to our trip too, esp the visit to the nets. Otherwise, we simply would have seen them and walked off.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please leave a comment for me so that I will know you have been here....

Popular posts from this blog

The Havelis of Bikaner - A Photo Post

The lanes are narrow , twisting and turning amidst buildings old and new. Crumbling old structures with intricate workmanship stand side by side with art deco buildings, and more modern constructions, which follow no particular style. Autos, bicycles, motorcycles and vans rush past, blowing their horns as loudly as possible, while cows saunter past peacefully, completely unaffected by the noise. In the midst of all this chaos, children play by the side, and women go about their chores, as we explore these by-lanes of Bikaner, and its beautiful Havelis. Facade of one of the Rampuria Havelis

The Elephanta Caves

The Elephanta Caves , located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri, about 11 Km off the coast of the Gateway of India, Mumbai, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to these caves, excavated probably in the 6 th century CE, is awe-inspiring, and also thought-provoking. Over the years, I have visited the caves a number of times, and also attended a number of talks by experts in the fields of art, history and archaeology on the caves. Together, they help me understand these caves, their art, and the people they were created for, just a little bit better. Every new visit, every new talk, every new article I read about the caves, fleshes out the image of what the island and the caves would have been like, at their peak. I last wrote about the caves on this blog, in 2011, almost exactly 11 years ago. Since then, my understanding of the caves has, I would like to think, marginally improved. Hence this attempt to write a new and updated post, trying to bring to life, the caves of Elephan

Gokarna Part II – The Five Lingams

We continued our Gokarna trip by visiting four other Shiva temples in the vicinity, all connected to the same story of Gokarna. The story of Gokarna mentions the Mahabaleshwara Lingam as the one brought from Kailas by Ravana, and kept at this place on the ground by Ganesha. (See my earlier post- Gokarna – Pilgrimage and Pleasure). However, the story does not end here. It is believed that, in his anger, Ravana flung aside the materials which covered the lingam- the casket, its lid, the string around the lingam, and the cloth covering it. All these items became lingams as soon as they touched the ground. These four lingams, along with the main Mahabaleshwara lingam are collectively called the ‘ Panchalingams’ . These are: Mahabaleshwara – the main lingam Sajjeshwar – the casket carrying the lingam. This temple is about 35 Kms from Karwar, and is a 2 hour drive from Gokarna. Dhareshwar – the string covering the lingam. This temple is on NH17, about 45 Kms south of Gokarna. Gunavantesh