Kochi or Cochin is Kerala’s port city and commercial hub. This fabulous city in the west coast of India is perhaps the most happening city in God’s own country, Kerela. This city bears true witness to India’s colonial past and has a culture that testifies the essence of diversity in India. This Queen of the Arabian Sea has been a foremost spice-trade centre right since the 14th century and saw the making and breaking of many imperial treaties right since its Portuguese occupation in 1603.
Kochi is a very cosmopolitan city, thanks to centuries of trading along its shores which contributed to the influx of people from all over the country into this major port city. It is a bustling metropolis that is fast emerging as a notable economic and financial center.
Ranked as the 6th best tourist destination in India by the Outlook-Traveller magazine, there is no end to all that you get to see here. For starters; you should pay a visit to the churches, St Francis and Santa Cruz Basilica which are Exotic Renaissance architectures. Then you’d want to see the magnificent Dutch palace, a wonderful synthesis of eastern and western architecture with its fantastic murals and the three temples dedicated to Gods Shiva, Krishna and Pazhayannur Bhagavati, the kuldevi of the Kochi royal family. Next, you’d want to soak in history, art and culture. For that, you need the museums. The Pareekshith Thampuram Museum is an archaeological museum. The Indo-Portuguese bears witness to Portuguese’s influence and the Maritime Museum shows us the massive achievements of the Indian Navy.
Next on your list are the forts. That would include the Pallipuram and Chendamangalam forts. Located in the extreme north of Vypeen Islands, Pallipuram is the oldest Portuguese fortification. The massive structure of Chendamangalam is home to precious relics. The historical Fort Kochi houses famous landmarks, such as the Jewish Synagogue, Chinese fishing nets, St. Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica, Mattancherry Palace and the promenade. Willingdon Island and the backwaters on Vembanad Lake are other popular tourist attractions. Kochi also has numerous accommodation options, including homestays where you can experience traditional Kerala hospitality. It is well-connected by road, rail and air with all major cities in Kerala and rest of India.
For those who want to pay homage to the Gods, there is the Aranmula Temple housing Lord Parthasarathi or simply Krishna. Legend has it that this temple finds a place in the pages of Mahabharat. The list however is hard pressed to end because in the section of palaces, there are the Hill , Mattancherry and Bolgatty palaces too that invariably takes us back to a time so beyond our reach. There’s the Jewish Synagogue which is the oldest in the commonwealth. Lastly, for the sea-lovers, there are the Backwaters, the Marine Drive, the Willingdon Island and the Kochi International Marina so buckle up photographers, yatch-fanatics and nature lovers because this is the place for you.
This city is a borne witness to centuries of the country's spice trading industry. Kochi which means "small lagoon" or "harbour" also holds the honor of being one of the fastest growing "second tier metro" city of the country, besides being the city that is thronged by the largest number of domestic tourists the year round. Kochi or Cochin is a crash course in all that you would want to know about Kerala and its people in the shortest possible time. The city has managed to retain its old world charm along with the ancient heritage that was handed over to it over the years gone by and has not failed to keep pace with what the modern day visiting tourist would like to see in a place like this.
It boasts the very first Marina facility of the nation which pulls in eager yatch totters from all over. If you are in Kochi you must not bargain for anything else a visit to India's very first eco-tourist village at Kumbalangi Integrated Tourist Village and the Mastyafed Milky Way Aqua Tourist Village. Both of these villages offer a live tutorial lesson on the rustic life and culture of Kerala. You can even have an opt to live their way of life during your stay. You could assist in cultivation of paddy in the water logged fields, go fishing with them or choose to be awe struck by picking up a canoe to wade through an intricate maze of well-preserved mangrove forests playing homes to a large number of migratory birds. If you have chosen the Mastyafed Aqua Tourist Village, get some sunbathing from a little cottage in the village. A fresh catch of shrimps, mouthwatering delicate prawns, crabs and more of their likes are wonderful celebrations.
A visit to this port city with an India culture can offer you experiences of a lifetime. Visit the Kodanadu Elephant Training College, the Chinese fishing nets, the Hill Palace with the Royal crown on display made in 100% gold with 95 diamonds and as many as 2000 precious stones. You could go visit the group of tiny islands on the Vembanad lake take a tour of the mesmerizing backwaters. Watch kathakali dance in any of the kathakali theatres. Kochi has the largest number of kathakali theatres.
Anytime is a good time to be in this port city but you could always schedule your visit to co-incide with the Cochin Carnival in December, Onam in August-September or the Fireworks Festival at the Maradu Kottaram Devi Temple in March-April.
Do not forget to pick up antiques or other craft stores from the local Jew Town before you head back home with lasting memories of this lovely city.
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