Chinese Fishing Nets

Landmark in Kochi (Cochin)

The unofficial emblems of Kerala’s backwaters, and perhaps the most photographed, are the half dozen or so giant cantilevered Chinese fishing nets on Fort Cochin's northeastern shore. A legacy of traders from the AD 1400 court of Kublai Khan, these enormous, spider-like contraptions require at least four people to operate their counterweights at high tide.

Modern fishing techniques are making these labour-intensive methods less and less profitable, but they supply much of the fresh lake fish you'll see on display for sale. Smaller fishing nets are dotted around the shores of Lake Vembanad – some of the best are north of Cherai Beach on Vypeen Island.