Welcome to Kochi, a vibrant city located on the southwest coast of India in the state of Kerala. Steeped in history and culture, Kochi is a melting pot of influences, offering a delightful blend of colonial charm, scenic beauty, and a thriving cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Kochi, also known as Cochin, has been a significant port city for centuries, attracting traders and explorers from around the world. Its strategic location on the Arabian Sea has made it a hub for trade and cultural exchange since ancient times.
As you explore Kochi, you’ll be captivated by its diverse attractions. The city showcases a harmonious blend of Indian, European, and Arabian influences, evident in its architecture, cuisine, and way of life.
One of the highlights of Kochi is its historic district, Fort Kochi. This charming neighborhood is known for its well-preserved colonial-era buildings, narrow streets, and vibrant art scene. Stroll along the famous Fort Kochi Beach, lined with Chinese fishing nets that have become an iconic symbol of the city. Explore the bustling Jew Town, home to the historic Paradesi Synagogue and the colorful Mattancherry Palace, also known as the Dutch Palace.
Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Kochi by witnessing traditional Kathakali dance performances, attending temple festivals, or exploring the Folklore Museum. The city is also famous for its spice markets, where you can immerse yourself in the fragrant world of Indian spices.
For nature lovers, Kochi offers scenic backwaters, lush landscapes, and picturesque islands. Take a leisurely cruise along the serene backwaters of Kerala, marvel at the beauty of the surrounding coconut groves, and witness the daily life of local communities. A visit to the idyllic islands of Kumbalangi or Vypeen allows you to experience the tranquil rural life of coastal Kerala.
Kochi is a food lover’s paradise, renowned for its delicious cuisine. Indulge in mouth-watering seafood delicacies, traditional Kerala dishes like appam and stew, and sip on aromatic local teas.
With its rich history, cultural diversity, and natural beauty, Kochi offers a captivating and memorable travel experience. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, nature lover, or culinary explorer, Kochi has something to delight every traveler. Let this travel guide be your companion as you navigate the vibrant streets, discover hidden gems, and create lifelong memories in the captivating city of Kochi.
Kochi City Guide: A Brief History Of Kochi, India
Kochi, also known as Cochin, has a fascinating history that spans over many centuries. As a major port city on the southwest coast of India, Kochi has witnessed the rise and fall of various dynasties, colonial powers, and trade routes. Here is a brief overview of Kochi’s history for travelers:
Ancient Era: The region around Kochi has been inhabited since ancient times. It has been mentioned in historical records dating back to the 14th century BCE. The area was part of the Maurya Empire and later came under the influence of various South Indian dynasties, including the Cheras and the Cholas.
Portuguese Rule: In the late 15th century, Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrived in Kochi, establishing the first European settlement in India. The Portuguese were granted permission to build Fort Manuel in the area, which marked the beginning of their influence in Kochi. The Portuguese also played a significant role in the spice trade, which attracted merchants from across the world.
Dutch and British Influence: In the 17th century, the Dutch East India Company gained control over Kochi and established the Dutch East India Company Settlement. They constructed Fort Kochi and strengthened their presence in the region. However, the Dutch rule was short-lived, as they were eventually defeated by the British East India Company. Kochi came under British control in 1795 and remained a part of British India until India’s independence in 1947.
Jewish Heritage: Kochi is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in India. The Jewish community in Kochi, known as the Malabar Jews, traces its history back to ancient times. The area of Jew Town in Kochi’s Mattancherry neighborhood still preserves the Jewish heritage with the Paradesi Synagogue, the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth.
Modern Kochi: After India gained independence, Kochi became part of the state of Kerala. Today, Kochi is a bustling city known for its thriving trade, tourism, and diverse cultural heritage. It continues to be an important port city and a gateway to Kerala’s renowned backwaters and natural beauty.
Visiting Kochi allows travelers to witness the remnants of its colonial past, explore its multicultural neighborhoods, and experience the rich blend of Indian, Portuguese, Dutch, and British influences. The city’s historical sites, vibrant markets, and unique cultural heritage provide a fascinating journey through time and offer a deeper understanding of Kochi’s place in India’s history.
Kochi Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in India
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.
Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Kochi, India
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.
source: Curly Tales
Top 33 Things To Do in Kochi, India For Visitors
Here is a list of the top 33 things to do in Kochi, India
- Explore Fort Kochi: Immerse yourself in the historic charm of Fort Kochi. Wander through its narrow streets lined with colonial-era buildings, boutique shops, art galleries, and quaint cafes. Don’t miss the iconic Chinese Fishing Nets along the waterfront.
- Marvel at Chinese Fishing Nets: Witness the unique Chinese Fishing Nets in action. Watch as local fishermen skillfully operate these massive fishing contraptions, an iconic sight along the Kochi coastline.
- Visit Mattancherry Palace: Step into history at Mattancherry Palace, also known as the Dutch Palace. Admire the intricate murals depicting Hindu mythological stories, antique furniture, and a collection of royal artifacts.
- Explore Jew Town: Discover the cultural diversity of Kochi in Jew Town. Visit the Paradesi Synagogue, one of the oldest active synagogues, and explore the vibrant market with shops selling spices, antiques, and local handicrafts.
- Attend a Kathakali Performance: Immerse yourself in the captivating world of Kathakali, a traditional dance form of Kerala. Witness the intricate facial expressions, elaborate costumes, and powerful storytelling at one of the Kathakali centers in Kochi.
- Discover the Hill Palace Museum: Journey to the nearby town of Tripunithura and explore the Hill Palace Museum. Marvel at the vast collection of archaeological artifacts, royal regalia, paintings, and sculptures from the Kochi royal family.
- Enjoy a Backwater Cruise: Indulge in the serene beauty of Kerala’s backwaters with a houseboat or motorboat cruise. Glide through the peaceful waterways, lined with coconut groves and paddy fields, and witness the local way of life.
- Visit the Indo-Portuguese Museum: Gain insight into the Indo-Portuguese cultural influence in Kochi at the Indo-Portuguese Museum. Explore the exhibits displaying religious art, vestments, and artifacts that highlight the history and heritage of this unique fusion.
- Explore the Kerala Folklore Museum: Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Kerala at the Kerala Folklore Museum. Discover an extensive collection of traditional art forms, costumes, musical instruments, and artifacts that showcase the diversity of Kerala’s folklore.
- Take a Spice Market Tour: Embark on a sensory adventure through the bustling spice markets of Kochi. Engage your senses as you explore the aromatic stalls filled with vibrant spices, including cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, and cloves. Learn about their uses and significance in Indian cuisine.
- Enjoy a Sunset at Cherai Beach: Escape to the picturesque Cherai Beach, located just outside Kochi. Relax on the sandy shores, watch the waves crash against the coastline, and witness a mesmerizing sunset over the Arabian Sea.
- Visit the Kerala Kathakali Centre: Dive deeper into the world of Kathakali at the Kerala Kathakali Centre. Attend workshops, witness makeup demonstrations, and enjoy enthralling performances that bring this ancient art form to life.
- Explore the Dutch Cemetery: Discover the historical significance of the Dutch Cemetery. Marvel at the well-preserved tombstones, each telling a story of Kochi’s colonial past. The tranquil atmosphere provides a glimpse into the city’s heritage.
- Shop at Broadway: Indulge in some retail therapy at Broadway, a bustling shopping district in Kochi. Browse through a wide range of goods, including spices, textiles, handicrafts, jewelry, and souvenirs. Bargain-hunting is a must!
- Discover the Bolgatty Palace: Experience regal elegance at the Bolgatty Palace, a beautiful Dutch mansion-turned-heritage hotel. Explore the lush gardens, take in the breathtaking views of the backwaters, and savor a traditional Kerala meal at one of the palace’s restaurants. For a rejuvenating experience, indulge in Ayurvedic treatments and therapies offered at the palace’s wellness center.
- Witness a Theyyam Performance: If you’re fortunate, witness a mesmerizing Theyyam performance, an ancient ritualistic art form indigenous to North Kerala. Admire the elaborate costumes, vibrant makeup, and rhythmic dances that bring ancient stories and deities to life.
- Visit the Kerala Museum: Immerse yourself in Kerala’s history, art, and culture at the Kerala Museum. Explore the various galleries that showcase archaeological artifacts, sculptures, paintings, traditional crafts, and exhibits highlighting the state’s vibrant cultural heritage.
- Take a Trip to Athirappilly Falls: Venture on a day trip to the majestic Athirappilly Falls, located on the outskirts of Kochi. Marvel at the cascading waters as they plunge from a height, surrounded by lush greenery and the soothing sounds of nature.
- Discover the David Hall: Explore the David Hall, a cultural center housed in a restored Dutch mansion. Admire the beautiful courtyard, which serves as a venue for art exhibitions, cultural performances, workshops, and interactive events.
- Explore the Kerala Folk Art Museum: Immerse yourself in the rich folk art traditions of Kerala at the Kerala Folk Art Museum. Discover an extensive collection of masks, sculptures, puppets, musical instruments, and artifacts that showcase the region’s vibrant artistic heritage.
- Visit the Kochi-Muziris Biennale: If you’re visiting during the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, immerse yourself in the contemporary art scene. Explore various exhibition venues across the city, featuring artworks by renowned national and international artists.
- Discover the Maritime Museum: Learn about Kochi’s maritime history and its significance as a trading hub at the Maritime Museum. Explore exhibits showcasing ship models, navigational instruments, historical documents, and artifacts related to the region’s seafaring legacy.
- Explore the Folklore Theatre Museum: Step into the world of traditional performing arts at the Folklore Theatre Museum. Witness live performances of folk dances, music, and theater, and learn about the cultural traditions and rituals of Kerala.
- Attend a Kathakali Makeup Demonstration: Gain insight into the intricate art of Kathakali makeup through a live demonstration. Witness the transformation of performers as they meticulously apply vibrant makeup and elaborate facial expressions.
- Discover the Kochi Spice Route Project: Visit the Kochi Spice Route Project, a cultural initiative that showcases the historical significance of Kochi as a major trade center along the ancient Spice Route. Learn about the global spice trade, historical connections, and the impact on the region’s culture and economy.
- Explore the Folklore Village: Experience the rural charm of Kerala at the Folklore Village. Engage in interactive sessions, traditional games, and cultural activities that provide a glimpse into the daily life and traditions of the local community.
- Take a Houseboat Cruise: Indulge in a memorable experience aboard a traditional Kerala houseboat. Cruise along the tranquil backwaters, witness the picturesque landscapes, and savor delicious local cuisine prepared on board.
- Visit the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi Art Gallery: Discover contemporary art at the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi Art Gallery. Browse through a diverse collection of paintings, sculptures, installations, and mixed-media artworks created by talented artists from Kerala and beyond.
- Explore the Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary: Escape to the Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary, a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. Spot a variety of resident and migratory bird species, including herons, egrets, kingfishers, and migratory ducks. Take a leisurely walk along the nature trails, soak in the peaceful ambiance, and appreciate the biodiversity of this urban sanctuary.
- Visit the Kerala History Museum: Delve into Kerala’s rich history at the Kerala History Museum. Explore exhibits that chronicle the region’s ancient civilizations, dynasties, cultural traditions, and significant historical events through artifacts, sculptures, manuscripts, and multimedia displays.
- Discover the Indo-Arabic Art Gallery: Immerse yourself in the artistic fusion of Indian and Arabic cultures at the Indo-Arabic Art Gallery. Admire a diverse collection of paintings, calligraphy, artifacts, and handicrafts that showcase the unique blend of artistic styles.
- Experience a Traditional Ayurvedic Treatment: Indulge in a rejuvenating Ayurvedic treatment, a holistic healing system originating from Kerala. Visit an authentic Ayurvedic center to experience therapies like Abhyanga (herbal oil massage), Shirodhara (oil pouring on the forehead), and Panchakarma (detoxification).
- Attend a Kochi Festival: If your visit aligns with one of Kochi’s vibrant festivals, make sure to participate and experience the cultural vibrancy. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Onam, and Cochin Carnival are just a few examples of the lively celebrations that showcase art, music, dance, and local traditions.
These top 33 activities offer a wide range of experiences to explore the diverse cultural, historical, artistic, and natural aspects of Kochi. Tailor your itinerary based on your interests and preferences to make the most of your visit to this vibrant city.
Kochi Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
Kochi, India, offers a delightful blend of rich history, diverse culture, stunning natural beauty, and warm hospitality. With its colonial-era charm, bustling markets, vibrant arts scene, and tranquil backwaters, Kochi presents a captivating destination for travelers.
From exploring the historic neighborhoods of Fort Kochi and Jew Town to witnessing the enthralling performances of Kathakali and Theyyam, Kochi offers a multitude of experiences that showcase its unique cultural heritage. The city’s museums, art galleries, and spice markets provide opportunities to delve deeper into Kerala’s history, art, and culinary delights.
The serene backwaters of Kerala offer a chance to unwind and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature. Embarking on a houseboat cruise or visiting nearby attractions like Athirappilly Falls allows you to witness the picturesque landscapes and abundant wildlife.
Kochi’s welcoming locals, delicious cuisine, and vibrant festivals add to its charm and make every visit a memorable one. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art lover, a nature explorer, or a foodie, Kochi has something to offer.
As you plan your visit to Kochi, use this travel guide as a valuable resource to navigate the city’s attractions, plan your itineraries, and make the most of your time in this captivating destination. Embrace the rich culture, immerse yourself in the local experiences, and create lifelong memories in the beautiful city of Kochi.