The Far Horizon Magazine

Offbeat India – Muziris, An Ancient Port City

The Muziris Heritage Site, hidden away in the by lanes of the town of Kodungallur 18 miles north of Cochin, Kerala is perhaps India’s biggest archaeological discovery. Dating back to the 1st century BC the Muziris seaport and urban centre is reputed to have been the greatest Trading Centre of ancient east. This important seaport saw trading in almost everything possible from spices to precious stones and silk with the Greeks, Romans, Persians, Egyptians and the rest of the world.

The Kerala government with the support of the central government has initiated the Muziris Heritage Project (MHP) to restore and conserve the heritage of this very significant region that is important to the history and culture of not only Kerala but the whole of India. MHP is a tourism venture by the Kerala government to restore the historical and cultural significance of Muziris.  A series of excavations has been carried out on the site  which extends from the north Paravur district in Ernakulam to Kodungallur in the Thrissur district.

The main focus of the Muziris Heritage Project has been to integrate the project with present day development plans and bring about improvement of the local economy, generate employment for the local community and promote traditional skills and craftsmanship. The project largely focuses on sustaining the local communities by getting them involved in heritage tourism.

Today the entire stretch is dotted with monuments and buildings and is an outstanding specimen of markets, streets, footways, bridges and cemeteries among other fascinating constructions of an era gone by. The site has some of the oldest mosques, churches and synagogues here which speak volumes of cultural tolerance and peaceful coexistence, so relevant in today’s world. Although a number of pilgrims visit the church and mosques here during festivals only a few visitors come to see the protected monuments at the site.

As part of the initiative several circuit tours are being worked upon for the benefit of those who would like to visit the site. An effort is also being made to initiate the establishment of a market here without disturbing the existing layout and character of the original market place to retain the old world charm of the area. In addition, four museums and other sites like the Pallipuram fort, Cheraman Juma Masjid, Paravur market etc will be opened to the public to give them a better insight into the multicultural history of this ancient port city.

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