Kodungalloor: President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday inaugurated the Muziris Heritage Project which showcases the history and culture of an ancient seaport and urban centre on the Malabar coast.
"This project celebrates the magnificent heritage of our land where people of different religions, castes and languages live in harmony. It reminds us that our history is one of assimilation, mutual respect and celebration of our differences," Mukherjee said in this town in central Kerala, about 30 km from Kochi.
Started six years ago by the Kerala government, the project aims to highlight the historical and cultural significance of Muziris -- which dates from at least 1st century BC -- with a view to boost tourism.
The seaport of Muziris is mentioned in the 1st century travelogues, ancient Sangam texts and Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder's encyclopaedic work, Natural History.
"Muziris was the doorway for cultures, religions and races into India. It was frequented by large ships of ocean traders from across the world, including Arabs, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese," the president said.
Mukherjee also praised this town, which is generally believed to be the approximate location of the ancient Muziris and has also been cited by historians as a vibrant urban hub of the Chera rulers.
"If Kerala is God's own country, Kodungalloor is the town where the gods gather in unity and harmony. It is heartening to know that the ancient Kurumba Bhagavati temple and the Cheraman Mosque, believed to be the oldest mosque in India, are both in Kodungalloor," said Mukherjee.
The Muziris Heritage Project would open up to Indian and foreign tourists a new destination, bringing economic benefits to the people of the region as well as knowledge and enjoyment for the visitors, he added.
The project includes development works of Chennamangalam palaces, Cheraman Parambu, Synagogue and waterfront at North Paravur. It also envisages conservation of archaeological monuments within 125 sq km spread across Thrissur and Ernakulam districts.