Kochi, Kerala: Gateway to Old India
India is a country known for its spices. Since time immemorial up to the present, this South Asian country has been the source of goods that cannot be easily found elsewhere. While this is true for the most part of the country, more so is it for Kochi in the state of Kerala which is dubbed as a major port city for spice and trade.
The history of Kochi (or Cochin) as a trading center for spice with the Arabs in the southwest coast of Kerala can be traced as far back as the 14th century. For the city’s dealings with these people from the Middle East and its location, Kochi earned the moniker “Queen of the Arabian Sea.”
Not just the Arabs, old India was already active in trade with people from different civilizations across the globe, specifically the Chinese, the Phoenicians, and Europeans like the Portuguese and the Dutch.
Kochi had been enjoying its sovereignty from foreign rule for much of its history until in 1503 when the Portuguese colonizers gained entry in India by way of the commercial port city. This made the spice trading center of Kochi the first colony of the Portuguese in eventual colonial India.
Subsequently, the spice city fell to the hands of the Dutch until it was handed over to the British as a result of a treaty.
The transition between occupiers, however, did not always become smooth. History suggests that part of the entry of the colonizers in the land is a conflict which set Kochi to be its battleground.
The phrase “A city born in a storm, nurtured in a rivalry and established as battling ground for European empires” very much summarizes the history of Kochi.
While, by itself, the major city port of Kochi has all the qualities that will eventually develop it into a modern trade center, it was until a Senior Royal Navy Engineer Sir Robert Bristow’s mandate that turned it into a modern city. It is also at this time when the largest man-made island in all of India was developed: the Willingdon Island which houses the Kochi Port.
Kochi at the Present
Culminating from the history that took place in this now-cosmopolitan city, Kochi has become a melting pot by immigrants from certain countries across the globe.
Since the 1970’s, waves of immigrants from Europe chose to settle in Kochi for retirement. Some of these senior immigrants even chose to make a living in the city by running restaurants and boutique hotels.
Due to the auspicious development that was taking place in Kochi, a majority of the local population is surprisingly comprised of immigrants and not native Indians. Given this potpourri of different cultures, this city exercises the high level of tolerance to avoid conflict.
Collectively referred to as Kochinites, the people of Kochi are generally described as both modern and fashionable.
Kochi/Cochin Tourist Attractions | Things to do
You might like it for its spices or for its bustling economy, there is no doubt that Kochi is one of India’s most-visited places. But this Kerala’s financial capital is more than just the trade that is happening within its borders, it is also about the historical places it holds, too.
Let us take a look at the city that once had been the hub for commerce among its neighbors and a former entryway to old India.
1.Sahodaran Ayyappan Museum
Do not let the humble outward appearance of this museum fool you into thinking that this is just another abode somewhere in Kochi. While this was originally just a home, it was not lived by a typical Keralan. This former household was once a dwelling for Sahodaran Ayyappan who was a prominent figure in the battle against the Keralan “caste system.” Inside, as what you’d expect in a museum, is a curation of the life of the historical man himself, including priceless items that were relevant to the person.
No other religious sect makes use of the term “synagogue,” than the Jews. But believe it or not, there had been Jews in India for a very long time. This 1568-built religious structure is one proof of that. If you are not Jewish nor have you been acquainted with the Jewish culture before, expect to marvel at the unique internal architecture of the place.
Having been only built in 2009, the Folklore Museum is fairly new, even for the Keralans. Despite this, the museum tried to stick to its own roots by showcasing an architecture based on passed down knowledge by real Keralan artisans. But that’s only looking at the museum alone. Do no forget about the historical items it holds for the curious visitors to see.
Kerala is a state in India known for its museums. First among these, however, is the Hill Palace which also happens to be the area’s largest archaeological museum to display the rich history of the Maharaja. The Hill Palace was originally constructed in 1865.
5.Santa Cruz Basilica
Of all the states in India, Kerala has had the most concentration of immigrants, many of which from Europe. And for a city that has been the gateway for Portuguese conquerors, Kochi is a home to some of Christendom’s churches. The Santa Cruz Basilica, a place of worship by the Kochi dioceses, is one of them.
6.Kochi Fort Beach
For a city renowned in its ports, Kochi is unsurprisingly not absent with beautiful beaches. When everything else is becoming too monotonous or mundane, going at this beach and facing the Arabian Sea makes for a refreshing experience. Not only is the atmosphere in this part of Kochi distinctly different, to be able to view sandcastles and marine species could be an uncommon sight if you are not from the area.
7.Ernakulam Mahadeva Temple
Not many Hindu shrines along south of India have its deities facing the West. In fact, the Enrakulam Mahaveda stood out from the rest as being the sole place of worship of being such. Located at the very heart of Kochi, the Ernakulam Mahadeva is hard to miss if you are along the area.
As a former colony of Portugal, India was under its colonizer’s sphere of influence for a while. While this influence may already be embedded in the Keralan culture, this is also ostensive in the tangible aspect of the place: the Keralan architecture.
Yet, what better way to prove this point than to see it first-hand at the Indo-Portuguese Museum where traditional Indian and Portuguese architecture seamlessly combined.
9.Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary
You must love birds to find delight in seeing them at their freest. If you are in Kochi, there is no better place to do just that than in Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary where migratory birds are aplenty and the surrounding areas teeming with life.
Do not let the humble appearance of this structure fool you into thinking that this is just an ordinary abode in Kerala. This construction is actually a palace and is a home to many memorabilia you would not easily find elsewhere.
Watching the sun sets at a distance for chills is best spent at the Marine Drive. The backwaters of the area and its burgeoning region makes for a seamless contrast that invokes deep musings.
But this part of Ernakulam can also be a site for exciting activities, too, such as going for a boat ride across the city’s tourist areas.
What is a city known for its waters if not a place to be traversed by boat? Yes, traders and merchants may frequent its seas but it does not mean that travelers do not do the same thing.
When it comes to the waters of Kochi, three destinations always come to mind for tourists: Willingdon, Vypeen, and Vallarpadam.
13.Kerala Spa / Ayurveda
India is the home country of Ayurveda medicine and Kerala is not a stranger to its healing benefits. In fact, the city of Kerala actually invests on it for business. If you are looking for a place to truly unwind and even revitalize, no other place in the city offer as much health benefits than the spa.
Be overwhelmed with the variety of establishments which offer food for business when in Kochi. As the home for immigrants from across Europe and elsewhere, this particular part of the city is also a home to many hospitality businesses which caters to a hungry stomach.
While you have the freedom of which cuisine to take, the real experience in knowing Indian food is to eat some local Keralan dishes.
15.Kodanad Elephant Sanctuary
If you have not seen an elephant up close, there is no better time to experience it than at Kodanad Elephant Sanctuary. Essentially tamed to make them docile to humans, this is the type of elephant you can literally bathe should you wish to.
List of Hotels in Kochi/Cochin
This list of hotels in Kochin ranges from the budget, middle to high priced accommodations. You can book a room in Kochi/Cochin by clicking on the link/name of the hotel and it will bring you to the booking site. Take advantage of the discounts offered in any of these hotels.
Aarons Home Stay
Jillathodical House, H.No. 1/1379 A, K.B. Jacob Road, Njaliparambu, Opp. Empress Bakery,, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001 agoda
Njaliparambu kunnumpuram road, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001
K.L.Bernard Master Road, Near Santa Cruz Ground, Njaliparambu, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001
Coconut Grove Homestay
Near Bishops Palace, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001
Daffodils Spice Court
AB Salem Road, Jew Town, Mattanchery, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682002
1/283, Napier street, Fort Cochin, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001
Lazar Residency Homestay
1/911, Near Bishop’s Palace,, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001
Madeleine Inn Guest House
1/336, Rose street, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 68001
Ridsdale Branch road,Njaliparambu, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001
1/2669-B,Joseph Kurithara Road,Near st.jude church, Pattalam ,Fort cochin, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001
No. 18 Hotel
Near Fort Kochi Theater of Cultural & Performing Arts, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001
Niyati – Boutique Homestay
H No: 1/635, Quiros Street, Behind Post Office (Parade Ground), Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001
Old Courtyard Hotel
1/371 Princess Street, Fort Cochin, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001
Old Lighthouse Bristow Hotel
Next to INS Dronacharya, Beach Road, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001
The Poovath Heritage Hotel
Dutch Cemetery Road, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001
Pepper Route Hotel
KB Jacob road, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India
1/839 Bastian Street, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001
H.No 1/1802; K.B.JacobRoad;Chirattalalam Bus Stop Fort Kochi, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001
Salwa Home Stay
Ridsdale Branch Road, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001
Near Kunnumpuram Junction, Opp: St.Antony’s Shrine Federal Bank ATM Building (Land Mark),Fortkochi, Kochi-1., Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682001
The Waterfront Granary
6/641,Bazaar Road,Mattancherry, Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682002
Xandari Harbour Hotel
Door No.V/40, Bazar Road,Mattancherry, , Fort Kochi, Kochi, India, 682002