The Big Banana Island is at the centre of a region where human civilisation has flourished for thousands of years. The mouth of the river periyar, with its now vanished harbour of Muziris is just five kilometers away. The port town of Muziris, mentioned in the writings of Pliny and Ptolemy as a centre of spice trade has been identified as Pattanam, a nearby village, through archaeological excavations in the recent years. THe entire region is covered by the Muziris heritage project, which aims to restore and preserve the archaeological monuments scattered throughout the surrounding area. The oldest existing Jewish Synagogue of India at Kottayil Kovilakam is across the river from the island. Believed to be built in 629 AD Cheraman Juma Masjid in the nearby town of Kodungalloor (10 km away) is considered as the oldest mosque in India. Towards the south lies the ancient Island Fort of Kochi which was the site of struggles for supremacy between the native rulers, the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English for four centuries. Chendamangalam, across the river from the Big Banana Island, was the headquarters of Paliath Achan, the chief minister and sometimes de-facto ruler of the erstwhile kingdom of Cochin.