The history of Kochi is an intriguing one. The history of the city goes back to the beginning of the megalithic period that forms an important part of the prehistoric life in Kerala. The manuscripts such as Keralolpathi, Keralamahatmyam, Prumpadapu Grandavari shed light on the royal families of Kochi that weaves an mysterious and captivating tale about the kings of Kochi. The rise of the cities royal family begins with the rule of the Kulasekhara dynasty also known as the Chera kingdom, who governed between the 9th to the 12th century AD in Kerala. Although the Kulasekhara rulers governed the place for many centuries, the city rose to prominence only when European voyagers invaded it. With the advent of the Portuguese rule in the ports of Kochi, the city became a major commercial centre for spices, coir, and fishing products. The profiting trade of the Portuguese soon brought other tuft hunters to the port city. The Dutch and the British subsequently followed. By the 17th century, the East India Company took over the place by over throwing its European counter parts and the Mysore Kings. Read the article below to know more about the fascinating tale of Kochi's history.
Origin Of The Name
Although Kochi has a long and illustrious history, the origin of the name remains a mystery. The historians state that the ancient city of 'Balapuri' was renamed as Cochin, almost centuries ago. Some others think that the city got its name from the Malayalam word 'Kochazhi', which means small sea. Other records state that the traders from the court of Chinese ruler Kublai Khan gave the name Cochin. In the year 1996, its name was changed to Kochi but people still refer the city by its earlier name.
The history of Cochin prior to Portuguese rule is not very clear. However, the references found in the accounts of many travelers brought suggest that Cochin had a diverse population and was home to many efficient rulers. However, Cochin gained its importance as a port city only after the fall of Kulashekhara kingdom. After this, Cochin became the prime attractions for many foreign rulers.
The Portuguese rule in Cochin is the most prosperous and eventful period in the city's history. The Portuguese king sent his admiral, Pedro Cabral to establish business in the city. The local ruler welcomed him and even accepted the treaty of friendship. Extending his hands of love and trust, the King of Cochin granted permission for Portuguese to build a factory and even a fort. After this, Vasco da Gama came to the city to explore the attractions of the place. The glorious rule of Portuguese continued for more than a century from 1503 to 1663. Various factors like intermarriage, religious persecutions and forcible conversions became the main reasons for the decline of Portuguese power.
With the extension of Portuguese power, the Dutch occupied the land in 1653 and by the year 1663, the city came under their power. However, the glory of Dutch came to end when Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali defeated them.
In the year 1773, the Mysore ruler Hyder Ali took the control of Malabar region including Cochin. The King of the sector was asked to pay a huge subsidy to free his land and with time, the hierarchical rule of prime ministers of Cochin came to an end.
After the Anglo-Dutch treaty of 1814, Kochi including Fort Kochi and its nearby territories came under British supremacy. Under the power of English, the city developed as the major harbor of the country. The famous Willington Airport was created at the same time, which now serves as the mainland for naval Airport, Cochin Port and Southern Naval Command headquarters.
After the Indian Independence, a new state called Kerala was formed in 1956 by the union of three provinces, namely Malabar, Travancore and Cochin. Later in the year 1967, the corporation of Cochin was formed by merging towns of Fort Kochi, Ernakulam, Mattancherry and nearby villages. Today, Kochi stands as the major commercial and economical hub in Kerala.