Kochi is an ancient port city situated in the Southern Indian state of Kerala. The city had been a gateway to India for centuries because of its importance as a global trading hub. The city has always been multiethnic which includes people from diverse cultures ranging from Arabs, British, Chinese, Dutch, and Portuguese. Even today you can experience and see the marks left by these different civilizations.
Kochi Maharajas were the rulers of Kochi with Thripunithura as their capital; Maharajas didn’t involve themselves in day to day operation and it was the Diwans who handled the administrative.
Back in 1947 the Kingdoms of Travancore and Kochi were merged as an effort to unite Malayalam speaking people and later in 1948 Kochi-Travancore joined the newly formed republic of India. The modern day state of Kerala came into existence in 1957.
Kochi enjoys a tropical climate with hot and humid summer but a pleasant weather in winter making it the idle season to travel. Interestingly Kochi, as part of Kerala, is among the first places where the Indian monsoon first makes its entry.
List of Kochi Attractions and Things to do in Kochi
Fort Kochi is where you will be heading when you first arrive Kochi as it remains the numero uno travel attraction of the city. Fort Kochi is an island (actually a peninsula) near the Kochi mainland and there is a regular service service which connects the two. The ferry ticket is fairly cheap and costs 2 rupees for an enjoyable journey of about 45 minutes.
Princess street, albeit very tiny, is the most happening and the central place in the Fort Kochi. The major tourist sites of Fort Kochi are located nearby and can be easily reached by foot. Princess street is mainly known for its heritage buildings reminiscing colonial times.
There are also European styled outdoor eateries and cafes on the street, where you can enjoy a meal and indulge in people watching. While you are there check out the nice gallery where you can just walk in and browse the collection made by the local artists. For people interested in night life there are a few decent bars and pubs as well.
Chinese fishing net
Not really much to see, in the end they are simply fishing nets, but it’s the history behind them which makes it worthwhile to catch a glimpse of them. They were brought to the port city somewhere in the fourteenth century by Chinese traders as a gift from Kubalagi, the Chinese emperor, to then King of Kochi. These nets are located on the Fort Kochi Beach very close to the Vaso de gama square and the princess street.
The folklore museum located in Thevera. in the mainland Kochi, is a true delight for anyone who wants to explore the wonderful Kerala culture. The museum building is entirely made of wood and stone building and has an eye catching architecture.
On display are the items privately collected by the owner Mr. George. Spread over three floors this excellent collection gives you a window in the history and culture of Kerala and Kochi. The items are collected from all over Kerala – North, central and South.
The old artefacts in the collection range from household items such as pottery and utensils; art pieces including sculptures, paintings. You will also see numerous religious artefacts such as masks and sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses. e.g the beautiful stature of Nataraja. For people with interest in armory, there are weapons of several kinds on display. Particularly interesting to observe are the traditional dresses in which the classical dances perform.
Being a private museum the fees is bit on the higher side – 100/- INR for entry and 100/- for Camera. On the entrance the guides dressed up in traditional sari will politely greet every visitor. The diverse collection is sure to keep you busy for hours, so plan your visit accordingly.
Hill Palace Museum
The hill palace museum is located in Thripunithura about 10 km from Ernakulam. The palace was constructed in the year 1865 and was used as an administrative office of Kochi Rajas but later was turned into a museum.
The building is built in beautiful Kerala architecture style. Which I think can be best described as minimalism of old times. Not surprisingly, the building has featured in Malayali films and some Bollywood movies as well.
The hill palace is situated on a hill top and a series of steps lead up to the main gate. The palace is spread across 50 acres. There are total of 49 buildings in the palace complex and a very well landscaped garden.
The museum houses the collection of Maharaja of Kochi and boasts of a large art collection which includes – paintings, stone sculptures and cultural artefacts. Among the collections you’d also the see the furniture which was once used by royalty – and yes, the royal throne. There are coins on display which were once in circulation during the reign of Kochi maharaja.
The collection of antiques is equally impressive with Chinese ceramic vases taking the cake. You’d also find here some of the artefacts from ancient Indus Valley civilization – from sites like Harappa and Mohenjodaro which are in Pakistan today.
On the downside you might feel little lost as there is little or no description provided on many of the items.
Ticket costs: 30/- INR
Timings: Open- Tue-Sun. The museum opens at 9 and closes at 04:30 PM. Also, gets closed in the afternoon between 12.30 PM to 2.00 PM
Princess street is a tiny street in the Fort Kochi known for the European styled architecture that transports back to colonial times. There are a few little café with courtyards and outdoor seating. The one end of the street is interestingly named Loafer’s corner, as the story goes this is where the local boys used to stand watching the girls walk out from the St. Mary’s Anglo Indian school.
At the corner you’ll find a tourist information center, where you can book a kathkali show or a backwater day trip.
Kochi backwater day trip
There are two options for backwater trip – half day and full day. I’d recommend you to take the full day if you have time. The full day backwater trip costs you 800/- and includes lunch. The trip takes you on a ferry ride through large backwater channels and then you visit an island, walking around in the nature. If you are interested, you can drink fresh Toddy or tadi – a local kerala drink made from Sap of coconut palm. Toddy is also known as palm wine and is usually kept for one day before it gets sour.
After the lunch, you’ll be transferred to smaller boat which would go through narrow backwater channels through villages where you can see the people going about their everyday life.
Kathakali Dance in Kochi
For a ticket costing a meager 300 INR you can watch out an intense performance of the Kathakali Dance in Kochi. You can easily get to the Kerala Kathakali Centre located in Fort Kochi, the nearest landmark is the Santa Cruz Basilica.