Late Sunday afternoon was time to go on our guided tour of Cochin. After a stop to view the shore, some shady rain trees, and the Chinese fishing nets (a row of big nets attached to cranes that were once used to mine the Arabian Sea for fish), we moved on the Mattancherry Palace, the former home of the Maharajahs of Cochin.
The palace had some of the accoutrements one would expect the Rajahs to have, including incredibly dark teakwood ceilings, royal portraits, swords, fancy costumes made with gold and silver thread, palanquins (man-handled carriages for rajahs and ranees) and howdahs (elephant carriages) and a mural series depicting scenes from the Ramayana. The paintings were very detailed and very colorful, but they left me a bit depressed because I felt that they weren’t being kept in the best of conditions. Photography wasn’t allowed within Mattancherry, yet windows and doors were left open so that the heat and humidity could flow right in. I suppose those are the conditions that Mattancherry has always existed in, but I got the sense that my friends who work in art and art conservation would have been appalled.
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