If Kerala is often named as India’s most beautiful state, then the port of Cochin is its jewel. It has been hailed as Queen of the Arabian Sea and Venice of the Orient. Cochin has been luring wanderers and traders for over 600 years and remains a living homage to its varied colonial past. It is one place where you can see a 16th century synagogue, Portuguese churches, Dutch architecture, ancient mosques, temples and giant fishing nets influenced by Chinese merchants all in one day. It’s a relaxing place to spend some time, soak in the history, and enjoy some of the finest heritage accommodation in India.
Our sample tour ideas in Cochin
The Mattancherry Palace was built by the Portuguese in 1555 for the maharaja of Cochin. Later renovated by the Dutch, it came to be known as the Dutch Palace. It has a large central courtyard and a temple depicting scenes from the Ramayana and other legends. The little museum at the palace has a collection of costumes, palanquins and other articles from the royalty.
Adjacent to the palace is the Jewish Synagogue built in 1568. This simple building has a marvellously rich interior. It features an ornate gold pulpit, clusters of coloured glass lamps and intricate, hand-painted blue willow-patterned floor tiles.
St Francis Church
Built in 1503 at Fort Cochin, St. Francis Church is believed to be India’s oldest European-built church. It was built by the Portuguese, but became a Protestant church with the arrival of the Dutch and an Anglican church after the British occupation. Vasco da Gama was buried in this churchyard.
No visit of Cochin is complete without watching a performance of the colourfully costumed Kathakali. Kathakali is Kerala’s very own classical dance-drama form which combines aspects of ballet, opera, masque and pantomime. Kathakali is heralded by the Kelikottu or the beating of drums and to the accompaniment of the Chengila (gong).
A typical Keralan village experience – visit a crab farm, watch coir yarn making, coconut leaves weaving and enjoy a short ride on the country boat in the backwaters. Explore a 12-acre agriculture farm and see different type of plantations (coconut, betel nuts, pepper, jack fruit, orchids, vanilla etc.), water harvesting ponds and biogas plants.