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DESTINATION - COCHIN

Kochi formerly Cochin, is a major port city on the west coast of India by the Arabian Sea and is part of the district of Ernakulam of the state of Kerala. Kochi is often called by the name Ernakulam, which refers to the eastern part of the mainland Kochi. The civic body that governs the city is the Corporation of Cochin, which was constituted in the year 1967, and the statutory bodies that oversee its development are the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) and the Goshree Islands Development Authority (GIDA).

The city of Kochi (pop. 601,574) is the most densely populated city in the state and is part of an extended metropolitan region (pop. 2.1 million), which is the largest urban agglomeration in Kerala. Kochi city is also a part of Greater Cochin region and is classified as a B-1 grade city by the Government of India, making it the highest graded city in the state. Kochi ranks first in the total number of international and domestic tourists in Kerala. Kochi has been ranked the sixth best tourist destination in India according to a survey conducted by the Nielsen Company on behalf of the Outlook Traveller magazine. Kochi was one of the 28 Indian cities found to be among the emerging 440 global cities that will contribute 50% of the world GDP by the year 2025, in a study done by McKinsey Global Institute

The city lies about 220 kilometres (137 mi) north of the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, and about 180 kilometres (112 mi) south of Kozhikode. Heralded as the Queen of Arabian Sea, Kochi was an important spice trading centre on the Arabian Sea coast from the 14th century. Occupied by the Portuguese Empire in 1503, Kochi was the first of the European colonies in colonial India. It remained the main seat of Portuguese India until 1530, when Goa was chosen instead. The city was later occupied by the Dutch and the British, with the Kingdom of Cochin becoming a princely state.

Kochi is home to the Southern Naval Command of the Indian Navy and the state headquarters of the Indian Coast Guard with an attached air squadron, named Air Squadron 747. Commercial maritime facilities of the city include the Port of Kochi, an International Container Transshipment Terminal, the Cochin Shipyard, offshore SPM of the Kochi Refineries, and the Kochi Marina. Kochi is also home for the Cochin Stock Exchange, International Pepper Exchange, major chemical industries like the FACT, TCC, IREL, HOCL and Kochi Refineries, electrical industries like TELK and industrial parks like the Cochin Special Economic Zone and Infopark. Kochi is home for the High Court of Kerala and Lakshadweep, and the Cochin University of Science and Technology.

TOP ATTRACTIONS

Places To See
The city, encompassing a cluster of islands and mainland Ernakulam, can be classified into five different zones

The Fort Cochin Heritage zone

This part of Cochin is frozen in time and takes you to the rich colonial heritage of Kerala. There are innumerable heritage buildings here some dating back to the times of Vasco Da Gama, the first Portuguese sailor to India.

St: Francis Church

This imposing church is a mute witness to the colonial power struggles in India from early 16th century to mid 20th century. The church built by the Portuguese in 1503 AD is the oldest European church in India. The Dutch captured Cochin in 1663 AD and the church was revamped and turned into their church. The Dutch did further renovations in 1779 AD and a slab stone on the front façade bears testimony to it. The Church came under the British in 1803 and continued to be in their possession till 1947. The church is now under the Church of South India (CSI) a conglomeration of protestant churches. The original tomb of Vasco Da Gama, whose mortals remains were taken back to Lisbon in 1524, is located inside the church. There are intricately carved stone sepulchers of Portuguese and Dutch nobles located on either sides of the church. A huge rope operated fan is still preserved in perfect condition. There is also a war memorial honoring the First World War heroes in front of the church.

Santa Cruz Basilica

Near the St Francis church is the colossal Roman Catholic Basilica of Santa Cruz (Holy Cross). The Basilica built by the Portuguese, has an excellent gothic façade flanked by two majestic towers. The church was given the status of a Cathedral in 1558 by Pope Paul IV and subsequently the status of a Basilica in 1984 by Pope John Paul II. The present structure was built in 1905 with exquisite frescoes and murals by the famous Italian painter Br. Moschini S.J. There is a beautiful painting of the last supper on top of the main altar and 7 spectacularly done large canvas paintings on the passion of Christ on the ceiling. The artistic grandeur emanating from the Basilica is further aggrandized by its beautiful stained glass windows and intricate carvings on the walls.

Indo-Portuguese Museum

This Christian heritage museum is located on the Cochin Bishop House premises. The museum has five galleries with an outstanding collection of treasures collected from various churches all over the historic diocese of Cochin, offering a glimpse of Cochin’s Portuguese heritage.

Fort Cochin Beach

This beautiful beach is an ideal spot to view the cantilever operated huge Chinese fishing nets. These fishing nets were brought here in 13th century by Chinese traders from the courts of the great emperor Kublai Khan. The remains of the oldest European fort in India- Fort Immanuel, built by the Portuguese, is scattered along the stretch of the beach. A walk along the beautiful esplanade along the beach offers a glimpse of Cochin’s rich historic legacy. Vasco Da Gama square lies on the side of the esplanade with a couple of open air cafes and stalls selling fish.

Dutch Cemetery

This cemetery of 1724, now maintained by St. Francis Church, has countless tombs of people of Dutch origin buried here. The cemetery which was lying in a dilapidated condition has been recently restored to its original state.

Parade Ground

This is where the military parades and drills of colonial times were held. There are several historic buildings on all the sides of the ground. The VOC gate located near the ground is a large wooden gate built in 1740 AD by the Dutch East India Company. The heritage structures of Thakur House, David Hall, Bastion Bungalow, and Malabar House are just a stones throw away from Parade Ground.

Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum inside INS Dronacharya showcases the origin, history and evolution of Indian Navy. It has separate galleries dedicated to Kerala and Indian Maritime histories.

The Mattancherry heritage zone

Mattancherry is the eastern side of the old Cochin town with Fort Cochin on the western side.

Jewish Synagogue

This is the oldest synagogue in the Common Wealth countries. This orthodox synagogue was built by wealthy Jewish merchants in 1568 AD. It is believed that Jews first came to Kerala to trade in spices and ivory during King Solomon’s reign. There were ancient Jewish settlements close to Cochin, further enriched by a wave of Jewish inflow fearing persecution in Europe. This synagogue known as the Paradesi synagogue was historically used by the “white Jews”. This orthodox synagogue houses the sacred Torah scrolls written in goatskin and gold crowns gifted by various kings inside the carved red and gold tabernacle. The 18th century Chinese hand-painted blue and white tiles are a unique feature of the Synagogue. None of these exquisite 1100 porcelain tiles are identical. The brass-pulpit and exquisite Belgian and Italian Chandeliers add further to the aesthetic beauty of the Synagogue. The Synagogue also has Hebrew inscriptions dating back to the 14th century. The painting gallery at the entrance depicts the history of Jews in Kerala from the times of King Solomon.

Mattancherry Palace

This palace was built by the Portuguese in 1555 and presented to the Rajah of Cochin as a gesture of goodwill. The palace was later renovated by the Dutch in 1663 and hence also known as the Dutch Palace. The palace built in traditional Kerala style, is a quadrangular two storied structure with an open courtyard in the middle. The courtyard houses a temple dedicated to goddess Pazhayannur Bhagavathi. This palace basking in medieval aura has some exquisite woodwork and beautiful frescoes done in natural colors. The Ramayana gallery has enchanting murals from 16th century depicting scenes from the epic Ramayana completely done in natural colors. There are also royal portraits, palanquins, royal costumes, colonial maps and weapons on display. The ceilings are a real treat to the eyes with exquisite woodcarvings. There are some exotic murals in the downstairs bedchamber.

Kumbalangi Model Tourism Village

Set in an idyllic rural area with virgin natural splendor, the small fishing hamlet of Kumbalangi offers a perfect bucolic escapade. Kumbalangi village is at a distance of 16Kms from Mattancherry/Fort Cochin/Ernakulam areas. The first of its kind in India, it is the brainchild of Kerala Tourism and Department of Tourism, Government of India. The island of Kumbalangi is surrounded by the scenic Kallanjeri backwaters dotted by Chinese fishing nets, green paddy fields and dense mangrove forests. Tourists can get a glimpse of rural Kerala in all its astounding beauty here. Other places of interest in Mattanchery are the imposing Our Lady of Health Church, the historic Chapel of Coonan Cross, the Jewish Cemetery with tombstone carvings in Malayalam and Hebrew, and the 100 year old Dharmanath Jain temple.

Vypeen Island Zone

The island of Vypeen is located at the point where the Vembanad Lake merges with the Arabian Sea, with Fort Cochin on the other side. There are boats and jhankar services to Vypeen from Fort Cochin, and Vypeen is now connected to mainland Ernakulam through bridges.

Our Lady of Hope Church

Known as “Nossa Senhora Da Esperança”, this church was built by the Portuguese in 1604 A.D. The original wooden altar and screen of St Francis church were moved to this church when the Dutch took possession of St Francis church. This imposing church was renovated recently as part of its fourth centenary celebrations.

Bolgatty Palace

Located in the scenic Bolgatty Island, the first of the two islands in between Ernakulam and Vypeen, this palace was built by a wealthy Dutch trader in 1744 AD. This is one of the oldest Dutch palaces built outside Holland. The palace, carefully restored with meticulous care to its original grandeur, is now a heritage hotel with all modern amenities.

The Vallarpadam Basilica

The magnificent gothic Basilica of Our lady of Ransom is one of the oldest churches built by the Portuguese missionaries in India. The church is located on the second island between Ernakulam and Vypeen. The Basilica is now a national shrine and a prominent pilgrim centre for Christians in South India. The church’s history is intertwined with various prominent Hindu families throughout the ages. According to one legend Meenakshiamma, a noble Nair lady of Palliveetil family, and her son were miraculously rescued from the bottom of the backwaters after being drowned for three days, in the year 1752 AD.

Cherai Beach

The beautiful golden beach of Cherai in the Island of Vypeen is at a distance of 30Kms from Ernakulam/Cochin. Cherai has a long stretch of clean shallow beach on one side and tranquil backwaters with coconut lagoons on the other. This picture perfect sun kissed beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing and water sports.

Chennamangalam Synagogue

The 17th century Chennamangalam Synagogue, built in the traditional Kerala architectural style, is located in Paravur at a small distance from Vypeen. The majestically carved tabernacle, patterned roof, and intricate woodwork in the Synagogue were recently restored to their original grandeur by the Kerala State Archeology Department. It has a Hebrew inscription dated 1269 AD on a tombstone located in the synagogue courtyard.

Vypeenkotta Seminary & Paliam Palace

The ruins of Vypeenkotta seminary and the fort built in the 16th century by the Portuguese lies near the Chennamangalam Synagogue. The Paliam Palace, once the abode of Paliath Achans; the Prime Ministers of the erstwhile kingdom of Cochin, is also nearby. There are historic documents, relics and artifacts from the erstwhile kingdom on display at the palace. Other places of importance in and around Vypeen are the Ochanthuruth Light house, Puthuvype Beach, the imposing Cruz Milagris church in Ochanthuruth and a 13th century Syrian Catholic church in Chennamangalam.

Ernakulam Zone

This is the new face of Cochin, a buzzing metropolis with dazzling urban charms. This area has a lot of shopping venues ideal to indulge in a shopping orgy.

Marine Drive Promenade

This picturesque promenade with a spectacular view of the backwaters and the harbor is considered to be one of the most beautiful parts of the city and ideal to chill out. A part of it has been converted into a musical walkway with beautiful paving, landscaping and park benches. The beautiful Chinese Fishing Net Bridge and the Rainbow Bridge are located along the walkway. There are shopping malls, cafes and food joints present along the walkway.

Park Avenue

This beautiful boulevard dotted with trees is often called the most beautiful green stretch of the city. A number of educational institutions are located along this stretch of road. The Subhash Park and Indira Priyadarshini Children’s Park facing the harbor are also located along this road.

Durbar Hall Art Gallery

This gallery housed in the Durbar Hall Palace of Cochin Kings, has art exhibitions organized regularly. The Kerala Lalitha Kala Academy is also located in the building. The beautifully landscaped ground adjacent to the gallery is a regular avenue for Cultural programs and an ideal spot to enjoy an evening stroll.

Ernakulam Siva temple

This ancient temple is a perfect example of Kerala style of temple architecture, simple yet elegant. The origin of the temple is steeped in legends and can be traced to the great Indian epic Ramayana. The temple is located adjacent to Durbar Hall Art Gallery.

Thrikkakara Vamanamurthy Temple

This ancient temple is dedicated to Thrikkakara Appan or Vamanamurthy who is Lord Vishnu in disguise. The temple is linked with the origins of “Onam”, the national festival of Kerala. Inscriptions dating back to 10th and 13th centuries are found here.

Museum of Kerala History

The museum located in Edapally at a distance of 10Km showcases the rich cultural legacy and glorious history of Kerala. The museum complex also houses the MNF Gallery of Paintings and Sculptures and also the center for Visual Arts. Light and sound shows are regularly held in the museum. There are around 200 authentic original works, a number of reproductions of world renowned paintings and reproductions of Indian Mural arts in the museum.

Wellington Island

Located between Ernakulam and Fort Cochin, this is a manmade island created with the dredged earth, when the Cochin port was deepened. The island was created by Sir Robert Bristow, an engineer with the British East India Company. The island now houses the Cochin Port Trust, the harbor, the Cochin Harbor Terminus railway station and a small park.

Mangala Vanam Mangrove Forest

Located between Ernakulam and Fort Cochin, this is a manmade island created with the dredged earth, when the Cochin port was deepened. The island was created by Sir Robert Bristow, an engineer with the British East India Company. The island now houses the Cochin Port Trust, the harbor, the Cochin Harbor Terminus railway station and a small park.

Kalady

This famous pilgrim center at a distance of 45Km from Ernakulam is the birthplace of Adi Shankaracharya, the great Indian philosopher. There are two renowned shrines located here.

Kodanad

Kodanad, one of the largest elephant training centers in India, is located at a distance of 45Km from Ernakulam. Tourists can enjoy elephant rides and see wild elephants being tamed. There is also a small zoo housing weak animals.

Bhootathankettu

This scenic dam on the Periyar River is located at a distance of 50Km from Ernakulam. This is a great spot for picnic and enjoying the scenic beautify of Kerala. There are boat rides available. The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is quite close to Bhootathankettu.

Cheraman Juma Masjid

This mosque located in Kodungallur near Ernakulam is considered to be the oldest mosque in India and the second oldest mosque in the world to offer Jumu’ah prayers. This magnificent mosque built in 629 AD by Malik Ibn Dinar is constructed in the traditional Hindu temple architecture style of Kerala. The burning sanctuary lamp of this mosque is said to be more than a thousand years old. Legends link this historic mosque to the Chera King Cheraman Perumal who embraced Islam in the 7th century AD.

Trippunithura Zone

The capital of Cochin was moved to Trippunithura from Mattancherry after the sprawling Kanaka Kunnu palace was constructed here. Trippunithura has a vast number of palaces, temples and historic buildings.

Sri Poornathraeesha Temple

This magnificent temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the family deity of the Cochin Royal family. The temple was almost completely ruined in the great fire of 1900, but was restored to its original magnificent glory by the Kings of Cochin. The temple is now famous for its festivals celebrated with much pomp and gaiety even after the royal patronage is gone.

SHill Palace Museum

Perched on top of a hillock, this magnificent palace complex sprawls over 52 acres of gardens, parks and lawns. The palace complex constructed in 1845 has 49 imposing buildings, built in the traditional Kerala and Western fusion architectural styles. The official residence of the erstwhile Cochin Royal Family, it now houses the largest archeological museum in Kerala. There are scores of galleries with priceless artifacts displaying the glory of the Rajas and the history of Kerala. The Throne room displays the magnificent Throne and antique furniture of the Royal era. The jewellery gallery in the museum houses 197 items and the dazzling solid gold royal crown adorned with precious jewels. Galleries are categorized as Numismatic gallery, portrait gallery, weapon gallery, sculpture gallery, bronze and silver gallery, epigraphy gallery, porcelain gallery, chariot gallery, heritage gallery and wood carvings gallery. There is also a rare medicinal plant garden and a deer park located inside the palace premises.

St. Georges Orthodox Syrian Cathedral

Karingachira St. Georges Church built in 722 AD is one of the oldest Syrian Orthodox churches in Kerala. This magnificent church is built in the traditional architectural style of Kerala. The church enjoyed patronage from the Cochin Royal family. There are inscriptions found inside the church dating to the 8th century.

Chottanikkara Temple

This is one of the most popular pilgrim centers in Kerala. The temple is dedicated to the powerful goddess Sri Rajarajeshwari and is famous for exorcisms. The annual festival held here attracts scores of pilgrims.

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