Fort Kochi is a seaside town in Kochi, Kerala which is known for its old-world colonial charm. The place still oozes every single colonial rule charm that was imprinted on it decades ago. The remnants of the British rule, the Portuguese and Dutch colonialism are all evident in the Fort Kochi air. It is not just fortified structures, but the culture that has been deeply intertwined with locals that sets the colonial times of Fort Kochi apart from the rest of the colonies.
Fort Kochi is charming and quaint, and despite the roar of thundering skies and the ceaseless screeches of the city life, it stands tall, oozing tranquillity and without fail, it takes you with it. Here is the very finest that Fort Kochi offers.
THINGS TO DO IN FORT KOCHI
1. Visit St. Francis Church
Fort Kochi is many things but for many, it’s a time-traveling companion. Studded with architecturally exquisite structures of the time long forgotten, this mesmerizing location takes you back through history, literally and metaphorically. The 16th century St. Francis Church built by the Portuguese is doubtlessly a view to cherish. The timber-framed roof and the multi-stepped pinnacle crowning it will leave you spellbound.
The view of the tombstone of the great explorer Vasco Da Gama will send a shiver down your spine. The church engulfed in silence marred only by the wind chimes and the sound of thunder on the horizon gives you a feeling that the great explorer may have embarked on a journey back to life. Fort Kochi may not have a fort anymore but the tomb still attracts many from different parts of the world.
2. Visit Pardesi Synagogue
Considered to be one of the oldest in the world, Pardesi synagogue is an embodiment of the Jewish culture in Fort Kochi. The innumerable Belgian hanging lamps will remind you of the fireflies in your backyard and the farrago of blue and white tiles on the will give a strange feeling of walking on water. The enrapturing site of the synagogue is something to be treasured forever.
3. Visit the Mattanchery Market
A visit to the Mattanchery market and you will be instantly enraptured by the myriad of aesthetically pleasing items on trade. Exotic dry fruits, spices, and perfumes form a medley of absolute enchantment for a bystander. The shops, the traders, and the regular hustle and bustle of the market for some reason flashes the olden days where the foreign traders might have been making orders to the locals.
4. Visit the Jewish Quarter
A stroll down the old Jewish quarters will surely captivate you as you see the enthralling view of three structures distinguished by cultural barriers sharing a wall. As you glue to this ironic sight of a Dutch church, a temple and a synagogue sharing a wall, it’s evident what this place stands for- a mosaic of cultures existing in tandem with harmony..so difficult to picture and yet right in front of you, a feast for your eyes.
5. Visit Dutch Palace
The Dutch palace, however, is the quintessential feature of this beautiful place in Kerala. The structure built in traditional Kerala style of architecture with a courtyard was gifted to the king by the Portuguese as a token of apology for the destruction caused by a Portuguese soldier. It still stands today, now as an art gallery with murals depicting various scenes of Ramayana leaving the onlookers bewitched and awestruck.
6. Visit the Beach
The Fort Kochi beach is one of the best in the district without a doubt. The evenings are filled with families and tourists who visit the beach, the ice creams, the bright orange sunsets, and the therapeutic waves all make the experience worthwhile. There is also a beautiful Cherai beach near just little outside Kochi, you can see dolphins in here.
7. View the Chinese Fishing Nets
The Chinese fishing nets are essentially the face of Kochi tourism. It is believed to be set up by Chinese explorer Zheng at some time between 1350 AD and 1450 AD, these charming fishing nets are still widely used by fishermen and is one the biggest attractions of Fort Kochi. Also called Cheenavala in Malayalam, each net is a towering 10 meters high structure with a 20metre wide span. It has a unique geometry about it. The nets are operated with a cantilever beam and counterweight stones. It is this unique geometry that lends stability to this gigantic fishing net without a doubt.
You can see how the fishermen use the nets during the early morning time or evenings. These Chinese fishing nets standing tall against the bright orange sunset skies in the horizon is a picture-perfect portrait that is worthy of capturing eternally in the frames.
8. Visit the Kerala Kathakali Centre
To absorb the theatre essence of the rich cultural aspect of Kerala, a visit to the Kerala Kathakali Centre is a no-brainer. Located in the vicinity of the Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, it proudly exhibits the age-old dance, music, and martial arts forms of the region. The performances, which exuberates the cultural elegance start around 6:00 PM every day and go on until 9:00 PM. Even if you have booked to watch the performance beforehand, do come half an hour early as the make-up and costume preparations are well and truly a feast for your eyes.
9. Visit Willingdon Island
Willingdon Island is the largest human-made island in India. It was named after the British viceroy Lord Willingdon. The island holds the much-needed link between the Kochi port and other national and international ports.
The island also serves as the headquarter for the southern naval command of India. Created by Sir Robert Bristow, a visionary harbor engineer, the island is significant as it is the habitat for the Port of Kochi, the Kochi Naval Base of the Indian Navy, and Central Institute of Fisheries Technology. If you ever visit Willingdon island, do visit the museum and its very alluring natural habitats.
10. Visit Veeranpuzha Lame and Backwaters
Veeranpuzha is a beautiful lake in Kochi along with a series of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Malabar coast. Which form beautiful backwaters. A tour on the backwaters on a traditional boat or a houseboat is definitely worth your time. The countless splendid view stretched to the infinity and beyond for you to observe and enjoy. The crystal clear blue of the waters and the skies. The coconut greenery and the gentle breeze playing with your hair are all the little things that you truly enjoy in these rides. If you ever visit Fort Kochi, never miss a trip by the backwaters.
HISTORY OF FORT KOCHI
The European name of Kochi – Cochin got its name from the Chinese settlers who came here back in the 1300s and set up the now-famous Chinese fishing nets. “Co-chin” translates to “like China”. Kochi had elaborate trade relations with Chinese and Arabic merchants. The region of Fort Kochi was primarily a fishing village under the Rajah of Kochi. Who granted the place to the Portuguese colonials after the army of Albuquerque helped the Cochins to defeat the royal army of Kozhikode. To establish their commercial and gradually administrative stronghold. The Portuguese constructed here Fort Emmanuel, and a wooden church called St Francis Church. After much demolition and renovation by the Dutch and later by the British, they are now popular tourist attractions ever since Kochi came under the government of independent India in 1947.
HOW TO REACH FORT KOCHI
The nearest airport is the Kochi international airport. From the airport, there is a direct shuttle bus service to Fort Kochi. You can also hire a taxi to go to Fort Kochi.
There is ferry service in the entire Mattancherry peninsula regularly. Between 5:00 AM and 9:50 PM, ferries run from Ernakulam’s main jetty to both the jetties of Fort Kochi – Customs and Mattancherry every 25-30 minutes. The fare is around INR 4-5 per person.
There are several railway stations quite near to Fort Kochi. But the Ernakulam South and North stations are the nearest. You can also use the metro rail to reach Fort Kochi. The nearest station is, however, the Maharajas Ground. After which you can board a private bus or taxi to reach Fort Kochi.
TIPS FOR VISITING FORT KOCHI
- The locals here are very welcoming. They often give you the best experience at reasonable costs.
- The seafood at Fort Kochi is the best and one of its kind. It would be a crime not to try the infamous delicious pearlfish fry when you visit the Fort Kochi.
- There are several homestays and hotels nearby that provide excellent service at a low price.
- You can easily get a taxi or choose to walk while you are exploring this place. It is better to have a guide as you may not want to miss any place as each spot. Fort Kochi exuberates pure splendor.
Those are a few important things that might help you to explore this amazing place in a much better way.