Kochi (colonial name Cochin) is a vibrant city situated on the south-west coast of the Indian peninsula in the breathtakingly scenic and prosperous state of Kerala, hailed as 'God's Own Country'. Its strategic importance over the centuries is underlined by the sobriquet Queen of the Arabian Sea. Informally, Cochin is also referred to as the Gateway to Kerala.
From time immemorial, the Arabs, British, Chinese, Dutch, and Portuguese have left indelible marks on the history and development of Cochin. Over the years, Cochin has emerged as the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala and is perhaps the second most important city on the west coast of India (after Mumbai/Bombay). Cochin is proud of its world class port and international airport that link it to many major cities worldwide.
This lovely seaside city is flanked by the Western Ghats on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. Its proximity to the equator, the sea and the mountains provide a rich experience of a moderate equatorial climate.
Strictly speaking, Cochin is a small town. But, Cochin has outgrown its original bounds and is now the general name given to much of the region adjoining the original town, which now includes Cochin, Fort Kochi, Mattanchery, Ernakulam and many other nearby towns and villages. Cochin is situated in Ernakulam district in the state of Kerala. Ernakulam is also the name of a town - the administrative capital of Ernakulam district - but, for all practical purposes Ernakulam and Cochin, generally, refer to the same place.
Kochi is the arguably the ideal starting point for exploring the unfathomable diversity and beauty of Kerala, rated in the top three tourist destinations by the World Travel & Tourism Council and featured in National Geographic Traveler's '50 greatest places of a lifetime'.
Kochi has a typical tropical climate. Temperatures range between 30°C and 35°C during daytime and around 24°C during night. Kochi is one of the first places to experience the heavy Monsoon showers starting by mid of May. Kochi experiences heavy rainfall between mid of May to first week of September. Day time temperatures during the monsoon fall to between 25°C and 30°C during these months. From September to early February, the weather is fine, marked with cool winds and light showers in between. However by February, summer season starts. Though temperatures never touches 40°C, the presence of high humidity can make summers very harsh. This continues till early May. However frequent summer showers cool down the harshness of summer.
What To See
Chinese Fishing Nets (Cheenavala), Fort Kochi Beach, Beach Rd (Next to Fort Kochi Bus stand). Serves as the offical icon of Kochi and are a testimony of relations between Ancient Chinese Empires and the Kochi Kingdom. They were gifted by Chinese Emperor Kubalagi to Kochi King in 14th century. There were more than 100, though currently only a few remain in working condition.
Hill Palace Museum, Hill Palace Rd, Thripunithura (12 km southeast of Ernakulam), â˜Ž +91 484 2781113. Tu-Su 10AM-12.30PM; 2PM-4:30PM (Crown Gallery closes at 4PM). The erstwhile Kochi Maharaja's palace, now converted to a large museum along with a small zoo. Has paintings and epigraphy from the collections of the Travancore & Kochi royal families. This is the largest archaeological palace in South India with more than 500 artifacts divided into 16 galleries. The highlight of the Palace is the display of multi-billion worth Cochin Royal Crown and Crown Jewels. The Crown Gallery is a high security zone which has elobrate security check procedures, photography and bags are prohibited. The Palace complex is huge with several buildings inside it. There is a good Deer Park (10AM-4:30PM) along with peacocks. A small fauna garden was set up in 2003. Also the palace has more than 100 different species of trees and plants, many of which are of medical value. The palace has five large gardens and two large resting grounds of late Maharajas. Indians Rs 20, foreigners Rs 100 (including Deer Park and all attractions).
Santacruz Basilica, Cathedral Grounds, Fort Kochi (opposite Children's Park). Daily 7AM-8PM. The first European Church built in Asia, by the Portuguese in 1502, also the first Cathedral of Asia and seat of second Catholic Diocese in India. The British modified the structure and added oil paintings. Today, it serves as the primary seat of the Latin church of Kerala. Pope John Paul II declared it a Basilica in 1984. It houses several historical paintings, decors and artifacts. Free.
St. Francis Church (CSI Pally), Church Rd, Fort Kochi (Near to Fort Kochi Beach). Daily 7AM-7PM. Constructed by the Portuguese in 1503 and the burial place of Vasco da Gama (his remains were later transferred to Lisbon). His tombstone can be seen inside the church. The church has a large cemetery which serves as resting grounds of many Portuguese army officials and soldiers. The church is the only Catholic Church not demolished by Dutch which was handed over to British to re-establish an Anglican church. A large war memorial can be seen on its backyard to honor the unknown soldiers who sacrificed their lives for World War-1 .It is an ASI protected monument .
David Hall, Parade Grounds East, Fort Kochi, â˜Ž +91 484 2218298. Tue-Sun, 11AM-7PM. This 315 years old Dutch bungalow was the official residence of the Dutch Army commanders, the most famous being Hendrik Adriaan van Rheede tot Draakestein who was the author of Horticus Malabaricus. Currently the complex belongs to Netherlands Govt agency CNO which recently renovated to open a large art gallery, a traditional Dutch performing arts center and large studio for young painters. The building is a classic specimen of colonial Dutch architecture with elaborate dutch gardens. For cultural performances, one need to check at the reception to know the schedule.
Bastion Bungalow, Fort Kochi. Typical Indo-Dutch architecture, this bungalow was built on the site of the erstwhile Stromsburg Fort, which was demolished during the Arab raids. Currently, it serves as the official residence of the Cochin Sub-Collector and entry is restricted.
Dutch Palace (Mattancherry Kottaram), Palace Rd, Mattencherry. Sat-Thur 10AM-5PM.Constructed by the Portuguese in 1568 as a gift to Maharaja of Kochi, Veera Kerala Varma, after he granted permission to construct Fort Immanunel. During the Dutch siege of Kochi, many parts of the original palace were destroyed. However the Dutch Governor repaired the palace and renamed as Dutch Palace. The coronations of Kochi Maharajas are always held here. A large throne and coronation costumes are on display and there is an extensive collection of royal chariots, swords and other artifacts. The most interesting part is the mural room, which has the entire Ramayana and Mahabharat depicted in a single mural. Indians Rs 25, foreigners Rs 100.
Jew Street and Paradesi Synagogue, Jew Town, Mattancherry. Synagogue Su-F 10AM-5PM, Sa only open to Jews. The synagogue was constructed in 1568 after allowing Jewish refugees from Jerusalem to settle here during the Crusades making this the Commonwealth's oldest Synagogue. This is one of the very few functional synagogues in India and the structure is unique due to influence of native Hindu-Christian architecture as well as the only synagogue having two bimahs. Many Jews lived in the area until the creation of Israel, today there is only a handful. Jew Street is a heritage zone with several antique/handicraft shops. Entry Fee Rs 40.
Princess Street (Loafer’s Corner), Fort Kochi. The most famous street of Fort Kochi which gives you a slice of authentic colonial European architecture. The only street that never faced any raid or demolitions in past, Princess street is a prefect destination for evening walk with numerous western styled cafes, souvenir shops, art galleries and heritage complexes.
Chendamangalam Palace Fort, Chendamanalam, nr North Paravur. Historically the seat of Paliath Achan, the Prime Minister of Kochi Kingdom. Here the plans were forged for revolt against the British in the 1820s. A functional Jewish Synagogue and a large market are some of the attractions. Now, it is a major centre for handloom weaving and coir manufacturing.
Pallipuram Fort, Pallipuram, Vypin Island. Built by the Portuguese in 1503, this is the oldest existing European fortification in India. It was later handed over to the Travancore Army, to become a major army base till 1903 when it was converted into a heritage museum. It has a small museum and good views of the lagoon on one side and the sea on the other.
Pierce Leslie Bungalow, Beach Road, Fort Kochi. The only surviving bungalow built in authentic Portuguese style, it was the home and office of famous English merchant family- the Leslies. Currently it has been restored into a boutique hotel. The hotel management however allows tourists to explore the grand exteriors and public interior spaces.
Holy Koonan Cross Church (Pradhankuriyacha Palli), Bazaar Rd. Mattencherry. 24 hrs. A historic church where Malayalee Christians in the 17th century revolted against Portuguese Jesuit missionaries' attempts to convert them into the Latin church. It was here native Christians received the Bishop of Persia and declared their affinities to the East Syrian Church. This was the first recorded revolt against Europeans in India, forcing the Pope to recognize native Christians and to retain their liturgy and faith.The Malabar church late known as Syro-Malabar Church.
Museum of Kerala History, NH 47 Rd (near Edappally Toll Gate). A good, well maintained museum with a 40 minute light and sound show (English and Malayalam) about Kerala history. Depicts the history of Kerala through life-like wax statues. Adjacent are the Museum of Dolls with nearly 1,000 dolls from various countries, and M.N.F Art and Sculpture Gallery that has many good collections of paintings and sculptures. This museum has a small, well maintained garden. Rs. 100 (30 for children).
Pareekshith Thampuran Durbar Hall Art Gallery, Dubar Hall Ground, DH Rd. Contains oil paintings, old coins, sculptures, Mughal paintings plus models of temples and traditional Kerala buildings. This was the official Durbar Hall of Kochi Maharajas, now converted into a large fine arts gallery, named after last Maharaja of Kochi, who was an oil painter. A small studio is nearby promoting young artists.
Indian Naval Maritime Museum, INS Dronarcharya, Fort Kochi. Built by the Indian Navy. Many battle scenes are recreated with life-size models, a huge display of naval arms and ammunition, replicas of large naval ships, personalities, are some of the major highlights.(40.00rs per person)
Indo-Portuguese Museum, Fort Kochi. A modern museum highlighting the start of European colonization of the Orient in the 16th century. The museum showcases the growth and decline of the Portuguese life in Kochi with focus on the growth of the Latin Church. There are also excavated ruins of the former fort wall in the basement of the museum.
Kerala Folklore Museum Kochi, Folklore Junction, Thevara, Kochi, â˜Ž +91 484 266 5452. One of the best museums in Kerala. This is a private collection of many different articfacts from around Kerala. There are frequent cultural performances at the museum, which you may be lucky to see while there and are put on when overseas tour groups are in attendance. Entry Fee Rs. 200.
Kumbalangi Integrated Tourism Village, Kumbalangi island (15 km from city centre). India's first eco-tourist village, this award winning initiative allows tourists to explore and enjoy the authentic rural culture with the cooperation of natives without disturbing their natural lifestyle. Tourists to this island village have chances to explore rural work styles, a specialized local paddy cultivation, canoeing in a country boat in a maze of mangrove forests or enjoying fishing or partying in rural style with locals. In order to maintain best eco-protection practices, several restrictions are placed on use of plastics, smoking or even carrying soft-drinks.
Mastyafed Milky-way Aqua-Tourist Village, Malipuram Village, Vypin (12 km from city centre). 10AM-5PM. A unique concept, where a large shrimp farm of the state-run Mastyafed Organization is converted into an Aqua-tourist village with many options to fish for fresh prawns, crabs and shrimp (you can take your catch for a nominal fee), canoeing within a mangrove forest, sun-bathing, swimming at a private beach nearby and enjoying sunset picnic cruise. The breakfast and lunch, which are included in the entry cost, have a wide range of fish delicacies and fish pickles. Entry Fee Rs 200 per person.
Temples & Churches
Thirumala Devaswom Temple,
Ernakulam Siva Temple
Chottanikara Devi Temple
Dharmanath Desar Jain Mandir
St. Francis Assisi Cathedral
St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica, Ernakulamt.
Cherai Beach, North of Vypin Island (Take Route-3 bus from High Court stand). Golden beaches with big sand grains, coconut palm corridors, backwaters, and historical monuments. Cherai Beach is one of the safest beaches to swim or play water sports or beach games. A very large beautiful backwaters just 250 m from beach famous for its scenic beauty and boating. Cherai Beach surpasses all with its swimming facility and coconut groves. Occasional sights of dolphins is also an added attraction.
Kodanadu Elephant Training College (Ana Thothil). 9AM-6PM. Lies on the southern bank of the Periyar amongst the scenic beauty of the high ranges, Kodanadu is extremely famous for its unique elephant training college, elephant orphanage and a mini zoo with deer and peacocks here. Wild elephants are first tamed in special cradles and then taken to the nearby training college, where they are trained. The elephant orphanage rears baby elephants until they are ready for training college. Elephant safari is one of the most sought tourist activity here along with kids playing ball games with baby elephants.
Fort Kochi Beach, Fort Kochi. A historic beach where 1st Portuguese-Dutch war broke out in the 17th century. Once a very large beach, it has reduced to a quarter in size after the Tsunami. A beautiful, small walkway is constructed recently, making ideal for evening strolls. One can find remnants of Old Portuguese Immanuel Fort along with parts of Dutch Stormberg Fort with some canons still kept intact. An obsolete boiler that once used for powering cranes of old port and a very large anchor of an old Portuguese ship are displayed on the walkway. Works for creating a new artificial beach is undergoing near to this old beach with help of Tsunami development funds.
How To Reach
Cochin / Kochi, being an important centre for both trade and tourism in Kerala, is well connected by air, rail and road. The rapidly increasing number of domestic and international tourist traveling to Kochi every year is proof enough that reaching this exotic port city is very easy and hassle-free. Here's a general idea of how to reach Kochi and visit the travel places within and beyond this lovely city:
A number of domestic and international flights operate from the Cochin / Kochi International Airport located at Nedumbassery. They connect the city with the other major cities not only within India, but also across the entire globe. The facilities provided to passengers at the Cochin International Airport are so good that it is counted among the best airports in India.
Kochi or Cochin is situated at a distance of approximately 565 km from Bangalore, 223 km from Coimbatore, 848 km from Goa, 694 km from Chennai, 470 km from Mysore and 312 km form Ooty. Kochi's proximity and excellent road connectivity with these and other major tourist destinations in India make it a much sought after tourist destination.
Trains running from the 3 railway stations in Kochi, namely Ernakulam Junction, Ernakulam Town and Cochin Harbor Terminus, connect it to all small and big towns and cities of Kerala and other parts of India. If you wish to tour at a leisurely pace, befriend co-travelers and taste the real flavor of India, then traveling by train is the best option for you.
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