Muziris was the Headquarters of the powerful Chera Dynasty, which had under its reign almost all the principalities of ancient Kerala, till around 5th century before AD and from 8th till 11th AD. It was a prominent port city for spice trade and maritime relations until 1341, when a devastating cyclone and flood in the river Periyar washed off the harbour and formed a natural harbour miles away in Kochi, which was a tiny village along the bank of Vembanad estuary in those days.
Subsequently, the Perumpadappu Swaroopam-an extended family of the powerful Chera Dynasty had moved to Kochi during and eventually renamed themselves as the Kochi Royal Family. The later years have seen Kochi emerging as a prominent port, and Muziris disappearing into history.
Located at the river mouth of Periyar-one of the major rivers of Kerala, Muziris got abandoned by the traders who had settled there for centuries, and trading centres, places of worship, markets and human habitats got desolated. Thanks to the inquisitive historians, archaeologists and heritage enthusiasts, Muziris came back into the limelight. A large number of Roman amphora shreds, terra sigillata shreds, Sassanian, Yemenite and other West Asian potteries were unearthed during the excavations. The ruins of an old fort, ancient temples, churches built by St. Thomas, oldest mosque in India and two synagogues could be restored. Cooperative societies are formed in the region to support the traditional weavers in the region.
The picturesque, resurrected and resilient villages near the disappeared Muziris port and the places where excavations carried can be best explored by water-taxis.
Flood of 2018
Chennamangalam village of Muziris is the habitat of weavers whose ancestors settled here during the period of Chera rulers. During the devastating deluge of 2018, the weavers lost their livelihood. Mrs.Lakshmi Menon, a social entrepreneur, came forward to help the weavers, disinfecting and recycling the huge bulk of damaged handloom textile to craft beautiful dolls-Chekkutty, distributing the proceeds from the among the weavers and enabling them to restore their life.
The Nature, as part of its mystic moves to restructure and reorganize its geographical features, had applied its mighty power of typhoon and flood and pushed away the natural harbour at the mouth of Periyar river in the Muziris miles away towards the north, to the sleepy fishing village-Kochi
Kodungalloor was the capital of the Chera rulers of Muziris. The temple of Goddess is famous for the annual ritual, Aswathy Kaavutheendal, when the temple premise becomes a sea of red, with oracles, clad in red clothing, dancing in a trance seeking blessings of the Goddess.
Several other ancient temples of unique architecture, the Palayur church, first of the 7 churches built by St.Thomas, the oldest Indian mosque named after the king of the secular and hospitable Chera dynasty and many other remnants are scattered across the present days’ Muziris.
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale foundation is actively engaged in preserving the rich heritage of the ancient Port city-Muziris and the modern port city-Kochi, using contemporary art as the medium.
The KOCHI-MUZIRIS BIENNALLE is scheduled for 2022, from 12th December through April 2023.
This is a painting a participant of Biennalle, expressing his concern over the negative impact of shut down caused by the pandemic.
By the middle of the 14th century, the cosmopolitan Muziris port city had disappeared from the Spice trade route, giving way to Kochi to emerge as the strategic cosmopolitan port for the International commerce & trade of Kerala to flourish again. The past 7 centuries have seen the rapid and stunning development of the tiny fishing village in to a world-class welcoming commercial city of civilised, multi-ethic communities, equipped with pleasant eco-system, modern comforts, top rated health care system and the infrastructural facilities.
Post the colonial era, Kochi is known internationally by the Europeanised name, Cochin.
Join us on board our cruise aboard RV Vaikundam for our experiential journey through rural Kerala. As part of the Cruise package, we offer a post or pre-tour of Kochi and Muziris.