District : Ernakulam
Old Name : Cochin
Distance : 218 kms, north of Trivandrum
Attractions : Fort Kochi, Mattancherry Palace, Ernakulam city
Best time to visit : September to May
Kochi and Ernakulam existed as twin cities, almost inseparable. Kochi, formerly called Cochin is a prime tourist destinations in the state of Kerala. The place is situated on the Western Coast and abutted by Arabian Sea. The city lies to the north west of yet another important tourist destination called Kumarakom. With ample means of transportation the place is connected with the rest of the country and destinations beyond. Kochi is sometimes referred as the Gateway to Kerala and constitutes the headquarters of the Ernakulam district.
Kochi is essentially a port city and many a times called the Queen of Arabian Sea. The city has been a popular commercial centre since time immemorial. Cochin, as it was called in the past has been having well established trade trade relations with several international countries. The region is quite prosperous and the cosmopolitan culture is quite vivid here.
Modern Kochi comprises of the old port city called Old Cochin including Mattancherry, Ernakulam mainland, Fort Kochi, Edapally, Kalamassery, Thrikkakara, Kakkanad and Tripunithura.
Kochi is replete with tourist attractions. The entire place is beautifully carved and feature incredible landscapes. The terrain in the west and the backwaters around are some of the features of Kochi. The cosmopolitan character is one of the best features of Kochi. Apart from cruises and backwaters one often gets fascinated by a blend of cultures encompassing European architecture, Dutch homes, Chinese fishing nets and the ubiquitous South Indian culture. The place also represents the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala. The place was featured in the '50 greatest places of a life time' by National Geographic Traveller.
Backwater trips constitute the special feature for Kochi. The Kochi Boat Cruise is the real crowd puller and provides the opportunity to explore various parts of the city. The ferry rides for various destinations are Ernakulam to Mattancherry, Ernakulam to Vypeen, Fort Cochin to Vypeen, Willingdon Island to Fort Cochin, Ernakulam to Bolghatty Island, Ernakulam to Varapuzha.
Tourist Attractions in Kochi
Mattancherry Palace: The Dutch Palace at Mattancherry is a good catch for tourists at Kochi. The place exhibits beautiful mural paintings that depict the scenes from Ramayana. The palace was built by the Portuguese and gifted to the Raja of Cochin, Vira Keralavarma. Some contributions were later on made by the Dutch.
Fort Kochi: Fort Kochi is inhabited by Anglo-Indian community. The whole of the region presents a different aura and ambience. The culture is quite unique and represents the Eurasian culture. Dwelling places built by the British traders and colleges established by the Dutch are worth observing. Present in this part of the city are two art galleries with good collections.
St Francis Church : St. Francis Church located in the Fort Kochi region is a wonderful attraction. This church was built by the Portuguese in the year 1503 A.D. Initially built in timber, this church was later changed into a stone structure. It is said that Portuguese explorer Vasco-da-Gama was originally buried here and his remains were later brought to Lisbon. Timings of St Francis Church 6 am to 7 pm. Mass timings 6 am and 7.15 am.
Santa Cruz Basilica : Built by the Portuguese around 500 years back, the Santa Cruz Basilica is known for its Gothic exterior with soaring spires. Apart from imposing facade, the interiors are equally impressive. The stained glass and life-like columns looking over the confessional boxes add to the beauty of the church. The Santa Cruz Basilica is open from 9 am - 1 pm and 3 pm- 5 pm. Mass timings daily 6 am, 7 am and 6 pm (all Malayalam), Saturdays 6 pm (English), Sundays 4.30 pm (English).
Ernakulam: Ernakulam is the developed on the modern lines and features a commercial centre in the city. Located at Ernakulam are some museums and popular worshipping places. The region also features great eating places in the city. the elephant procession taken out during festival days is a wonderful event, filled with great fun and excitement.
Places Where You Can Stay
Established at Kochi are numerous star and budget hotels. The regions is an accredited tourist destination and there are lot of tourists reaching the place every year. The accommodation is available for almost any taste and class. Some noted hotels in the region are:
5 star hotels : Taj Malabar, Casino Hotel, Taj Residency, Le Meridien.
4 star hotels : Hotel Mercy, Avenue Regent, Quality Inn Presidency.
3 star hotels : Abad Plaza, International Hotel, The Metropolitan.
Budget Hotels : Woodlands, Hotel Sangeetha, Sun International, Hotel Blue Diamond.
Kochi is connected with the rest of the country by roads, rails and airways. There are a number of means for reaching the place and the convenient ones head towards the Ernakulam region. The region has a direct road link, railway head and an airport providing the services. Kochi has one more railway terminal, located in the Old Cochin. Boat services to Chaganacherry, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Vypeen, Fort Cochin, Mattancherry, Willingdon island are also available. For commutation there are buses, taxis and auto rickshaws.