Kochi – queen of Arabian sea

Kochi (formerly known as Cochin) – is one of the most visited tourist destination of Kerala. The cosmopolitan city of Kochi has one of the finest and most beautiful natural harbours of India. The city of Cochin with a beautiful sea front is actually a cluster of islands and peninsulas with a colourful mix of eclectic cultures including Dutch, Portuguese, British and even Chinese and Jew influences. The lovely sea side city of Cochin, With Western Ghats in the east and the Arabian Sea in the west, is known for its breathtaking scenic beauty which is worth a visit.

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Natural harbour of Kochi

Where is Kochi?

Kochi – the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala is located in the Ernakulam district on the south west coast of India.

About Kochi

Built around a saltwater lagoon, the bustling seaport city of Kochi has been a major centre for trade and commerce for centuries. In spite of being the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala, the beauty of Kochi has such an immense attraction that it is one of the most-visited and prime tourist attractions of the state.

Kochi was the centre of Indian spice trade for many centuries, and was known to the Greeks, Romans, Jews, Arabs, and Chinese since ancient times. Portuguese were the first European nation to come to Cochin. After them one by one came the Dutch and the British. Kochi – known to be the first place in India to have European settlement, still retains its colonial flavours with a blend of tradition and modernity.

Kochi – often referred to as the “Gateway of Kerala” is an ideal place to start the tour of Kerala. Several backwater routes starting from Kochi is perfectly ideal to have a glimpse of the beauty of the Kerala, often called, God’s own country”. The strategically located port town of Kochi bustles with tourists almost throughout the year, prompting it to feature in National Geographic Traveler’s “50 greatest places of a lifetime”.

Kochi Sightseeing

When you are at Kochi, you will have to make your own choices and preferences as what you should see and what you should leave as there are a plenty of choices available. Only a few of those places which are hard to avoid are mentioned here.

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Magnificent St Francis Church of Kochi

St. Francis Church

Built in 1503 by Portuguese Franciscan Friars, it is the oldest European church in India. Situated at the Fort Kochi area, it is a place of must visit for every tourists touring Kochi. It is also the place where Vasco Da Gama, the first European traveler to reach India, was buried in 1526. The tombstone of this famous traveler is a popular tourist attraction of Kochi.

Santa Cruz Basilica

Located close to St. Francis Church, it is a Roman Catholic Cathedral and is one of the finest and impressive churches in Kerala. Apart from being a place of devotion and a center of historic significance, Santa Cruz Basilica is endowed with architectural and artistic grandeur of gothic style. Originally built as a church by the Portuguese, it was elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558 and still latar it was proclaimed a Basilica by the Pope John Paul II in 1984.

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Inside view of the Santa Cruz Basilica

A visit to this Basilica is an experience not to give away and tour the inside of this Basilica as well as enjoy its majestic exterior.

Dutch Palace

Situated at Palace Road, Mattancherry, Kochi, the palace was actually built by the Portuguese and presented to Veera Kerala Varma, Raja of Kochi, in 1555 AD as a compensation for a temple they destroyed and partly as a bribe to gain favors from the ruler. It took on its present popular name ‘Dutch Palace’ after 1663, when the Dutch took control over the palace and carried out some extensions and renovation work.

This double storied palace building which stands by the panoramic Kochi back waters has an exquisite collection of murals. The themes of these murals have been borrowed from the great Indian epics – the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha, and mythology and legends about the Hindu. The museum housed in the Palace exhibits a rich collection of regal memorabilia including costumes, palanquins, turbans and weaponry from the days of the Cochin rajas. In the courtyard of the palace stands a small temple dedicated to ‘Pazhayannur Bhagavati’, the protective goddess of the Kochi royal family. There are two more temples on either side of the Palace, one dedicated to Lord Krishna and the other to Lord Siva.

This Dutch Palace which is a living testimony of Indian culture and European tradition is one of the most popular sightseeing destinations for tourists visiting Cochin.

Bolghatty Island

A short boat ride away from the mainland of Kochi is this picturesque island which houses the splendidly beautiful Bolghatty palace. Bolghatty Palace – built in 1744 by the Dutch and later taken over by the British is presently a popular hotel run by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation. Set in the middle of a fabulous garden and spectacular backwaters of Cochin in the background, the scenery around the palace is simply breathtaking.

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View of the Cherai Beach of Kochi

Cherai Beach

Located on the northern end of Vypeen Island, just off the shore of the mainland Kochi, the beautiful and picturesque sandy beach of Cherai is lined by luscious green coconut groves and paddy fields. Having a coastline of 15 Km, the clean and shallow Cherai beach is ideal for the purpose of swimming and sunbathing. Considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Kerala, the Cherai Beach is a beautiful combination of sea and backwaters rimmed by greenery of coconut palms and paddy fields. Often referred to as ‘The Princess of the Arabian Sea’, the beach at Cherai offers variety of water sports and other beach activities. It is one of the most popular beaches of not only Kochi but of the entire state of Kerala as well.

Hill Palace Museum

The Hill Palace Museum is Kerala’s largest archaeological museum and the first heritage museum of the state. It was set up in the year 1865 and now is an important tourist attraction. Located 10 kilometers from Cochin at Thripoonithura, it was originally the residence and administrative office of Kochi Rajas. Situated on a hillock, the complex at present has an archaeological museum, a heritage museum, a deer park, a pre-historic park and a children’s park. The museum has 14 galleries, which display some beautiful and rare artifacts including paintings, weapons, arts, ancient carriages, beautiful statues, murals, majestic beds and royal ornaments that used to belong to the former rulers of Kerala.

There are quite a few other places in and around Kochi that are worth a visit. Some of them are – Veega Land, Willingdon Island, Parikshith Thampuran Museum, Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary, Palliport (Pallipuram) Fort, Vasco House, Chinese Fishing Nets and a quite a few others as well.

How to reach Kochi/Cochin?

By Air

Kochi has its own world-class modern international airport, located 30kms north-east of the city, with regular flights to major cities in India and other countries as well.

By Rail

There are three main railway stations in Cochin, – Ernakulam Junction, Ernakulam Town and Cochin Harbour Terminus. Kochi is well connected by rail to most of the important cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata.

By Road

An extensive network of national and state highways and local roads link Kochi to rest of the country. Three important National Highways – NH 47, NH 17, NH 49 pass through Kochi. Private and public transport services are available to and from all major cities of South India from Kochi.

By Boat

Regular boat service to and from places like Kottayam, Kumarakom and Alleppey are available through the scenic backwaters of Kerala. Kochi has an all weather natural port and can be reached by sea in yachts or the occasional cruise ship from Goa, Mumbai, Lakshadweep, Colombo and Male. There is a direct ferry service between Kochi and Lakshadweep. The outlying islands that make up Cochin, like Vypeen, Mattancherry, Bolghatty, etc are connected to the mainland Kochi by regular public and private boats.

Where to stay at Kochi?

Being a popular tourist destination, Kochi has a wide range of hotels and resorts to choose from. Informations on some of the best hotels of Kochi are provided here :

Bolgatty Island Resort

With 24 Deluxe rooms and 06 Lake front cottages, it is one of the best hotels of Kochi, located on the Bolgatty Island. Facilities like, Ayurveda therapies, Restaurant, Beer Parlour, Swimming Pool, Ayurvedic Centre, Conference Hall, Nine-hole golf course, Large lawn for banquets, Health club, Boat Cruises, Internet Browsing has made this as one of the most popular and sought after hotel of Kochi. For booking you contact at – 0484-2750500/2750600. You can also book online. For online booking just click HERE.

Ramada Resort

Nestled in a picture-perfect locale, amidst an ambience of absolute serenity, Ramada Resort is a haven of leisure set within 8 sprawling acres, beside the picturesque lake of Kumbalam, in the outskirts of Cochin. With 42 centrally air-conditioned accommodation facilities, comprising 24 Lake-facing cottages and 18 deluxe rooms, it is one of the best hotels of Cochin. The Ayurvedic Centre at Ramada Resort provides specialized treatments as well as general rejuvenative therapies, in strict adherence to Ayurvedic principles. For booking, contact at – 0484-3011100. You can also book online by clicking HERE.

Cherai Beach Resort

To experience the unpolluted atmosphere, crystal clear backwaters, beautiful lagoons, long clean golden beach, swaying paddy fields one should visit Cherai Beach Resort. Some of the cottages at this resort are made on individual islands and some are on coconut pillars. There are 20 Modern Villas, both A/C and Non A/C. For booking, contact at – 0484-2481818. To avail online booking, just click HERE.

Hotel Cochin Towers

It is a budget hotel with all necessary modern amenities. For booking, contact at – 0484 2401910.
Star Homes – It is another budget hotel of Kochi. It is a popular accommodation option in Kochi and stands for unstinted comfort and a blissful stay. For booking contact at – 0484-23223051.

Hotel Sea Lord

A real value for money hotel is located at Marine Drive, which is in the heart of the city, facing the backwaters. With 39 centrally air-conditioned beautifully furnished and tastefully decorated rooms and suites, it is a good staying option. For booking, contact at – 0484-324169/2382472/2382473.

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About the Author: Hi! friends, travelling is my passion and my only hobby. High mountains to deep seas, lush green forests to barren deserts, holy places to sites of historical importance, - every beautiful place attracts me the same way. I want everyone to feel the same and so through my writing I intend to take you all to a virtual trip to all those lovely places that I have visited.

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