Tourism in Kerala, which has so far targeted beaches, forests and backwaters, will soon showcase the glory of the 3000-year old Muziris port, unveiling the state`s heritage to the world. The Muziris Heritage Project, claimed to be the first of its kind in the country, is expected to turn Muziris into a major destination for cultural tourism, Chief Project Consultant Benny Kuriakose said.
Muziris was among the earliest port cities in the world. It is also home to India`s first church (Mar Thoma), first mosque (Cheraman Juma Masjid) and the oldest European monument (Portuguese Fort).
Situated on India`s south-western coast, Muziris was a prominent city for spice traders. As they did business, they became partners in promoting an early model of cosmopolitanism with Muziris as its global nucleus. Recent and ongoing excavations by archaeologoists have yielded evidence of the ancient glory of the place as a hub of commercial activity. The Muziris project is an endeavour to showcase this 3,000 year-old culture in all its plentitude and complexity.
“This project is a walk through 3,000 years of Kerala history. Buddhists, Arabs, Chinese, Jews, Romans, Portuguese, Dutch and British came here. Jews have left two synagogues. We are trying to link all these. the existing muziris and the sites," Kuriakose said.
A series of 27 museums, spread over the heritage region displaying maritime trade, lifestyle, barter system and handicrafts, are being planned and five will be opened next year. Interactive museums are a major component of the project. Life and works of contemporary men and women who made a difference to social life in what was once Muziris will be the subject of some museums. Since Muziris is spread on either banks of Periyar river, efforts were made to deepen canals and construct jetties.
"Since Muziris had links with many countries, we would like to seek the coordination of the these countries with the help of UNSESCO and also try to include Muziris as a World Heritage Site", Kuriakose said.