Cochin is a booming business metropolis, a fascinating mixture of the old and the new, is having the finest natural harbours in the world. Cochin underlined by the sobriquet ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’, was once a major centre for commerce and trade. At Cochin, the blue water of the Arabian Sea merges with Kerala’s Emerald Backwaters. Even today, Cochin continues the tradition of welcoming visitors with its customary warmth and hospitality…
Places of interest
Bolgatty Island: This long narrow palm-fringed island easily accessible from the mainland, is where the Bolgatty Palace is situated amidst 15 acres of lush green lawns. Built by the Dutch in 1744, it became the seat of the British Resident later. In 1976 the palace was converted into a hotel under the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation. The Cochin Golf Club's course is on the palace grounds.
Art Complex - Madhavan Nayar Foundation, Edappally: This Art Complex is 10 kms north of Ernakulam en route to Alwaye. The centre also exhibits certain larger-than-life mural reproductions of ancient Indian Art. The complex consists of two units: the Gallery of Paintings and Sculptures which presents over 200 original paintings by contemporary Indian artists, some of them internationally acclaimed, and works of reputed Indian sculptors. The other unit, the Centre for Visual Arts is reserved for authentic reproductions of selected world masters from Leonardo da Vinci to those of the present century.
Chinese Fishing Nets, Fort Cochin: These fixed, cantilevered fishing nets, at the entrance of the harbour and along the backwaters, were introduced by traders from the court of Kublai Khan. Records show that they were first erected between AD 1350 and 1450. The best place to watch these nets is from Vasco da Gama square, a narrow promenade that lies parallel to the beach.
Cherai Beach: The beach is located 25 kms from Ernakulam in a typical village ambience is this lovely unspoilt stretch of sand, ideal for swimming. But if the sea and sand still do not whet your appetite, there are many numbers of food outlets and ice-cream parlours to do so. At Cherai, life guards are always on the look out for the over adventurous. Dolphins are also commonly seen in the waters.
Ernakulam Siva Temple, Ernakulam: The temple is facing the historical Rajendra maidan is this famous temple, considered to be amongst the most ancient in central Kerala. Though no historical records exist to indicate a precise date, an inscription found above the main entrance in Vattezhuthu, an antiquated script, suggests that the sanctum was built in the year 1614. The deity is popularly referred to as Ernakulathappan. The temple's 8-day annual festival is celebrated in the month of Jan-Feb with colourful rituals and exciting cultural events. The bathing of the idol, on the eighth day, is particularly significant here. The ceremony of Ashta Bandham Kalasam, where the deity is anointed in a herbal paste, is performed once in 12 years.
Dutch Cemetery, Fort Cochin: Consecrated in 1724, here's an authentic reminder of the many men and women from Europe who came down all the way to play out their roles in the colonial 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
Dutch Palace, Mattancherry: The Palace, originally built by the Portuguese and presented to the Cochin raja Veera Kerala Varma in 1555, acquired its present name after 1663 when the Dutch carried out some extensive repairs. The Cochin rajas held their coronation ceremoniesin the Central Hall of this double-storey quadrangular building. Rooms adjacent contain breathtaking 17th-century murals depicting scenes from the Puranas and the great epics - the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
Fort Cochin Beach: The Beach is an ideal place for an evening stroll and to watch a spectacular sunset. Bathing and swimming are not recommended here. The colourful carnival at New Year's Eve is a feature of this beach.
Hill Palace Museum, Tripunithura: The Museum is set on top of a hillock, these prodigious palace-turned-museum display 13 categories of exhibits, including paintings, carvings and other royal antiquities donated by the Cochin and Travancore royal families and the Paliam Devaswom. The Heritage Museum, located on the rear side of the palace buildings, familiarizes you with the traditional lifestyles of ancient Kerala. The museum premises have also been converted into a botanical garden with exotic tropical trees from Central America to Australia.
Jewish Synagogue, Mattancherry: This is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth which was built in 1568. The Great Scrolls of the Old Testament, copper plates on which the grants of privilege made by the Cochin rulers were recorded, gold and silver crowns gifted by various patrons to the synagogue, exquisite Chinese hand-painted willow patterned floor tiles, and the synagogue's elaborate lighting are of interest.
Kalli Kota, Tripunithura: As the name suggests, this beautiful, imposing building - a legacy of the Dutch rule - served as an entertainment auditorium to the erstwhile royalty featuring dance, drama, and plays. Today it functions largely as a marriage hall. Kalli Kota is situated near Poornathreyesa temple.
Indo-Portuguese Museum, Fort Cochin: The museum established in a separate building showcases artifacts like statues and coins left back by the Portuguese. The museum is located within the compound of the beautiful 1506 Bishop's House.
Sree Poornathreyesa Temple, Tripunithura: The legend says that Arjuna, the great archer and warrior, had established this sanctum. Formerly belonging to the Cochin royalty, this temple has Maha Vishnu as its presiding deity. The annual temple festival is held in Nov-Dec, while the colourful Athachamayam, a cultural extravaganza, is celebrated every year during the festival of Onam.
Mangalavanam (Mangrove Forest), Ernakulam: This small protected area, a haven for birds, is located on Dr. Salim Ali Road, adjacent to the High Court of Kerala. Best time to visit is in the mid of January to early March.
Kerala Lalitha Kala Akademi Art Centre,Ernakulam: The Art Centre is located on DH Road, this hall, now opened up as an art centre, had been the durbar of the raja of Cochin.
Pallipuram Fort, Vypin: It is situated at the far end of Vypin Island. The structure's walls have around 20 cannon emplacements. Small and hexagonal, it was built in 1503, claiming to be the oldest European fort in India.
Marine Drive: One side of the Marine Drive is backwater while the opposite side is 70-ft Road, city’s widest road. At the place of ruined old jetty there is Marine Drive Promenade. Sit here and watch the backwaters and the Fort Kochi beyond. The world’s highly densely populated Vypeen Island is in clear view from here.
Mount Carmel Church, Varapuzha: The most interesting things are the Portuguese church bells. This 1642 church is the second Indian vicariath established by Holy See after Goa.
Museum Of Kerala History, Edappally: This Museum is located along with the Art Complex at Edappally, it is a Sound and Light show presenting thirty five scenes from the political, social, and cultural history of Kerala.
Parade Ground, Fort Cochin: The ground is covering more than four acres, this large open ground was used by the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British for conducting military drills and parades during the colonial years. The defense establishments of these powers were housed in some of the elegant buildings surrounding the ground. Located adjacent to St Francis' church, the ground today serves largely as a recreation and sporting turf.
Sree Rajarajeswari Temple, Chottanikara: The Temple is located 15 kms from Ernakulam, this 10th century temple, one of the most renowned in Kerala, is an important pilgrim centre. The goddess here is worshipped in her three forms, one after another, as the day progresses - as Saraswathy in the morning, as Bhadrakali at noon, and as Durga in the evening. The temple's annual festival is held in Feb-Mar for nine days with 'Makam Thozal' considered the most important day. The Navaratri celebrations are also worth seeing.
St. Francis church, fort Cochin: St. Francis Church was originally named as Santo Antonio. It is the first church to have been built in the new European influenced style and tradition. The original wooden building of 1510 was soon replaced by the present building around 1546. Vasco da Gama died here in 1524 and was originally buried in the church, fourteen years later his body was removed back to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. The church has an impressive facade. The church, originally a Catholic Church was taken over by the Dutch after they captured Kochi in 1663 and converted into a Protestant Dutch. The British converted it into an Anglican Church after they took power in 1795, and in 1949 the congregation joined the Church of South India.
Santa Cruz Basilica, Fort Cochin: The church was totally demolished by the British who took over Cochin in 1795. Originally built by the Portuguese, this church was elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558. Later Bishop Dom Gomez Ferreira commissioned a new building in 1887. Santa Cruz was finally proclaimed a Basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1984. The basilica, situated close to the St. Francis Church, has some beautiful paintings.
St. George forane church, Edappally: The church is an important pilgrim centre, this Roman Catholic church was built way back in AD 593 in a plot of land donated by the Raja of Edappally. After the seven churches were founded by St. Thomas, the Edappally church is considered to be one of the oldest in Kerala. The new church beside it was built in 1080. Historical records have it that a session of the Synod of Diamper (Udayamperoor), 1599, was held here. The church is also well known for its annually held nine-day feast in April/May.
Subhash Bose Park, Ernakulam: The Park adjoins the Vembanad Lake offering fantastic views of the Cochin harbour. A small aquarium is an added attraction. This sprawling park is an ideal place for an evening stroll, a family outing, or to take your children out for some fun and frolic.
Vamanamoorthy Temple, Thrikkakara: The Temple is set in a land of great mythological significance, this ancient temple, dedicated to Vamana - the fifth avatara of Lord Vishnu - is venerated by the Vaishnavaites as one among the 108 holy places in India. The temple holds a large number of lithic records, some of great historical significance. The annual festival is held in the month of Chingam(Aug-Sept).
Voc Gate, Fort Cochin: Facing parade ground is this large wooden gate with the initials 'VOC' carved onto it representing the monogram of the once mighty Dutch East India Company. The inscription also indicates that it was built in the year 1740.
Things to Do in Cochin
There are innumerable options available to travelers in Cochin. Some of the popular ones are -
Houseboat cruises: Cochin, with abundant widening and narrowing canals and lakes is best experienced with a houseboat cruise. Houseboat is the best way to enjoy the labyrinthine of Kerala backwaters these backwaters have always supported a unique waterfront lifestyle for the people of Cochin. Tourists can experience this unique lifestyle by renting one of the large thatched-roofed house boats known as “Kettuvallams”. Kettuvallams lazily move around the canals and lakes giving you the perfect sense of peace and tranquility. These boats cater equally to the needs of a family of two or a group of over a dozen people. They usually come with a captain, a cook and a steward.
Ayurvedic Spas: Kerala acclaimed as the birthplace of Ayurveda, a trip to this fabulous land is never complete without a visit to one of those refreshing Ayurvedic spas. The state of Kerala is synonymous with wellness. There are different sorts of treatments available guaranteed to rejuvenate your body and soul. Treat yourself and indulge in this amazingly refreshing Ayurvedic spa experience.
Kathakali: Catch a glimpse of this exotic dance-drama in one of the various centers located in and around the heritage areas of Fort Cochin- Mattanchery or Ernakulam. The dance-drama of Kathakali is a temple art form re-enacting stories from the Hindu epics. The characters are attired in elaborate costumes with brightly painted faces.
Beach & Water sports: For the adventurous soul, the best way to enjoy the backwaters is by taking canoeing or water biking. Refresh yourself with a trip to one of those gorgeous palm fringed beaches of Cochin. Opportunities are abundant to get invigorated in these magnificent beaches.
Location: On the Malabar Coast in Central Kerala
Climate: The city enjoys a uniform, temperate tropical climate throughout the year
Best Time to Visit: The “monsoon tourism” luring tourists to enjoy the monsoon magic and the “dream season” to enjoy rejuvenating Ayurvedic therapies are some of the unique theme holidays offered. Traditionally tourist season begins with a number of cultural events and celebrations organized by the Department of Tourism in the month of October and extend till March.
How to Reach Cochin?
By Air: Kochi is connected by excellent air network to all major cities in India.
By Rail: Kochi has three main railway stations, namely, Ernakulam Junction, Ernakulam Town and Harbour Terminus on Willingdon Island.
By Road: Kochi (Cochin), an important commercial centre of the South India is very well serviced by a network of national and state highways, connecting it to all major centres of the area.
Local Transport: Taxis, city buses and auto rickshaws.
Ferries: Ferry service is available for travel between the island towns.