Chinese Fishing Nets

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Chinese Fishing Nets, Kochi Overview

Popularly known as Cheenavala, the Chinese Fishing Nets are the most iconic and popular attractions of Kerala peculiar to Kochi located next to Fort Kochi. One of the significant cultural symbols of Kerala, the spot is also one of the most photographed places in all of the town, attracting hordes of tourists and photographers on an everyday basis.

The Chinese Fishing Nets are basically vast fishing nets which are fixed on bamboo and teak poles. They are then let down into the sea through unique mechanisms and by weighing them down with large stones tied to ropes. These nets are left in the sea before they are pulled back again by tugging the ropes after collecting a significant amount of catch. Considered to be the ingenious way of fishing, these majestic Chinese fishing nets are operated by four to six fishermen and watching this spectacular process is in itself a spellbinding experience.

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History of Chinese Fishing Nets

It is still not very clear about how the usage of Chinese Fishing Nets began in India, however, the most pertinent facts suggest that these nets were brought to Kochi by the Chinese explorer Zheng He from the court of a Chinese emperor Kubala Khan during the 14th century. A contradictory flaw to this theory is that these fishing nets are now not found anywhere except Kochi and surrounding areas; not even in China.

It is also suggested that the fishing nets were brought to Kochi in the 16th century from Macau by the Portuguese who colonized both Macau and Kochi. The mechanisms and working of these nets was then modified to suit the depth and requirements of fishing at sea in Kochi. Facts supporting this theory are that these fishing nets are known by different Portuguese names like padrao, calusanthy, savaya, bras etc. for the same reason.

Usage and Mechanism of Chinese Fishing Nets

The Chinese Fishing Nets are usually 10 metres in height and can spread around 20 metres over the sea. They have got the look and feel of traditional hammocks and are suspended by wooden poles made of bamboo and teak. Counter-weighted by huge stones and fishing boulders, the nets are let down in the sea for five to seven minutes before they are tugged back with the help of ropes.

Over four to six fishermen operate one fishing net and the catch however, small or big is sold off immediately at the shores itself. Fishing through these Chinese Fishing Nets is one of the oldest and the ingenious ways in Kochi. Different nets have different limits of operating depths and they are used as per the tidal state at the time. All in all, the entire process of letting the majestic nets down and bringing them up again is a spectacular sight and an enchanting experience to gain.

Interesting Trivia about Chinese Fishing Nets

  1. You can stand on the platform and watch the fisherfolk in action from as near as you want. However, the local fisherfolks may ask you to tip them later. Make sure you make it clear beforehand and settle this conversation before you volunteer to stand on their platforms for watching the spectacle. Sometimes you can also stand on the plank and try out the process yourself.  
  2. You can choose from the fresh batch of fish caught in the nets, buy them at the spot and even have it cooked for you. With a view of the sea in front, you can savour the delicious freshly caught fish in front of you.
  3. Lately, the shores and sea is getting increasingly littered. Most of the fishing nets bring up garbage and waste along with the catch. In case you are willing to buy these fish for consumption, check the fresh batch carefully.
  4. The shores also have make-do stalls and shops selling handicrafts, souvenirs, knick-knacks etc. You can also find local women and men going around offering to braid your hair with plastic spaghetti or wool.


  1. Remember to carry sunscreen and shades to protect yourself from the scorching sun.
  2. Carry a mosquito repellent if you are visiting in the evenings to protect yourself from the mosquitos.
  3. In case you want to climb the plank to volunteer fishing or watching the process, settle the tip before hand with the fishermen in order to avoid quarrels and arguments later.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the place is during monsoons. The rainy season is also a good and profitable time for the fishermen because the catch is generous and the nets are let down inside around 300- 400 times.

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Chinese Fishing Nets Reviews

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Arka Das

on Chinese Fishing Nets 4 years ago
Just find a net and stay with them. The way they catch fuses using these nets are really things to see. The fishing nets are still present for last 8 generations. At Fort Kochi out of 12, only 4 are (Read More) operational as on July 2016. And to reach Fort Kochi, best way to take a boat from Ernakulam Boat Jetty, costs only INR 4/-
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