Boasting a glorious heritages and ample traces of colonialism, Kochi is more or less an urban slice of Kerala history… Divergent culture, bustling life and remarkable natural beauty, altogether makes Kochi an ideal tourist destination.
Kochi – Cochin to the western world – also known as the Queen of Arabian Sea, is a perfect anchor point to start exploring the mysterious natural beauty of Kerala and is rated among the top three tourist destinations in the world by the World travel and Tourism council. Cochin tourism has managed to attract various kinds of travelers from different parts of the world with its amazing tour packages and matchless beauty. A passionate traveler can watch how the city speaks about its bygone history of foreign association and settlements through the historic buildings. The Chinese fishing nets, the Hill palace, Bolghatty palace, Dutch palace (also known as Mattancheri palace) and Jew Street reminds the eventful colonial era of Kochi.
The Vembanad Lake nicely intertwines with the landscape of Kochi creating Cochin islands and plenty of boating options in Cochin backwaters. For an ardent beach lover, Fort Cochin beach and Cherai beach offer idyllic destinations. Cochin Synagogue, Santa Cruz Bascilaca are some famous and old buildings in Fort Cochin with memories from history etched in every stones. Marine drive, which offers Cochin harbor view, is the favorite spot for lovers and one can enjoy the magnificent beauty of nature when sun dives into the sea turning the day into night. Cochin Shipyard, Cochin Port Trust and Cochin Refineries are some of the major industries in Ernakulam. South India’s largest amusement park, Veega Land (now known as ‘wonderla’) offers a thrilling day for families and children alike, with plenty of entertainments. Every Cochin tourist spots gives an opportunity to explore the different cultures emerged with the time. Cochin weather is also tempting like its amazing beauty. Even the words fall short to explain the adorable beauty of Cochin. And that’s a fine example to explicate why Cochin is called as the “Gateway of Kerala”. Kochi International airport, one of the major airports in the country, is situated 30kms north-east from the city.
Marine Drive is a favourite hang out among city dwellers and one of the most beautiful parts of Kochi. The marine walk provides a panoramic view of the backwaters. The place provides a perfect view of the Kochi harbor.
Marine Drive is, by all means, an ideal place to spend the evening, with lots of shopping opportunities.
Jewish Synagogue, which is the oldest Jewish Synagogue in India, was built in 1568 at Mattancherry, Kochi. The synagogue is an architectural delight. It is also known by the names of Paradesi Synagogue and Mattancherry Synagogue.
The exquisite construction at Jewish Synagogue still houses historic relics like the scrolls of the original Old Testament and the copper plates, which records the grants of privilege, bequeathed by the Kochi rulers. Though time-worn, Jewish Synagogue had a facelift in recent times with additional assets like the Clock Tower, which was built in the 18th century. Besides, it houses many finely wrought gold and silver crowns gifted by various patrons of the State. It is a time tested classic structure. The oldest imprints of Judaism – A unique feature of the Synagogue is its solitary corridors, still reverberating with the ancient paths of wisdom!
St.Francis Church is the first European church in India, which was originally built with wood in the 16th Century. Later on, it got replaced by a stone structure. Vasco da Gama was buried here in 1524, on the Christmas Eve. Though his remains were later taken back to Portugal, there remains a tombstone in his name.
Kalady, located around 45 kilometers away from Kochi, is the place where the great Indian Philosopher Sri Shankaracharya was born. Shankara’s shrine on the banks of the Periyar river, is managed by the Sringeri Mutt. This partly open structure has two major shrines within. One is dedicated to Sri Sankaracharya and the other to Goddess Saradamba.
Another attraction at Kalady is the Sankara Keerthi Sthamba Mandapam. This memorial was built by Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt. Two elephant statues greet the visitors at the entrance and the eight storied building takes us through the life and teachings of Sankaracharya.
One of South India’s biggest elephant rearing centers is located at Kodanad. Baby elephants rescued from forests in the region are brought here and give care. They are later trained to live in harmony with man; a very unique kind of schooling.
The training centre attracts a large number of visitors from across the world. It is 45 kilometers from Kochi.
Wedlocked to Vembanad lake, Kumalangi is a lovely, serene island that has been developed under the Integrated Tourism Village project as a model tourism village. Here one can see how tourism has grown without disturbing the natural beauty and ecological balance of the place.
Kumbalangi is surrounded by Vembanad Lake. More than a hundred Chinese fishing nets form a ring around the village, indicating both the occupation of the people here and the rich aquatic life in the area. Presence of dense mangroves ensures enough breeding ground for prawns, crabs, oysters and small fishes. Kumbalangi is 15 km away from Kochi and can be reached by road or by boat.
Visit Thripunithura Hill palace, the erstwhile official residence of the Kochi Royal Family, and witness the largest archeological museum of Kerala. Hill Palace, which was built in 1865, is situated at a distance of about 13kms from Kochi on Ernakulam- Chottanikkara route.
The palace complex consists of 49 buildings in the traditional architectural style of Kerala. The original traditional Ettukettu style design has been retained and renovated to house the heritage museum. But a portion in the north side, called the Hill Bungalow, is the handiwork of European architects. The central block has a unique, ancient British made lift. The museum gives a hint of the royal lifestyle and has paintings, carvings, etchings, majestic beds, weapons and samples of epigraphy. There is a small zoo and a botanical garden in the museum premises. The mini zoo has a deer park and a few peacocks.
Bolghatty palace, built by the Dutch in 1744, has now been converted into a luxury heritage hotel by the KTDC. One of the oldest existing Dutch palaces outside Holland, it was from here the Resident of Cochin ruled, during British colonialism.
Bolghatty is a small and lovely island and is just three kilometers away from the city mainland. One can have beautiful views of the Kochi harbor and the Arabian Sea from the palace premises. Peaceful and fascinating, the palace is an experience to relish.
Kochi’s waterfront is decorated by dozens of Chinese fishing nets, locally called ‘Cheena vala’. They denote a legacy of centuries old trading relation with China.
The fishing nets were introduced here by Chinese explorer Zheng He in the 14th century. They are set up on bamboo or teak poles and horizontally suspended over the sea. These nets, having a length of around 20 metres, can be dipped into the water and lifted to catch fish. Plenty of these nets adorn the coastal areas of Fort Kochi and nearby places. The nets standing upright in mid air during sunset are really a stunning spectacle.
With its uniqueness in architecture and planning, Fort Kochi stands apart from other towns in Kerala. European influence is very much evident here. Fort Kochi is blessed with a nice beach as well.
The St. Francis Church, built by the Portuguese, is the prime attraction of the place. This church is considered the first one built by Europeans in India. The body of Portuguese sailor Vasco Da Gama was buried here. Close to St. Francis Church is the Santa Cruz Church stands the Santa Cruz Basilica. Steeped in history, the church reflects the architectural opulence of the gothic style Fort Kochi lies 10 km away from the heart of the city.