Kochi travel guide – kochi tourist places
Kochi (Ernakulam) (colonial name Cochin) is a vibrant city situated on the breathtakingly scenic south-west coast of the Indian peninsula in the Kerala. This lovely seaside city is flanked by the Western Ghats on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. Its proximity to the equator, the sea and the mountains provide a rich experience of a moderate equatorial climate.
Cochin is also referred to as the Gateway to Kerala as Kochi is the ideal starting point for exploring the beauty of Kerala, rated in the top three tourist destinations
Things to Do in Kochi
The backwaters separating Ernakulam from Fort Kochi and Mattanchery are dotted with many small and mid-sized islands. A boat ride through the backwaters is an unforgettable experience.
See India Foundation (Kalathiparambil Road, near the Ernakulam Junction railway station), The Cochin Cultural Centre (Manikath Road, behind Medical Trust Hospital) and Art Kerala (Kannanthodathu Lane, near Valanjambalam Temple) organises Kathakali performances every evening. Kathakali is a traditional dance form of Kerala and the impressive facial expressions, hand gestures and dance moves will leave one spellbound.
Tourist Spots in Cochin
Chinese Fishing Nets, Fort Kochi
The Chinese fishing nets (Cheenavala) are distinctly unique to Cochin. It is believed that traders from the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan introduced these nets here. Oddly, these nets are found only in Kochi, outside China! Many fishermen earn their livelihood by fishing using these massive nets. A whole stretch of the coast along Fort Kochi and Vypeen are dotted with these nets.
Fort Kochi Beach
A stroll along the beach, particularly at sunset with the Chinese fishing nets and sailing ships in the background, is a memorable experience. Many European style bungalows can be seen along the shoreline. The coastal stretch has loads of small stalls, which make on demand mouth-watering traditional cuisines using freshly caught fish.
St. Francis Church, Fort Cochin
It is the oldest church built by Europeans in India. On his 3rd visit to Kerala, Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese trader who reached India from Europe by sea, fell ill and died in Kochi. He was buried in the St. Francis Church. Later his remains were taken back to Portugal. In spite of that, his burial spot inside the church has been clearly marked out.
Vasco House, Fort Kochi
Vasco house, located on Rose Street, is believed to be one of the oldest Portuguese houses in India. Vasco da Gama is believed to have lived here. This house features European glass paned windows and verandahs.
Santa Cruz Basilica, Fort Kochi
The original church, situated in Fort Kochi, was built by the Portuguese in 1505 and named as a cathedral in 1558. The British colonists destroyed the cathedral in 1795. The current structure was built in 1905 and raised to the status of a basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1984.
Jewish Synagogue and Jew Town, Mattancherry
The synagogue, built in 1568, is magnificently decorated by Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers. Giant scrolls of the Old Testament can be found here. It is located near the Dutch Palace in Mattancherry.
Dutch Palace (Mattancherry Palace), Mattancherry
The Dutch Palace was originally built by the Portuguese. Later, in 17th century, the Dutch modified it and presented it to the Raja of Kochi. Coronation of many Rajas of Kochi were held here. The palace has a fine collection of mural paintings depicting scenes from the Hindu epics Mahabharatha and Ramayana. The palace is located in Mattancherry.
Bolghatty Palace, Bolghatty Island
This Dutch palace is situated on Bolghatty island which is just a short boat ride away from the mainland. The palace has been converted to a hotel run by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC). The island has a tiny golf course and the panoramic views of the port and the harbour, makes it an attractive picnic spot. Frequent boat service is available from the mainland.
Hill Palace, Tripunithura
Built in the 19th century by the Raja of Kochi, this palace served as the seat of the Raja of the Kochi province. The palace has been converted into a museum displaying a fine collection of articles showing the wealth and splendor of the Rajas of Kochi, including the thone and the crown. The museum also houses a large collection of archaeological findings. Hill Palace is located 16km east of Cochin in Tripunithura, a satellite town of Cochin.
Palliport (Pallipuram) Fort
It is the oldest surviving European fort in India, built by the Portuguese in 1503. Its situated in Pallipuram on Vypeen island.
Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary
Mangalavanam is a protected bird sanctuary situated right in the heart of Kochi city. It is the home of many exotic and rare varieties of migratory and resident birds. Mangalavanam is located right next to the High Court of Kerala.
Museum of Kerala History, Kalamassery
The museum has on display spectacular audio-visual exhibits depicting the history and culture of Kerala along with many life size statues of many famous personalities and several paintings depicting Kerala history.
Parikshith Thampuran Museum
This Rajas of Cochin used to conduct their durbars in this impressive building located within the Durbar Hall grounds. It was later converted to a museum which has a treasure trove of archaeological findings and relics including old coins, sculptures, oil paintings and murals. The building has been taken over by the Kerala Lalitha Kala Academy and now houses the Gallery of Contemporary Art. All the exhibits of the museum have been moved to the Hill Palace museum.
This lovely beach ideal for swimming is located on the north end of Vypeen island, one of the many small islands just off the mainland. The beach is lined by gorgeous coconut groves and paddy fields. Vypeen can be reached by land or by boat.
Veega Land is South India’s largest amusement park situated 14kms from Cochin. The park includes a range of attractions including mini castles, water theme park, ferris wheel, rides, slides, shows and fountains. Kids and adults alike can enjoy the fun and activities.
A stroll along the long tree-lined coastal pathway that lines the backwater is well worth the time spent, especially late afternoon or dusk. The bustling backwaters, dotted with fishing boats, speedboats, ships, tankers and passenger boats, can be observed from this walkway that lines the coast.
This man-made island was created in 1933 by sand dredged while deepening the backwaters for the Cochin Port, under the direction of Sir Robert Bristow. A while back the Airport, Sea port and the railway terminus (Cochin Harbour Terminus) were situated on this island. Today, it is the home of the Cochin Port and the headquarters of the Sourthern Naval Command. The airport continues to be the naval air station, while the main airport has been moved to Nedumbassery, 30kms north-east of Cochin. Most of the trains now terminate at Ernakulam Junction instead of Cochin Harbour Terminus.
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kaloor
The Nehru stadium in Kaloor, has a seating capacity of 60,000 in multiple tiers. It is the fourth largest stadium in India and the largest in Kerala. The ground is lit by a set of unique convex pylon floodlights that arch over the ground. The stadium is home to both the Kerala Ranji cricket team as well as FC Kochi football team.
Tourist Spots Near Kochi ( Cochin)
Situated 63 kms south of Cochin along the coast, Alleppey is connected to Kochi by rail and road. It is called the Venice of the East due to the extensive canal network here. Every year the famous snake boat race is held here.
Cheruthuruthy is about 110 kms away from Kochi. It is the base of the Kerala Kalamandalam-the world famous art and dance academy where training in various traditional forms like Kathakali, Mohiniyattam etc are imparted.
Situated 48 kms north-east of Kochi, on the banks of river Periyar (Poorna). Kalady is the birthplace of Sri Adi Sankaracharya, the monotheist Hindu philosopher. He lived in the 8th century AD and died at the early age of 32 years. He traveled throughout India, on foot, debating with scholars and spreading his theory of Advaita or monotheism. The Adi Sankara shrine and the 8-storey painted Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthambam (see picture) are a must-see for any visitor here.
Kodanad is 30 kms north-east of Kochi situated on the lower ranges of the Western Ghats on the banks of river Periyar. The wildlife reserve is famous for the elephants and the largest elephant training centre is situated here. The reserve also features a mini zoo. Kodanad is close to St. Thomas church in Malayatoor.
Kodungalloor is 35 kms north of Kochi. The world famous port here was destroyed by a flood which led to the formation of Kochi harbour. St. Thomas, the apostle, is believed to have landed here in 52 AD. Cheraman mosque, the first mosque in India, built in the form of a Hindu temple, is situated here.
About 140 kms on NH49, Munnar is a hill resort ideal for a relaxing holiday away from the tropical lowlands. The tea gardens and cardamom plantations give Munnar a beautiful look. Anai Mudi, the highest peak in South India is in these hills. The Munnar – Kodaikanal (another hill resort) road is believed to be the steepest road in South-East Asia.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thekkady
Elephants, bisons, antelopes, samburs, monkeys and bears can be found in their natural habitat in this world famous wild life sanctuary, situated 190kms east of Cochin. A boat ride through the man-made lake in the heart of the sanctuary provides a unique opportunity to observe these animals in their natural surroundings.
Thattekad Bird Sanctuary
Thattekad bird sanctuary is located 60kms east of Cochin near Kothamangalam. Thattekad is located on the northern bank of river Periyar is a tropical evergreen forest in the foothills of the Wester Ghats. Spread over 25 sq kms, this bird sanctuary was once regarded as the richest bird habitat in peninsular India. In spite of recent developments and deforestation, this sanctuary is still home to a large number of rare and exotic bird species.
Cochin/Kochi (Airport Code: COK) has a world-class modern international airport, located 30kms north-east of the city, with regular flights to major cities in India. Cochin is also connected to Singapore, Colombo and all major cities in the middle-east by direct international flights. All Major Airlines operating from Cochin, it makes Cochin the fifth busiest airport in India.
Kochi (and Ernakulam) is connected to the rest of India by an extensive network of rails.There are three main railway stations in Cochin: Ernakulam Junction (main station), Ernakulam Town and Cochin Harbour Terminus. Many important trains start from here and many others from/to the south of kerala stop at these stations.
An extensive network of national/state highways and local roads link Kochi to rest of the country. Three important National Highways(NH) pass through/start from Kochi, apart from many state roads. NH 47 from Kanyakumari to Salem pass right through the heart of Kochi while NH 17 to Mumbai and NH 49 to Madurai (in Tamil Nadu) starts from Kochi. Private and public transport services are available to/from all major cities of South India from here.
Long distance coach tickets to Mumbai (Bombay), Chennai (Madras), Bangalore, Coimbatore, etc. can be purchased from private coach operators operating from Jos Junction in the heart of the city.