Kochi, Aug 7 : Tourists visiting Kochi now have a reason to rejoice, as the city's old colonial houses are being converted into tourist homes.
Fort Kochi has a number of these old homes that were once inhabited by Jews, Portuguese and Dutch settlers.
Most of these old houses are located on Princess Street, which is one of the oldest in Fort Kochi. The buildings here are all in colonial style, with their peeling pastel, bronze stucco walls and flowerpot-laden windowsills.
One of the hotels located on the Princess Street is housed in a 200-year-old building. It is a showpiece of Portuguese architecture with ancient arches and alcoves and eight bedrooms overlooking a courtyard.
Chiramel Home is yet another colonial house that is an exponent of Dutch architecture with high ceilings. It is also known as timbered home because of extensive use of wood in its architecture.
Another hotel, which also serves, as an Aryuvedic spa is a located in a 300-year-old building built in the Dutch style.
But what stands apart from all these houses is grand former home of Fort Cochin's most prominent Jewish family popularly known as 'Koder House'. It is an imposing early nineteenth century brick red structure and excellent example of Portuguese architecture.
It was bought over by a Jew Samuel Koder in 1905, who was the honorary consul to the Dutch.
The Koders were a prominent family of their time and established the first electricity company of Cochin known as the Cochin Electricity Company. They also built first ferry in the city.
The present owner of the property is Vicky Raj. He wants to maintain its original character with its traditional looks, which attracted him to purchase it.
He has restored 'Koder House' to its formal days of glory and wants residents and the tourists to know about its glorious heritage.
"Most of the dignitaries like the Presidents and the Prime Ministers visit Koders. So what I'm doing today is trying to revive this place, as most of youngsters wouldn't know who the Koders are," said Raj.
Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi visited the place when they came with former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1970s.
'Koder House' has six luxurious suites and the price of each of these suits ranges from 150 - 350 US Dollars per day, depending upon the tourist season.
Diana Peter, a foreign tourist who stayed for three years in Fort Kochi when she was ten years of age says that not much has changed in the grand edifice.
Visiting this place after 38 years with her family and having lunch on the same old table gave her a feeling of nostalgia.
"I wanted to show them (her family) where I lived and for them to get a feeling of what life was like in India. I hope that they have taken some of that share and they will take some of that away with them," said Diana.
Kroll, a tourist from United States, has fallen in love with the place for its tranquility.
"Koder House has more than exceeded our expectations of finding a place of peace and tranquility. All people who work here at Koder House have been absolutely wonderful and making us feel at home," said Kroll. By Juhan Samuel