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Cochin

General Information
Cochin Cochin has now been renamed Kochi . Kochi comprises 10 islands in the midst of the Arabian Sea and the-backwaters. Vembanad Lake also meets the sea at Kochi . Kochi is the beauty spot of Kerala. On the Malabar Coast Dutch, Portuguese and British architecture find their best expressions in the construction of Kochi port. Kochi emerged in the floods of 1341. In 1405 the Mujiris settled here coming from Kodangalur 50 km north. The town came up quite fast. The Arabs, Jews and the Christians also came from West Asia to settle at Kochi. The place came to be known as Kocchazh (means new) and later Cochin . People of all religions-be they Hindus, Muslims, Jews or Christians-live here side by side. Kochi is the second most important port in West India after Mumbai. Ships from foreign countries are found in the berths at Kochi port.

Kochi is divided into three parts. Dredging had been done in 1920 to get a draught of 11 metres at the port. The soil thus removed was used by British sculptor Lord Willingdon to build the Willingdon Island . The southern fleet of the Indian Navy, Airport, Railways and Government of India's tourist office are based at Willingdon. On the other side of the island is the main commercial town of Ernakulam . It is connected with the rest of the country by roadways and railways. It is the place for markets, State Tourism office, hotels, etc. On the outer side of the coast stands the once museum town of Fort Kochi . Willingdon, Bolaghati and Gundudwip in fact fall in the orbit of the port. Fort Kochi or Mattancherry is located in the subisland on the west side. Opposite to this is Bapeen Island . The Portuguese built a fort in 1503. The place can be reached in half an hour by bus, autorickshaw or by taxi. Some 18 km off Bapeen is the calm, quiet and beautiful place of Cherai Beach , good for swimming. Dolphins are found here. Ferry launches from Ernakulam go from island to island. The islands are connected by beautifully curved bridges because of which Ernakulam, Willingdon and Mattancherry ( Kochi ) have a roadway of 12 km. There is an avenue of coconut trees on both sides. Buses. taxis and autorickshaws ply along the road. The illuminated port town is a beautiful sight in the night. There are sellers on roads with wrist watches. Cameras and other foreign made items. But it will be advisable to do the shopping in Ernakulam at the shops of M G Road. Among these are Kerala State Handicrafts Development Corporation showroom Kairali, Saurabhi Emporium of Handicrafts Society-both in the Pallimukhu area of M G Road, opposite to each others. Khadi Gramodyag Bhawan is also an ideal place for shopping.

Though Kochi is an old town, it was the British who actually founded Fort Cochi . The fort which the Portuguese built in 1503 has been destroyed. The houses built by the wealthy British people charm the people. Much earlier, Kochi had trading relations with the outside world. Christopher Columbus made his discovery while he sailed in search of the land which is Kerala. Coir, rubber, spices and sea fish were exported from Kochi . China also set up trading centres at Kochi during the reign of Kublai Khan. That link exists till today. The fishermen's net was actually created by the Chinese. The cantiliver type Chinese net is called Cheena Vala, being used since the 14th century. These are seen on the northern coast near the bus stand. These fishermen use Chinese type hats also. Even the temples carry the styles of pagodas of China . At Fort Kochi there are bus stands, jetties and hotels.

How to reach Cochin
By Air : 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 (Abu Dhabi, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Jeddah, Muscat, and Riyadh) by direct international flights.

By Rail: Kochi (and Ernakulam) are 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.

By Road: 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.

Sea/Backwaters Kochi has a magnificent all weather natural port that is used regulary by large cargo ships. Regular boat service to places like Kottayam, Kumarakom and Alleppey are available through the scenic backwaters of Kerala. The outlying islands that make up Cochin, like Vypeen, Mattancherry, Bolghatty, etc are connected to the mainland by regular public and private boats plying from the main boat jetty off Park Avenue and from the boat jetty near the High Court. Many cruises ships also currently berth and the Ernakulam Wharf, which is part of the Cochin Port located on Willingdon island.

Climate
Cochin is a seaside town just 10 degrees north of the equator. Hence, it is a moderately hot and humid place round the year. Heavy showers with thunder and lightning are experienced between June-September due to the south-west monsoon. The north-west monsoon brings light rainfall during October-December. December to February is comparatively cooler than the rest of the year. The average annual rainfaill is about 350cm, most of which is contributed by the south-west monsoon. During the summer, March-June, the temperature hits a usual high of 35°C (95°F) while the mild winter high is 25°C (77°F). The tempeature range is usually 20°C-35°C (68°F-95°F).

Places Of Interest
Chinese Fishing Nets, Fort Kochi
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
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 Kochi
St. Francis Church, Fort Kochi 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
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.

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.

Hill Palace, Tripunithura
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 splendour of the Rajas of Kochi, including the thone and the crown. The musuem also houses a large collection of archaeological findings. Hill Palace is located 16km east of Cochin in Tripunithura, a satellite town of Cochin.

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.

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.

Cherai Beach
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.

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.

Veega Land
Veega Land 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.

Marine Drive
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.

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.

Willingdon Island
Willingdon Island 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.

Shopping
Shopping Cochin is the second most important and commercialized city of Kerala. Shopping in Cochin shouldn't be a problem as there are many popular shopping areas in this place. Though the concept of malls is relatively new in Cochin, you will find all branded names in terms of clothes in Cochin. So read on further and know what to buy in Kochi.

The most important commercial center in Cochin is at the M.G road, which is short for Mahatma Gandhi road. Here, you can buy stuff ranging from clothes to cosmetics to knick-knacks. Some of the most popular brands that you will find here are Allen Solly, Louise Philippe, Bennetton, Arrow, etc. The road is lined with small and big shops and many glittering malls. The most popular items that are bought by tourists are handicrafts, spices and nuts. In handicrafts, the most commonly used raw materials are coir, brass, copper, bamboo, etc. MG road is famous for its jewelry showrooms and the most popular ones are Bhima, Josco and Alukka jewelers.

One can get an amazing collection of readymade items on the Marine Drive road. There are many duty-free shops on this road that sell items like cell phones and other electronic items at reasonable prices. There are many fast food joints and cafes on the roadside and one can always stop there to munch on some eatables while on your shopping spree. Another popular area for shopping is the Broadway road. The area is characterized by narrow roads, quite ironical to its name! One can buy varieties of clothes and spices here. So get set and indulge in the guiltiest pleasure of all!

Eating Out
Eating Out Cochin cuisines comprise an impressive assortment of mouth-watering vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies, having a distinct taste and flavor. And there are many good restaurants in Kochi serving these. Try out 'pachadi', 'thoran' or 'kaalan', while eating out in Cochin. As bananas are found in abundance here, it happens to be a very crucial ingredient in the majority of Cochin cuisines. Kallappams or Vellayappams are traditional rice flour pancakes eaten during meals in Cochin.

Being a port city, Cochin also offers a variety of rich non-vegetarian cuisine comprising of an impressive range of seafood delights like 'Meen vevichathu'. There's also a host of dishes made of chicken, lamb and fish. The rich base of coconut makes Cochin cuisine very delicious and gives it a special flavor of its own. Apart from these, there are also many fast food eating joints in Kochi like Pizza Hut, Chic King, Hot Breads et al. Or you can also try out the multi cuisine restaurants, where they also serve continental, Thai and Chinese.

Kochi Restaurants
Some regular restaurants serving local dishes are:
  • Sri Krishna Cafe (Gujerati road, Mattanchery) They serve amazing Stuffed Parotta & Vegetable Masala Dosa.
  • Sri Krishna Cafe (Gujerati road, Mattanchery)Art Café Here, you get really delicious Banana and Chocolate cakes. The coffee served at the café is also pretty good.
  • Arya Bhavan) All kinds of basic Tamil food is served here
  • Palms Restaurant (Metropolitan) It is bit expensive, but the menu includes really authentic and sumptuous local cuisine.
  • Some other good restaurants in Kochi are Salt N Pepper, Solar Café, Fort House Restaurant and Kashi Art Café.
Eat at multi-cuisine restaurants in Kochi like:
  • Pandhal on MG road is a family restaurant. They also have an attached pastry counter.
  • Renaissance on MG road offers Continental, Chinese and Thai food, apart from Indian dishes.
  • Tharavad is located on Willingdon Island. This is Casino hotel's coffee shop and a variety of cuisines are available here throughout the day.
Nightlife
The city awakens after the dusk. The nightlife in Cochin, Kerala is much dimmer than other South Indian cities like Bangalore and other cities of the country. However, it is also very gorgeous due to its distinctive cultural features. If you are interested in knowing the culture of Cochin then you will not be disappointed. In fact, the nightlife of Cochin is based on Kathakali performance or a Kalaripayattu demonstration. However, those who are interested in going to nightclubs or pubs, you will also have choices.

Kathakali is Kerala's most colorful and popular art form. The performance depicts the world of demons, deities, soldiers, sagas and satires of Mahabharata. The Kathakali performance was first started during 16th century under the endorsement of Raja Kottaraka. You will enjoy this ethnic dance form because of its gorgeous costumes and make up. The performer wears heavy colorful costume, a huge mask, and heavy jewelleries while performing. Performer utilizes exaggerated expressions with a rhythm of music. Performances are normally held in the evening. In Fort Cochin, Kathakali performances take place.

A good venue for the meals is Old Port Restaurant alongside the theatre. Another important Kathakali venue is Cochin Cultural Centre. Its show timing starts from 6.30p.m. At Draavidia Art and Performance Gallery the Kathakali performances are held.

Other than Kathakali and other cultural performances, there are nightclubs, bars and pubs to make your night interesting. You can spend some cozy time in bars and pubs in Cochin. Nevertheless, they are very few in number. Name of some bars and pubs are:
  • Jules Bar in Le Meridien Hotel
  • Bar in Casino Hotel
  • Bar in Grand Hotel
  • Bar of Taj Malabar, Cochin
  • Bar of Gokulam Park Inn, Cochin
  • Bar of Hotel Abad plaza, Cochin
All the five-star and four-star hotels have their own pubs and bars. They have disco facilities in their hotels so that you can shake a leg at night to enjoy. Exciting music, nice dance and Good DJ will take you to another world.

Hurry! Pack your bags to head to Kerala to experience the Nightlife in Cochin including various attractions of Kerala.
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