Kochi, often spelled by its old traditional name of Cochin, is one of the highlights of South India. Merchants began trading in spices here - such as black pepper, cinnamon, anise, cumin and cardamom with the Arabs, Dutch, Portuguese and Chinese since the 1500s which helped Kochi prosper and to become one of the major gateways to India. Portugal was the first colonial power to establish a base in Kochi, followed by the Dutch and British. The foundation of modern Kochi started with Sir Robert Bristow, a senior Royal Navy Engineer who established Kochi port after the opening of Suez Canal. Since the formation of Kerala State, Kochi has been the commercial capital of Kerala as well as the seat of the Kerala High Court.