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Kochi



 


What :

Kochi (Cochin) is the commercial capital and gateway to Kerala, one of the most interesting and culturally rich states in Southwest India. Kerala is one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world and is known for its natural beauty, rich history, intellectual vibrancy and cultural diversity.

Often dubbed the “Queen of the Arabian Sea”, Kochi is an interesting confluence of ancient cultural and historic influences as diverse as Dravidian, Islamic, Jewish, Arab, Portuguese, English, Dutch and Chinese. The city and its many attractions came about as the area became a prominent trade hub between the orient and the western world.

Kochi today can boast of signature attractions that range from the oldest European built church in South Asia to a 400 year old synagogue coupled with equally ancient temples and mosques that all pepper its dynamic cityscape. The modern city of Kochi can be divided into three distinct parts: the colonial quarter at Fort Kochi, the cultural heart of the city at Mattancherry and the modern business hub at Ernakulam.

Any tour of Kochi is best kicked off with a visit to Mattancherry Palace. The palace was built in 1555 and presented as a gift by the Portuguese to the local Maharaja in a bid to gain trade concessions. The entry of the Portuguese marked Kochi’s longstanding colonial tryst that saw it become a bustling trade hub under a spate of European powers including the Portuguese, Dutch and finally the English. The Mattancherry Palace has a number of beautiful murals depicting many tales from Hindu scriptures. There is an interesting gallery of the portraits of the reigning Maharajas of the region along with a superb collection of palanquins, jewelry and royal outfits.

Another iconic attraction on any tour of Kochi is the Pardesi Synagogue. The Jewish community in Kochi traces its roots as far back as the 6th century, the present synagogue was originally built in 1556 and then re-built in 1664. The synagogue is one of the oldest in South Asia and has an interesting set of artifacts including a gold pulpit as well as a floor-plan composed of intricate handmade tiles from China. The area around the Pardesi Synagogue is called Jew Town and is a sprawling mix of spice markets, colonial buildings as well as interesting shops. The Jew Town is one of the oldest Jewish settlements of the Indian Sub-continent and its buildings make for a fascinating journey of discovery.

At the northern end of Fort Kochi are the gigantic fishing nets that have become the most prolific visual of Kochi and Kerala around the world. Brought to Kochi over 400 years ago by the Chinese of Kublai Khan’s court, these gigantic cantilever based nets are each operated by a crew of four. Visitors can take guided tours of how these nets work under a complicated mechanism of counterweights that balance the net during changing tidal currents.

Kochi is home to some great museums such as Kochi Folklore Museum and Indo-Portuguese Museum. Both museums have a great collection of antiques and artifacts that display the prominent periods and the often conflicting global influences in Kochi’s vibrant history.

Backwater Kochi

Kochi is also home to a number of iconic churches and cathedrals including the oldest European built church in the Indian Sub-continent. The Cathedral of St. Francis was built by the Portuguese in the year 1503 and still contains the tombstone of the world famous explorer Vasco Da Gama, who is credited with bringing earliest organized European trade and missionary expeditions to India. Vasco Da Gama was buried at this site for over 14 years after which his remains were taken back to Portugal. Another famous church in Kochi that is popular with visiting tourists, is the Santa Clara Basillica which was built in 1506.

Kochi is a center of excellence for many activities that would interest foreign visitors. These include indulgence in Keralan cuisine, shopping, the traditional Kathakali dance form as well as Ayurveda treatments. Many visitors coming to Kochi indulge in these diverse activities with as much gusto as they do in walks along colonial cityscape of Fort Kochi or the cultural treks of Mattancherry.


When :

The best time to visit Kochi is between December and April. Kochi has a tropical weather that is hot and humid for most of the year. The city is located in the extreme south west of the Indian sub-continent in proximity to the thermal equator. Kochi, therefore doesn’t get a lot of temperature variance, however is blessed with an average of 132 days of rainfall a year. The city is on the pathway of both the north east and south west Monsoon weather systems.

Since Kochi is one of the main centers of Keralan culture as well as one of the most multi-cultural cities of India, there are a number of festivals that are zealously celebrated in the city. While the city celebrates both traditional Hindu and Muslim festivals such as Holi and Eid with much fanfare, Kochi has a local festival called the Ernakulathappan Utsavam Festival that is very famous with visitors.

The Ernakulathappan Utsavam Festival is celebrated every January / February and is an 8 day festival replete with local art performances, elephant parades as well as a brilliant firework display.


Where :

Kochi is located in the south western Indian state of Kerala. Kochi is the commercial capital of the state and is connected to India and the rest of the world by the Cochin International Airport. While not as large as the major aviation hubs of Delhi or Mumbai, the Cochin International Airport offers convenient connections to all major Indian cities as well as to a number of major international destinations in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Orient.

For this reason, the Cochin International Airport is often the gateway of choice for many visitors coming exclusively to tour South India and the many attractions close to Kochi such as the Periyar National Park and the Kerala Backwaters.


Who :

Kochi is a city like no other in India. It is such an amazing melting pot of so many cultural influences coupled with its own ancient civilization that makes it a great launching pad for exploring South India. Kochi and its many attractions will interest fans of history, architecture, culture and contemporary religion. Enthusiasts of photography will also find much to focus on while visiting the city. Kochi’s interesting fishing nets, old buildings and vibrant cityscape as well as beaches make for some interesting photo-opportunities.

For fans of food and drink, Kochi is amongst the best places to sample the eclectic and vibrant Keralan cuisine. The city is a major hub for seafood as well as for a multi-cultural cuisine offering due to its rich history.

Kochi is also a great place to see authentic South Indian dance performances such as Kathakali. The city has many venues that regularly host dance performances of critically acclaimed artistes. Another indulgence that every visitor to Kochi should partake in, is a pampering Ayurvedic treatment. The city has many fine establishments that offer a number of treatments to bring balance to mind, body and spirit alike.

For fans of shopping, Kochi is a great place to acquire traditional Keralan handcrafts. Souvenirs from Kochi that are most popular with visitors include organic cotton clothing, Ayurvedic oils, exquisite lace work and housewares.

In recent years, the Kerala Tourism Corporation has made great strides in promoting handicrafts from rural and tribal communities of the state and items such as shawls, paintings as well as figurines made by these rural craftsmen are also proving to be very popular with visiting tourists.


Appropriate Attire :

Kochi is one of the most multi-cultural cities in India with a rich colonial heritage. Kerala is also the home of one of the most progressive and intellectually progressive societies in the country. Therefore western wear (though not too revealing) is perfectly acceptable at most places in the city as well as at upscale establishments and restaurants.

It is however worth noting that many of the attractions in Kochi are religious sites including cathedrals, synagogues as well as temples and mosques. All of these usually have a conservative dress code for visitors to gain entry to the premises. It is therefore best that visiting tourists dress modestly covering arms, legs and shoulders and wear slip-on shoes with socks.

Also since many of the historic attractions of Kochi are best seen while walking, visitors should take adequate protection against bright sunlight.


Sights in / near Kochi:




Guest Reviews about Kochi Tour :

 
  Linda Smith
March 2013
We loved the time spent in India. It truly is an incredible country and we learned so much. The Hotels were beautiful and were very clean and the employees well trained and helpful. We loved the food.
Your facilitators, guides, and drivers were efficient, knowledgeable, and courteous. We were able to understand their English or if not they were willing to repeat. With my husband’s hearing problem, I am glad we had an individual tour. We also enjoyed gaining knowledge from personal conversations that I don’t think would be possible on a larger tour. Although all were adequate, we would like to give special thanks and acknowledge three guides for their outstanding service: the guides in Varanasi; in Orcha; and our accompanying Tour Director who was with us from Jhansi to Udaipur. He made our last days in India very special. We were sad to end our journey and say farewell to him. Also the tour Facilitator in Delhi was great. We thought our journey to India was most worthwhile and would highly recommend your company. REFERENCE AVAILABLE.  INDEPENDENT TRAVEL
 
 

 
  Patricia Werhahn – Three Family Members
February 2013
My entire family truly enjoyed our trip to India and Easy Tour definitely made it amazing. We really appreciated the fact that everything was on time and very efficiently organized. We enjoyed all the sites! We definitely would recommend Easy Tour to anyone looking to travel on a private tour in India and if we travel there again, we will use Easy Tour again. Oh and we must have had the best driver in India for the portion of Delhi to Udaipor. He was just amazing! All our guides were excellent except for the one in Jodhpur. All the other guides always very enthusiastic. REFERENCE AVAILABLE.  INDEPENDENT TRAVEL
 
 

 


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