The Chinese fishing nets, also known as cheena vala or cheenavala, have a long-standing history in Kochi, a city located in the southern Indian state of Kerala. These unique fishing nets are a prominent feature of the city’s coastal landscape and a popular tourist attraction.
The origin of the Chinese fishing nets in Kochi can be traced back several centuries ago to the time of the Ming Dynasty in China. It is believed that these nets were introduced to the Malabar Coast (present-day Kerala) by Chinese explorer Zheng He and his fleet during the 14th century. Zheng He’s voyages took him to various parts of Southeast Asia, including India, and it is believed that the Chinese fishing nets were brought to Kochi during one of these expeditions.
The Chinese fishing nets are an innovative method of fishing that involves large stationary nets held by massive wooden frames. Each net is attached to a cantilever mechanism, which allows the nets to be raised and lowered into the water. The nets are operated by a group of fishermen who work in coordination to lift the nets and catch fish.
Over time, the Chinese fishing nets became an integral part of the local fishing culture in Kochi. They are primarily used for fishing in the backwaters and near the shoreline. The technique used with these nets is quite unique, as it involves a rhythmic movement by the fishermen, balancing on the beams, to raise and lower the nets into the water.
Today, the Chinese fishing nets in Kochi serve as a major tourist attraction. Visitors can experience the fishing process firsthand and even try their hand at operating the nets. The area around the fishing nets has developed into a bustling market where fresh seafood is sold, and numerous eateries offer delicious seafood dishes.
The Chinese fishing nets in Kochi are not only a testament to the historical maritime connections between China and India but also an iconic symbol of the city’s rich fishing heritage.