Not long ago, Kovalam was an inconsequential village, with thatched houses built around wide courtyards for drying fish. Nowadays, it is a popular resort town outside the city of Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital of Kerala. Kochi (Cochin) is an attractive city of around 600,000 inhabitants. Its atmosphere and style of architecture reflect a long history as one of the most important ports of the Spice Coast. The placid waters of its harbor are always busy with boats ranging from wooden dugouts to oceangoing tankers and cruise ships. The seafront of Old Town is lined by stately warehouses and the offices of shipping companies, many dating from the days of the Raj. Cochin has an ancient Jewish community, known as Malabar Jews, whose roots are claimed to date to the time of King Solomon.