The Dutch Cemetery road paints images of both mystery and romance. It has the magic of Enid Blyton brought to life.
It was a pleasant Saturday afternoon. My boyfriend and I were walking on a pavement by the beach. The tides were so high that the cold water touched our feet as we walked. It was going to rain. But it did not matter, the hush of the wind blowing and the smile on my face throughout the stroll is probably the reason why even today The Dutch Cemetery Road weighs above all the hundreds of streets in Fort Kochi. Hidden in a corner of the city, wandering on this road is like a fancy. It is a quaint narrow street tucked away with the heavy walls of the Dutch Cemetery and the Thakur House (which was once a Dutch Fort).
Walking down the street I am astounded by the Dutch architecture, including high ceilings, thick walls and small courtyards, the road showcases. The beautiful Dutch bungalows add to the charm of the street transporting me back to the colonial era. The Dutch are known to be the blunders rather than the builders. After walking down the street, it is hard to believe it could be true. However I cannot overlook the eerie feeling the street has to offer everytime I pass by it. There are certain myths among the locals, of restless spirits lingering at night and snakes creeping out of the cemetery. In addition the three hundred year old history of the cemetery magnifies the spooky feeling of the meanderer. In fact, the entry gate to the cemetery still bears the original calligraphic inscription of the year “1724” still preserved to date. The mysterious history has always intrigued me to enter the cemetery each time I would pass it. But since the cemetery is being preserved by the Dutch Government, it has been locked for the general public. The Dutch Government’s endeavour to clear up the jungle that had grown and plant flowers now makes the cemetery atleast a little appealing. The rich history and strong relevance is how the Dutch Cemetery Road hails its name from this oldest European Cemetery that exists in the country today.
In the face of all the myths and stories that prevail, there are always people here, grabbing a cup of coffee or just enjoying a quiet stroll by the beach; with one eye on the kids who scramble up and down the road, weaving between each other playing a game of football and then jumping into the water for a refreshing dip. Even though the Dutch cemetery road covers a large area, it is astonishingly simple to get distracted by the beautiful and magnificent Thakur House just down the way. “I love to sit in the garden, sip tea and enjoy the beautiful seaside view.” says Mrs Nisha Sharma, a homemaker and a inhabitant of the Thakur House for 20 years. The Thakur House reflects the leisurely lifestyle of the colonial era, exuding grandeur and charm it remains historic and multilayered.
The street is an eclectic blend of significant history, colonial homestays, antique shops and theme-cafes. The striking red and green Bob Marley Cafe with loud retro music at the beginning of the street is hard to go unnoticed. The smell of fresh seafood being prepared is tantalizing to every passerby. The ‘you buy I fry’ is a very common concept found in these outdoor cafes where you buy the seafood you desire from the market nearby and then give it to them to prepare in the style you want. And even if there is a language barrier (which even I face sometimes) you could just point out at what looks nice and hope for the best, but chances are you’ll get something good.
Well, now I get to walk on a cleaner and well preserved street. The late hour police patrolling and tight security makes the road safer for everyone to use. But since the beach has been opened for the public to use at large it has become the foremost attraction. The history of the road has been lost somewhere down the time line. However it still holds the vital links that connects the city to the Dutch Legacy of the yore!