The Chinese Fishing Nets are the famous attractions of Kerala and are popularly known as Cheenavala in Malayalam. Located next to Fort Kochi, this iconic attraction is one of the significant cultural symbols of Kerala. Attracting a number of tourists and photographers every day, the spot is one of the most famous photographed places in Kochi. The picture of the beautifully arranged fishing nets against the backdrop of pristine and clear waters at sunset is something satisfying and makes up for a magnificently beautiful sight.
Basically, the Chinese Fishing Nets are the huge fishing nets which are fixed on teak and bamboo poles. Counterweighted by large stones tied to ropes, these nets are let down into the sea. Then the nets are left in the sea for some time and pulled back again by tugging the ropes after collecting a good amount of catch. These majestic fishing nets are considered to be the ingenious way of fishing. These fishing nets have been in use for the last 500 years and are one of the biggest tourist draws in Kerala.
History of Chinese Fishing Nets:
It is still not very clear about how the usage of Chinese Fishing Nets started in India; however one of the perspectives is that these nets were introduced to Kochi possibly during the 14th century by Zheng He, a famous Chinese explorer from the court of a Chinese emperor Kubala Khan. At that time, the Chinese traded with different parts of Kerala. But now the Chinese Fishing Nets are not seen anywhere in Kerala except at Kochi, its nearest islands and connected areas, not even in China.
It is also said that the basic design of the fishing nets was brought to Kochi from Macau by the Portuguese who colonized both Macau and Kochi in the 16th century. These fishing nets were redesigned by the Portuguese according to the currents and depth of the sea at Kochi. Irrespective of who brought these fishing net first, they are one of the most significant symbols of the rich exchange of ideas and culture that existed in the Indian subcontinent at the time.
Usage and Mechanism of Chinese Fishing Nets:
Operated from the seashore, the Chinese Fishing Nets are fixed up on bamboo and teak poles and held horizontally by huge mechanisms, which lower these nets into the sea. These huge, lift-nets work on simple physics, much like the sides of a weighing balance go up and down according to the weights placed on it. These nets look somewhat like hammocks and are counter-weighed by large stones to ropes, making for a skillful way of fishing. The whole structure of the Chinese Fishing Nets is nearly about ten meters in height. A Chinese Fishing Net spreads to about 20 meters over the water body and is operated by a team of 4 to 6 fishermen. As different fishing nets have different limits of operating depth, an individual net cannot be repeatedly operated in tidal waters. These nets are allowed to remain underwater for about four to five minutes before they are raised back by tugging the ropes. Watching this wonderful process of fishing is in itself a mesmerizing experience.
Best Time to Visit Chinese Fishing Nets:
The favorable time to visit the place is during monsoons. As the catch is huge in the rainy season, it is the best and profitable time for the fishermen and these Chinese Fishing Nets are let down inside the water around 300- 400 times.
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