Exploring Kochi (Cochin)

India is known for its diverse culture, and it is a never-ending journey when you want to explore it. Recently I took a trip to witness one such gem, Kerala, aka, God’s Own Country. My first stop was at Kochi, the state capital. While April is not the most ideal month to visit Kerala, the swaying coconut trees, the hospitable locals and the nostalgic vibe of the place made my trip memorable.


Kochi is an experience in itself with its 2-fold lifestyle. If you are staying in the Eranukulam District, you can feel the modern vibes just like any metro city in India; however, as soon as you enter Fort Kochi, it is a different world in itself. Let us checkout how Kochi can be a treat to a traveler.

DAY 1- Experiencing the Metro City

I reached Kochi (Cochin) Airport just to witness one of the most beautiful airports of the country. With its vivid greenery and lively elephant statues it gives you a hint of the natural beauty that you are going to experience during your stay in Kerala. Highly organized and well maintained, this airport is the world’s first solar powered airport. I had booked my stay at the heart of the metro city, the Grand Hotel, which is also 10 minutes ride to the Marine Drive.


After a quick lunch and some rest, I headed towards Marine Drive, a perfect example of blend of manmade and natural wonder. While this promenade does not allow you to drive, it is a perfect place to take an evening stroll as the sun sets on the Kochi Harbour. Loved by tourists and locals alike, the area is happening throughout the day till night. If walking does not suit you, take a boat ride to enjoy the sunset on the waters.


My next stop for the day was the Lulu International Shopping Mall. While every metro city in India does have great shopping malls, this mall is considered to be the largest in India (in terms of retail space). With hundreds of shops selling local and international products, you will be spoilt for choices. Kerala is known for its spices and essential oils and hence I chose to pick some from the spice shop maintained by the Spice Board of India. I believe if you are not too familiar with the quality of spices, I guess buying from a government store is the best idea. The shop was a destination in itself with beautifully engraved wooden spice boxes, books on the spice history of India and handmade wooden Kerala boats.

Fort Kochi- The First European Fort in India

My next day started with a ride to the Fort Kochi; and no this is not a fort but a city in itself! Fort Kochi takes you back in time of Portuguese, Dutch and in overall European rule in India. As you pass through the streets of this almost 4-century old neighborhood of Kerala, the influence of European culture is highly visible; schools, churches, palaces, almost every building in the area depicts European style.


The Saint Francis Church is a must visit here as it is one of the oldest European churches of India; it is a silent spectator to the colonial struggle and also the burial ground for Vasco Da Gama. St. Mary’s Cathedral and Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica are couple of other significant churches in Fort Kochi.

Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica

The other must-visit at Fort Kochi is the Dutch Palace, aka Mattancherry Palace (as it is located in Mattancherry). This heritage site is approximately 10 mins from Fort Kochi. While by name it is Dutch, the architecture actually depicts the Nalukettu architecture (traditional Kerala form) with a hint of European style. With arches and chambers built in coconut shells, the palace is a rare gem. The palace seems to have come out right out of a fairytale book with its exquisite collection of ivory palanquins, stunning swords and armors and bejeweled statues of monarchs. The walls of this heritage building are adorned with richly painted murals that depicts the religious era of Fort Kochi.

I also got a chance to visit one of the ancient temples of Mattancherry; another amazing piece of architecture. Idols decorated in Kerala style, the glorious drumbeats and the unique style of praying is an experience to cherish.

Time Travel in Jew Town

My next stop took me back in time; Jew Town is just 10 minutes from Fort Kochi but is a cultural saga in itself. As you walk through the lanes shadowed by tall colonial buildings, the fragrance of spices and essential oils, the finely crafted statues of different gods and goddesses and the chimes of brass bells are bound to charm you.

The Paradesi Synagogue located at the Jew Town is the oldest synagogues amongst all the Commonwealth countries of the world. However, it is just not the history, but also the architecture and decor of the synagogue that attracts the tourists. The synagogue is wrapped with Chinese tiles, each tile different from the other. The interiors of the synagogue are adorned with Belgian chandeliers and gorgeous lightings.

The Folklore Museum

Exploring a place is incomplete without knowing its culture, history, art and craft. The Folklore Museum with its 6500 artifacts exhibit the art and crafts of Kerala. Collected from all over the state, the museum is a treasure house of terracotta work, wooden and bronze sculptures, oil lamps, masks, utensils, tribal and folk art. Visitors also have the opportunity to buy some of these antiques and take back a piece of memory with them. The architecture of this museum stands out from any other museum across the country.

Shoppers’ Paradise

If you are a shopaholic like me, Kochi will win your heart. The finely designed heavy jewelry of Kerala is any bride’s dream. The soft cotton sari and dress materials with golden zari work are the most comfortable apparel to beat the heat of Kerala. There are several handloom shops at Fort Kochi and across Kochi from where you can get this special cloth material. Looking for home decor? The brass and wooden antiques of Fort Kochi can add an opulent look to your home.

Kerala is known for its enormous spice plantations and hence do not forget to bring back some exotic Kerala spices. It is also a hotspot for buying essential oils.

Taste, Texture & Beyond

Kerala food wins the hearts of both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. I loved enjoying seafood sitting at the pier of Seagull restaurant. It is an amazing spot on the banks of the Arabian Sea to relish seafood. Another popular delicacy of Kochi is Kadala Puttu. I tried out Puttu with Kadala curry with a glass of watermelon juice at a local restaurant; the soft rice and coconut mix with steaming hot spicy curry is a treat to the taste buds.

View From Seagull Restaurant

So, whether you are a travel enthusiast, interested in Indian history, a big foodie, a shopaholic or just a tired heart looking seeking a break, Kochi can be your next destination.

Few Facts

  • I explored the city in auto rickshaws without facing any hassle
  • You may also choose to book Uber or OLA, as both are easily available in Kochi
  • There is a nominal entry fee to the Dutch Palace, Folklore Museum and Jewish Synagogue
  • The auto rickshaws at Fort Kochi can coax you to visit specific handloom shops as they get some commission from the shops
  • If you are worried about the language barrier and communication problems, locals are well versed in both Hindi and English

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