Kerala enters heritage map
President Pranab Mukherjee being welcomed in Calicut. - PTI
Trivandrum - Started six years ago by the Kerala government, the project aims to highlight the historical and cultural significance of Muziris with a view to boost tourism.
Kerala entered the international heritage map when President Pranab Kumar Mukherjee inaugurated the first phase of Muziris Heritage Project that showcases the legacy of an ancient port that served as a doorway for various culture and races to India more than 3000 years ago at Kodungalloor near Cochin on Saturday.
The first phase throws open over a dozen heritage museums, places of different worships that include India's first mosque and a church believed to have been established by Jesus Christ's apostle St. Thomas, and other sites conserved at a cost of more than Rs 1 billion.
"If Kerala is God's own country, Kodungalloor is the town where the gods gather in unity and harmony. It is heartening to know that the ancient Kurumba Bhagavati temple and Cheraman Mosque, believed to be the oldest mosque in India, are both in Kodungalloor," he said. "Muziris was the doorway for cultures, religions and races into India. It was frequented by large ships of ocean traders from across the world, including Arabs, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese," said Mukherjee.
Started six years ago by the Kerala government, the project aims to highlight the historical and cultural significance of Muziris with a view to boost tourism. The seaport of Muziris is mentioned in the 1st century travelogues, ancient Sangam texts and Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder's encyclopaedic work, Natural History.
The project would open up to Indian and foreign tourists a new destination, bringing economic benefits to the people of the region as well as knowledge and enjoyment for the visitors, he added.
The project launched in 2006 includes development works of Chennamangalam palaces, Cheraman Parambu, Synagogue and waterfront at North Paravur. It also envisages conservation of archaeological monuments within 125 sq km spread across Thrissur and Ernakulam districts.
MHP encompasses the area around the ancient port of Muziris, stretching from Kodungalloor in Trichur to North Paravur in Ernakulam. The area is dotted with many of the historically significant monuments - the first mosque, one of the earliest synagogues and the oldest surviving European building in India - and it was the entry point of many cultures and religions to the land.
MHP was conceived primarily as a heritage conservation initiative while actively exploring the tourism possibilities it throws open. It has the participation of 19 government agencies. Historical research and archaeological excavations to acquire more data about the ancient port and the life in it began with the Pattanam excavations in 2007. The project also envisaged participation of the locals, integration of the local economy and rejuvenation of water transport in the ambit of the project. - firstname.lastname@example.org