Kochi, formerly known as Cochin, is called the ''Queen of the Arabian Sea''. Situated on the West Coast of India, in Kerala, it has a wealth of historical associations. Its setting on a cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas perfectly reflects the eclecticism of Kerala. Here you can see the oldest church in India, 500-year-old Portuguese houses, cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, a Jewish community with ancient roots, and even a 16th century synagogue. The older parts of Fort Cochin and Matacherry are an unlikely blend of medieval Portugal, Holland and an English county grafted onto the tropical Malabar Coast - a radical contrast to the bright lights of mainland Ernakulam. Kochi has a fine natural harbour, which throughout its history has made it a centre of trade between India and the rest of the world. Today Kochi is the commercial hub of Kerala. All day, ferries scuttle back and forth between the mainland Ernakulam and the various islands that make up Kochi. If you're lucky you might even see dolphins in the harbour.
Kochi has a domestic airport with flights to Delhi, Mumbai and several cities in South India. The international airport has flights to the Gulf. The airport is 30 kms to the north-east of Kochi.
Kochi and Ernakulam are connected to the rest of India by an extensive railway network. The town has three important railway stations - Kochi Harbour Terminus, Ernakulam Junction and Ernakulam Town.
Three important National Highways connect Kochi to the rest of the country. NH-47 from Kanyakumari to Salem passes through Kochi, while NH-17 to Mumbai and NH-49 to Madurai start here. Private and public transport services connect Kochi to all major cities in South India.
Kochi is blessed with a magnificent all-weather natural port with regular ferry services from Kochi to Kottayam and Alleppey. It is the best mode of transport if you want to view the scenic backwaters of Kerala.
You can use either local buses or auto-rickshaws to get around in Kochi. Be careful when hiring auto-rickshaws - as in most tourist destinations, auto-rickshaw drivers try to rip you off. Taxis charge round-trip fares from island to island, and hiring these are a good idea if you are travelling in a group and intend to do a bit of sight-seeing. You can also use the ferry service to get around Kochi cheaply. Ferries are available to Mattancherry and Fort Kochi. There are two main ferry stations in Ernakulam, one near Ernakulam Junction and the other on Marine Drive.
Situated close to the coast, Kochi has a moderate climate. The South-West monsoon brings heavy showers during June, July and August. The North-East monsoon takes over between September and December, resulting in light showers. The weather remains very pleasant from December to February. The annual rainfall is about 310 cms. In summer the temperature rises to a maximum of 35 degree celsius while in winter it is usually around the 25 degrees mark.
Kerala is known for its exotic fish curries, and coconut based curries. The cuisine is influenced the various cultures that make up Kochi. If you are seafood lover you can even pick from the catch of the day and get it cooked right in front of your eyes! Do try the beef curry and parathas - they are delicious!
|Ramathula hotel||South Indian||Junction of Irimpichi Rd and New Rd|
|Pandhal||Multi-cuisine||M.G. Rd, Ernakulam|
|Sealord||Seafood||Shanmugham Rd, Ernakulam|
|Utsav||Indian||Taj Residency, Marine Drive|
|Chariot Beach||Snacks||Princess Street, Fort Cochin|
|Kashi Art Caf?||Snacks||Burgher Street, Fort Cochin|
|Chinese Jade Pavilion||Chinese & Seafood||Taj Malabar hotel, Willingdon Island|
|Idiom bookshop||Athena Arts, near Synagogue||224028|
|Incy Bella Book shop||Near Synagogue||228049|
Lots of cool cottons and sunglasses. Being next to the sea the sun can get really hot. Swimming gear and sunscreen are essential if you want to soak in the sun on the Kochi beaches. It does rain a lot in the monsoons so carry an umbrella. Plastic and paper money are accepted.
Be prepared to encounter the language barrier, unless you can speak Malayalam. Fortunately, most folks have a basic understanding of English, although you may have to repeat your sentence slowly a few times before you get the desired response. You can hire a KTDC guide for a tour of Fort Kochi. When in Kochi (or anywhere else in Kerala), remember that smoking in public places is prohibited by law.
|Cochin Cultural Centre||Souhardham Manikath Rd||0484-367866|
|Chitram Art Gallery||M.G. Rd|
|Galleria Mareecheka||Chittoor Rd|
|Kashi Art Cafe||Burgher St|
|Draavidia Art and Performance Gallery||Jew Street|
|Kerala Kathakali Centre||River Rd, Fort Kochi||0484-221827, 211197|
Vishu is the Malyalee New Year. It celebrates the start of the rainy season and the sowing of the new paddy crop.
Onam is the most important festival in Kerala. It celebrates the end of the harvest. According to legend it is also the time that King Mahabali who once ruled Kerala comes from exile to visit his beloved people. KTDC celebrates the Onam Tourist Week every year.