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Le Colonial, Fort Kochi



The building, which houses Le Colonial, was constructed in 1506 at the same time as the St Francis Church – its eminent and historic neighbour. It was the Portuguese Governors’ private residence as opposed to his main office which seems to have been in a building refurbished in the 1950’s style (where Cinnamon is now situated) on a street perpendicular to the Church Road where "Le Colonial" is.










In 1500, the Raja of Cochin had given the land of Fort Cochin to the Portuguese to install a trading post. The great interest of Fort Cochin was its spice market and its important Jewish trading community which had settled there since 500 BC when Nabucodonosor had conquered Jerusalem. The second exodus of Jews came in 1492 when the Reyes Catolicos expelled them – first from Spain and then from Portugal. It is at this early time that the synagogue of Jew Town was built. The House saw respectively Albuquerque, as also Vasco da Gama, who is said to have died here and was buried within the St Francis Church compound, in 1524 AD, where one can still see his tombstone. His body was later transferred to Lisbon only fourteen years later.


TSt Francis Xavier is said to have lived in the house which has, among other names, also been called the "St Francis Bungalow”. It is believed that there was a secret tunnel leading to the church next door with an underground chapel – but this may well have been born from the imagination of the people! After 150 years of Portuguese occupation, Fort Cochin fell into the hands of the Dutch when they were at the height of their maritime power:" VOC "the " Venerable Dutch East India Company" took over. Above the main gate one can see the date of construction – 1506 – and the Dutch addition of "VOC".


The taking of Fort Cochin was a hard battle and the victorious Dutch destroyed practically all the Portuguese buildings with the exception of St Francis church, which became a Calvinist temple. Later it came under the Church of England during the British rule, and when India became independent – the Church of Southern India. A dozen buildings were spared amongst which was "Le Colonial”. It became the property of the Dutch Governors of Cochin until the last governor Jan van Spall sold it in 1795 to the British who had taken over. That is why it was also called "Jan van Spall Huiss".The original sales deed can be seen framed in the house. During the Dutch occupation, French Admiral Mahé de la Bourdonnais, on his way from Pondichéry to Mahé in North Kerala, spent a night here just as many other travellers must have done while sailing into Fort Cochin.


When the French Revolution took over Holland and turned it into a French province, the British – who were at war with France – became the de facto enemies of Holland. In 1795, Major Petrie and his British East Oriental Company army took over Fort Cochin without much defence from Governor van Spall who, after capitulation, supposedly received Major Petrie as his guest in this very house. The British then settled in Cochin for the next 150 years – until 1947. The house was sold in the mid 20th century to the renowned tea trader J Thomas and came to be known as the "J Thomas Bungalow”. In 1947, it saw, passing by the then Governor and ex-Viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten and his wife Edwina who may well have visited this historic five centuries’ old colonial building – as it had become the home for the flourishing British tea trader. In 2004, it got its chance to be saved as a historic monument. Its 500 year old walls can now be relived in - but much improved – with airconditioning and all the 21st century facilities.


The house now contains many works of art and antique furniture contemporaneous with many of the tumultuous periods of history, making it a museum space rather than just a hotel. Each room is named and styled after the people who lived or passed by or would have wished to take it over! Jan van Spall, Major Petrie, J Thomas, Vasco da Gama, Mahé de la Bourdonnais, Tipu Sultan, the Viceroy and his ADC.





Rooms



Viceroy
This is the largest and the noblest room at Le Colonial, with a long verandah attached. Art deco furniture in teak and satin wood gives the room a feel of classic charm, as the branches from the tree by the entrance, partially screen the view to the street beyond. The St. Francis Church can be seen from the room.






Jan Val Spall
Named after the last Dutch Governor who lived in the house, this is a vast room with a private verandah and two king size beds for larger-than-life dreams under a raftered roof. A luxurious wood-panelled bathroom to match.

Vasco Da Gama More medieval with cartouches on the bedsteads and narrow stools beyond the beds for clothes or bags, its acorn-like poster ends – all add up to another era, reminiscent of the Portuguese days.



Mahe Le Da Bourdonnais
A large two-poster bed, teak floors and eclectic art adorns this linear room with pleasant white rafters adding their age. There are two large windows – one facing the St. Francis Church.











Major Petrie
A high, four-poster bed with teak steps to mount, a striped-white rafter roof and windows pierced in thick walls overlooking the St. Francis church. A gallery of etchings and gravures on the walls and the ambience of art – as in an elegant home.









Tipu Sultan
Named after Tipu the last Sultan of Mysore whom the French helped but the British defeated. A large almirah lends an Indian touch, as do the teak wood blinds. You can sit on the wide window sills and watch the world go by.











Aide De Camp
Small in size but high on style, this room is next to the Viceroy room and with which it can make a private apartment. Its intimacy pours out on to a large verandah mottled with the shade of a giant Banyan tree. The louvered window overlooks the pool and the bathroom is all elegance.








                                                            Tariff

Rooms Type Beds Price
  A/C Honeymoom Season1 / Season2 / Season3
Viceroy Grand Room 1 Double Rs 24,000 / Rs 17,500 / Rs 10,000
Jan Van Spall Grand Room 2 Double Rs 24,000 / Rs 17,500 / Rs 10,000
Vasco Da Gama Room 2 Single Rs 17,500 / Rs 11,500 / Rs 7,000
Mahe de la Bourdonnais Room 1 Double Rs 17,500 / Rs 11,500 / Rs 7,000
Major Petrie Room 1 Double Rs 17,500 / Rs 11,500 / Rs 7,000
Tipu Sultan Room 1 Double Rs 17,500 / Rs 11,500 / Rs 7,000
Aide De Camp Room 2 Single Rs 17,500 / Rs 11,500 / Rs 7,000


Accommodation

Room tariff includes breakfast and one meal.
Full house booking per week (7 nights) Rs. 8,00,000 in peak-season, Rs. 4,75,000 in mid-season, and Rs. 3,25,000 in low-season on full board. (+ taxes)
Rooms are not given on triple occupancy

Food & Beverage

Fixed menus are offered at the per head rates: Breakfast complimentary, Lunch Rs. 800/- and Dinner Rs. 800/-. (+ taxes)
The swimming pool is for residents only.
Bar facility is not yet available.

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