Cochinis not just a world-famous port and business centre but also a stunning mirror to Kerala‚Äôs vivid versatile personality. To many travellers, this natural harbour is identical with its underwater mud banks of Malabar. Cochin (also Kochi) is an important trading port since antiquity as the land of spices. This coastal city is a old-fashioned blend of the Indian and the Western, the old and the new. Popularly called the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Cochin is the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala. Cochin has a temperate climate with heavy rainfall during the monsoon period. A visit to Cochin offers a glimpse into the historical and cultural past of Kerala.
The Dutch palace at Mattancherry, though actually built by the Portuguese was presented to the ruler of Cochin in AD 1555. In 1663 the Dutch carried out some rebuilding and repairs in it. The main attractions of the palace are its wall murals depicting the scenes from the Ramayana.
Founded in 1503, this Portuguese fort is in ruins now. With its European legacy, stubborn self-absorption and its air of genteel decay, it is a place where history still stalks the lonely streets. One of the fascinating sights of the coast in Kochi is the cantilevered Chinese fishing nets brought here by traders belonging to Kublai Khan‚Äôs court.
At the heart the Jew Town near Mattancherry palace lies the synagogue of the white Jews. The synagogue has now become a fascinating mix of shops, warehouses and auction roomsn for spices. The Great Scrolls of the Old Testament; the Copper Plates recording the grants made by the Cochin rulers to the Jew are also displayed here.
ST. FRANCIS CHURCH
St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India, was built in the early 16th century. It was here that Vasco da Gama was first buried in 1562. It was only in 1578 that his remains were taken back by his son to Portugal.
SANTA CRUZ BASILICA
The Santa Cruz Basilica, built in 1557 by the Portuguese, was used by the British in the 18th century as a warehouse. The Basilica, with its stunningly carved wooden panels and pulpit, was repaired in the early 20th century.
HILL PALACE MUSEUM
12 km south east of Ernakulam, towards Kottayam, lies the Hill Palace museum at Tripunithura. The museum showcases a rich collections of the Cochin and Travancore royal families.
Headquarters of Southern Naval Command of India, Willingdon is manmade island having a seaport, railway terminus, airport, and a customs house. The regular ferry services on the lake around the island offers inexpensive backwater cruise. The island gets its name from Lord Willingdon, a British Viceroy to India. Some of the city‚Äôs best customs and trading centres and hotels are located here.
Situated on the borders of Vypeen Island 21 ks from the city, the beautiful Cherai Beach is an ideal for swimming. If lucky, one can also see dolphins here. A typical Kerala village with coconut groves and paddy fields nearby is an added attraction here.
Located 45 km from Cochin, next to river Periyar is Kalady, the birthplace of Adi Shankaracharya a great Indian philosopher in the 8th century AD. There re shrines devoted to Shankaracharya: one dedicated to to Goddess Sharada and the other to him as Dakshina Moorthi.