Muziris set for a comeback with restored glory

Saving heritage

Muziris set for a comeback with restored glory

 A promotional line for the Muziris Heritage Project calls the lost port of Muziris a place where “history came calling”.

The Kerala government describes it as the largest conservation project in the country. After six years of works, as President Pranab Mukherjee formally launched the project on Saturday, its chief promoter — Kerala Tourism — is pitching to revive the port city, one of the earliest in the world, in its cultural and historical contexts.

State Tourism Minister A P Anilkumar said the project, when completed, would open new possibilities in tourism in the region pegged to heritage, education and research. History traces the evolution of Muziris as a port from 3000 BC and marks it as a key point in maritime trade routes, with trade links to the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Chinese and more. Floods and an earthquake are believed to have knocked the port city off the map, in 1341.

The project is being implemented in the region between North Paravur in Ernakulam district and Kodungallur in Thrissur district. The stretch reflects the history of visitors from diverse lands with varied cultures. The remnants of Muziris’ rich trade connections are left as margin notes from history— in Azhikode, which is considered Christianity’s entry point to India, the Cheraman Mosque and the museums which help to trace early Jewish life in Kerala.

Shrines, markets, palaces, forts and cemeteries will be preserved as part of the project. Heritage sites will be supplemented with 27 museums, four of them already open to public. Two archaeological sites, in Pattanam and Kottappuram, will form key components in the project. Between the two districts, the project covers conservation of archaeological monuments spread over 125 sq km.

The second phase of the Muziris Heritage Project will also feature a revival of the region’s once-thriving spice route. History points to Muziris as a spice trade hub, with links to countries in Europe and the Far East. The ambitious project has also received backing from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

India as maritime power

President Pranab Mukherjee called the Spice Route project “both important and timely” as India was seeking to re-emerge as an international trade and transport hub as well as a maritime power. “I understand the spice route initiative will link 41 countries in Asia and Europe with India and rejuvenate our cultural and academic exchanges with these nations. The goal will be the development of a multi-national cultural corridor,” he said.
He said the Muziris Heritage Project sought to bring alive “this wonderful mosaic of cultural influences” in a holistic way.

 Revival

27 museums and other buildings as recall to the ancient port city
UNESCO-backed Spice Route project to revive maritime trade links
Circuit tours with hop-on hop-off boat services
Integration of local communities
A research and academic institution
Improved infrastructure in the region

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