Though very warm, the climate of Malabar is very healthy, and the soil is fertile in rice, fruit, and all sorts of herbs. It is divided into many principalities, among which the following are reckoned kingdoms; Cananore, Calicut, Cranganore, Cochin, Calicoulan, Porcaloulang, and Travancore. As the capital of the Dutch possessions in Malabar was the city of Cochin, it may be proper to describe this little kingdom as at that period. It reaches from Chitway in the north, and extends twenty-four leagues to the southwards along the coast, being divided into a multitude of small islands by the streams which descend from the mountains of Gatti, [the Gauts.] These rivers have two great or principal mouths, one at Cranganore in the north, and the other at Cochin, in the south, distant thirty marine leagues from each other. The Portuguese were the first European nation who settled here, where they built a fine city on the river about three leagues from the sea; but the sea has since so gained on the land, that it is now not above an hundred paces from the city. This place is so pleasantly situated, that the Portuguese had a common saying, “That China was a good place to get money in, and Cochin a pleasant place to spend it at.” The great number of islands formed by the rivers and canals, make fishing and fowling very amusing; and the mountains, which are at no great distance, are well stored with wild game. On the island of Baypin [Vaypen], there stands an old fort called Pallapore, for the purpose of inspecting all boats that pass between Cranganore and Cochin: And five leagues up the rivulets, there is a Romish church called Varapoli [Virapell], served by French and Italian priests, and at which the bishop takes up his residence when he visits this part of the country. The padre, or superior priest at Virapell can raise four thousand men on occasion, all Christians of the church of Rome; but there are many more Christians of the church of St Thomas, who do not communicate with the Romanists. About two leagues farther up than Virapell, towards the mountains, there is a place called Firdalgo, on the side of a small but deep river, where the inhabitants of Cochin annually resort in the hot months of April and May to refresh themselves. The banks and bottom of the river here are clean sand, and the water is so clear that a small pebble stone may be seen at the bottom, in three fathoms water.
[Footnote 1: A very interesting account of the remnant of an ancient Christian church in the Travancore country, a little to the southward of Cochin, has been lately published by Dr Buchanan, in a work named Christian Researches in India, which will be noticed more particularly in an after division of our Collection.—E.]
[Footnote 2: Perhaps Bardello, about the distance mentioned in the text.—E.]