‘Kochi’, ‘Cochin’ or ‘Ernakulum’, whatever name you use for this seaport city on the West coast of India, would definitely charm you. There are so many places to visit in Kochi depending upon the interest.
Kochi had been an important spice trading port of the world since the 14th century. Yes, can you believe it’s that old?
Kochi has been ruled by Portuguese, Dutch, Mysore dynasty and Britishers, traveled by traders from around the world like Arab, Chinese and hence is a beautiful confluence of many cultures. The diversity has been steeped into the architecture, art, food and is notably visible.
Cochin (as called by Britishers) or Kochi (as called by Indians) is in district Ernakulum and hence also referred by that name.
The name ‘Co-chin’ means ‘like China’. After the Chinese visited and erected Chinese fishing nets, there was a resemblance to China.
Cochin is one city in India that is a unique amalgamation of so many varied cultures from Malayalam, Dutch, Portuguese, British, Chinese and many more from the traders visiting.
Even then they have blended, just like the rainbow that is made of many colors.
So pick the colors you love from this cultural rainbow.
While traveling across Kerala waters, one thing that is striking is the huge nets. These are stationary fishing nets, needing about 4-6 fishermen to pull it. It is typical to this part and not found anywhere in India. This technique was introduced by Chinese traders and hence called as Chinese fishing nets.
These nets can be sighted all across Kerala, but the most famous and thronged by tourists is in Fort Kochi at the Vasco da Gama Square. But the place is so crowded with hawkers and tourists alike. It is also hard to find a parking place nearby. So better walk over to the square.
During sunset or sunrise, the row of the nets one behind the other and shimmering sun at the backdrop is a perfect photo op and Insta worthy. These are perhaps the most photographed in Kerala other than the Kerala backwater houseboats.
Is houseboat stay in the Kerala backwaters on your list? Then read our blog An Enchanting Houseboat Stay in Kumarakom with Backwater Routes.
Kerala is synonymous with the ayurvedic massage. Ayurveda is an ancient medicinal treatment of India about 5000 years old.
This is a treatment to rejuvenate mind, body, and soul. Multiple types of ayurvedic treatments are available with herbal oils to help cure or relieve stress.
The monsoon season (July – September) is the best and effective time to get complete benefits.
A trip to Kerala is incomplete without witnessing this colorful and classical dance form that dates back to 17th century. The elaborate time-consuming makeup, the vivid majestic costume, facial expressions, and the dance will blow your mind.
There are some experiences that cannot be put into words, just felt.
Going an hour early from the performance time to watch the artists do their makeup.
Tickets: The ticket prices vary from INR 250 – INR 350 for a 1-hr show.
Timings: At most of the Kathakali centers, the performances are held in the evening, but it’s always better to inquire.
a. Cochin Cultural Center – There are two centers – in Fort Kochi and in the city. We watched it at the Fort Kochi center and enjoyed the performance. The best part is that they share the story to be depicted and also explain all the facial expressions and hand gestures used in the dance form.
b. Folklore Cultural Theater
c. Greenix Village
d. Kerala Kathakali Center
Around 20 km away from Cochin airport is the Cherai beach. Called the ‘Princess of Arabian sea’, this small suburb has a beautiful beach nestled among the coconut trees. Take a walk, relax, swim in the warm water and watch the sunset.
Fort Kochi, tops the list of places to visit in Kochi, feels as if time has stopped. The influence of the Dutch, Portuguese and British is clearly visible in the architecture of the heritage buildings.
Fort Kochi is a beautiful amalgamation of cultures from Dutch to Portuguese to Jews.
1.St. Francis Church – This is one of the oldest churches in India. Also, the great explorer Vasco da Gama was buried in St. Francis Church.
2. Dutch Palace / Mattancherry Palace – This is a Portuguese Palace, located in the Mattancherry area. Around 1555, this palace was built by the Portuguese and gifted to the king of Cochin. The Dutch renovated and extended it in the 17th century, after which it was called the Dutch Palace.
The palace has been converted into a museum and exhibits the history of the Kings of Cochin. The portraits of the rajas, the weapons used, elaborate clothes, coins used during their reins and many more interesting things give a peek into the royal life.
Timings: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. ; 3p.m. – 5 p.m. (except Friday)
Note: The last entry is 4:30 p.m.
3. Princess Street – This is a famous street among the tourists who flock for shopping and cool cafes.
4. Pardesi Synagogue – Built in the 16th century, this is India’s oldest functioning synagogue. This worship place of Jews has an altar in the middle and a beautiful chandelier hanging from the top. Located in the Jew town area, it shares its wall with Mattancherry Palace.
(‘Pardesi’ in Hindi means ‘foreigner’ and was called so as it was built by Spanish speaking Jews).
Ticket: INR 5
Timings: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. ; 3p.m. – 5 p.m. (except Friday afternoon , Saturday and Jewish holidays)
Since this is a place of worship, need to dress moderately and enter barefoot. Photography is prohibited inside.
5. Ginger House Museum & Restaurant – A great seaside view restaurant in the Jew Town which even houses a lot of antiques. There is a museum and the first thing that catches your eyes is the huge snake boat. Do check some beautiful craft pieces.
And if you are a true lover of antiques and like anything in the restaurant, you can even buy that.
Now since it is a restaurant, let us recommend to satisfy your palette also. We tried Chicken kurma and Mushroom masala with Kerala Parotta and licked our fingers. The meal was completed with the specialty – Ginger ice cream that was yummy and soft on palette.
6. Jew town – This is the best area to shop for crafts and souvenirs.
There are Elephant Training centers in Kochi, but we don’t recommend them.
Where to stay in Kochi? An important question that can be answered depending upon the requirements and area to explore.
Most people prefer to stay in Fort Kochi that has some wonderful options. From boutique hotels to luxurious to hostels, there are options galore.