The location of the city makes it appropriate to be a port. South India holds many ports, but Kochi is the gateway of trade in South India.
Kochi Travel Guide
Travelers have a lot to do here. It has old palaces, colonial buildings, trade markets, golf courses, beaches and other interesting things.
When India was colonized, an island was made during the reign of Lord Willingdon. This island is the home of the naval base of South India. From Mattancherry to Fort Kochi, there is a sprawling trade centered settlement. Walk through the spice markets and try some local food or look at the Anglo-Dutch buildings.
A luxury holiday in Kochi is available in Bolgatty Island. It has a palace converted which has been converted into a five-star hotel. Of course, this place has everything to pamper you, starting from the golf course to marina.
Things To Do In Kochi
Fort Kochi is a seaside town in the south-western part of Main Kochi which is known for its old-world colonial charm. The place still holds on to every single cultural change it has gone through over the centuries. We can see remnants of British rule all over the country.
Kochi can’t exist without fishing. The Ancient Chinese gifted fishing nets to cement a trading relationship with the port. You can see the fishing nets at the Fort Kochi Bus Stand. Vypin Island and West Kochi are densely populated with the fishing community. You can taste fresh seafood and snap some gorgeous nature photography.
It overlooks the serene backwaters of Kerala is Marine Drive, making it one of the most popular hangouts in the city of Kochi. It is a picturesque promenade with a walkway of about three kilometres and is an amazing place to spend some time leisurely, either in the company of loved ones or even some alone time.
This palace was a generous presented to the Raja of Kochi, Veera Kerala Varma, as a gesture of goodwill by the Portuguese in 1555. The Dutch renovated the palace in 1663, calling it the Dutch Palace. The star attractions here are the astonishingly preserved Hindu murals, depicting scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranic legends in intricate detail.
Kerala Folklore Museum
Created in Keralan style from ancient temples and beautiful old houses collected by its owner, an antique dealer, this museum includes over 4000 artifacts and covers three architectural styles: Malabar on the ground floor, Kochi on the 1st and Travancore on the 2nd. It is a feast to the eye.
Hill Palace Museum
Kochi was the birthplace of many great maharajas. The Hill Palace Museum is open from 10:00 AM – 4:30 AM. There are 16 galleries which have preserved artifacts, glorifying the past of the city.
Jew Town is one of the oldest parts of the region. It was here that the Jews first settled in India in around 700 BC. This part is famous for its architecturally solid synagogues that continue to stand till today.
David Hall, a former bungalow, is now used for cultural performances. Every destination sports a street which deserves a stroll. For instance, Princess Street holds a European Vibe dotted with quirky galleries, cozy cafes, and chic shops.
Its strategic location on the northern end of the Vypeen Island in Kochi makes it a perfect mixture of the sea as well as the backwaters. It is a quiet calm beach with surrounding greenery and seashells present in different shapes make it more beautiful than it already is.
The Willingdon Island is one of the largest human-made islands in India which is named after Lord Willingdon, the British Viceroy of India. This beautiful island provides various links between Kochi port and other national and international ports.
The island is also home to some of the lavish hotels and commercial and industrial buildings of the district. The mesmerizing backwaters of Kerala surround this miracle of man’s mind.
The Sunset Cruise on the Arabian waters is a beautiful 2-hour journey beginning from Marine Drive in Kochi during the time of sunset. The cruise covers Fort Kochi, Chinese fishing nets, Mattancherry, Bolgatty Island, Willingdon Island and the Cochin shipyard.
Veeranpuzha Lake and Backwaters
Veeranpuzha is a beautiful lake in Kochi along with a series of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Malabar coast, which form beautiful backwaters. This is one of the more famous backwaters of Kerala and is simply mesmerizing.
Temples and Churches
The British first settled here. There is some evidence of this, like the Anglican churches and bungalows that prove it. The Santacruz Basilica and the St Francis Church are both open from seven in the morning to seven in the evening.
Amongst the 7 synagogues located in his area, this Jewish synagogue is the only one which is in operation today. It was built in 1568 and is also called the Cochin Jewish Synagogue or Mattancherry Synagogue. Cameras and handbags are not allowed inside.
The interiors of the Synagogue
Santa Cruz Basilica
This Basilica located at Fort Kochi is one of the eight Basilicas in India. It is considered one of the finest and most impressive churches in India. Made by the Portuguese. Santa Cruz Basilica is considered as one of the heritage edifices of Kerala.
This cathedral completed its five centuries of existence making it one of the oldest churches in India!
Saint Francis Church
Constructed in 1503 by Portuguese Franciscan friars, this is believed to be India’s oldest European-built church. The edifice that stands here today was built in the mid-16th century to replace the original wooden structure.
Explorer Vasco da Gama, who died in Cochin in 1524, was buried in this spot for 14 years before his remains were taken to Lisbon.
Thirikkakara Vamanamoorthy Temple
This temple is famous as it contains lithic records of historical significance. It also hosts the spectacular secular Onam feast every year in the Malayalee month of Chingam which falls typically between August September.
Ernakulam Shiva Temple
It is also called as Ernankulathapan temple, located in the heart of the city of Kochi. The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is in the form of Gourisankara and is considered rare as the deity faces the Arabian sea towards west.
The main sanctum is home to a Lingam that’s considered to be Swayambhoo. There are sanctums on either side of the Lingam.
This Temple is an ancient temple with inscriptions done during the founding of the temple dating back to 947 AD. Thus this beautiful temple is regarded as one of the oldest temples found in all India.
This Indo-Portuguese building which is now a museum, built in the year 1506 houses a collection of valuable artifacts from various churches under the Cochin diocese. The building was once the residence of the Portuguese Governor.
Lulu Shopping Mall
LuLu Shopping Mall located in Edappally is among the biggest malls in Asia and is the center of shopping activities with fashion shows and musical performances to celebrity visits and kids activities that are organized here once in a while. The Lulu Mall food court is exceptionally huge and can seat 3000 persons at a time.
Running from Fort Cochin to Mattancherry, this two kilometer stretch of road is where Kerala’s commodities are sold. This is a narrow section of road filled with tiny open-fronted shops advertising wholesale, retail or commission sales. Green cardamom, Pepper, Cinnamon, brown cardamom, cloves, bay leaf and other unique things to buy in Kochi are all on offer in the shops here
Street Shopping in Kochi streets
The Marine Drive by the backwaters of Kochi is shopaholic’s delight! The GCD complex and Bay Pride have an assortment of stores that sell imported electronics, perfumes and clothing. The Flea Market here has a great collection of casual cotton clothing at dirt cheap prices.
This is an area with narrow roads, quite ironical to its name! You can buy varieties of clothes and spices here. It is a perfect spot for shopping and you will get all kind of stuff here. Electronic goods, umbrella, spices, clothes, jewellery, leather goods, stationery, watches can be got here. It adjoins Ernakulam Market where you can get wholesale prices as well.
Other Experiences to have
- The Cochin Carnival: It is the biggest carnival festival in the city. A wonderful array of colourful rallies, fancy dress parades, regular competitions, bike races, beach games, sports, theme festivals, concerts and dances, fireworks make it one of the largest celebrations in India.
- Onam Celebrations: It is based on the legend of welcoming home the mythical King Mahabali, whose capital was believed to be at the current site of Thrikakkara Temple. It is a ten-day festival. It is held in Thripunithura starting from the Atham Grounds and has many tableaux, dance parades, cultural art forms ending at Thrikakkara Temple.
- Firework Festival of Maradu Kottaram Devi Temple:( mid-March-mid- April), India’s second largest fireworks happens here as part of their temple festival finale. The festival takes place in the festival grounds of Maradu, which has mega fireworks display lasting for 1.5 hours for last two days.
- Chendamangalam Matta Chanda: It is the only official barter market in the world. Though now it is only a tourist attraction and a ritual than serious shopping, hence only traditional Kerala specialties can be brought in exchange for modern and regular items like branded soaps, perfumes, clothes, etc.
Since the past 600 years, Kochi has catered to many visitors from around the world including Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, French, English, Dutch, Russians, and Japanese making its cuisine unique.
With the backwaters, freshwater fish is also popular here. Prawns, squids and shrimps are easily available and cooked in many styles. The most famous of Kochi’s specialty dishes is Meen Molagitta Curry (smoked freshwater fish with chilly and coconut milk).
The Meen Molagitta Curry
At Fort Kochi beach you can buy fresh fish and get it cooked. Food stalls will charge you to cook your fish (grilled, curry, your way) and provide you with a serve of chips and salad. Conditions are reasonably hygienic.
The English popularized smoked fish with steamed bread and mashed potatoes. One of Kochi’s traditional vegetarian specialties is Kurukku Kalan (a thick yogurt curry with toasted banana and hot rice). Packed Kurukku Kalan, as well as Palada (a sweet dessert with rice flakes and milk), are sold in many supermarkets and food stalls, especially during festive times.
Fried fish, Fish molly (a coconut milk sauce based curry almost like stew), Alleppey fish curry (traditional curry with tomato sauce and fish tamarind) and Fish Peera (chunks of fish toasted with grated coconuts with fish tamarind sauce), Varatharacha Kozhi curry (semi-fried chicken toasted with coconut and chilly) are the favorites, usually taken with rice or steamed tapioca (cassava).
Also worth trying are the traditional rice-based breakfast snacks puttu and kadala, appam and stew.
Nightlife comprising of pubs, DJ parties, discos are a recent phenomenon with new venues opening. Pubs and discotheques may not close down on dry days as is applicable to bars. Few of the famous ones are
- Opium The Club
- Champs Sports Lounge
- Glow & Corktails
You will find many stadiums for sports like tennis, cricket, football, badminton with swimming pools and indoor games like
- Cochin International Stadium
- Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium
Water Sports is popular in Kochi, particularly in Fort Kochi beach and Cherai beach where water skis/jets and water scooters are available. Cochin Marina in Bolgatty Island, the Yacht club in Thevera and Ramada Resort in Panagad operate a wide range of water sports games
Beach Sports. Fort Kochi Beach, Cherai Beaches are very popular among locals for playing beach volley-balls. Try a tough game of beach-football being very popular here. Water ski and biking is also popular in Fort Kochi beaches.
Go Karting. A short karting circuit is located at the city side of Cochin Airport, just opposite the airline complex. Regular karting competitions are held on weekends and a few rallies are also organized.
Cochin has its international airport through which you can land in the city. From the airport, you can hire a cab or use the government bus which runs through to the city.
Kochi is well connected by train from all parts of India. Most Kerala-bound trains have a major stop here. There are two major rail terminals inside the city limits. Ernakulam Town Station & Ernakulam Junction Station. Check out IRCTC for timings and rates.
You can avail the metro which is now functioning in the city to avoid traffic and get to places on time.
Kochi is accessible from all southern parts of the country as well as other parts of the state, through the extensive state-run Kerala Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus services and services of neighboring state transport corporations.
You can even enter the city in a unique way using its port by coming on a yacht or cruise ship. There is also a ferry service from Kochi to Lakshadweep.
Best Time to Visit
The tourist season is normally from August to February. December is the most tourist rush month with many festival and special attractions to welcome along with the famous Cochin Carnival and Christmas celebrations.
Onam season (mid-Aug-mid-Sept) is also a busy tourist season considering traditional line up of various festivities. Monsoon is also being promoted heavily by tourism dept as a rejuvenation season which also slowly becoming a popular season to visit to experience the heavy rainfalls.
However, it is always advisable to avoid March and April, considering the harsh summer.
Onam Celebrations during Aug- Sept.
Where to stay
The city has numerous places to stay. It has places to suit all budgets, from 5-star hotels to budget hostels. Airbnb also is a good option in the city.
South India is a literate part of the country. Thus, any average local can speak with you in English, although the lingua franca is Malayalam. As many tourists come here for a holiday, it is friendly and easy to navigate with basic English or Hindi too.
Kochi is one of the safest cities in India with excellent police coverage and if you take your precaution you can move around without fear. For solo female travellers it is always ideal to not move around far alone after dark, unless absolutely necessary. Note that public smoking bans are strictly enforced in the city more so than in other regions.
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November 3, 2016 3:54 pm