Cochin

Cochin With colonial architecture, museums, beaches, palaces and stunning natural beauty; Cochin is a jubilant place showcasing cosmopolitan culture.

Introduction

The port city of Kerala, Cochin or Kochi comprises spectacular beaches, breathtaking greenery and amazing natural beauty. Famous as the “Queen of the Arabian Sea”, Cochin is an ideal destination to rejuvenate yourself. The city -, once ruled by Portuguese, Dutch and British - showcases a cosmopolitan culture. The beauty and tranquillity offered by the city make it one of the most desired tourist spots in India.

What to see

As it had been under the rule of many colonial powers, Cochin bears the marks of bygone era. Beaches, Chinese fishing nets, spice markets, Dutch palaces and Kathakali dance make Cochin a desirable place for one and all. It is a lively place full of many tourist attractions.

Chinese Fishing Nets

As the name suggests, these nets are believed to be introduced by China, during the reign of Kublai Khan in the 13th century, with which Kerala had trade relations. These nets require more than 4 people to operate their counterweights at high tide. They have been successfully drawing the attraction of tourists due to their unique design.

 

Fort Kochi beach

Apart from the Chinese fishing nets, Fort Kochi beach is popular for its European style bungalows along the shoreline. A stroll at the beach during sunset with ships sailing in the background is an awe-inspiring experience. You will also find lots of small stalls engaged in preparing lip-smacking dishes using freshly caught fish from the sea.  

St. Francis Church

The church is the oldest European church built in 1503. It also finds a special mention because of the burial of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama’s body which was returned to Portugal in 1539 after 14 years of his death. The church was originally made of wood and reconstructed in stone in the early 16th century. This protected monument preserves the Doop Book, an old Dutch baptism and marriage register. There are unique gravestones in the churchyard. Inside the church, there is a wooden pulpit with carvings, book rests and confessional and baptism platforms.  

 

Jewish Synagogue

Built in 1568, the Jewish Synagogue is decked with Belgian chandeliers, coloured-glass lamps, gold pulpit, 18th century clock tower and hand-painted, willow-pattern Chinese tiles. An upstairs balcony in the synagogue was meant for women to worship separately. Partially destroyed by Portuguese in 1662 and later reconstructed by the Dutch, it is the oldest existing synagogue among all commonwealth nations.

Mattancherry Dutch Palace

Located in Mattancherry, the palace was built by Portuguese in 1555. In the 17th century, the Dutch modified it and presented it to Shree Veera Kerala Varma, the then King of Cochin. The palace witnessed the coronation of many kings of Cochin. There are mural paintings based on Hindu epics - the Mahabharatha and the Ramayana. The palace also exhibits turbans, dresses and palanquin used by the erstwhile kings of Cochin.

 

Hill Palace Museum

Built in 1865, the Hill Palace Museum is the largest archaeological museum in Kerala. Located on a hillock and spreading in 54 acres, the palace once served as an abode to the royal family which was converted into a museum in 1986. With 49 buildings, the palace is a fine example of traditional architectural style of Kerala. There is a heritage museum, a deer park, a prehistoric park and a children's park inside the palace. The museum displays paintings, artefacts, weapons, coins, sculptures, manuscripts and other objects related to the Cochin royal family.  

Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary

This protected sanctuary is home to many rare species of resident and migratory birds, including mangroves. There is also a lake where seven species of fish are found. Besides, it has 17 species of butterflies and six species of mammals. Here, you can enjoy nature through free camps organised by Kerala Forest and Wildlife department.

 

Cherai Beach

This picturesque and less busy beach is a combination of sea and backwaters. Coconut groves, Chinese fishing nets, seashells and paddy fields make it a hot favourite spot among tourists. Dolphins are major attractions of this beach.

Spice Market

Since ancient times, Kerala is famous for its unbeatable quality of spices and herbs. Cochin, being an important spice trade centre, deals in premium quality of ginger, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric and pepper. Traders from Europe and Arab countries frequent the bustling market.  

 

Kathakali Dance

Kathakali is a traditional dance form originated in Kerala. Displayed in the form of ballet, it is performed solely by male dancers who use facial expressions, hand gestures and dance moves to portray characters from Hindu epics like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, etc. One can enjoy Kathakali dance performances in Cochin which are conducted by See India Foundation, Cochin Cultural Centre and Art Kerala.

Ayurvedic centres

Kerala has carved a niche for itself in the field of Ayurveda. The extreme goodness of this ancient natural therapy has made it tremendously popular throughout the world. There are many hotels, resorts and centres in Cochin offering best Ayurvedic massages and treatment.

 

Fairs and Festivals

People in Cochin celebrate fairs and festivals with complete zest. Onam, the harvest festival, is the most popular festival of entire Kerala. The 10-day long festival has attractions like floral carpet called "Athappookkalam" in front of houses, boat races, carnivals, dance, music and feast comprising 'Payasam', a traditional sweet dish of Kerala.

Welcoming the New Year, the Cochin Carnival witnesses decorated elephants, dance and music, traditional folk art forms and adventure sports tournaments.

Indira Gandhi boat race is another prominent event presenting the vibrant mood of people in Cochin. The event draws huge global attention where participants on snake boats give tough competition to one another. The liveliness of the event is worth watching.

In addition, Jewish festivals like Hanukkah and Passover; and Malayatoor Perunal - a Christian festival, are Cochin’s other major events.

Staying in Cochin

Luxury hotels

Cochin delights its visitors with a range of luxury hotels. Hotel Taj Malabar on Willingdon Island offers customary comfort and modern facilities with a spectacular view of harbour. The hotel with 96 well-maintained rooms makes sure that you get to enjoy best luxurious stay. Multi cuisines, spa, Ayurvedic therapies and water activities are some of the other facilities available in the hotel.

With an unparalleled luxury, Le Meridian Hotel comes with 150 rooms which talk of sheer opulence. Presidential suite, executive suite, family suite, honeymoon suite, deluxe and standard rooms, all options are available for you in the hotel. It is an ideal hotel for leisure travellers.

Located on Marine drive, Hotel Taj Residency is smartly designed with its 108 rooms offering astounding views of sea, harbour and sunset.  

There are four and three star hotels along with beach resorts providing finest services to their guests.  

When to go

October to March - pleasant weather (Best time)

April to June - summer season

July to September - Monsoon season

Reaching Cochin

Air: Cochin International Airport in Nedumbassery is about 30 km from the city. Rail: There are three main railway stations - Ernakulam Junction, Ernakulam Town and Cochin Harbour Terminus. Road: Bus services can be easily availed through Kerala Road Transport Corporation.

 

Cochin - a multi-faceted city

Bearing the marks of colonial architecture, Cochin is a fabulous place for Indians as well as foreigners.

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