By Deeplina Pattanaik
A cluster of spread out islands separated by the sea and backwaters, Kochi is a culturally and historically rich city. Previously known as Cochin, this age-old port town is an embodiment of old-world charm and historic beauty. If you’re looking to explore Kerala, then Kochi is the perfect place to start. Nestled between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats, Kochi is the place to be in if you’re looking for a well-rounded holiday experience with a great balance of history, beauty, adventure and relaxation.
There is a 6-month period which is ideal for making the most of your trip to Kochi, namely between October to April.
Fondly known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Kochi has a glorious history, influenced and shaped through time by major foreign powers like the Arabs, the Portuguese and the Dutch. This port city has a lot of different cultural influences and the Kochi tourism industry makes sure you experience all of it with its well maintained and accessible points of interest. So here is a list 11 places to visit in Kochi.
1. Fort Kochi
Situated to the south-west of Kochi is Fort Kochi or Old Kochi was even known as West Kochi. This place was a small fishing village in pre-colonial times and was a part of the Kingdom of Kochi.
The story of Fort Kochi is that the Rajah at that time presented it to the Portuguese as a token of gratitude for their help in warding off an attack on the kingdom. The Portuguese built a fort there which gave the city its name. It remained under the Portuguese influence for 160 years till the Dutch established their rule in 1683. After which the city continued to stay under the Dutch for 112 years. Till their rule ended with Indian Independence. Fort Kochi in itself has a number of places to visit that one shouldn’t miss. Fort Kochi is petty expansive and a good way to explore it to the fullest is getting yourself booked with a tourist guide inclusive tour package. There are some great options like the Highlights of Kochi Heritage – Walking Tour and A Sightseeing Tour of Fort Kochi & its Heritage.
2. Kodanad Elephant Training Centre
Situated on the bank of the River Periyar, 42 km away from Kochi, is the quaint riverside village of Kodanad. Apart from its scenic beauty and lush greenery what makes it different from the other villages is that once upon a time, Kodanad was one of the largest elephant training centres for captured elephants. These majestic animals were trained by skilled mahouts but with the Ban on the capture of elephants the training centre has now been converted into a rescue centre. This ecotourism spot offers elephant rides, boat rides and the famous Thattekad wildlife sanctuary.
3. Chinese Fishing Nets
Your visit to Kochi is incomplete if you haven’t visited this Kochi Point of interest which has become a symbol of sorts for this ancient port city. The Chinese Fishing Nets are these huge incredible awe-inspiring fishing nets. This is also the most visited and popular place in Kochi. Just around dusk, you’ll find photography enthusiasts lined up trying to capture the setting sun amidst these beautiful nets.
These fishing nets have been in use for almost 500 years now. What sets them apart is their sophisticated way ahead of time design that it was built in. They are horizontal and are held out by huge mechanical contrivances. Each net contraption is at least 10m high and requires half a dozen fishermen to operate. It is said that the Chinese fishing nets were brought in by the Portuguese Casado settlers from Macau.
4. Cherai Beach
One of the gorgeous beaches in Kerala also among the most popular places to visit in Cochin, Cherai Beach is a treat for all the beach lovers. It is situated near Vypin Island and stretches for a whopping 10 kilometres.
The powder gold sand and clear water of the Cherai Beach will make you want to stay and not leave this prime Kochi point of interest. If you plan on visiting this seashore try and go at such a time so that you can catch either the sunrise or the sunset. And if you’re lucky you’ll see a dolphin prancing about in the water.
5. Backwaters of Kochi
The Backwaters of Kerala are famous for its Scenic beauty and out of the world experience. People from all over the world come to experience this joyous Kochi point of interest. The Backwaters of Kochi definitely live up to the reputation. Because of Kochi is a cluster of islands, it has some of the best and most beautiful Backwater villages. Here are some great options if you were to decide to explore the backwaters: The Way of the Village Folk – Backwaters of Kerala and Village Backwater Tour.
6. Princess Street
Smack dab in the middle of Kochi is one of the oldest areas in Kochi, Princess Street was sometimes known as Loafers corner. It is the one place you can see the traditional old day charm and modernity come together in unison. You can evidently see the colonial influence here. Both sides of the street are epitomes of European Architecture with buildings and homes built in Dutch, Portuguese and mainly British styles. You can easily explore the area on foot and enjoy the street shopping, local cuisine, quaint cafés, handicrafts stores etc. If you want to shop for souvenirs and local artefacts to take home this is the place for you.
7. Scuba Cochin
Scuba Cochin was the first dive centre in South India to be an authorized PADI Dive Centre. If you are an adrenaline junkie and an ardent swimmer this is the Kochi Point of interest for you. They offer several PADI certified courses and have daily dive trips. Scuba Cochin also conducts Snorkeling and Kayaking sessions.
8. Kerala Kathakali Centre
Kathakali is one of the most popular traditional art forms of Kerala and also the oldest theatre forms of our country. It beautifully ties together all cultural aspects of literature, music, painting, acting and dance in one performance.
The Kerala Kathakali Centre was established in 1990 to encourage classical art forms. The Kerala Kathakali Centre has a variety of traditional art forms and courses to offer making it an important place to visit in Cochin. The ancient traditional martial arts form of Kerala called the Kalaripayattu is also performed here. The Kerala Kathakali Centre organizes Kathakali performances, and other performances every day many of which are recognized by the UNESCO.
9. Mattancherry Palace
The Portuguese weren’t completely ignorant of the Rajah’s Generosity when he gave them Fort Kochi. They gifted the Rajah of Cochin the beautiful Mattancherry Palace in 1555 to appease the king after they looted a nearby temple. When the Dutch came in they made several changes to the palace and it came to be known as the Dutch palace then.
The Palace houses some of the most beautiful murals depicting Hindu temple art, portraits of the Kochi kings, and other artefacts. The unique amalgamation of European and traditional south Indian makes it one of the best places to visit in Kochi if you’re an art and history enthusiast. The palace has a courtyard with a small temple dedicated to the protective goddess of the Cochin Royal Family.
10. Marine Drive
Marine Drive is a beautiful water face promenade in Kochi with the backwaters on one side. Though it’s called the Marine Drive, it doesn’t allow vehicles. It is also popular a shopping area in Kochi and a number of shopping malls are situated in this area. The Marine Drive is a prime tourist place in Kochi and attracts a lot of tourists. Its highlight is the sunrise and sunset you can witness from here.
11. Athirapally Falls and Vazhachal Falls
On the River Chalakudy, is the majestic 24-meter Athirapally Falls also known as the Niagara Falls of India. The Vazhachal Falls is also very close to the Athirapally Falls. The area around the falls is rich in flora and fauna. And the untouched wilderness is sure to captivate your mind.
Kochi is the kind of holiday destination that makes you wish you could pause time and never leave. It will always leave you wanting for more!