India >> Kerala >> Kochi/Cochin Travel Guide

Kochi/Cochin Hotels and Travel Guide

Kochi, or more familiarly, Cochin is a city of many parts and has played a pivotal role in the development of shipping and trade in the region. Kochi's prime location on the west coast, its fine bay and protected harbour made it popular with seafarers and merchant ships who made frequent stops to stock up on spices, coffee and wood en route to the rich markets of Europe and West Asia. The place prospered as a busy port city and commercial centre and is still extremely relevant to India as a whole: housing a Naval Base and being one of India's busiest ports.

 

Kochi 's history is a bright tapestry with many coloured threads woven together through centuries to present the fabric of the present. Its involvement with the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British are evident in the architecture of city's buildings . Modern day Kochi may be a busy port and shipping centre but it has many attractions for tourists and is one of the more popular cites in the country to visit.
SHOPPING:

Among Kochi's best buy are metal-ware, camel-bone carvings, wood carvings, articles made of coconut shell, bamboo, cane, embroidered screwpine mats; grass mats; and several other types of handicrafts. Kochi also has several antique dealers, jewellery stores, readymade garments and ethnic hand-woven textiles worth adding to your shopping basket. The major shopping centres are on M.G. Road which cuts across the heart of the city, and the Marine Drive including Broadway. Shops open at 10 a.m. and close around 8 p.m. generally all shops remain close on Sundays.

CLIMATE:
Being close to the sea Kochi has a moderate climate. Heavy showers are experienced during the months June, July and August due to the south-west monsoon. The north-east monsoon brings light rainfall during the months September, October, November and December. December to February is pretty cool. In summer the temperature rises to a maximum of 35 ºC while in winter it is around 25 ºC. The best time to visit is from November through to May.

EXCURSIONS:

Pay a visit to the Bolghatty Palace situated on Boghatty Island, a narrow palm-fringed island easily accessible from the mainland. The Palace was built by the Dutch in 1744 and later became the seat of the British Resident. Today this has been converted into a hotel and is a popular place to stay.

Visit Ernakulam a modern city nearby where many shopping markets, bazaars etc are located. From time immemorial, Arab, Chinese, Dutch and British and Portuguese seafarers followed the sea route to Kochi and left their impression on the town. The Chinese fishing nets swaying in the breeze over backwaters, the Boghatty Palace in Kochi enrich the heritage of Kerala.

Check out the famed Chinese Fishing Nets that line the sea-front and exhibit a mechanical method of catching fish by local fishermen in Fort Kochi are said to have been brought from China by traders of Kubalai Khan's Court, many years ago and are still used today at high tide.

Go for a swim or build at sandcastle at Fort Kochi Beach Easily the best part of the city, the beach at Fort Kochi extends from Kamalakada to the harbour entrance. A stroll along the beach at sunset with the Chinese fishing nets and sailing ships in the background is an experience to cherish.

Buy a souvenir from one of the local Handicraft Centres which have an extraordinary collection of wood, coir shell and sandalwood souvenirs, trinkets, and jewellery. Wood carved Kathakali masks, snake boats, elephants, jewellery boxes etc. are perfect showpieces for your drawing rooms and ideal gifts for friends and are definitely worth meandering through.

Don't miss at least one performance of Kochi Dance (Kathakali) . This is the ancient classical dance from of Kerala which is a grand mix of dramatics, vocal and instrumental music, dancing and mine.

Chinese fishing net in Kochi Cochin
Chinese fishing net in Kochi Cochin


Fort Kochi Beach
Fort Kochi Beach


Kochi Dance (Kathakali)
Kochi Dance (Kathakali)



Chennamangalam Kochi

Chennamangalam Kochi

Don't miss at least one visit to the Mangalavana Bird Sanctuary situated right in the heart of Kochi city which is the transit home of many exotic and rare varieties of migratory birds throughout the year. This gives visitors an opportunity to see migratory birds on the move and perhaps the opportunity to spot some that have flown all the way from the visitor's homeland.

Give Mud Therapy a go and discover its healing properties at the Kavil Bhavan Yoga and Cultural Centres in the area. It's a total experience and you'll be surprised at how great you feel afterwards.

If you are visiting with children then you really do have to consider going on a Train Trip . A train journey is one of the most efficient, inexpensive and enchanting ways in which to experience the area. Get a window seat and watch the landscape unfold like pages of a colourful picture book, or acquaint yourself with your fellow travellers who make interesting profiles.

Attractions and Places to Visit in Kochi/Cochin

Bolghatty Island This long narrow palm-fringed island is easily accessible from the mainland and is where you'll need to go to see the Bolghatty Palace.

Chennamangalam About 4km from Parur, houses the oldest synagogue in Kerala. There is also a Jesuit Church and ruins of a Jesuit College . One can also walk to the Hindu Temple overlooking river Periyar, a 16th-century mosque , as well as burial grounds .

Chinese Fishing Nets The Chinese fishing nets that line the sea-front and exhibit a mechanical method of catching fish by local fishermen in Fort Kochi are said to have been brought from China by traders of Kubalai Khan's Court, many years ago and are still used today at high tide.

Chottanikkara Temple Numerous stories attest to the early history of this 10th century temple, where tormented devotees found solace in the diety, Bhagavathi. Today it remains one of the most popular pilgrim sites in Kerala, devotees still flock here seeking liberation from torment. Sometimes they dance themselves into a flenzy in their battle between the demons and the deities. The Goddess at Chottanikkara is revered here in three forms; she is Saraswathi (goddess of learning) in the morning, Bhagavathi (fierce and destructive) at noon and Durga (divine mother) in the evening.

Coonan Kurishu Shrine Located in the heart of the busy Mattancherry is the Coonan Kurishu Shrine which was the venue for about 25,000 Syrian Christians who in 1653, assembled at the ancient cross in Mattancherry and tied long ropes to it. Pulling the ropes they took a solemn oath that they would never obey the Latin Archbishops or be under the Jesuits.

Dutch Cemetery located a short distance from St. Francis Church, near the entrance to the beach is supposedly maintained by the CSI, but is very badly kept. There is no information available on this cemetery, (if travellers have any, please forward it to us so that we may be able to inform others via these web pages) although it is of historical importance having many famous persons buried here. Most of the grave stones have been removed, but the few that are here are in fairly good condition, however because of the overgrowth of plants and shrubs, it takes a bit of real exploring to discover whose grave stone is whose.

Fort Kochi Founded in 1503, this Portuguese fort is now in ruins. With its European heritage, its air of genteel decay, and stubborn self-absorption, it is a place where history, still stalks the lonely streets and one can see the remains of Indo-European architecture that still exist here.

Fort Kochi Beach Easily the best part of the city, the beach at Fort Kochi extends from Kamalakada to the harbour entrance. A stroll along the beach at sunset with the Chinese fishing nets and sailing ships in the background is an experience to cherish.

Hill Palace
The palace of Rajas of Kochi in the 19th century, the palace has been converted into a museum displaying a fine collection of articles used by the Rajas of Kochi besides many archaeological findings. It is located at Tripunittura, 6 km from the city.

Jewish Synagogue or the ( Paradeshi Synagogue) was built in 1568 AD. The Great Scrolls of the Old Testment, the copper plates in which the grants of privilege made by the Cochin rulers were recorded and the exquisite Chinese hand-painted tiles are of interest here. One of the oldest synagogues in the world, it is a jewel of incomparable beauty with its brass columns, Belgian hanging lamps, and exquisite hand-painted, blue-and-white Chinese porcelain tiles of which no two are alike.It is open from 10.00 hrs to 12.00 hrs and 15.00 hrs to 17.00 hrs and is closed on Sundays and Jewish holidays.

Kathakali Performances The origins of India's most spectacular dance drama go back 500 years to a time when open -air performances were held in temple courtyards or in villages. There are more than 100 different arrangements, all of them based on stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharatha. The Kerala Kathakali Centre stage performances at the Cochin Aquatic Club on River Rd, Fort Cochin, near the bus stand. Ask at your hotel on arrival for more information and opening times.

Kochi Shipyard i s the biggest ship building yard in India, and is situated in the southern part of Ernakulam on the way to Willington Island. Set up with Japanese collaboration, this shipyard has a building dock for ships up to 85,000 DWT and a repair dock that can accommodate ships up to 1,00,000 DWT. Motilal Nehru, the first oil tanker made in India, was built here. It's an interesting spot and if you like boats shouldn't be missed.

Parur , 35km north of Kochi (Cochin), encapsulates the cultural and religious medley of this region. There is a synagogue, place of Brahmins, a Syrian Orthodox Church , a Krishna Temple , and a Temple of goddess Mookambic worth seeing here.

Place of Brahmins This agraharam (place of Brahmins) is a small street of closely packed houses that was settled by Tamil Brahmins and worth a wander through.

St. Francis Church This Protestant church was originally built by the Portuguese in 1510 AD and is believed to be the oldest church built by the Europeans in India. It is here that the remains of the inveterate traveller, Vasco da Gamma were initially buried and 14 years later were exhumed and taken to Portugal.

Santa Cruz Baslica This Roman Catholic Church situated close to St. Francis Church is worth visiting for the beautiful paintings that can be seen here.

Willingdon Island is a man-made island created from the material dredged while deepening Kochin Port. Situated between the main land Ernakulam and the old town Mattancherry and separated by the backwaters. Willingdon Island is an important part of Kochin. The Government of India Tourist Office, the Southern Naval Command Headquarters, the Seaport, Naval Airport, Railway terminus, Customs House, Cochin Port Office etc are all located in this island.

Vypeen and Gundu Islands Ferries shuttle across the narrow strait from Fort Cochin to Vypeen Island where visitors can see a lighthouse at Ochunthuruth (open from 3 to 5pm daily), good beaches and the early 16th century Palliport Fort (open Thursdays). Gundu, the smallest island in the harbour, is close to Vypeen. It has a coir factory making doormats from coconut fibre worth stopping at too.

Zoo Although Kuchi ( Cochin) itself, doesn't have a zoo, there are a number in the Kerala area that have plenty to excite the animal lover in you. TheTrivandrum Zoo , one worth considering, is among the best designed in India and is set amidst a woodland, lakes and lawns.

How to Reach Kochi/Cochin

Kochi is well connected by air, rail, road and waterways to all major cities within and outside Kerala.


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