Kochi, Ernakulam city and several other cities and towns comprises of Ernakulam district. Fort Kochi is touristy and Ernakulam does not have much tourist places, but it is an interesting city nonetheless.

If you need to visit the backwaters you must go to the South of Kochi. That’s the most interesting backwater destination. Go North or East to enter reserve forests and for the hills.

fort kochi at night
Fort Kochi at night; Source: GTC Holidays

Pre-Travel Guide

Ever since 1 AD lot of communities came here. Syrian Christians came here first. Then came the Jews. European powers like the Portuguese and the Dutch, the British and the Arabs also came for trade.

Spice trade brought European powers to Kerala. The Portuguese fought a losing war with Kerala kings in order to take control of trade. After the decline of the Portuguese in Kerala, they lost power to other European powers.

Port of Kodaganallur during the 13th and 14th century was a center of spice trade. A massive flooding destroyed this port of the Muziris in 1341. 

The Chera kingdom and the king of Kochi had titular privileges over Kochi, but it was in control of the European powers. Pedro Alvares Cabral a Portuguese was responsible for establishing the first European settlement in 1500.

Cochin During Medieval Times

After the Portuguese, the British and the Dutch came here for trade. The British left only in 1947 after 300 years in Kerala. The Kerala kings went to war with the British at times.

They even had enemies in the neighboring kingdom. One of them being Hyder Ali and then his son Tipu sultan of Mysore who regularly came here to plunder the country.

Tipu took to converting people who did not agree with his rule. The British, Kerala’s kings, the Nizam and the Marathas breathed a sigh of relief after Tipu’s death.

In the later years, the Maharaja of Kochi was responsible for the formation of town councils of Ernakulam and Mattancherry. In the 1920s, the British built the container port under the leadership of Lord Willingdon.

Cochin After Independence

We know Cochin as Kochi today and it shares its name with Kochi in Japan. Today it is the commercial capital of Kerala and a multicultural city with cathedrals and temples. Kochi and Ernakulam city is part of the Ernakulam district.

Getting into Kochi

1. Cochin international airport (IATA: COK)

Cochin international airport is 25 kilometers from the city and it is the largest airport in Kerala. Operational since 1999, it serves the crowd traveling to the Gulf for work and it also sees an influx of foreign and domestic tourists who come to experience the backwaters.

It has the seventh busiest airport in India and it runs on solar, the world’s first. There are two domestic terminals and one international terminal.

There are flights to Sharjah, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Kuwait, Doha, Jeddah, Singapore, Colombo, Bangalore, Chennai, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata, Guwahati, Ahmedabad and more.

Transport options from this airport are:

KSRTC’s Airport Liner: KSRTC is Kerala government’s bus transport service. There are three classes of buses.

The white-blue color buses they call fast passenger and green or red color buses they call super fast express travels to towns and cities near the airport.

If you are traveling to Fort Kochi, the orange air-condition buses is the way to travel. They stop at Aluva, Kalamassery, Vytilla and Fort Kochi for ₹70 and the journey takes less than two hours.

Taxis: Outside the airport, there are prepaid taxis run by Cochin Airport Taxi Society (CATS). They give you a receipt before you board the taxi. Uber, and Ola are for hire from the airport. Zoomcar offers rental cars that you can use for how many days you want.

Trains: There are no train stations connecting the airport, but that’s about to change. Until then you can use the Aluva train station and Angamaly train station where trains to Ernakulam, and nearby towns and cities are available.

2. Train stations of Kochi:

Districts in Kerala have little towns and cities (some big, some small) that are at great distances while forests and backwaters fill space between cities. Trains are a nice quick to get to places. Here are the important stations in Kochi-Ernakulam.

Ernakulam junction (code: ERS): It is the biggest train station in the district and is a place where major express trains stop. It is in operation since 1932 and it is known as Ernakulam South.

There are six platforms for long and short distance trains. Free Wi-fi, book stalls, lounge are some of the facilities in the station. Transport options from the station are:

Taxis and auto rickshaws: There are pre-paid taxis outside the station and three-wheeler auto rickshaws. There are auto rickshaws outside the station gates, but agree on a price before boarding.

Buses: Manorama junction bus stop is the nearest bus stop to the train station. Buses with numbers stop here and you must tell your destination before boarding.

Ernakulam town station (code: ERN): Known as Ernakulam North, it was built in 1890. There are only two platforms for long distance trains. Transport interconnections are Kaloor private bus terminal, auto rickshaws and taxis.

There two train stations are near the Fort Kochi area. Other important train stations are Aluva train station and Tripunithura train station.

3. Bus stations of Kochi:

Ernakulam is a big region and there are many bus stations that serve the district.

Ernakulam town KSRTC bus station: This is the main bus station that the Kerala state bus transport operates. It is however losing its position of a hub to Vytilla hub. Yet there are buses that terminate here and there are buses traveling to rest of Kerala.

Transport option from this station are private buses, auto rickshaws, ferries at the Ernakulam boat jetty and metro at the Maharaja’s metro station. Transport interchange options are the Ernakulam town train station and Ernakulam jetty KSRTC bus station.

Ernakulam jetty KSRTC bus station: This is near the Ernakulam town bus station and beside the ferry terminal. You will find buses to nearby places.

Fort Kochi bus terminus: Fort Kochi has a bus terminal on the island near the Chinese fishing nets. You can arrive directly here from the airport. You also get buses to Munnar from here. The Fort Kochi ferry terminal is near the bus station. There are auto rickshaws available but you can walk to your hostel/accommodation.

4. Cruise terminal

This cruise terminal has direct boat service to and from Maldives, Goa, Mumbai, Lakshadweep to and from Kochi. Ferry services are available at Willingdon island boat jetty and Embarkation jetty.

5. Vytilla mobility hub

Vytilla mobility hub is in Vytilla and is a converging point for long and local buses and water transport. The bus station is a stop for KSRTC and private buses. Very soon the Kochi metro will provide interchange to this transport hub.

ferry service in kochi
Ferry service in Kochi; Source: Pinterest

Getting Around Kochi

Kochi and Ernakulam has pretty roads that big and small vehicles will be happy to use and waterways that you will be happy to be on. Following are ways you can travel around Kochi. Transport service is mostly no-frills and inexpensive.

1. Vehicle hiring:

The Fort Kochi has many two-wheeler hiring services. All they need is a refundable advance, a day’s rent and your driving license. You can take your two-wheeler into ferries they call ‘junkar’ and use it in the next island.

2. Bus service in Kochi:

There are private and government buses that travel to places in and around Kochi. The cheapest way to travel are the red color buses that the private operators run.

The government corporation too runs there inexpensive buses and they have a blue color. The locals call these buses ThiruKochi. Expensive options are the orange color buses with air-condition on inside.

They travel to the hip part of towns like Fort Kochi and the airport. There are non air-condition buses that are yellow in color. Most start and terminate at the Vytilla mobility hub. Some of them operate from the private bus terminal at Kaloor.

3. Auto rickshaws in Kochi:

The minimum charge is ₹20 for the first 1.5 kilometer and ₹10 for every kilometer after that. There will be a 50% extra charge between 10 PM and 5 AM. There are prepaid auto rickshaw counters at most train and bus stations.

4. Kochi metro:

Kochi metro is one of the newest metro service and it caters to office goers than tourists as of now. But they plan to build it longer and cover a lot of places.

You can however use it to get to the airport quick, Aluva metro terminal being the nearest metro to the airport.

Weekdays: 6 AM to 10 PM; Weekends: 8 AM to 10 PM

5. Ferry service in Kochi:

The inter-island ferry services provide cheap ferry service to and from the islands. Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation and other private companies operate ferry services.

Ferries run every 20 to 30 minutes; 4 AM to 10:30 PM (Fort KochiVypin); 4:30 AM to 6:30 PM (other waterways)

6. Walking and biking:

Fort Kochi is pedestrian and bike friendly. Most of the attractions are in Fort Kochi and people can use bikes that you can hire at Fort Kochi or walk to the attractions.

Life in Kochi

Kerala state got a communist government in the 1950s. It is the first communist government in the world that got a mandate from a free and fair election.

During the 1970s and 80s most people of working age in Kerala flew to the Gulf countries for work after the oil boom. They went to build and work in the fields to earn money. Most people sent money home which became a major economy booster.

Whilst people went to the Gulf countries for work, the government spent money on compulsory education and roads. Because of this, Kerala has 100% literacy rate, means everybody can read and write.

They built a tremendous network of roads and made it easy for farmers and businessmen to move goods from point A to B. Kerala has highest network of roads in India and so people in Kochi have a good standard of living.

Today the government putting money in improving the tourism and IT industries, with the improvement of the Kochi ports, these days they are the major contributors for the economy. Kochi has nice startup scene as well with many startups receiving funding.

Culture of Kochi

Kochi has a tropical climate with maximum temperature being 35°C during the day and it is humid throughout the year. Malayalam is the main language in Kochi. If you go out to the city you can hear a lot of Tamil, English, Hindi and Kannada along with North Indian communities.

Kochi over the years has been successful in attracting talent from around the world, be it in IT, manufacturing or in the arts. They have all contributed to Kochi’s cultural and economic growth over the years.

Although the Jewish population is dwindling, there are a good number of Christians (Syrian christians and Roman Catholic) and Muslims in Kochi along with Hindus who are in majority, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists.

The state itself has a big media scene, with Malayala Manorama being the most circulated regional language newspaper in India. They have banked on their success and have started television media channel and a media school. Others are following their example.

Kochi is cosmopolitan and modern. If you travel away from Kochi and Ernakulam, the people in the towns and cities are traditional, and they expect you to be modest.

Festivals in Kochi

People in Kochi celebrate traditional festivals like Diwali, Holi, Christmas, Eid, there are cultural festivals like the Cochin carnival and the Kochi Muziris Biennale.

Cochin carnival starts with hoisting of the carvinal flag at the Vasco da Gama square, then other events like sports and traditional dances.

Kochi Muziris Biennale is more like an exhibition where artists from all over the world can showcase their talent. There will be talks, conferences, screenings, workshops and more. The binnale happens at venues across Fort Kochi.

Well, the best part about the culture of Kochi and the rest of Kerala is the food. Diversity is in the cuisine also.

Sports in Kochi

Cricket and football are popular sports in Kerala. Jawaharlal Nehru stadium is the home to the city’s football and cricket teams. Tennis, basketball and badminton are some of the important sports in Kochi.

Kerala Blasters FC, a football team of the Indian Super League plays at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.

Food in Kochi

We already know that there is diversity in cuisine too. But we should start with the coastal food of Kerala which comprises of vegetarian, seafood, poultry and other meats.

onam sadhya fort kochi
Source: Kerala Tourism

Kerala Sadhya

This meal is so huge that it needs a booklet of its own because the spread can go up to 28 dishes at a time during the Onam festival. The food is spread on a plantain leaf, people know the sadhya meal as Onam sadhya.

Unlike a banana leaf meal in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh where they serve rice after the starter, vegetables and sweets; in the sadhya, they serve rice first.

Parippu (lentil curry), avial, papad, vegetable stew, sweets (milk payasam), sambhar, pumpkin curry, banana and other dishes follow the rice.

Although the picture shows the traditional meal in small portions of everything, you are free to eat a second helping of them all. Read this list to know the sadhya dishes.

Breakfast goodness

Apart from the dosa + chutney, idli + sambhar, there are other breakfast options that are good for your health and delicious.

puttu and kadala curry for kochi
Source: Sailus food

Puttu and Kadala curry: Puttu and kadala curry is a favorite breakfast over here. People drive all the way to Kerala from neighboring states to eat this.

They make Kadala curry by boiling kala channa with spices, seasoning, tomato and onions. (Recipe)

Puttu is a breakfast dish in Kerala, Sri Lanka, Coastal Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

It is a cylinder of ground rice with layer of coconut grating on top. (Recipe)

Appam and vegetable stew: Appams or hoppers is a dish made with dough poured in a pan. It is to be eaten with vegetable stew cooked with coconut milk, carrots, potatoes and peas. (Recipe)

Idiyappam and egg curry: Idiyappam or string hoppers is rice noodles made in Kerala, coastal Karnataka and Sri Lanka. To make this noodles yourself you need rice noodle machine. You can simply enjoy the noodles with coconut milk. (Recipe)

You can enjoy the idiyappam with vegetable stew and also with egg curry which has mustard seeds, fennel seeds, spices and onions. (Recipe)

Vegetarian goodness

avial fort kochi
Avial; Source: Hungry Forever

Erissery: Erissery or pumpkin and lentil stew is an essential dish people eat during Onam with the Onam sadhya. To make this, you cook pumpkin with cowpeas, coconut paste, mustard and sometimes yam. (Recipe)

Parippu curry and rice: Parippu is moong dal cooked with coconut and spices. It is light, less spicy and comforting when you want a light lunch without much spices. People eat parippu with rice. (Recipe)

Kurumulaku Kanji: Another light dish that has little spices, it is made by boiling rice, pepper powder, coconut milk and spices. (Recipe)

Kaalan: Another dish made during the Onam festival, it is made using buttermilk, coconut and raw bananas. You also can use yam instead of raw bananas. (Recipe)

Avial: It is a side dish which is part of any Kerala meal, is part of the Onam sadhya too. It is popular in Kerala and West Tamil Nadu. You cook avial using yam, raw banana, ash gourd, snake gourd, shallot and spices; and is eaten with rice. (Recipe)

Poultry for lunch

Food relating to poultry is made of chicken or duck meat.

Nadan Kozhi varuthathu: This is the easiest chicken recipe here. It is shall fried for few minutes and best eaten while it is hot. (Recipe)

Kerala chicken curry: This brilliantly spicy dish is a red gravy that is flavored with spices and tender chicken. It is easy to cook and requires little ingredients. (Recipe)

Seafood meals

Kerala does brilliant things to fish, shrimps and other sea creatures. Lets see some favorites.

Kerala style fish molee: This is a dish with minimal spices, which is delicious and addictive. The dish is of Portuguese origin and it you can serve this fish molee with idiyappam or rice. (Recipe)

Malabar Prawn curry: Also known as Chemmeen Mulakittathu is a prawn curry made with chilli and tamarind based curry sauce. There are a generous amount of spices and you eat the curry with rice, dosa or idiyappam. (Recipe)

Kerala prawn curry: Kerala style prawn curry or chemmeen curry is cooked with ginger-garlic paste, spices, tomatoes and onions. (Recipe)

Kerala fish curry: Traditional fish curry is made without using coconut or coconut milk. It is spicy curry made of curry leaves, garlic and spices. (Recipe)

karimeen kerala kochi
Source: Best Indian cooking

Karimeen pollichathu: It is a popular dish is native to Alleppey but it is ending up on plates of tourists and locals alike at Kochi.

Partial fry of the Karimeen is put on top of saute of malasa spread on a banana leaf.

The leaf is folded and cooked in a kadai in slow heat for 10 minutes. The fold seals in the aroma.

The fish that is served will be juicy, spicy and tender which is delightful already. (Recipe)

Kallumakkaya Ularthiyathu: Also known as mussel stir fry curry, it involves sauteing of mussels with garlic-ginger paste and spices. It takes about 40 minutes to prepare and people eat it as a side dish. (Recipe)

Biryanis

This rice dish was brought from Persia to India by the Mughals, made famous by the Nizams of Hyderabad. However, as time went by, every region in India has a biryani preparation of its own. There are two traditional biryanis of Kerala are:

Malabar chicken biryani: Malabar or Kozhikodan biryani is made with rice, marinated chicken, ghee, cloves, cinnamon, thinly sliced onions. A lid is placed on the vessel and inside the vessel, the heat and flavor is locked. (Recipe)

Thalassery biryani: This biryani is made with chicken, caramelized onions, and rice with spices and cilantro. The three stages of making it are: making the meat masala is the first, second is to cook rice and dum cooking is the third stage. (Recipe)

Mutton and Beef

In this time of beef ban, beef preparation is a touchy topic, but Kerala, especially people in North Kerala eats its fare share of beef. Some people use mutton instead of beef, the dishes of which is as delicious as chicken preparations. Some of the dishes are:

Erachi Varutharacha curry: The other name for this mutton dish is fried-ground mutton curry. It is made with mutton, spices, coconut and onions. (Recipe)

Kerala style roast beef: Also known as beef ularthiyathu is a slow roasted beef with coconut, curry leaves and generous amount of spices. It is fried or roasted on a pan for few minutes and offers a unique flavor. (Recipe)

Beef kurumulakittathu: Another beef fry preparation, they make it with beef, small oniosn and spices on a pan.  (Recipe)

Chatti Pathiri: This is a North Malabar dish made using beef or even chicken. It is made during the month of Ramadan or during any festivities. It is made using eggs and flour with different meat fillings. (Recipe)

Snacks and Sweets

Unniyappam: It is a small round snack made from rice, jaggery, banana and coconut, roasted sesame seeds and cardamom powder. The little balls are then deep fried and then the end product is offered to guests and also while bearing good news. (Recipe)

Pazham pori: Pazham pori or banana fritters is nothing but thin banana cut pieces with batter coating. This coating can be made with flour, salt, sugar and water. After coating, the banana pieces are fried until it turns golden brown. (Recipe)

ada pramadham kochi
Source: Indobase

Ada Pradhaman: Traditional Kerala dessert that people serve to guests and eat during Onam.

It is a sweet mixture of rice, jaggery, cashew nuts, coconut milk and cardamom.

There is an addition of ada, a traditional sweet by itself made of rice flour dough with sweet fillings. (Recipe)

Palada payasam: This is a rich dessert and is pretty easy to make. Usually made during Onam, the ingredients used are rice, milk, sugar and ghee. (Recipe)

Staying in Kochi

The best part about Kochi is the food. There are people who would like to make your lunch and let you stay in their home. There are nice accommodation on Airbnb. Sign up using the link to save ₹1,200 on your first booking.

You can look for nice hotels, inns and serviced apartments on Booking.com and Agoda. Use the link to sign up on Booking.com and Agoda to save on accommodation.

Hostel accommodation for budget backpackers

Top backpacking hostels at Kochi are Zostel, Maritime hostel, Happy camper, Vedanta wake up, Bliss hostel, Dream paradise hostel and Rain tree hostel.

City Guide to Kochi

Ernakulam district comprises of Kochi, Ernakulam city, the royal city of Thrippunithura and several taluks. However, most tourists stay at Fort Kochi which is a small part of Kochi. Few venture out to Ernakulam and Thrippunithura.

Fort Kochi (ഫോർട്ട് കൊച്ചി)

Fort Kochi is where you will stay and hang out most of the time, unless you are working here, in which case you will live in an apartment in Ernakulam city.

In the 14th century, Chinese traders came here for trade and put some Chinese fishing nets on the shore. So this place got the name Cochin which means ‘like China.’

King of Kochi let the Portuguese settle at what they call Fort Kochi after they together fought the Zamorins of Calicut. ‘Fort’ part of the name came from the fort built by the Portuguese.

After the Portuguese defeat by the Dutch after 160 years, they had Fort Kochi in their possession for 112 years until 1795. The British took over from the Dutch and left in 1947.

Brunton boatyard, Dal Roti, Fort house hotelThe Drawing room, Hotel seagull, Oceanos, The Asian kitchen, Upstairs, Chariot beach restaurant, Oy’s cafe and studio, Pepper cafe, Hotel cochin fort

David Hall, Teapot cafeKashi art cafe

chinese fishing nets fort kochi
Chinese fishing nets; Source: Painted Stork

Vasco da gama square

Vasco Da Gama discovered India for the West and he took out three voyages. On his first, he reached Kozhikode (Calicut) and on his second and third voyages, he reached Kochi.

Traders used Vasco’s sea route to come to India to trade for spices. Pedro Alvares Cabral came with Vasco and set up Fort Emmanuel (Kochi) after agreement with the King of Kochi.

Fort Kochi bus terminal

Chinese fishing nets

Cheena vala or Chinese fishing nets are mechanical fishing lift nets that a group of six fishermen operates. They are all over Fort Kochi and also at Kollam. They use it to fish small fishes and some crustaceans that the local restaurants buy for their business.

Mahatma Gandhi beach /Fort Kochi beach

Famous for its Chinese fishing nets, it is a nice place to sit and relax. The beach has tea stalls and restaurants that serve snacks and juices. A good place to buy fish and meet locals. It is a nice place to take pictures with ships coming in and out of port.

Bastion bungalow

One of the oldest buildings in Kerala, it was built as Fort Immanuel in the 16th century after the Kong of Kochi let the Portuguese built a town here. The Dutch invasion in 1663 destroyed most of the fort. What remains today is the Stormberg bastion and has a small museum.

The museum has a Kerala style roof, long open verandahs and elegant facades. The British renamed it the Bastion bungalow and had their offices here.The renaissance museum showcases the caste system and cultural practices in Kerala.

10 AM to 5 PM; 10 for adults and 5 for children

There are remains of the fort all over Fort Kochi. The guns on Mahatma Gandhi beach os one of them.

Vasco House

Vasco House was once the residence of Vasco da Gama until his death in 1524. It is one of the oldest Portuguese residences in Kochi and it has European glass pane windows, balconies and spacious verandahs.

The best part is you can stay here. There are many homestays and inns named after Vasco da gama, but this place was verified by historians as authentic residence of Mr. Gama.

St. Francis Church

St. Francis church is the oldest European church in India built in 1503. The town of Kochi was built around the church. Vasco da Gama died after his third voyage to India and his second to Kochi.

His original burial site was inside the church, but 14 years later, they moved his remains to Lisbon in Portugal. Inside the compound is a cenotaph in memory of residents of Kochi who fought in the first world war.

Monday to Saturday: 7 AM to 6:30 PM & Sunday: 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM; Free

David Hall

David Hall took the name from David Koder, a Jewish businessman who was residing here with his family. It was built by the Dutch East India Company to house military personnel. It is currently an art gallery and one of the venues of the Kochi Binnale.

Dutch Cemetery beach

It was consecrated in 1724 and today it is managed by the Church of South India. It was built with Dutch architecture and it is the oldest European cemetary in India.

Most tombs have no cross and these granite and red laterite tombs are in different sizes. If it big it off course belongs to someone important.

7 AM to 6:30 PM; Free

Indo-Portuguese museum

The Portuguese and the king of Kochi had a nice business relationship trading goods and all. Over the years they left behind buildings with Portuguese architecture.

Bishop of Kochi, Dr. Joseph Kureethara put together this museum. Altar, Cathedral, Civil Life, Procession and Treasure are the five sections in the museum showcasing Portuguese history in Kerala. You can spend at least two hours in the museum.

The Bishop of Kochi of the Diocese of Kochi lives in the Bishop House behind the museum.

Tuesday to Sunday from 9 AM to 1 PM & 2 PM to 5 PM; 10 for Indians, 5 for children and 25 for foreigners

Indian Naval Maritime museum

Outside the boundary walls of the INS Dronacharya, Indian navy’s base is this marine history museum. The museum showcases the Indian maritime history ever since the Indus valley civilization and other Indian empires with an exceptional navy.

It has huge replicas of navy ships, arms and ammunition. They have told stories of Indian conquests in Southeast Asia. It informs the navy’s involvement in the wars and conflicts of the independent India.

Weekdays: 9 AM to 5:30 PM & Weekends: 9 AM to 5:30 PM; 25

santa cruz basilica fort kochi
Source: Food Joints

Santa Cruz cathedral basilica

One of the eight basilicas in Kerala, it is a heritage building that belongs to the diocese of Cochin. It was built by the Portuguese as a church and it was declared cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558.

Its architecture is a mix of Indo-European and Gothic. The interiors have nice colors and there are paintings by Italian painter Brother Antonio Moscheni. His recreation of the ‘Last Supper’ is beutiful.

When the Dutch took Kochi, they destroyed Catholic buildings built by the Portuguese, but they spared this cathedral. The building razed by the British was rebuilt in 1887 and proclaimed a cathedral by Pope John Paul II in 1984.

Monday to Saturday: 7 AM to 6:30 PM & Sunday: 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM; Free

Fort Kochi jail

The British built jails all over the country to house people demanding freedom. They built a jail here to imprison local freedom movement leaders. It is today a museum and a heritage site.

There were eight cells 50 square feet wide in which the prisoners slept on a 6 feet long concrete bed. Cochin Heritage Zone Conservation Society help maintain the jail museum today.

8 AM to 5 PM

Aspinwall house

It is a large sea facing heritage building that was home to Aspinwall & Company Ltd. The company was trading in coconut oil, spices, turmeric, pepper, timber, ginger, coir, tea and rubber.

Travancore royal family had a share in the company and in 1971, the British disinvested its holdings. The building had offices, residence and warehouse to store all these products. Kochi Binnale uses this building as their venue for their event.

10 AM to 6 PM

Pepper House

Pepper House is a heritage property with a cosy and peaceful ambience. The two level buildings had offices and the large courtyard was used to store goods. Today there is a cafe, gallery and studios. It is one of the venue of the Kochi Binnale.

Tuesday to Sunday from 10:30 AM to 7 PM; http://www.pepperhouse.in/

Watch a performance

kathakali fort kochi
Source: Tripadvisor

There are performance arts theater all over Kochi where you can catch a performance of Kathakali, Kalaripayattu, Theyyam and others.

Greenix village is one such place which attracts lots of tourists.

Greenix also has a museum showcasing Kerala’s cultural history. Kerala Kathakali center, Folklore museum and Cochin Cultural Center.

Willingdon island (വെല്ലിങ്‌ടൺ ഐലൻഡ്‌)

Willingdon island is the largest artificial island in India. The British built this island by reclaiming land during the early 20th century. Before this it was a tiny island which was not livable. After increasing the area, the British built a container port and an airstrip.

The island hosts the headquarters of Indian Navy’s Southern Naval Command. Indian Maritime University is also on the island.

Cochin port maritime museum

It was opened in May of 2014 and it has impressive collections of photograph of construction of the inner harbor, landscapes and features. There are drawings and plans of the Willingdon island.

10 AM to 5 PM

Mattancherry (മട്ടാഞ്ചേരി)

Mattancherry is an old town near Fort Kochi. Maad means cow and cheri means town. The cow was the stamp of the king of Kochi.

They also say that the name comes from the mutton butcher shops. Mattancherry was a hub of spice trade and people back then paid premium prices to set up offices here.

Swaadh, Kayees Rahmatullah cafe, Ginger house restaurant, Sri Krishna cafe, Ifthar

Mattancherry palace

portuguese palace mattahcheri fort kochi
Source: Lodging Lists

Mattancherry palace is a Portuguese palace that was a gift to the Raja of Cochin.

After the Dutch took over from the Portuguese, it came to be known as the Dutch palace.

It is now a museum exhibiting portraits and artefacts during the time of Rajas of Cochin.

The palace was built with traditional Kerala architecture with a courtyard in the middle.

The palace corridors have paintings, murals, and portraits of the kings of Cochin.

Sunday to Thursday from 9:45 AM to 1 PM & 2 PM to 4:45 PM; 2 for adults and free for children below 15 years of age

Jewish Synagogue

paradesi synagogue mattancheri
Source: Lodging Lists

Out of the seven synagogues that opened in the area, this is the only one that is operational. Constructed in 1567 by the Cochin Jewish community on land given by Raja Rama Varma of Cochin. They do not allow photography inside.

However the inside of the synagogue is the best part. There are 18th century hand painted tiles and Belgian chandelier. There are scrolls of the Old testament, copper plates on which the Cochin rulers wrote the grants and privileges of the community.

The museum has gifts the synagogue got from various parts of the world. It is oldest synagogues in the Commonwealth of nations.

It is in Jew Town as the locals call the neighborhood due to a big population of Jews living and doing business here. However, there are about 10 Jews living in the neighborhood today.

Sunday to Thursday from 10 AM to 12 PM & 3 PM to 5 PM; 5

Another attraction here is the Jewish cemetery which is at the end of Jew street.

Jain temple

Often overlooked, this is worth a visit and it is the only Jain temple in Kochi. This temple is dedicated to the 15th Jain tirthankar Shri Dharmanath. It was built in 1960 and sprawls over a large area.

5:30 AM to 7:30 PM

Police museum

It is a small place, but it has a nice collection of exhibits. It opened in 2010 and it exhibits uniforms and arms of Cochin police over the years ranging from Travancore to modern days.

9:30 AM to 6:30 PM; Free

Cochin thirumala devaswom

The Konkani speaking Gowda Saraswat Brahmin community built the temple in the 16th century. Lord Tirumala is the deity of the temple. During the Portuguese conquest, they destroyed the temple but later on, the Dutch rebuilt it.

The Gowda Saraswat Brahmins who speak Konkani as their language came here to escape the Portuguese forcing them to convert to Christianity following the fall of the Vijayanagar empire.

5:30 AM to 1 PM & 6 PM to 9 PM

Neighborhoods near Fort Kochi and Mattancherry are Kumbalangi, Chellanam, Pallurthy, Mundamveli, Cullickal, Kumbalangi, Perumpadappu, Eda Kochi and Aroor.

Churches that are worth visiting in these places are St. Antony’s church, Santa Cruz church, St. Lawrence church and St. Augustine’s church.

Puthenthodu beach

This beach is away from Fort Kochi and the crowd. Because it does not get a big crowd, this beach feels neat and clean to people. It is accessible by buses and other vehicles. A nice place to spend a private evening.

Vypin (വൈപ്പിന്‍)

Vypin island is to the North of Kochi and part of it is in the Ernakulam district. The whole island has attractions that you need to see. The flooding of the Periyar river in 1341 AD led to the drowning of the port at Kogungallur and the formation of Vypin island. The neighborhood of Cherai is popular because of its beach and the restaurants.

Chilli out cafe, Brighton beach cafe

The beaches of Vypin are beautiful and less crowded than the ones in Kochi. The locals run little shops and eateries by the beaches. A nice place to hangout in the evenings. Drive on the road to Cherai, you can see fishing nets and little bridges.

Cherai beach and the Kuzhupilly beach are the popular beaches here where some people come to spot dolphins and the sunset.

Other attractions here are Pallippuram fort and Vypin lighthouse.

Ernakulam (എറണാകുളം)

Ernakulam is the downtown area of Kochi and the commercial capital of Kerala. It was part of the Chera dynasty and then part of the Kingdom of Cochin.

During the British rule, it was the capital of Cochin state. These days the IT parks of the city is one of the city’s money maker along with the container port and the tourism industry.

Big fat momo, Gokul oottupura, Punjabi dhaba, Ambiswamy’s Veg, Sreekrishna Inn, Hotel Saravana bhavan, Nair’s shop, Hotel Aryaas veg, Donut factory, The Burger junction, Aavi restaurant, French toast, Zaatar Arabic restaurant, Ming’s wok, Sethi da dhaba, Chillies, Vasantha vihar, Mehfil biryani, Polakulath, Tandoorwala, Arya bhavan, Kitchen Tellicherry

Indian coffee house, Dr. Juice

Nettoor toddy shop, Kadamakudy kallu shop

Lulu Mall

Basilica of our Lady of Ransom

It is a beautiful big church in the island of Vallarpadam that attracts pilgrims and tourists. The church is dedicated to Mary, Jesus Christ’s mother, known as Vallarpadathamma.

The picture of Mary and Infant Jesus installed at the top of the main altar was brought by the Portuguese in 1524. This Gothic style church has twin towers that you can access for a small fee.

Mangalavanam bird sanctuary

This bird sanctuary is a green spot in the middle of the city. Mangalavanam is a nesting ground for many species of migratory birds. It has animal species like the flying fox, palm squirrel, etc. There are also few species of butterflies.

Near the premises of the bird sanctuary is the old train terminus  built by the Maharaja Rama Varma XV of Kochi in 1902. Mahatma Gandhi and Viceroy Lord Irwin have used this train station to arrive at Kochi, but abandoned today.

10 AM to 5 PM; M.G. Road metro station

Subhash bose & Indira Priyadarshini park

These two parks are a lung space that overlooks the backwater. A boat jetty and a bus station separates the Indira Priyadarshini Children’s park and the Subhash Bose park. The children’s park has attractions for children, a pond roller skating rink and a toy train for 15 children at a time.

Subhash bose park is a bigger park with sculptures, flowering plants, boats, bridges and little ponds.

Weekdays: 4 PM to 9 PM & Sundays: 10 AM to 9 PM; Maharaja’s metro station; Ernakulam boat jetty

Ernakulam promenade

This promenade is a walkway in Ernakulam and is an economically thriving part of the city with all its restaurants, cafes, shopping malls and offices.

Rainbow bridge, Chinese fishing nets bridge and the Houseboat bridge are on the walkway. There are apartments that are recent additions to the city along with the walkway. It is a nice place to hangout.

Kerala folklore museum

This museum has been open to the public since 2009 and it exhibits artefacts from the three main kingdoms of Kerala and from the ancient ages.

The structure of the museum is an amalgamation of the architecture of kingdoms of Kochi, Travancore and the Zamorins of Calicut. The family curated museum includes musical instruments, jewels, writings, paintings, utensils and more.

The entrance is creative because of the carvings on the door and the walkway. The wooden doors are remnants of a 16th century temple in Tamil Nadu. At the top floor there is a theater where traditional performance happens.

9 AM to 6 PM; 100 for Indians, 200 for foreigners and 100 for a camera

St. George Forane church

It is the richest Catholic church in Kerala, supposedly built in 594. It was rebuilt in 1080 and then rebuilt in 2001 after the foundation stone was laid by Pope John Paul II. The painting of heaven behind the altar is attractive to most people.

kerala folklore museum ernakulam
Source: Kerala Tourism

Kerala history museum

This museum was established in 1984 and it showcases the history of Kerala. When you get to the museum, warrior sage Parasurama welcomes you at the door who the people believe is the creator of Kerala.

There are displays of paintings, sculptures and works of art. Museum of Kerala history, dolls museum and gallery of modern art are the three galleries at the museum.

10 AM to 5 PM; 8 for adults, 5 for children and 12 for art and gallery museum for everyone; Pathadipalam metro station

Changampuzha park

Changampuzha park is in Edapally, the birthplace of poet Changampuzha Krishna Pillai. The park is a place to witness cultural activities, movie screenings, workshops, concerts and more.

Sunday: 5 AM to 9 AM & Other days: 5 AM to 10:15 PM; Changampuzha metro station

Jawaharlal Nehru stadium

This multi purpose stadium hosts cricket and football matches. It is in the neighborhood of Kaloor and is also famous as Kaloor stadium. The stadium was host to U-17 football world cup in 2017. It also hosts IPL and ISL matches.

JLN metro station

Two more museums that’s worth visiting are Coconut museum and Kerala handicrafts.

Thrippunithura (തൃപ്പൂണിത്തുറ)

Thrippunithura is a suburb of Kochi and the erstwhile capital of Kingdom of Cochin. The descendants of the king of Cochin still live in this town. The royal city has a palace and many popular temples near it. The name means ‘the land with holiness’.

Padippura toddy shop, Mullapanthal toddy shop, Kidangu toddy shop, Royal bakers and restaurants, Sree Saravana bhavan, Mummy’s Udupi restaurant, Sree Krishna Bhavan Udupi, Rajdhani ice cream parlor, Hotel Annapurna

hill palace museum thripunithura kochi
Source: Travel Triangle

Hill palace and museum

There was already a structure here and was the residence of some of the members of the royal family. The king of Cochin built a palace in 1865. This heritage building is the largest archaeological museum in Kerala. The palace complex has 49 buildings built in traditional Kerala style.

There are exhibits from China, Japan, different parts of India and Kerala. The are coins, arms, jewels, sculptures, paintings and furniture on display. There is a huge garden surrounding the palace.

Tuesday to Sunday from 9 AM to 12:30 PM & 2 PM to 4:30 PM; 30 for adults and 10 for children; Tripunithura

Thamaramkulangara Sree Dharmasastha temple

The temple is in honor of Lord Ayyapa as Dharmasastha is in Tripunithura, a suburb of Ernakulam city. The Morakkala Mana family were the owners of the temple initially.

However, the high priest handed over the administration to the King of Cochin. The king had the temple renovated and reinstated the daily pooja. Makaravilakku is the annual festival of the temple.

5 AM to 10 AM & 5 PM to 8 PM

Synodal museum is another attraction here at Kochi is inside the Synod of Diamper church. This church was constructed in 1599 and it is an integral part of Christian history of Kerala.

Thanneerchal park is a park where children can have a good time.

Rest of Ernakulam

Ernakulam is a commercial capital and lot of business happens here. Some of the important neighborhoods are Paravur, Kalamassery, Aluva, Angamaly, Perumbavoor, Kunnathunad and Kothamangalam.


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