Like most cities in India, Kochi has a very long and illustrious history. But, the origin of the name is still a mystery. There are many theories, but none is strong enough to be conclusive. Some archaeologists believe that Kochi is a modified form of the word “Cochazhi,” which in Malayalam means “small sea.” Another assumption is that Kochi is derived from the word “Kaci” meaning “port.” Kochi is full of breathtaking scenery and romantic places. Starting from the suspended waters that vibrate and arriving until the mountain with the smell of wood; you can find everything in one place.
Are you an enthusiast, backpacker or adventurous person? Kochi is the best option. There are various things to do and places to enjoy here. This article is dedicated to mentioning the top ten things you should not miss when visiting Kochi for the first time.
1) The Dutch Palace or Mattancherry Palace!
The Dutch Palace, also known as the Mattancherry Palace, is not a palace as you imagine it and has nothing to do with the Maharajah palaces of Rajasthan. It was built by the Portuguese at that time, does not look spectacular either. The Dutch have renovated it later, hence the name. Today you can look at the robes, turbans and litter works, but the paintings depicting scenes from the Ramayana are awe-inspiring. These are impressive, and if you are already in Kochi, then you should look at them. It has the style and architecture that matches a typical traditional Kerala house. The palace can be visited Monday – Saturday from 9 am- 5 pm. Entry fee: INR 2 per head. Yes! Read again to believe it.
2) Kathakali Performance!
Kathakali is one of the most recognized forms of traditional arts of Kerala. The Kathakali is only in Kerala, and you should look at a performance in any case. It is a beautiful combination of literature, music, painting, acting, and dance. For tourists there is the time-acceptable version, which takes 1-2 hours depending on the organizer, the “right” take all night. Both men and women are portrayed by people and stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata are told. Every gesture, every finger movement, every twitching of the eyebrows has a meaning, and in part, the dancers can even move their eyes independently.
Note: The Kerala Kathakali Centre organizes Kathakali performances every day.
3) Jewish Synagogue!
The Jewish Quarter is located in Mattancherry, and it is the only Jewish community in Kerala. You can also visit the synagogue, but as a man, you have to put on a kipa or a hat. On the floor you can see tiles with Chinese landscapes, glass lamps hanging from the ceiling, there is a calm and relaxed atmosphere.
Except on Saturdays and Jewish holidays, you can visit the synagogue from 10-12 and 15-17. In the meantime, the photography inside is forbidden. Around the synagogue is the center of the local spice trade, the air smells of cinnamon, cardamom, kreukümmel and other spices. Let you be strolled through the little alleyways and look calmly in the one or the other small shop selling antiques.
4) Willingdon Island!
This human-made island was created in 1933 by sand dredging while deepening waters for the port of Cochin, under the direction of Sir Robert Bristow. In time the Airport, Port and Railway Terminal (Cochin Port Terminus) were located on this island. Today, it is home to the Cochin Harbor and the headquarters of the Southern Naval Command. The airport remains the naval base, while the main terminal has moved to Nedumbassery, 30kms northeast of Cochin. Most trains now stop at Ernakulam Junction, instead of Cochin’s Terminus port.
5) Fort Kochi!
Fort Kochi is a small village beside the Arabian coastline and is famous for the Chinese Fishing Nets, Synagogue, Dutch Cemetery and Churches. The St. Francis Church is the oldest church on Indian soil, and the legend tells that the incredulous Thomas was the first Christian community to have founded in India. For many years the explorer Vasco da Gama was buried here before he was transferred to Portugal. Next to it is the Dutch cemetery, which is usually closed. The gravestones are quite weathered, and the whole ambiance has a very morbid charm.
6) Chinese Fishing Nets!
At the top of Fort Kochi, you will find the famous Chinese fishing net, the landmark of the Backwaters. They are still used today, but they are rare because the work is hard and you need four men to get the nets out of the water. But in the evening it is a great photo-motive, so if you are already there, look at it as long as it still exists. Many fishers make a living by fishing massively using these nets. The entire stretch of coast along Fort Kochi and Vypeen are dotted with these nets.
7) Folklore Museum!
Kerala Folklore Museum is one of the famous tourist places in Kochi. It showcases cultural exhibits and folk-tribal objects of the state. The outsides of the museum look like a temple, and the interiors are exquisitely appealing. Folklore Museum exhibits traditional Kathakali masks, ornaments, costumes, musical instruments, sculptures, and pieces of equipment which belong to the historic Stone Age.
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8) St. Francis Church!
The St. Francis Church is the oldest European church in India. The Portuguese built it in 1503, but later on, it was demolished by the Dutch and rebuilt. The church holds prominent religious and historical importance. It is considered to one of the observers of the European colonial struggle in Kerala.
The Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama died in Kochi in 1524 during his third visit to the country. He was formerly buried at the St. Francis Church, but after fourteen years his remains were moved to Lisbon, Portugal. Though, his grave stone can still be seen at the church. The church displays a cenotaph in memory of the people who died in the World War I.
9) Hill Palace!
Built in the 19th century by the Raja of Kochi, this palace served as the headquarters of the Raja of Kochi province. The castle has become a museum that shows an excellent collection of articles that show the richness and splendor of the Kochi Rajas, including the Thone and the Crown. The museum also houses an extensive collection of archaeological finds. Hill Palace dwells 16km east of Cochin in Tripunithura, a satellite city of Cochin.
10) How to reach Kochi?
Kochi works as a gateway to major destinations in Kerala like Eravikulam and Munnar. It has an international airport, and it is well-connected with most major cities in India and the world.
By Road: Kochi is well connected to neighboring towns and states. The NH47 (Salem-Kanyakumari) passes through Kochi. The NH17 unites the city to Kozhikode, Mangalore, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, and Goa.
By Train: Kochi has two major railway stations – Ernakulam Town and Ernakulam Junction (locally known as the North and South terminals respectively). Reservation facilities are accessible only at the Ernakulam Junction (Mon-Sat 8 AM-8 PM, Sun 8 AM-2 PM).
By Air: Cochin International Airport (CIAL), located about 25 km north of Kochi city at Nedumbassery, manages both domestic and international flights. You can fly to Singapore, Malaysia, and Middle East to most major Indian cities. Jet Airways, Indian Airlines, and Kingfisher operate daily flights.The best deals for flights can be found on Goomo.
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