Previously known as Cochin, Kochi is often referred to as the “Gateway to Kerala”.
Kochi is Kerala’s most cosmopolitan city and one of the most popular cities in Kerala. It is also its main trading centre for spices and food. Built around a saltwater lagoon off the Arabian Sea, Kochi is, in fact, a collection of narrow islands and peninsulas. The scenic location of Kochi’s natural harbour, surrounded by palm groves, green fields, inland lakes and backwaters, has enchanted visitors from across the globe for centuries.
Heralded as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Kochi was an important spice trading centre on the West Coast of India 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.
Serene Kochi has been drawing traders and explorers to its shores for over 600 years. Nowhere in India could you find such a mix: giant fishing nets from China, a 400-year old synagogue, ancient mosques, Portuguese houses, and crumbling remains of the British Raj. The result is an unlikely blend of medieval Portugal, Holland and an English village grafted onto the tropical Malabar Coast. New building was only actually banned in 1976 – but most of the ramshackle island still feels frozen way back to the 15th and 16th centuries, and the huge trees here are so old their parasitic aphids are tall as trees themselves. It’s a delightful place to spend some time and nap in some of India’s finest heritage accommodation.