Located on the eastern side of the island of Kochi, Mattancherry is the sister town of Fort Kochi.
The name “Mattancherry” comes from “Ancherry Mattom”, a Namboodiri illam which the foreign traders pronounced as Matt-Ancherry and which gradually became Mattancherry.
Surrounded by the backwaters of the Arabian Sea, Mattancherry was the first trading hub in Kerala. Earlier Mattancherry was the trade link to Ernakulam where traders would trade spices such as pepper and turmeric as well as tea. Slowly the traders moved to Ernakulam as Mattancherry proved to be costly due to trouble between the porters and the merchants.
Today, Mattancherry is a popular tourist destination with plenty to see and do. Located in the heart of this district is Jew Town where the ancient Jews started their trading. Here you can find the Paradesi Synagogue, India’s oldest functioning synagogue.
Another popular attraction in Mattancherry is Mattancherry Palace also known as the Dutch Palace. It is an interesting museum showcasing some of the best murals in South India.
The southern quarter of Mattancherry is romantically fossilized: row upon row of wood-fronted doors give glimpses of rice and spice merchants sitting sifting their produce into small ‘tasting’ bowls. This neighbourhood is also famous for antique showrooms. Here you can buy souvenirs and spices as well as exchange foreign currency.
Mattancherry also has a lot of temples including Hindu and Jain temples. Most noteworthy among them are Mattacherry Pazhayannur Royal temple, Palliarakkavvu temple, Ram Mandir, Gowd Saraswat Brahmin Samaj temples including the Venkatraman Temple and a Jain Temple known as Mahajan Wadi to the locals.
Getting to & from Mattancherry
Near the Mattancherry Palace is a private bus depot with buses to Fort Kochi and Ernakulum. Nearby is a boat jetty with ferries to Ernakulum, Fort Kochi and Willington Island. Alternatively, you can take a leisurely walk to or from Fort Kochi located about two kilometres west.
Below are the popular places to visit in Mattancherry.
Also known as the Dutch Palace, Mattancherry Palace was built by the Portuguese in 1555 as a generous gift and gesture of goodwill to the Raja of Kochi, Veera Kerala Varma. The star attractions here are the astonishingly preserved 17th century Hindu murals, representative of Kerala’s temple art, which are religious, decorative and stylised.
Located in the heart of Jew Town in Kochi, Paradesi Synagogue is India’s oldest active synagogue. The interiors of the synagogue are worth a visit simply for its beautiful hanging oil lamps, crystal chandeliers and blue willow-pattern tiled floor.