COCHIN - A CITY OF PENINSULAS AND ISLANDS
One of the finest natural harbours on the Arabian Sea coast, Kochi, earlier known as Cochin has been a port of call for foreign traders from early times. Its cosmopolitan character is reflected in the buildings and structures representing different regions of the world. A city of peninsulas and islands, today it is Kerala's commercial hub.
Kochi, the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala, has one of the finest natural harbours in the world. Ancient mariners from Arabia, China, Holland, Britain and Portugal have all left their mark on this beautiful island city.
Kerala's prime tourist destination, it spreads across islands and promontories in a stunning location between the Arabian Sea and Backwaters. Its main sections: modern Ernakulam in the east and the old districts of Mattancherry and Fort Cochin on a peninsula in the west are linked by a complex system of ferries.
QUEEN OF THE ARABIAN SEA
More popular as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Cochin is a cluster of islands on the vast expanse of the Vembanad Lake. Some of these picturesque islands are Bolgatty, Vypeen, Gundu and Vallarpadam.The lake opens out into the Arabian Sea here to form one of the finest natural harbours in the world. It is this natural advantage that has made Cochin a fascinating blend of the cultures and influences of the explorers and traders who visited this wealthy land.
Santa Cruz Basilica: This monumental church dates back to 1558 and has beautiful paintings on the ceiling. more...
St. Francis Church: Built in 1503 by Portuguese Francisan Friars, this is the India's oldest European church. It was restored in 1779 by the protestant Dutch, converted to an Anglican Church by the British in 1795, and is presently used by the church of South India. Vasco da Gama's remains were buried here in 1524 and later moved to Lisbon, Portugal but his tombstone still remains. more...
FORTS & PALACES
Mattancherry Palace ( Dutch Palace): Built by the Portuguese in 1557 and presented to Raja Veera Kerala Varma of Kochi, the palace was renovated in 1663 by the Dutch. On display here are beautiful Murals depicting scenes from the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata and some of the puranic Hindu legends. Them palace is open for public viewing from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. all week days except Fridays. more...
Jew Town: The area around the Synagogue is a centre of spice trade and curio shops.
Cherai Beach: This lovely beach bordering Vypeen Island is ideal for swimming. Dolphins are occasionally seen here. A typical Kerala village with paddy fields and coconut groves nearby is an added attraction of this beach.
Hill Palace Museum, Thripunithra: 10 km from Kochi, Hill Palace, the official residence of the Kochi royal family, was built in 1865 AD. The palace complex consists of 49 buildings built in the Traditional Architectural Style of Kerala and is surrounded by 52 acres of terraced land with a Deer Park and facilities for horse riding.
The palace museum is open all days except Mondays from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm and 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm. A full-fledged ethno-archaeological museum and Kerala's first every heritage museum are the main attractions.
Displayed inside the thirteen galleries are oil paintings, 19th century paintings, Murals, sculpture in stone and plaster of paris, manuscripts, inscriptions and coins belonging to the Kochi royal family. more...
Pareekshith Thampuran Museum: This sprawling, traditional Kerala style building previously called the Durbar Hall, houses 19th century oil paintings, a collection of old coins, sculptures and Mughal paintings. The museum remains open from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm and 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm. all weekdays except Mondays.
FORTS & PALACES
Gundu Island: Here is the magnificent 16th century Pallipuram Fort that is open only on Thursdays.
Bolghatty Palace: A Scenic island near the city of Ernakulam, Bolghatty is famous for the Bolghatty Palace built by the Dutch in 1744 AD. This palace, once the residence of the British resident of Kochi, is now a KTDC (Kerala Tourism Development Corporation) hotel. more...
Chinese Fishing Nets: These huge cantilevered fishing nets were brought here by traders from the court of Kublai Khan.
Willingdon Island: Named after Lord Willingdon, a British viceroy to India, this man-made island is surrounded by beautiful backwaters. The island is the site of the city's best hotels, customs and trading centres, the port trust and the headquarters of the Southern Naval Command.
Jewish Synagogue: Constructed in 1568, this is the oldest synagogue in the commonwealth. Destroyed in a shelling during the Portuguese raid in 1662, it was rebuilt two years later by the Dutch. Known for mid 18th century hand printed, willow pattern floor tiles from Canton in China, a dock tower, Hebrew inscriptions on stone slabs, ancient scripts on copper plates etc., the Synagogue is open from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. It is closed on Saturdays and Jewish holidays. more...
Vypeen Island: There is a magnificent lighthouse at Ochanthuruth, which remains open from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm daily.
Alappuzha (70 km): Also known as the Venice of the East, Alappuzha is famous for its boat races, houseboat holidays, beaches, marine products and coir industry. A singular characteristic of this land is the region called Kuttanad. The granary of Kerala, Kuttanad is one of the few places in the world where farming is done below sea level. more...
Kalady: Located on the banks of the river Periyar, this is the birthplace of the 8th century Advaita philosopher, Sri Shankaracharya. The town is famous for its many temples.
Aluva (20 km): Just north of Kochi, this town is situated on the banks of the river Periyar. In February- March, this town celebrates the famous Sivarathri festival, attended by thousands of devotees.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thekkady (190 km): Rolling hills, tea and cardamom plantations welcome you to Thekkady. One of the largest wildlife reserves in India, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is more popular as a tiger reserve. A boat ride on the splendid waters of the Periyar Lake provides the perfect recreation. more...
Kumarakom (88 km): This unique backwater destination situated on the banks of the Vembanad Lake is considered the gateway to the backwaters of Kuttanad. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is a favourite haunt of migratory birds from across the world, which makes it a renowned bird watching centre. Kumarakom is also a centre for houseboat cruises.
Munnar (130 km): 1600 m above sea level, Munnar is a nature lover's paradise and was the summer resort of the British government in South India. Sprawling tea plantations, picture-book towns, winding lanes and holiday facilities make this a popular hill station.
Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands is the 'Neelakurinji'. This flower, which bathes the hills in blue once every twelve years, will bloom next in 2006 AD. Munnar also has the highest peak in South India, Anamudi, which towers over 2695 m. Anamudi is an ideal spot for trekking.
Tiger, Sambhar, Bison, Spotted Deer, Leopard, Malabar Flying Squirrel, Stripe-necked Mongoose and so on can also be spotted in the forest. Kumily, an important spice trade centre, lies in the periphery of the sanctuary. more...
Malayatoor Church: A famous Christian pilgrim centre, this 9th century Catholic church is situated on the 609 m high Malayatoor Hill. St. Thomas, the apostle, is believed to have prayed in this shrine. more...
Cheeyappara Waterfalls: The Cheeyappara and Valara waterfalls are located between Neriamangalam and Adimali on the Kochi - Madurai highway. The Cheeyappara Falls cascades down in seven steps. more...
Thommankuthu Waterfalls: Located 20 kms from Thodupuzha, Thommankuthu is a small and beautiful, wild waterfall. Thommankuthu attracts thousands of tourists every year. The wild beauty of the scenic waterfall will steal the heart of any traveller. more...
Kanjiramattom Mosque: The mosque is situated at Kanjiramattom, 30 km from Kochi. It is believed that the mosque was erected over the mortal remains of a Muslim saint, Sheikh Parid. Another great Muslim saint, Baver is supposed to have prayed here and attained salvation. more...
Air: Kochi is connected by excellent air network to
all major cities in India.
Rail: Kochi has three main railway stations, namely, Ernakulam Junction, Ernakulam Town and Harbour Terminus on Willingdon Island.
Road: Kochi, 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.
Ferry: Ferry service is available for travel between the island towns.
Local Transport: Taxis, city buses and autorickshaws.
Taj Malabar, Willingdon Island.
Taj Residency, Marine Drive, Ernakulam.
The Renaissance, Palarivatton, Ernakulam.
ATS Willingdon, Willingdon Island.
The International, M.G. Road, Ernakulam.
Park Avenue, Princess Street, Fort Cochin.
Luciya, Ernakulam. Seagull, Calvathy Road, Fort Cochin.
Kerala State Handicrafts Development showroom- Kairali, M.G. Road.
State Handicraft Society Emporium - Surabhi, M.G. Road.
Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan, the showroom of Khadi Village Industries at Pallimukku, M.G. Road
Tourist Information Centre:
Government Of India Tourist Office, Willingdon Island; Kerala Tourism Development Corporation Tourist Reception Centre, Shanmugham Road.
Post & Telegraph:
General Head Post Office, Hospital Road.
Area: 83.52 sq. km
Population: (1991 census) 5,64,038.
Altitude: Sea Level.
Latitude & longitude: 9.9 N & 76. 2 E.
Temperature range: 35 C to 22.5 C.
Clothing: light cottons
STD code: 484.