The best places to visit in Kochi are the historical towns of Fort Kochi (Cochin) and Mattancherry.
The top places to visit in Kochi are the historical towns of Fort Kochi (Cochin) and Mattancherry. Charming Fort Kochi and its twin town Mattancherry is an island of slowly disintegrating stone walls, crumbling shopfronts and well-tended churches, where every turn takes you down some new gloriously picturesque, narrow winding street. These historical towns remain wonderfully serene and have an old world class with their blend of Dutch, Portuguese and English bungalows and quaint narrow streets. Unofficial emblem of Kerala’s backwaters, the Chinese fishing nets are clearly the top attraction in Fort Kochi; Santa Cruz Basilica and St Francis Church are Fort Kochi tourist places worth visiting too.
The southern quarter of Mattancherry is just as romantically fossilized: row upon row of wood-fronted doors give glimpses of rice and spice merchants sitting sifting their produce into small ‘tasting’ bowls. Here, Mattancherry Palace is a glimpse into the colonial history of Kerala and Kochi. Nearby Jew Town is equally impressive with the Pardesi Synagogue being the star attraction.
A ferry journey east across Vembanad Lake lands you in Ernakulam, a grubby dynamic city that’s like the uncouth Mr Hyde to Kochi’s cultured Dr Jekyll. Mainland Ernakulam is the hectic transport and cosmopolitan hub of Kochi, boasting concrete shopping malls and glitzy apartment buildings. With the railway station and international airport located here, it is the entry point to Kerala in general and Fort Kochi in particular. In Thevara, on the southeast outskirts of Ernakulum, is the fantastic private museum, Kerala Folklore Museum.
One of the top things to do in Kochi is to take a Kerala backwaters tour to see some of the local industries such as weaving factories, toddy tapping and spice gardens. The Keralan backwaters are the heart and soul to this region and a backwater trip should be added to everyone’s itinerary. Watching a Kathakali show at the Kerala Kathakali Centre is equally entertaining.
Below is a list of popular places to visit in Kochi.
At the tip of Fort Cochin sit the unofficial emblems of Kerala’s backwaters: cantilevered Chinese fishing nets. They have become a very popular tourist attraction in Fort Kochi. These are not unique to Kochi, but are perhaps uniquely accessible to the short-stay visitor.
The Kerala Kathakali Centre is one of the premier theatres in South India where Kathakali, music, martial arts and other dance forms are demonstrated in traditional style. It is perhaps the best place to view a performance of basic Kathakali, a cultural dance of Kerala and South India and one of the greatest art forms of India.
Located on the southeast outskirts of Ernakulum, Kerala Folklore Museum is a treasure trove that showcases the rich heritage of Kerala through its numerous art and dance forms. Collected over thirty years by its owner, George Thaliath, an antique dealer, the collection includes over 5000 artifacts showcased in a private museum created from ancient temples and beautiful old houses.
A cruise along the backwaters is one of the most enchanting experiences that Kerala offers. Exploring this labyrinthine network of waterways, which weave through villages set amidst lush vegetation, offers glimpses of Kerala’s unique rural lifestyle, where land and water are inseparable. Water Valley Tour with KTDC is a great Kerala backwaters tour from Kochi.
Believed to be India’s oldest European-built church, St Francis Church Kochi was originally constructed in 1503 by Portuguese Franciscan friars. The present stone building that stands here today was built in the mid-16th century to replace the original wooden structure. Adventurer Vasco da Gama, who died in Cochin in 1524, was buried in this spot for 14 years before his remains were taken to Lisbon – you can still visit his tombstone in the church.
Located next to St Francis Church in Fort Kochi, the Santa Cruz Basilica is one of the eight Basilicas in India. This church is one of the finest and most impressive churches in India and visited by tourists the whole year round. It is a place of devotion as well as a centre of historic significance, endowed with architectural and artistic grandeur and colours of the Gothic style.
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.