Kochi Travel Guide
Historically a spice trading city on the Arabian Sea, Kochi now trades in tourism.
Thanks to its proximity to the Backwaters of Kerala, this place is a hub for travellers in Southern India.
Before you sail away, though, check out the temples, museums, and other attractions this city has to offer.
Come check out our Kochi travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Kochi, India.
Start your cultural tour of Kochi by making a trip out to the Chottanikkara Temple. Dating back some 1,500 years, this hall of worship is one of most visited Hindu temples in Kerala. Devotees built it in honour of Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity.
The origin story of this temple is an interesting one. According to local legend, a tribesman regularly sacrificed calves to honour the God Kali. One day, however, his daughter died of a snakebite. He consulted a priest, who told him that he lost his daughter as punishment for the calves he killed.
He spared one calf, as his daughter wanted it as a pet. When he went to find the calf, something had left two stones in its place. The priest said these were sacred stones, embodying Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. He was to pray before them every day for forgiveness and atonement.
Centuries went by, and locals forgot about the stones. However, one day, a traveller stopped to sharpen their knife on one of the rocks. When it bled, they got a priest to investigate the matter. They were proclaimed to be divine. Shortly after that, locals built a temple on the site.
Chottanikkara Temple itself is built in the Dravidian-style and attracts many pilgrims. They come from across all over India to seek Lakshmi’s blessing not just for wealth, but for relief from mental illnesses. Rituals are held daily, with more prominent ceremonies held almost every month. Ask local tourism authorities if one is happening during your visit to Kochi.
Thanks to the mission work of Saint Thomas the Apostle, Southern India has a respectable population of Christians. While in Kochi, don’t miss your chance to check out St. George’s Forane Church. According to local historians, a church has been on this spot since the 5th century AD.
However, the current structure dates back to the 11th century AD. While it is a Roman Catholic church, it has an Indian flair to its construction, with its arches and roof diverging from what you’d see in European structures.
This institution mostly follows Christian precepts, but it also has traditions that incorporate local culture. Visitors regularly bring offerings that have included eggs, chickens, and gold. In the past, luminaries like Mother Theresa and Pope John Paul II have visited – be sure to do the same when in Kochi.
Practitioners of Judaism have called Kochi home in the past. Pay tribute to their heritage by checking out this city’s Jew Town. Once home to thousands of Jews, only 26 remain today. They trace their origins to a group that fled Jerusalem after the destruction of the Second Temple. Arriving by ship, they evolved separately from other Jewish populations, creating unique characteristics and traditions.
Today, it is famous for having the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth, and a series of shops. Linger, walk its atmospheric streets, and try and put yourself here during its heyday.
Get up to speed on the cultural traditions of Kochi by visiting the Kerala Folklore Museum. This institution boasts three floors – each boasting architecture unique to Kerala. From Malabar to colonial Portuguese, its appearance is reason enough to visit.
In its galleries, you’ll find artifacts that include statues, sculptures, masks, plates, jewellery, and so much more.
Take in live performance art common to the Kochi area at the Kerala Kathakali Centre. Classical music and dance are on the daily schedule, making for an entertaining spectacle. Additionally, this centre offers regular yoga and meditation sessions – ask reception for details.
Looking for something to do during the evening hours? Take a stroll down Marine Drive. Despite its name, it is a pedestrian mall facing the backwaters of Kerala. This two-kilometre passage boasts condo towers, cafes, fast-food restaurants, and other attractions.
On evenings and weekends, locals pack this promenade. As such, those looking to get in some people watching shouldn’t miss this place.
Are you travelling as a family in the Kochi area? If so, give your kids a break from the punishing heat by spending a day at Wonderla Amusement Park. This attraction has two sides – one is an amusement park filled with the latest rides. The other is a water park, which boasts cool slides, a lazy river, and a wave pool.
If you’d rather engage in retail therapy as the sun blazes outside, drop by the Lulu International Shopping Mall. With over 1.7 million square feet dedicated to shops, it is the largest mall in India. After shopping, its multiplex, massive food court, amusements, and ice rink will finish you off for the day.