Queen of the Arabian Sea
On Arabian Sea coast, in Kerala
Go there for :
Backwaters, Antiques, Ayurveda
Upto 35°C (Sum); Around 25ºC (Win)
When to Go:
December to May
STD Code :
+91 - 484
It might come naturally to you to pass Kochi (or Cochin), as the Kerala
Capital. No wonder, for this gorgeous beach-town is not just the most
beautiful Kerala-cosmopolitan, but with its brimming coastline, enamoring
backwaters, ayurvedic health centers, churches and synagogues --- rightfully
positioned amongst National Geographics 50 top tourist destinations.
Watch Kathakali performance, savor its seafood, dig at the antiques, try
fishing with the Chinese fishing nets or attend a traditional marriage
ceremony. Kochi is one place you will instantly fall in like
Tale of the City
Kochi was the favorite seaside entry into India from the Arabian
Sea for the Arabs, Chinese, European sea merchants and finally the
Portuguese under Vasco da Gama in 1500, and the Franciscan friars. And what
had been a quaint fishing hamlet became India's first European settlement.
In 1663, Cochin fell to the Dutch, and then to the British in 1795. Each of
these foreign influences left their impressions, resulting in a distinctly
Indo-European culture, most evident in the architecture and lifestyle of
Fort Cochin :
A quiet landmark to this port-city, the Fort
Cochin, comprising Mattancherry and Jew Town (that hosts a 1st century AD
Jewish community), is a slice of sepia-tinted world, where they still speak
14 different languages and tumbled-down mansions line narrow lanes. Near the
water's edge, old warehouses (or godowns) are filled with the state's
treasured cash crops -- pepper, tea, Ayurvedic herbs, whole ginger, and
betel nuts -- being dried, sorted, and prepared for direct sale or auction.
Walk around at leisure and chances are you will discover something (curio/
architecture) belonging to a world you never thought existed.
Cherai Beach & Vypeen :
Bordering one another, this is where the
city-chafed locals arrive for a replenishing weekend. The beaches are
beautiful; there is an old lighthouse and a 16th century fort. Get there by
ferry from Fort Kochi. A typical Kerala village with paddy fields and
coconut groves nearby add to the scenic beauty.
St. Francis Church :
The oldest European church in India, it went
through a myriad associations beginning from the Franciscan friars, Dutch
Protestants, to Anglicans, and now this church finally belongs to the Church
of South India. Something to keep in mind is, like Hindu temples and
mosques, here too you are required to take off your shoes. (Open: Mon-Sat
9:30am-5pm; Sun 9:30am-noon)
Bolghatty Palace :
Situated at the Bolghatty island and accessed by
a ferry, is this once British mansion has a postcard golf-course and
beautiful honeymoon cottages. Good news is KTDC has taken it up and made it
into a heritage hotel.
Mattancherry Palace :
Adorned with fine murals from the Ramayana,
Mahabharata and some of the Puranic Hindu legends, this double-story palace
is an architectural wonder. The Dutch maps of old Kochi along with
palanquins and coronation robes of the former maharajas of Kochi are
attractions you have to hunt out in here.
Jewish Synagogue :
Here is the oldest (17th century) synagogue in
the Commonwealth with some amazing hand-painted willow pattern floor tiles
brought all the way from China. The Clock Tower, Hebrew inscriptions on
stone slabs and ancient scripts on copper plates, along with other ancient
artefacts are of tourist interest over there. (Open daily: 10am-12 pm &
3pm-5pm; Sat closed). The area surrounding is an antique-lovers paradise
with a myriad curio shops, spices, furniture, artifacts, rare glass and
beads, all centuries old.
Parishath Thampuran Museum :
This hosts the genesis of Kerala in the
form of oil paintings, murals, sculptures in stone and plaster of Paris,
manuscripts and coins belonging to the Kochi royal family - all preserved in
its complex of 49 buildings, in itself a fine example of Kerala
architecture. The area encompassing it has a Deer Park and facilities for
horse riding. (Open daily: 9 am-12:30 pm & 2 pm-4:30 pm; Monday closed)
Santhanagopala-Krishnaswamy Temple :
About 8 km away from Ernakulam,
this museum temple showcases history from the Neolithic Age to the modern
era through intriguing life-size figures. One can also catch the sound and
light shows, which have commentaries in English and Malayalam.
Find sometime to explore :
Pazhassiraja Museum and Art Gallery,
Willingdon Island, Kaladi, Vasco da Gama Square, Pierce Leslie Bungalow, Old
Harbour House, Koder House, Delta Study, Loafer's Corner, Princess Street,
Vasco House, VOC Gate, United Club, Bishop's House, ruins of Fort Immanuel,
the Portuguese settlement.
Your Kochi shopping spree must-have's are camel bone and wood
carvings, various metal-ware, coconut shell decorations, cane crafts,
embroidered pine mats and so on. Buy one piece each of the indigeneous
handicrafts, that is. M.G. Road is where the shopaholics crowd at its
various shops, emporiums and private showrooms. There's the huge GCDA
shopping complex on Marine Drive, which should be explored at leisure.
Antique shopping is another Kochi specialty and items to hunt for are
rosewood artifacts, coir floor coverings and tablemats, old dowry boxes from
Travancore, gold jewelery exclusive to the South, cotton saris, traditional
khadi attire and antiques from Jewtown.
Kochi restaurants cater to both local and international tongues
with cuisines ranging from Kerala cuisine to Chinese selections, American
hamburgers, Italian spaghetti and so on. A permanent flavor you should
expect in all traditional cuisine is that of coconut oil. The best
food-joint are flaked around the at Fort Cochin and Willingdon area. Fresh
seafood is an obvious favorite. And Kochis favorite palate will have
rice, fish and coconut (in some form). Some restaurants you can trust for
its quality of food and delight are Pandhal at M G Road (South Indian food),
Bimbis at Jose Junction (low-priced Indian & Continental cuisine),
Frys Village Restaurant at Chitoor Road, North End (spicy south Indian
specialities like patthri, a Calicut-Muslim delicacy).
Black Gold: In Kerala, pepper is referred to as karuthu ponnu, or "black
gold," and represents the states international spice trade
backbone. Consider a visit to the ginger, black pepper, betel nut, and
Ayurvedic medicine warehouses, so very reminiscent of Salman Rushdie's The
Moor's Last Sigh; or head for the Kochi International Pepper Exchange (Jew
Town Rd., Mattancherry) to see Kerala's black gold being furiously sold off
to the highest bidder.
Some Original names & Changed ones of Keralas cities: Trivandrum
?Thiruvananathapuram; Quilon ? Kollam; Alleppey ? Alappuzha; Trichur ?
Thrissur; Palghat ? Palakkad; Cannanore ? Kanoor; Calicut ? Kozhikode;
Cochin ? Kochi.
(21 Km):Banking the river Periyar, is this famous
Shalvaite pilgrim center and a summer resort.
(47 km): Go there for the St Thomas Catholic Church on
the 609 m high Malayatoor hill, specially if your trip coincides the annual
Malayatoor Perunnal Festival (March-April).
(64 Km): This is the core tourist center for
backwater cruises in Kerala and has often been referred to as the Venice of
the East. If you are here in August, do not miss the Nehru Trophy boat race
held here on the second Saturday.
(80 Km): Former capital of Cochin, Thrissur is famous for
the Vadakkumnatha Temple and is the venue of the annual Pooram Festival held
in April/May. Buy some of its wood carvings and temple-arts are souvenirs.
(80 Km): Famed for its backwaters and the quaint village
surrounded by paddy fields and the Vembanand lake.
(100 Km): Go there if you are an art connoisseur to
witness Keralas training center for art forms such as Kathakali,
Mohinlattam, etc. The center is called Kalamandam.
: Located on the foothill borders of the state adjacent to both
Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, is Wynad, famous for its temples, the Wynad
Wildlife Sanctuary and its Lakkdi area known for its scenic beauty.
(300 km away in Arabian Sea): An archipelago of
12 atolls, 3 reefs, 5 submerged banks and 36 islands in the Arabian Sea
forms a favorite getaway from Kerala. Only six of the 36 islands are
inhabited and open for tourists - Androt, Amini, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadamat,
Kalpeni, Kavaratti and Minicoy. They are the only coral reef island in India
and rich in flora and fauna. Just the place for adventure enthusiasts who
love snorkeling and other Watersports, Fishing etc.
Hop next to
: Kanyakumari, Kodaikanal, Kozhikode,