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Cochin Travel


Kochi, with the colonial name 'Cochin', is often referred to as the gateway to God's own country, Kerala. This historic city known for its bustling trade is now prominent among the tier-two cities of India.

Vibrant Kochi with breathtaking natural scenery is located in the southwest coast of India, in the state of Kerala. Kochi in fact comprises a cluster of islands. This is perhaps why tourist activities vie with commercial and industrial growth in Kochi. Kochi can be described as the epicenter of multi-cultural festivals and celebrations.


Historical perspective of Kochi

The Arabs, British, Chinese, Dutch and Portuguese have left an indelible mark on the way Kochi evolved and grew. They also promoted a cosmopolitan culture, and Cochin was highly influenced by these historical trading partners.

The enterprising merchants of Cochin began trading in spices such as black pepper and cardamom with the Arabs, Dutch, Phoenicians, Portuguese, Chinese and others more than 600 years ago. Cochin prospered and became the 'gateway of old India'. Significantly, it was from Cochin that colonization of India started by the Portuguese, followed by Dutch and English.


It was the humble writer - Robert Clive(1725-1774), who was working for the East India company at that time, laid the foundation of the British Empire. His brilliant strategy in the Carnatic wars and the battle of Plassey proved to be the turning point in history. European colonial powers established their supremacy and eventually wrested power from the Moguls and other Indian kings.


But it was a Portuguese nobleman, the indomitable and exceptionally brilliant admiral- Afonso de Albuquerque ( 1453-1515) who established the base in India without which Europeans could never have founded any colonies in India. Albuquerque installed the Portuguese colonial empire in India and his exploits have rightfully earned many titles like Lion of the Seas and Caesar of the East. Cochin king requested help from the Portuguese commanded by Albuquerque in 1503. Albuquerque vanquished zamorin of Calicut - the enemies of the Cochin king. The grateful Cochin king allowed Albuquerque to build a fort in Cochin which helped the Portuguese to forge lasting friendship with the rulers of this important coastal kingdom. Albuquerque went on to spread the Portuguese empire on the west coast of India - all the way up to Goa.


It was in 1814 that the Dutch exchanged Kochi to the British for Bangka Island in Indonesia. While the British limited their direct administration to a small enclave of Fort Cochin and British Ernakulam, the rest of the Kochi Kingdom was administered by Kochi Maharajas from their capital at Thripunithara.

Under the Maharajas, culture, art and health and education flourished. It goes to the credit of Sir Robert Bristow, who served as a senior Royal Navy Engineer, to have laid the foundations on which modern Kochi rests. This led to the creation of the largest man made island of the country, the Willingdon Island to house new Kochi Port.

The Kochi Maharajas joined with the Kingdom of Travancore and British Malabar in 1930s and later the Kingdom of Cochin and Travancore merged and joined with the newly formed Indian Union.


Modern Kochi

Cochin has been the commercial capital of Kerala and the seat of the High Court of Kerala since the formation of the state of Kerala in 1957. Cochin is also the seat of the Latin Church of Kerala and has as many as 4 Basilica churches around it. Since then, Cochin has revitalized its economy focusing on tourism, information and technology and the port.

The resplendent seaside Kochi lay between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. A world class port is its main attraction with flourishing national and international trade alike. Kochi also has an airport that links to the major cities world over. Kochi enjoys moderate equatorial climate owing to its nearness to the equator, the sea and the mountains.

What started as a small town Kochi has not outgrown its original bounds and as Cochin now includes a Fort Kochi, Mattanchery, and Ernakulam and many nearby towns and villages.

Ayurveda and Siddha which help prevent and cure body ailments and diseases is one of the best health rejuvenation programme offered by Kerala to refresh the body and mind. Several siddha and Ayurveda centers are found in Kochi.

Kochi's 4000 crore project HDIL Cyber City is coming up in a 70 acre of land at Kalamassery. And located at Kakkanad, the Info Park is one of the major IT parks in India since inception in 2004, including several IT majors.


Kochi and tourism

There are several allusions to the derivation of the word 'Kochi'. While some historians state that Kochi is a modified form of the word 'Cochazhi', which in the native language, Malayalam, stands for 'small sea', yet there are others who state that Kochi is a Chinese term, probably derived from the Chinese ruler 'Kubla Khan's homeland. This connection is further simulated by the presence of fishing nets in Kochi, a strange sight indeed, outside China. Another possibility is Kochi derived its name from 'Koci' which means 'harbor'.


Rated as the top three tourist destinations by the World Travel and Tourism Council and featured in National Geographic Traveler's fifty greatest places of a lifetime, Kochi is arguably the most explorable, with its unfathomable diversity and beauty.


Prominent tourist spots

The Dutch Palace at Mattancherry was built by the Portuguese in 1557. This two storied quadrangular building with a small temple dedicated to Palayannur Bhagwati, has interiors in sharp contrast to the beautiful ceiling and pointed walls. The Central hall has a carved wooden ceiling and the dining halls are ornamented with a series of brass cups. The walls stand decorated with murals and they bring to life scenes from the Hindu mythology such as the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranic stories. These murals have been well preserved over the years. The murals are by far among the best in India. The museum housed in the Palace exhibits a rich collection of regal memorabilia.


St.Francis Church

St Francis church at Fort Cochin is believed to be the oldest European settlement in India. It is also the first European church to be built in India. It owes its origin to the Franciscan Friars who came with the Portuguese expedition in 1500. It was originally built with wood. Later it was rebuilt with stones probably by 1516 and dedicated to Saint Anthony.

When the dutch briefly took over this part in the year 1663 and converted this to a protestant church. In latter part of 19th century, the church was renamed after the patron saint St.Francis. Vasco Da Gama, the first European navigator from Portugal was laid to rest in this church in 1524. Later his remains were removed to Portugal in 1538. The grave stones of the Portuguese and Dutch removed from the floor of the nave have been refixed in on the side walls. The earliest epitaph of the Portuguese dates back to 1562.


The Willingdon Island, which is named after the former Viceroy of India, is connected to the mainland of Ernakulam by road cum railway Venduruthy Bridge. An airport is also positioned along with the ship building yard. You will find the Cochin chamber of commerce and industries positioned here. So is the Government of India Tourist information office in the vicinity of the airport. This island with its hub of activities houses offices, banks and travel agencies and shopping centers.


Mangalavanam mangroves are known for its small bird sanctuary with communally breeding birds. Situated in Ernakulam, these mangroves comprise a shallow tidal lake in the center, edges covered with vegetation and backwaters by a canal. You can find bird species such as the Little Cormorant, Black crowned Night Heron, mostly in the months of May to July.

Chinese Fishing Net

Perhaps this is the 'green lung' of Ernakulam city which is otherwise polluted with industries and motor vehicles.


The Pareekshit Thampuram Museum is situated adjacent to the Shiva temple in the Durbar Hall road in Ernakulam. A discerning visitor can indulge in this Museum housing 19th century paintings and several historic and pre historic monuments. The numismatic gallery boasts of a collection of old coins. Plaster of Paris scriptures and mural painting, belonging to the royal family of Cochin adorn the museum.

Kathakali ranks high among the Indian dance forms. The primordial energy of the masculine gender is well preserved in Kathakali, more than in any other Indian dance forms. Kathakali enthusiasts can check the centers at Kalathiparambil road in Ernakulam and Kannanthodathu lane. Valanjambalam is noted for exotic Kerala Kathakali functions.


The Thattekad bird sanctuary is of the most important bird sanctuaries in South India. A boat cruise from Bhoothathankettu to Thattekkad is an unforgettable experience through the evergreen forests nestling migratory and indigenous birds.


The cradling beauty of Kodanad lying in the Southern bank of Periyar is one of the largest elephant capturing centres of South India till 1977 when it was declared illegal. The elephant kraal and training centre remains intact. Tourists ride the elephants here now and these elephants are specially trained for safari and provided with saddles that are carefully designed to make riding comfortable. There is also a mini zoo at Kodanad sheltering wild animals which have become unfit for survival in the forest.


There is a prosperous Jewish Synagogue in Mattancherry built in 1568. This is the oldest synagogue in India destroyed in a war in 1662 and rebuilt by the Dutch. Don't miss to notice the exquisite hand painted blue willow tiles from China on the floor. The interiors boast of a Belgian chandelier, great scrolls of Old Testament and copper plates recording the privilege made by the Cochin rulers to the Jewish community. There are five finely wrought gold and silver crowns that have been gifted to the synagogue by its patrons. The by-lanes that wind this Jew Town are replete with houses in Dutch, Portuguese and British styles.

With skyscrapers witnessing the vertical growth of this city, shopping malls abound in Kochi with the likes of Oberon Mall and Gold Souk in the pipeline - a delight for the indulgent national and international tourists, offering a range of clothes, jewelry, gold and diamonds and spices and paintings, perfumes to watches and bags and CDs et al.

Kerala cuisine is popular world over and it is a perfect combination of vegetables, meat and seafood soaked in spices and coconuts, a delectable gastronomic delight. Popular Kerala cuisine includes appam, idling, dosa, puttu, and kappa. Lunch is normally a thali meal containing rice, sambhar, avail, rasam, dhal, fish curry, thoren, Kaalan, pachadi and payasam.

Cochin Travel
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Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary - Jagaru Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

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Kudremukh Kudremukh - Face of a Horse overlooking the Arabian Sea

Santa Cruz Basilica Cochin Santa Cruz Basilica Cochin - 500 year old Basilica near the Arabian sea

Basilica of Our Lady of Dolours Basilica of Our Lady of Dolours - Tallest Church in Asia and the biggest Church in India

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Velankanni Basilica Velankanni Basilica - Lady of Health Shrine near the Bay of Bengal

Our Lady of Ports Cathedral Ernakulam Our Lady of Ports Cathedral Ernakulam - Cochin boasts of 4 Basilicas

St. George Basilica Angamaly St. George Basilica Angamaly - Basilica for a Roman Soldier who slayed Dragons

St. Mary  Queen of Peace Basilica Trivandrum St. Mary Queen of Peace Basilica Trivandrum - Syrian Malankara Church

Holy Redeemer Basilica Trichi Holy Redeemer Basilica Trichi - Mother of Perpetual Help

Poondi Madha Basilica Poondi Madha Basilica - Lady of Lourdes

St. Mary's Basilica Bangalore St. Mary's Basilica Bangalore - Miraculous statue of Our Lady

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Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption - St.Mary's Church

Divine Retreat Center Chalakudy Divine Retreat Center Chalakudy - Potta Ashram

Church of Our Lady of Angels Church of Our Lady of Angels - 400 year old Church

Basilica of Our Lady of Snows Pallippuram Basilica of Our Lady of Snows Pallippuram - 500 year old Basilica

St.Lawrence Basilica in Attur St.Lawrence Basilica in Attur - Miracles in Attur

Maria Bambina Church, Kangeyam Maria Bambina Church - Marian Devotion

Infant Jesus Shrine Infant Jesus Shrine - Roman Catholic Shrine in India

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Kodachadri Hills Kodachadri Hills - Mountain Peak in Shimoga

Kabini Resort Kabini Resort - Forest retreat a few hours from Bangalore and Mysore.

Kemmanagundi Kemmanagundi - Undulating meadows, gurgling brooks, rolling mist

Hampi Hampi - Evokes visions of poetry in stone

Mangalore Mangalore - A triangular city with a summit to the South.

Mysore Palace Mysore Palace - City basking in the glory of past Kings

Hyderabad Travel Hyderabad Travel - City of Nizams

Vishakapatnam Vishakapatnam - Serene lakes, Cool beaches

Golconda Fort Golconda Fort - Military Architecture

Charminar Charminar - Qutb Shahi Dynasty

Kodaikanal, Kodaikanal Tour, Kodaikanal Hotel Kodaikanal - South India's better known hill stations

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Alappuzha, Alleppey, Alleppey Boat races, Alappuzha Backwaters Alappuzha - Palm fringed canals, lazy lagoons and water locked towns.

Kumarakom Backwaters Kumarakom Backwaters - Idllyic relaxed backwater setting

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Munnar Munnar - Emerald green tea estates.

Silent Valley Silent Valley - Sairandhrivanam, meaning forest in the valley.

Wayanad wildlife sanctuary Wayanad wildlife sanctuary - Holiday Resorts, Ayurvedic Rejuvenation centers and more.

Poovar Island Poovar Island - Holiday in Poovar

Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary - Highest peak in Karnataka

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Belur Hoysala Temples Belur Hoysala Temples - Poetry in Stone

Chola Temples Chola Temples - Revisit the past glory of the mighty Cholas

Madurai Meenakshi Temple Madurai Meenakshi Temple - One of the Biggest temples

Tirupati temple Tirupati temple - Lord of the 7 Hills

Rameshwaram Temple Rameshwaram Temple - Sethu Yathra

Swamimalai Temple Swamimalai Temple - The Son who taught his Father

Guruvayur Temple Guruvayur Temple - Bhuloka Vaikunta

Sabarimala Temple Sabarimala Temple - Makara Jyothi

Padmanabha swamy Temple Padmanabha swamy Temple - Ananthasayanam

Thiruvannamalai temple Thiruvannamalai temple - Padal PetraSthalam

Saradamba Temple Sringeri Saradamba Temple Sringeri - Sringeri Temples

Ranganatha Swami Temple Ranganatha Swami Temple - Largest Temple in the World

Udupi Krishna Temple Udupi Krishna Temple - Kanakanakindi

Vaitheeswaran Koil Vaitheeswaran Koil - Prime center for naadi shastra

Sripuram Golden Temple Sripuram Golden Temple - Temple of Gold

Srikalahasti Temple Srikalahasti Temple - Kailas of the South

Kanchipuram Temple Kanchipuram Temple - Ancient Pallava built Temple

Palani Temple Palani Temple - Temple dedicated to Tamil God

Thiruchendur Murugan Temple Thiruchendur Murugan Temple - Part of the 6 Abodes of Murugan


Cochin Travel