Cochin also called as Kochi comprising Ernakulam, the mainland and the port of Cochin is a cauldron of eclectic architecture styles-Dutch, Portuguese, Catholic and Hindu that fondly recount the stories of another era. The city derives its name from the Malayalam word Kochazhi meaning small lagoon.
1. Holiday at Cherai Beach at Cochin
A short ferry ride from the Ernakulam jetty takes one to Cheri, a pristine, shallow beach ideal for swimming. Located near the Vypeen Island, the beach fondly called the ‘Princess of the Arabian’ by the locals, offers you a unique spectacle blue sea on one side and tranquil backwaters on the other. Go dolphin spotting, indulge in a game of beach ball, fly a kite or just take a leisurely stroll soaking in the sun and the views.
2. Indo-Portuguese Museum
A showcase of Portuguese art and architecture, this museum is located within the compound of the Bishop’s House in Fort Cochin. The museum is divided into five distinct sections and houses ancient Portuguese-style artifacts. A stroll around Fort Kochi-then known as Fort Immanuel-built in 1503, offers the chance to see various colonial landmarks such as Old Harbour House, Vasco Da Gama’s residence and David Hall.
3. Visit to Chinese Fishing Net Locations
Called cheenavala locally, the Chinese fishing nets were installed almost 500 years ago. Popular legends attribute the introduction of these nets either to the Chinese explorer Zheng He or the Portuguese. Fixed to the land using a wooden cantilever, these nets are operated by a team of fishermen who lower them into the sea for a short time and raise it by pulling the ropes. These nets, operational throughout the day, dot the coastline from Fort Kochi to Vypeen Island. The modest catch is quickly lapped up by tourists and locals, who take it to the stalls, located near the nets, to be cooked into delectable fare.
4. The important Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica
A classic example of Gothic architecture, the basilica’s lofty spires beckon you from a distance. The cathedral church of the Diocese of Cochin, the original structure of the basilica was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese. The awe-inspiring main altar was decorated by painter Bro Antonio Moscheni and his disciple De Gama. The St Francis Church, where Vasco Da Gama was originally buried, is a short distance away from this basilica.
5. Hill Palace Museum
Situated in Ernakulam, this museum is a tribute to the Hindu rulers of Cochin. The official residence of the royal family of Cochin, built in 1865, and spread over 52 acres, comprising 49 buildings; this palace was handed over to the Government of Kerala, which then converted it into a museum. Most exhibits are donated by the Cochin royal family. Do not miss the gold crown embedded with precious stones and a unique gallery dedicated to horse carts.
6. Enjoy the Visit to Mattancherry Palace
The Portuguese built this palace in 1557 as a gift to the then King of Cochin, Veera Kerala Varma. The main attraction of the palace is the beautiful murals spread over 300 sq m depicting scenes from the Ramayana-in the king’s bed chamber-and stories of Hindu deities such as Shiva, Vishnu and Lakshmi on the walls around the staircases. Another set of murals on the ground floor portrays scenes from Kumarasambhava, the play written by the legendary author Kalidasa. The museum inside the palace exhibits portraits of the kings of Cochin, a wooden palanquin with ivory carvings, ceremonial dresses and weapons, etc. The palace is open on all days except Friday.
7. Chottanikkara Temple
A famous place of worship, dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathy, this temple is famous both for its architecture and healing powers. The temple is said to have been built by Viswakarma Sthapathis (artisans) and is a beautiful essay in wood. People suffering from mental illness are brought here for treatment and cure. The Guruthi Puja conducted in the evening, to the accompaniment of drums is a riveting spectacle.
8 Shopping at Mahtma Gandhi Road
A main arterial road of the city, this is the commercial hub of the town. Corporate houses, retail stores, jewelry and textile shops dot this street. One can walk into any of the multi-storied textile shops to buy traditional Kerala attire-set mundu for women and veshti for men. One can also pick up traditional Kerala jewelry such as Palakka Mala, Mullamottu Mala and Manga Mala, etc from the popular jewelers on this road. For a taste of mouth-watering dosas, walk into Pai Dosa, off MG Road for a quick snack.
9. Visit to Kerala Kathakali Centre
Established in 1990 and situated behind the Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, this centre hosts three programmes each evening throughout the year. The dance-drama routine, the legends associated and various other nuances are explained in English for better understanding. Apart from Kathakali, one can also watch other traditional arts of Kerala such as Mohiniyattam and Kalaripayattu. Walk in a little before the show to watch the artists applying make-up.
10. Paradise Synagogue at Cochin
One of the oldest functioning synagogues in the Commonwealth, it was built in 1568 on land donated by the Raja of Cochin. The architecture of the synagogue is a fine blend of Dutch and Portuguese styles fused with Indian elements-copper roofing similar to that of the Hindu temples, for instance. 19th century Belgium glass chandeliers, 18th century hand-painted ceramic floor tiles from China, lyre-shaped tebah (a raised platform)-all lane between the synagogue and the Mattancherry Palace known as the Jew Town, is an antique hunter’s heaven. The synagogue is open on all days except Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish holidays.
How to get to Cochin
There are daily flights to Cochin from Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Visakhapatnam.
Being a major port and one of Kerala’s largest cities, Cochin offers staying options of all kinds, especially inside Fort Kochi and Ernakulam. You can Book your hotel from the link below
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Log on to www.keralatourism.org
3 Fascinating Places to Visit after Cochin
Three weekend destinations that will make you extend your stay in Cochin.
Where is Wayanad Located: Around six hours by road, 290 km from Kochi. (Cochin)
WHY: if you ever decide to go on a long drive with coffee or tea plantations as your destination, a trip to Wayanad would be well worth it. created by carving out parts of Kannur and Kozhikode, here is a place that is as rich in history as it is breathtaking. Largely untouched, Wayanad is home to the prehistoric natural Edakkal caves that have garnered recognition for their Stone Age carvings.
ERAVIKULAM NATIONAL PARK four hrs drive from kochi
WHERE: At a distance of 170 km from Cochin, Eravikulam National Park can be reached in roughly four hours.
WHY: The Eravikulam National Park is home to the largest surviving population of Niligiri Tahr, besides twenty five other species of mammals. The Park, criss-crossed by many streams, is under consideration to be listed as a UNESCO world Heritage Site. Eravikulam is also where a bright reddish-orange frog species was discovered in 2010.
WHY: This is the only place in southern Kerala where you get to see tertiary sedimentary formation cliffs alongside the Arabian Sea. Named the Varkala Formation, the cliffs have been declared a geological monument by the Geological Survey of India. The 2000-year old Janardhana Swamy Temple in Varkala, often called the Benaras of the south, is equally deserving of a visit.
WHERE: Approximately four hours by road, at a distance of 171 km from Cochin
Have a great time visiting Cochin