Fort Kochi, a beautiful port city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kerala. Many people find it an ideal weekend getaway because of it vibrant ambience and plenty of tourist attractions to explore. Bordered by the panoramic Arabian Sea on the west and the majestic Western Ghats on the east, Kochi is known for its rich history. The National Geographic Traveler has been listed it among the 50 greatest places of a lifetime’. Kochi is also one of the top 3 destinations by the World Travel & Tourism Council.
The Picturesque Charms of Fort Kochi
The flooding of the Periyar River in 1341 CE created a natural harbor which became the center of maritime trade in India. The Portuguese, Dutch, Arabs and the British have their mark in this region over the years. The Kochi of today is an eclectic mix of mosques, churches, quaint Chinese fishing nets and bustling commerce. The Portuguese architecture and the oldest synagogue in the British Commonwealth add the charm of this city. There is a lot to explore in this captivating tourist destination like its unique heritage, various places of worship, spectacular sunsets by the beaches and wander through its busy bazaars. Plan a trip to Kochi to experience its rich history and culture. Contact KSU or visit our website www.ksu.in to know more about this city and to plan your holidays.
A Vibrant City With Distinct Areas
If you plan a trip to Kochi, then it is wise to get an idea about this destination and its popular tourist attractions. This vibrant destination comprises a number of distinct areas like the mainland Ernakulam, the Willingdon Islands, Bolgatty, Vypin, Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. The waters of the gorgeous Vembanad Lake separate the mainland from the islands. People who wish to explore these areas should arrive at Ernakulam first and then hire a taxi, take a bus or a ferry to reach Fort Kochi.
People who visit Kochi prefer to stay Fort Kochi area because it houses several heritage hotels, hostels and homestays. A ferry ride shall be a more picturesque and elegant option to reach Fort Kochi. A lot of tourist attractions to explore in this region.
Here are the most beautiful tourist spots in Fort Kochi
Mattancherry was a busy spice trade centre during its heyday and people from different communities and religions visited this place and made it their home. The present Mattancherry reflects the rich cultural past and present. Several must-visit attractions are there in this destination such as Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue and colorful and vibrant streets. Visitors to this place prefer to take a stroll through its bustling streets and enjoy shopping at the shops that selling curios and antiques. It is an ideal place to buy different interesting items like curios from Kashmir or beautiful local handicrafts. Even if you are not interested in shopping, it shall be a good feeling for you to walk through the bazaars. It is a great way to appreciate the local culture, see the colors and feel the vibe of this place.
Getting there: Located almost 3 kilometers southeast of Fort Kochi, Mattancherry is about 750 meters away from Vypin Ferry Station. This ferry station connects Fort Kochi to Mattancherry and Ernakulam. Just pay Rs.5/- as a ferry cost to reach this destination. You can also hire an auto rickshaw that cost nearly Rs.30 to reach Mattancherry if you choose the inland route.
Built in 1568, the Pardesi Synagogue is the oldest in the Commonwealth worth visiting during your trip to Kochi. Prayers are still offered in this synagogue. Portuguese destroyed it once but it re-built by the Dutch. You can have a look at the walk-through exhibition of the history of the Jews in India inside this synagogue. The Belgian chandeliers and the eye-catching hand-painted porcelain tiles on the floor from Canton, China have made the interiors of it more alluring. This synagogue is open from Sunday to Thursday for visitors from 10 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 5 pm. The entry fee is Rs. 5/-
Mattanacherry Palace is an interesting place to visit in Jew Town. Built by the Portuguese in order to gift to the then King of Cochin, this palace fascinates travelers with its simple architecture. Exquisite mural work in the interiors of the palace is another attraction of it. These murals are associated with Hindu mythology and representations of gods and goddess of this religion. This palace is also known as Dutch Palace because Dutch made renovations to the palace in 1663. Pay a visit to this historical monument to watch its exquisite architecture and artifacts.
Chinese Fishing Nets
Wrap up the day in Fort Kochi by walking along the beach and the River Road promenade. Chinese Fishing Nets are one of the most attractive features of Kochi, which were brought in this destination by the traders of Kublai Khan. You will be able to watch the fishermen work catching fish using the bamboo structures that support the large fishing nets in order to catch fish. Plenty of street stalls are here that sell everything from handicrafts, plastic icing guns and even hair bands. You will love the idea of buying freshly caught fish to cook it locally. Just sit back with a cup of tea at the beach and watch the people and stunning sights in the evening. It shall be amazing to enjoy the sun disappearing grudgingly behind the clouds.
Enjoy A Walking Tour In Fort Kochi
The best way to enjoy the beauty of Fort Kochi is on foot. Get an idea about the popular tourist attractions in this destination by contacting KSU. You can also use the South India and Kerala guide of Lonely Planet and the Outlook Traveler’s guide to Kerala as a reference source. Just identify the attractions in them and find the most efficient route that connects all of them. A morning walk through the streets of Fort Kochi shall be a refreshing idea. You love to talk to other travelers and locals during this walking tour. Spend some time by the beach watching those fishermen at work.
You can also opt for a paid option to enjoy a heritage walking tour in Fort Kochi. You can hire an auto rickshaw to explore the various tourist attractions in this destination including different sights and temples.
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica
Santa Cruz Basilica in Kochi is one of the Basilicas in India situated near the renowned St. Francis Church. Made by the Portuguese, it is a heritage building with alluring architecture. It is among the finest cathedrals in the country which functions as the cathedral church of the Diocese of Cochin. The white-washed exterior and the beautiful interiors designed in pastel color truly attract each visitor to this cathedral. The stained-glass windows are another attraction of this elegant church. Tourists to Kochi include this basilica in their travel itinerary in order to enjoy its beauty and majesty. It remains open for the visitors from 9 am to 1 pm and 3 pm to 5 pm.
St. Francis Church
Add St. Francis Church in your bucket list as it is among the must-visit tourist attractions in Fort Kochi. Famous for its peaceful ambience and beautiful architecture, it is one of the oldest churches in the country. Made by the Europeans, this church is a landmark of the city where the body of Vasco da Gama, the legendary explorer was buried. St. Francis Church has an elegant structure with a gambled timber-framed roof covered with tiles. The stepped summit on both sides of the frontage is truly captivating. You can feel the traditional charm of this church if you visit it.
The Dutch Cemetery
The Dutch Cemetery is an interesting place to explore the rich history of Fort Kochi. It is the oldest European cemetery in the country consecrated in 1724. Many British and Dutch nationals found their final resting place here. The last burial in this cemetery took place more than hundred years ago. It is just a short walk from the beach and the lighthouse. Today, the Church of South India (CSI) manages it.
Fort Kochi is blessed with several beautiful old colonial houses from the Dutch Era and most of them are located on the Princess Street. Many such houses are now converted into tourist homes and heritage hotels. These colonial style buildings with bronze stucco walls with peeling pastel and flowerpot-laden windowsills truly attract travelers. The Thakur House located on the Dutch Cemetery Road is one such colonial house but it is a private residence. Old Harbor Hotel and the Koder House are colonial houses turned heritage hotels. Both of them have unique architectural features like the red brick-like exterior. You can see a 200-year old heritage hotel on the Princess Street which is really a showpiece. It attracts people with its ancient alcoves and arches.
Fort Emmanuel was lending the ‘Fort’ to Fort Kochi. This fort was built in 1503 CE to demonstrate the association between the Monarch of Portugal and the Maharaja of Kochi. It was destroyed completely by the attack of Dutch and later British. You can see only the remnants of it along the beach.
Visit the Loafer’s Corner after exploring the Fort Kochi to spend some quiet time with a book and hot coffee or tea. Located on the Bastion Street, this iconic café offers mind-blowing views of the old-world charm of the Princess Street. It is among the first streets built in this area.
Watching A Kathakali Performance
Travelers and tourist to Kerala love to watch Kathakali, the classical dance form of the state. This ‘story play’ type dance is very popular among foreigners and art lovers. With its bright-colored costumes, heavy make-up and interesting facemasks make it an eye-catching dance form. Visit the Kerala Kathakali Centre, near the Santa Cruz Basilica if you wish to watch Kathakali performances. It hosts this dance form from 5 pm every evening. You can watch it and get an idea about how the artists put their make up on for nearly an hour. The actual dance performance also takes another one hour.
Bishop’s HOUSE And Indo Portuguese Museum
Bishop’s House and Indo Portuguese museum are two great tourist attractions for the visitors to Fort Kochi. Located near the Parade Ground on a hillock, Bishop’s House is only a little away from the beach. The shady paths of it lead to the main entrance of this tourist spot. Built in 1506 CE, this place was the home of the Portuguese Governor. Doors of this entrance are fronted by stained glass while the Gothic interiors of the Bishop’s House are quite impressive. The famous Indo Portuguese Museum is also within its grounds that house several artefacts from Portuguese history.
An Afternoon At Kerala Folklore Museum
The Kerala Folklore Museum in Kochi is an interesting stop for many visitors to Kochi. Built in typical Kerala style, this museum that built over three levels is a love and hard work of a private collected named George Thaliath. Visitors can watch more than 4000 artifacts that he has collected over a period of 20 years. This museum showcases objects not only from Kerala but from the neighboring states, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The beautifully displayed costumes of different traditional dances of Kerala like Theyyam, intricate temple jewelry and ancient masks certainly catch the attention of each visitor to this museum. You will be able to get a deep idea about the rich culture and heritage of Kerala by visiting this museum.
Kerala Folklore Museum is open on all days from 9.30 am to 6 pm. There is a fee of Rs. 100 to get entry to get this museum and an addition fee of Rs. 100 for the camera.
There are many budget hotels, hostels and homestays in Fort Kochi that offers comfortable and affordable accommodation for people who wish to explore the charm of this vibrant city.
Places To Eat
There are many interesting options in Fort Kochi when it comes to dining. Visit the Qissa Café near the KSRTC bus stand for enjoying some special continental dishes for breakfast. Attractively aesthetic interiors are certainly a highlight of this place. Loafer’s café at Loafer’s corner is also a wonderful place to eating out. Kashi’s Art Café near the Basilica is also a great place to start your day with eggs and toast.
Kashi’s Art Café in Burgher Street is perfect to enjoy a relaxed lunch. It is a fine café set in an old Portuguese villa. They have excellent food and service and you just love to enjoy dishes in a relaxed and cozy atmosphere of a semi-open courtyard. You will also admire the small gallery of this place at the entrance that displays art by a few local artists.
It is not difficult to find fine options in Fort Kochi to eat and drink based on your budget. You can choose a roadside eatery for dinner where you can order appams and tasty stew. There is a Tibetan Café near the Kathakali Centre where you can eat Tibetan or Indo-Chinese dishes. You may cost anything between Rs.100-400 in these places depending on the number of dishes and what fare you offer.
A holiday trip to Fort Kochi is like the perfect combination of the cultural and historical moments. You can enjoy the charm of the Chinese Fishing Nets when you stroll along slippery sands of the lovely Fort Kochi Beach. New Year is an ideal time to visit Kochi as the well known Kochi Carnival is celebrated during the New Year Eve every year. With numerous restaurants and eating joints, Fort Kochi is certainly a heaven for food lovers. Plan some fantastic holidays in Kochi through KSU and explore the historical and cultural attractions of the city.