A collection of tiny islands and peninsulas along the shore of the Arabian Sea, steeped in glorious history, shaped and nurtured for centuries by foreign powers like the Arabs, Dutch
, British, Chinese
and the Portuguese
: welcome to Kochi. This port city is the biggest city in the state of Kerala, and is a must visit for people who travel to India to learn the rich history of colonial India and its trading prowess.
Chinese Fishing Nets
The Chinese Fishing Nets are without doubt Kochi’s most popular sight. According to legend, the nets were brought from the court of Chinese emperor Kublai Khan and were introduced to fishermen in Kochi by Chinese explorer Zheng He in the 14th century, and have been in use ever since. Local fishermen show how to use them in return for a small fee, it’s a fun experience and later on in the day, you can purchase the morning catch from the fishmongers, have it cooked in the nearby shacks and enjoy it while taking in the breath-taking sunset.
Address: River Rd, Fort Kochi, Kochi, Kerala 682001
The Mattancherry Palace was built and presented as a token of appreciation by the Portuguese to the Raja of Kochi, Verra Kerala Varma, in 1555. The Dutch carried out renovations and created extensions in 1663, hence it also called the Dutch Palace. The double storeyed palace has the architectural style of the Portuguese but it follows the design patterns of Kerala temple architecture, which can be seen in the wooden balconies and the sloping roof. Today, the palace serves as an art gallery showcasing some of India’s best art murals and paintings, the star attractions being the murals depicting scenes from the Hindu epic Ramayana and other Puranic legends in elaborate detail.
Address: Mattancherry Kochi, Kerala 682002
This Jewish Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations. Paradesi is the Hindi word for ‘foreigner’ which was applied to the synagogue because it was mostly frequented by exiled Jews from Europe and the Middle East. It was built in 1568 and although somewhat damaged by the Portuguese in 1662, it was rebuilt when the Dutch took over Kochi. The synagogue features a gold pulpit and hand-painted, willow pattern floor tiles imported from China. The synagogue is magnificently illuminated by an exquisite Belgian chandelier and the clock tower was added in 1762. Paradesi Synagogue is a famous tourist attraction and worth every minute spent there.
Address: Synagogue Ln Jew Town, Kappalandimukku, Mattancherry Kochi, Kerala 682002
Elephant Training Centre
Kodanad is a small rural riverside village in the district of Ernakulam in Kochi. Most hotels arrange a day trip to this small, unspoilt village which has best training centers for stranded adult and baby elephants. If you’re able to reach before eight in the morning, there is a good chance that you can lend a hand to the trainers in giving a wash to the elephants, one of the most lively and happiest pleasures available in Kochi. Watch the elephants roll around and douse you in water as they play around. One can also attend elephant safaris for a small fee.
Address: Vallom Panamkuzhi Road Kodanad, Kerala 683544
Kathakali is one of the nine classical dances of India and has its origins in Kerala. It is well known for its colourful and fascinating costumes. The dance presents themes derived from the Hindu epics Ramayana, Mahabharata and many others. Kochi’s Kerala Kathakali Centre runs performances every day and also provides opportunities to watch the artists apply their makeup and offers training programs in the classical dances too.
Address: Near Santa Cruz Bazilica, K.B. Jacob Road, Fort Kochi, Kerala 682001
St. Francis Church
St. Francis Church
This church is a landmark monument, as it is believed to be the oldest European-built church in India. It stood as a silent spectator to the colonial conflict among the European nations for dominion over India. Built in 1503 by the Portuguese as a Roman Catholic Church, it became a Dutch Reformist Church in 1664 and eventually an Anglican Church in 1804. The church is perhaps most famous for being the burial place for the explorer Vasco De Gama when he died in 1524; it attracts hundreds of visitors from across the globe. His remains were moved to Lisbon 14 years later, but you can still visit his tombstone in the church.
Address: Fort Kochi, Kochi, Kerala 682001
Kerala Folklore Theatre and Museum
Kerala Folklore Theatre and Museum
The Kerala Folklore Theatre and Museum, a three floored structure with each floor covering three architectural styles -Malabar on the ground floor, Kochi on the first floor and Travancore on the second floor – is the most stunning and beautiful home to experience the rich heritage of Kerala. It houses over 4000 artefacts sourced and collected from ancient temples and old houses. The museum also houses a wood-lined theatre, with a 17th-century wooden ceiling. The theatre conducts authentic stage performances daily from 6.30pm; the credit for the theatre goes to the hard work and passion of George Thaliath, his wife Annie George and the craftsmanship of 62 carpenters and skilled workers.
Address: Folklore Junction Thevara Kochi, Kerala 682013
Loafer’s Corner or Princess Street is one of the oldest areas in Kochi, and is an amalgamation of the traditional and modern. Situated right in the middle of Kochi, the influence of the colonial powers is evident, with both sides of the street dotted with buildings and homes of European architecture with Dutch, Portuguese and British being the main ones. Princess Street is the place to go in Kochi for street shopping, cafés, books stores and people watching. The best way to experience it is by foot, as there are many shops selling artefacts, souvenirs and little handicrafts.
Address: Fort Nagar, Fort Kochi, Kochi, Kerala 682001
In a south Indian state, a restaurant serving north Indian cuisine and considered one of the best restaurants in the area is a commendable job. Welcome to Dal Roti, a simple restaurant in the Fort Kochi with old wooden tables and a laid back ambiance. The restaurant is popular for its kati rolls and parathas. The sweet and friendly owner Ramesh always makes sure each of his customers is well looked after. It’s a great place to relax and have simple, homely and delicious food.
Opening hours: 9am-10pm
Address: Napier Street Fort Kochi, Kochi, Kerala 682001