|Marine Drive||Located on the waterfront and over looking the water channel leading in to kochi harbour|
|Fort Kochi||located just 2 km from the Boat Jetty of Ernakulam|
|Chinese Fishing Nets||Located at Fort Kochi|
|Mattancherry Palace (Dutch Palace))||Located at the Palace Road in Mattancherry of Kochin|
|St Francis Church||Located in Fort Kochi near Vasco Square|
|Vasco House||Located near the Vasco square at the juncture of Rose Street and Bastion Street|
|Jewish Synagogue||Located in the Fort Kochi|
|Santa Cruz Basilica||Located close to the famous St. Francis Church|
|Willingdon Island||Located in Kochin|
|Bolgatty Palace||Located on the Mulavukad Island|
|Museum of Kerala History||Located at Edapally, about 10 kilometers from Kochin on NH 47|
|Hill Palace Museum||Located at Thripunithura in Ernakulam District|
|Pareekshit Thampuran Museum||Located on Durbar Road in Ernakulam|
|Poornathrayeesa Temple||At Tripunithura, about 10 kilometers from Ernakulam and 20 km from Kochin International Airport|
|Fort Kochi Beach||Very close to the renowned Vasco Square of Fort Kochi|
|Cherai Beach||Located about 35 km from Kochin|
Marine Drive, a vivid promenade built facing the Kochi backwaters comprises the most popular hangout for the Kochiites as well as for the vacationists. Inspired from the Marine Drive of Mumbai, this walkway of Kochin spreads out between the High Court Junction and Rajendra Maidan. It begins form the Shanmugham Road and ends behind the Children’s Park. Gilded with black dotted red carpet tiles, Marine Drive of Kochi ironically does not allow vehicles on the walkway.
Lined with wooden and cast ironed benches, Marine Drive constitutes an ultimate recreational spot. Taking a stroll on the winding promenade of Kochi Marine Drive enjoying the cool breeze in the evening or sitting back and relaxing looking at the backwaters and the setting sun is an experience of delight. Embedded with several shopping malls and manifold fast food joints, this is an economically booming part of the city. From Marine Drive you can board a ferry that will take you on an hour’s ride in the backwaters. The trip begins from Marine Drive, advances up to the opening of the Great Arabian Sea and returns to the dock.
Major attractions of the Marine Drive of Kochi include the Rainbow Bridge, the Chinese Fishing net bridge and the spectacular views of Taj Residency, Asoka Apartments, Namaste shaped buildings and other skyscrapers skirting the coast. Numerous boat jetties and naval vessels can also be perceived from here.
Fort Kochi, also known as Old Kochi or West Kochi is a cluster of water bound terrains lying to the south-west of the Kochi mainland. Tourists that visit Kochin definitely make it a point to pay a visit to Fort Kochi. Palm fringed beaches of Fort Kochi embellished with the emerald green sea skirting the shores and sun kissed golden sand beckon myriads of tourists to this historical vicinity.
Fort Kochi was established by Portuguese, who had alighted here with the purpose of spice trade. Originally it was a trivial fishing village which was gifted to the Portuguese by the King of Kochin. Later, Portuguese were succeeded by Dutch and British. As a result, Fort Kochi displays a heavy influence of Portuguese, Dutch and British culture. The architecture of this part of Kerala is totally distinct from other regions. The old Victorian styled bungalows stand as the reminiscence of British settlement here and a stroll in Fort Kochi will give you a feel that you are directly transported from India to a typical Dutch or British countryside.
Fort Kochi is located just 2 km from the Boat Jetty of Ernakulam. Jetties run between the two harbors every half an hour and they cost only Rs 3 per seat. Local bus from the city will also reach you to Fort Kochi but it is a more time consuming journey. Chinese Fishing Nets, Vasco da Gama Square, Vasco House, Dutch Palace, St. Francis Church, Jewish Synagogue, and so on are must visit places at Fort Kochi. Do not forget to buy spices from the local market and relish the delicious sea food.
Chinese Fishing Nets
Located at Fort Kochi and visible from Marine Drive too, Chinese Fishing Nets or Cheena Vala is an unusual and unique technique of fishing operated from the shore without going into the water. It is said that Kochi is the only place in the whole world where Chinese Fishing Nets are seen in use outside China. The legend goes that Zheng He; a Chinese explorer brought Chinese Fishing Nets from the court of Kublai Khan: a Chinese emperor and introduced them here many centuries ago.
These fishing nets are huge installations disposed at the shore where the net is fixed on bamboo poles. These poles are arranged horizontally and held together by a special mechanism. The nets are lowered into the sea using rocks tied to one end. They are kept inside the water for about 5 minutes and taken out immediately. The entire structure is about 10 meters high and the net spreads about 20 meters. These fishing nets are operated by a team of around 6 fishermen. You will see a number of large greenish blue Chinese fishing nets installed at the shore of Fort Kochi near Vasco Square and also along the Vypeen coast.
Chinese Fishing Nets is an exceptional spectacle witnessed at Fort Kochi. Tourists like to click pictures with these nets and the fishermen. You can also buy small Chinese Fishing Net souvenirs from the shops in Fort Kochi and Kochin.
Mattancherry Palace (Dutch Palace)
Mattancherry Palace, also known as Dutch Palace is located at the Palace Road in Mattancherry of Kochin. This palace was built by Portuguese and gifted to Maharaja Veera Kerala Varma: the king of Kochi in the year 1555. Actually they built this palace to please the king as they had plundered a temple in that area. Later, in the year 1663, this palace was renovated by Dutch and henceforward it was called The Dutch Palace. Today, the Mattancherry Palace or Dutch Palace suffices as a gallery that exhibits traditional Kerala murals, portraits of the Kerala kings and the articles used by them. The mythological murals in this gallery especially feature Hindu temple art.
The Dutch Palace is built in traditional N?lukettu style of Kerala with a courtyard in the middle. The courtyard houses a temple of Goddess Pazhayannur Bhagavati – the patron Goddess of royal family of Kochin. Apart from that, two shrines of Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva are set up on both the sides of the palace. The architecture of the palace, especially the arches and chambers display an influence of European style over the N?lukettu style of design. The ceiling of the dining hall is adorned with a series of brass cups and the floor that creates a semblance of polished black marble is actually built out of the mixture of charcoal, lime, burnt coconut shells, egg whites and plant juices which keep it cool.
The murals that decorate the walls of the palace are painted in tempera technique using rich warm colors. The paintings inside the ‘Palliyara’ or the bed chamber of the king exhibit the entire Ramayana story and scenes of Krishna Leela. The coronation hall is embellished with the murals depicting the pictures of Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Parvati in the form of Ardhanariswara, the coronation ceremony of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna lifting the Govardhan Parvat. Some paintings presenting the scenes from Kumarasambhava and other Sanskrit classics also comprise a point of attraction. Other exhibits of the Dutch Palace include the life size portraits of Kings of Kochin, an ivory palanquin, royal umbrellas, a howdah, royal clothes, coins, stamps etc.
St Francis Church
St. Francis Church, located in Fort Kochi near Vasco Square is the oldest European Church built in India. This church was built in 1503 AD by Pedro Álvares Cabral and Afonso de Albuquerque – the two Portuguese explorers who took the rout discovered by Vasco da Gama and landed at India. With the permission of the King of Kochin thy built a fort which housed a wooden church dedicated to St. Bartholomew. In 1506, the Portuguese viceroy - Francisco de Almeida acquired the permission from the King of Kochin to reconstruct the wooden church into a stone building. In 1516, the church was rebuilt in bricks and mortar by the Franciscan friars and was named after St. Anthony. In 1663, Fort Kochi was won over by Dutch who were Protestants. They reconditioned this building and made it a Government Church.
In the year 1795, the Dutch were defeated by British but they allowed the Dutch to retain the church. In 1804 AD, Dutch handed the church voluntarily to the Anglican community who renamed it as St. Francis Church. This church was rendered a protected monument under the 1904 act of Protected Monument. Vasco da Gama died in the year 1524 at Kochi and was buried in this very church. But after 14 years of his burial, his mortal remains were removed from here and taken to Lisbon. The gravestone of Vasco da Gama can be seen in the church even today. The church of St. Francis is now owned by the North Kerala diocese of Church of South India. The mass is held at this church both in English and Malayalam on Sundays and on special feast days. The church is open for the visitors on week days.
Vasco House, located near the Vasco square at the juncture of Rose Street and Bastion Street in Fort Kochi is a must visit historical edifice of Kochin. Built in the 16th century, this is the place where Vasco da Gama resided till his demise in the year 1524. Presenting a very ornate European architectural style, Vasco House, a unique heritage building today provides bed and breakfast and gives an opportunity to feel close to the great Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. The house contains spacious rooms towered by wooden ceiling and the large windows of Vasco House open in the direction of the renowned St. Francis church. The Vasco Home stay is run by Mr. Santosh Tom who has tried his best to maintain the historical building in its original condition without making much modification.
Jewish Synagogue, standing still as a reminiscence of Jew inhabitation in that part of Kerala, is located in the Fort Kochi. Also known as Pardeshi Synagogue and Mattancherry Synagogue, this building was constructed by the Jew Community of Kochin (Malabar Yehudan) in the year 1568. Pardeshi means foreigners and Synagogue means the Jewish house of prayer. Built on the land gifted by Raja Varma of Kochin, this structure shares a wall with the famous temple of Mattancherry Palace. Acknowledged as the oldest Synagogue amongst all the 53 Commonwealth nations, Jewish Synagogue is one of the 7 Synagogues still in use in that area.
This Jewish Synagogue was used by White Jews, who were regarded to be at the top in their social hierarchy. Black Jews were allowed to pray here but they were not granted the membership of the Synagogue. They were made to sit either on the floor or on the steps outside the Synagogue. This striking structure featured with iron gates, tilled roof, Chinese tiles, Belgian chandeliers, a brass-railed pulpit, an 18th century clock tower and gravestones inscribed in Hebrew create a magnificent spectacle and a must visit destination in Kochin.
Santa Cruz Basilica
Santa Cruz Basilica, acknowledged as a heritage edifice of the state of Kerala, is one of the oldest Churches in Kochi and one of the eight Basilicas in India. Located close to the famous St. Francis Church in Fort Kochi, this Basilica functions as the Cathedral Church of Kochin Diocese and is reckoned as the second oldest dioceses in the country. This is a Roman Catholic Church. Francisco de Almeida – the first Portuguese Viceroy in India acquired permission from the King of Kochin – Raja Unni Goda Varma Tirumulpadu to build a church in stone and mortar. The foundation stone of Santa Cruz Basilica was laid on the feast of Invention of Holy Cross on 3rd May 1505. This church has recently celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2004. In the year 1558, the Santa Cruz Church was raised to the status of Cathedral by Pope Paul IV.
When Portuguese were taken over by Dutch, they destroyed all other churches but Santa Cruz Cathedral and St. Francis Church. They used this Cathedral as an armory. Later, in 1795, this Cathedral was destroyed by British. The granite pillar that survived this plunder is today preserved in this Basilica. In the year 1887 Bishop D. João Gomes Ferreira, the then prelate of Kochin took the initiative to rebuild the Cathedral and on 19th November 1905, the new Cathedral was sanctified by the Bishop of Damao: Dom Sebastiao Jose Pereira. Many decades later, on December 9, 1984, Pope John Paul II raised the Santa Cruz Cathedral to the dignity of Basilica.
Remarkable architecture of the Basilica is featured by two lofty spires and white washed exterior. The interiors of the Basilica are painted in pastel color and decorated by murals and frescoes. The large canvas paintings numbering seven based on the theme of the passion and death on the Cross, the replica of the renowned painting of Last Supper and stain glass windows multiply the grandeur of this historic monument.
Willingdon Island, named after Lord Willingdon: the then Governor of Madras Regency, is a manmade island at Kochi. The island was created in the year 1936 as a side product of modern Kochi Port Project. Lord Willingdon implemented this project while Robert Bristow served as the main engineer. In order to deepen the Kochi Port, the land was dug. The sand and soil that was unearthed was deposited to a previously existing small island. The tremendous quantity of earth not only covered the tiny island entirely, but also multiplied its area to the present Willingdon Island.
Today Willingdon Island belongs to Indian Navy and Kochin Port Trust. The island is connected to the mainland Kochin by road and the railway Venduruthy Bridge also links it to Kochi. The Kochi Port is a major official port of India and it is connected with many seaports of other countries. Other than the Kochi Port and Kochi Naval Base, the island also accommodates a large aerodrome. Rail siding and a passenger platform are built here as well. Before the Kochin International Airport was shifted to Nedumbassery, Willingdon Island also functioned as the airbase of Kochin. After the shifting of the airport, a Government Tourist Information Center was established at its place.
Hotel Taj Malbar, the only five star hotel of Kerala is located at Willingdon Island. It was originally built as a hostel to provide a night’s stay during the time of Kochi Port Project.
Bolgatty Palace, located on the Mulavukad Island, also known as Bolgatty Island at Kochin, is one of the oldest Dutch Palaces outside Holland. Constructed by Dutch tradesmen in the year 1744, this mansion served as Governor’s palace for the commander of Dutch Malabar. In 1909, this building was leased to the British East India Co. when it functioned as a home to British Governors. After independence, the Bolgatty Palace was made a government property and later it was converted to a heritage hotel resort. Today Bolgatty Palace is maintained and run by KTDC (Kerala Tourism Development Corporation) and it serves as a leading holiday destination at Kochi. Embroidered with beautifully landscaped garden skirted with the Kochi backwaters, a swimming pool, a rejuvenating Ayurvedic center, a golf course with 9 holes, daily performances of Kathakali – the famous classical dance of Kerala, multi cuisine restaurant and excellent service provided here attract both Indian and foreign tourists to spend their vacation at a luxurious heritage edifice.
Museum of Kerala History
Located at Edapally, about 10 kilometers from Kochin on NH 47, the Museum of Kerala History is noteworthy for its splendid collection of historical exhibits and informative light and sound show depicting the history of Kerala State. The MNF Gallery of this museum houses more than 200 paintings, sculptures and murals created by prolific artists including Leonardo Da Vinci, Raja Ravi Varma, M. F. Hussain, Mammiyoor Krishhan Kutty Nair, Jamini Roy, and Manu Parekh and so on.
The main attraction of this museum is the Center for Visual Arts where an hour long light and sound show is presented that illustrates the glorious history of the state of Kerala. The show recounts the past 2000 years of formation and development of Kerala, mainly focusing on its rich social, cultural and literary aspects. The light show performed with the help of background music and running commentary recites the stories based on the careers of 87 eminent personalities who had contributed to forming and shaping the state of Kerala and deciding the course of its future. The show is divided into 36 visual presentations that include topics like, Nannan of Ezhimala, Senguttavan and Ilango Venmani, Ay Andiran of Pothiyilmala, The Aryan Immigration, St. Thomas, Shankaracharya, Kulasekhara Alwar and Cheraman Perumal Nayanar.
The fecund and productive brain that hatched this creative idea of building this live museum was R Madhavan Nayar. He was the managing trustee of the Madhavan Nayar Foundation, a prominent industrialist, a philanthropist and an ardent art connoisseur. Apart from the fascinating light and sound show, the splendid dolls museum housed under the same roof amplifies the attraction of this place. A wide collection of more than 150 handcrafted dolls from all over India beckon the tourists to this vicinity. The dolls from various states of India exhibit the socio-cultural tradition through their outfits, hair styles and jewellery.
The Museum of Kerala History is open for visits from 10 in the morning to 5 in the evening. It remains closed on Mondays and all public holidays.
Hill Palace Museum
Hill Palace Museum located at Thripunithura in Ernakulam District of Kochin is the first heritage museum of the state of Kerala. Housed in the mansion which originally served as the palace to the Royal family of Kochi, this archeological museum is remarkable for its wide collection of murals, paintings, inscriptions, stone carvings and other valuable articles. The Cabinet Hall that displays the royal furniture which was used by the royal family of Kochi is the most prominent feature of the Hill Palace Museum. This museum can be visited from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm and from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm. It remains closed on Mondays and all public holidays.
Pareekshit Thampuran Museum
Pareekshit Thampuran Museum, a noteworthy archeological museum of Kochi is located on Durbar Road in Ernakulam. Named after the last King of Kochi Royal Family - Rama Varma Parikshith Thampuran, the building of this museum was originally used as a guest house for the royal guests of Kochi as well as it served as a venue for official meetings and ceremonies. The Durbar Hall of this museum is the most magnificent structure depicting the striking Kerala style of architecture. Regarded as one of the best museums of India, the Pareekshit Thampuran Museum boasts of its impressive and extraordinary collection of 19th century paintings, murals, ancient monuments, scriptures inscribed in stone and plaster of Paris, coins and other articles that once belonged to the royal family of Kochin.
Located at Tripunithura, about 10 kilometers from Ernakulam and 20 km from Kochin International Airport, Poornathrayeesa Temple is a famous legendary temple of Kochi. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, worshipped as Sree Poornathrayeesa here, this temple is believed to have been built by Arjuna from Mahabharata period. The original temple was destroyed in a fatal fire in early 20th century. The present temple was built later. This auspicious shrine is regarded as one of the three famous temples of Lord Vishnu in Kerala.
Vrishchikoltsawam, the annual festival of this temple celebrated in the month of November or December is a very popular occasion of festivity. At the time of this celebration, elegantly decorated elephants are carried out in a procession and a golden pot is kept on an elevated platform. It is said that if you make offerings at this temple, you will be blessed with good luck undoubtedly. Athachamayam is another festival celebrated at Poornathrayeesa Temple at the time of Onam. Characterized by a majestic procession and traditional dance performances, this festival attracts number of devotees every year. Pulikkali is the traditional dance performed at the time of Athachamayam. .
Fort Kochi Beach
A jetty from Ernakulam will reach you to the beautiful Fort Kochi Beach. Very close to the renowned Vasco Square of Fort Kochi, this beach is characterized by the rare Chinese Fishing Nets installed here. The tiled walkway along the shore will slowly lead you from the backwaters to the opening of the Great Arabian Sea.
Sitting on the wooden and iron benches placed on the walkway and observing the surfing water of the sea lashing over the rocky plateau and endeavors of the fishermen to catch fish is an experience to cherish. The huge vessels, both of Indian Navy and international trade seen from here create a feeling of awe and fascination. The shops put up near the shore and the venders trying to attract your attention will provide you with variety of food items, souvenirs, clothes and toys. The best place to relax and enjoy the scenic beauty merged with the hustle bustle of fishermen is the Fort Kochi Beach.
Surrounded by Vypeen Island and located about 35 km from Kochin via road, Cherai Beach is one of the foremost tourist’s destinations that attract swarms of Indian as well as foreign tourists every year. Extremely pulchritudinous beach overloaded with natural beauty is locked by Kochi backwaters on one side and by Arabian Sea on the other. Embroidered with thick coconut groves and paddy fields and adorned by the world famous Chinese Fishing Nets, this 15 kilometers long beach is noteworthy for its cleanliness. Rightly called ‘The Princess of the Arabian Sea’, the Cherai Beach is also famous for its Dolphin spotting and delicious sea food. As the beach is quite shallow, this is an ideal spot for bathing and swimming in the sea. Water-scooter and Speedboat rides are the famous water sports enjoyed here. The main beach of Cherai is recently embedded with a 400 meters long walkway embellished with high mask lamps that illuminate it at night and create a beautiful spectacle.