Sights to See
Bolgatty Island: From the High Court Junction it is 2 Km via Goshree Bridge. Ferry services are available from the High Court Jetty. The Bolgatty Palace was built by an anonymous Dutch trader in 1744. It was the British Residency from 1909 to 1947. In 1976 it was converted to a heritage resort by KTDC.
Vypeen Island: An isolated island between the sea and tha backwaters, this was originally home to a small indigenous fishing community since 1341 until the advent of the Portuguese. Previously only accessible by ferry, the Goshree bridge has made the picturesque island just a short drive from the city. Its attractions include the renowned Church of Our Lady of Good Hope, a lighthouse at Ochanthuruth open to visitors (1500-1700 hrs) & the Cherai Beach. Also situated here is the Pallipuram fort built by Portuguese in 1503. Ferries are available from Fort Kochi & Ernakulam.
Gundu Island: It is the smallest of all islands that make up Kochi & is off the coast of Vypeen. It was famous for its coir factory. It is now privately owned.
Fort Kochi: Santa Cruz Basilica: Rampart Road, South of Fosse Street, Fort Kochi, Timings: 0900-1300 hrs & 1500-1700 hrs. Saturdays: 1500-1800 hrs. Built by the Portuguese in 1506, it was deemed a cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558. In 1795, when British took over Fort Kochi the cathedral was demolished. A new building was commissioned at the same site in 1887 by Bishop Ferreira and was proclaimed a Basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1984.
St. Francis Church, Church Road, Fort Kochi: Built in 1503, by a group of Portuguese Fransiscan friars this is India's first European Church. The church was initially a wood and mud structure dedicated to St Bartholomew. The history of the church depicts the European struggle for power in India. Vasco da Gama was buried here in 1524. Although his remains were taken back to Lisbon 14 years later, his tombstone remains intact. Timings: 1000-1700 hrs. Closed on Sundays.
Dutch Cemetry: Consecrated in 1724, it is mostly in ruins. It is located on the way to the Fort Kochi Beach.
Parade Ground: The ceremonial military parades and drill practice was conducted here.
Bishops House/Indo-Portuguese Museum: Built by the Portuguese in 1506 as a residence for their Governor. It is the residence of the Bishop of Kochi. Entry to the Bishops house is restricted. Adjacent to it is the Indo-Portuguese Museum which is housed in a modern structure. Although small, it is well laid out and maintained. Timings: 0900-1300 hrs & 1400-1800 hrs. Closed on Monday & public holidays. Entry fees: Rs. 10/- (Indians), Rs. 25/- (Foreigners), Rs. 5/- (Child), Tel: 2215400.
Fort Kochi Beach: A popular destination is the granite walkway sandwiched between the beach and Vasco da Gama square.
Chinese Fishing Nets: Along the beachfront. A legacy of the earliest visitors to ths coast, they are said to have been brought by traders from the court of Kubla Khan between 1350 & 145 AD. Employed mainly during high tides, you can see fishermen haul up the nets at 6 am, once again at 11 am and then finally around 4 pm.
Fort Immanuel: Very close to the Dutch cemetery. The forts confines housed the entire township where the Portuguese used to reside but much of it was destroyed by the Dutch & British. Only bits and pieces remain along the waterfront. Its remnants can also be seen in the basement of the Indo-Portuguese Museum.
Princess Street: The oldest street in Kochi. IT is lined with picturesque houses, mostly colonial in architecture. Some of these have been converted to homestays.
Mattancherry: Mattancherry is home to a tiny Jewish community, whose origin goes back to 2000 years. It attracted invaders and traders from far off and was the epicenter of trade, especially that of spices. It has the oldest synagogue in the country, temples and churches.
Pardesi Synagogue: It was constructed in 1568, but destroyed by cannon fire during a Portuguese raid and was rebuilt 2 years later. Its interiors are captivating. The attractions include 19th century glass oil-burning chandeliers from Belgium, gallery for women suspended by slender gilt coloumns, 18th century hand painted floor tiles from China, elaborately carved ark that bears four scrolls of the Torah, 4th century copper plates with writing decipherable only with the aid of a mirror. Timings: 1000-1200 hrs & 1500-1700 hrs. Closed on Saturdays & Jewish holidays. Entry Fee: Rs. 2/-. Dress code: Sleeveless dress & shorts not allowed.
Clock Tower: Built in 1760, it stands next to the synagogue. Its face that faced the Maharaja's Palace is etched in Malayalam, one etched in Roman numerals for the traders, one that faced the synagogue in Hebrew, the fourth one kept blank.
Dutch Palace: Built and presented by the Portuguese to the Kochi Maharaja Veera Kerala Varma around the year 1555, as a token of appeasement for plundering a Hindu Temple nearby. Ironically it is commonly known as the Dutch Palace, despite the fact that they only renovated it. The double storeyed structure is built in the traditional Kerala 'Nalukettu' style and has a temple dedicated to the presiding deity of the royal family, Pazhayannur Bhagawati, at the centre. There are intricate murals on the walls and Ramayana is depicted in 45 murals dating from 1600-1700 AD on the walls of the royal bedchamber. Timings: 1000-1700 hrs. Closed on Fridays. Entry Fee: Rs. 2/-.Tel: 2226085.
Thirumala Devaswom Temple, Gosripuram: Following the fall of the Vijayanagar Empire, Gowda Saraswat Brahmins brought the Sri Venkatachalapati Thirumala Devar idol which was worshipped by them to Kochi. The temple was built in 1599 to house this idol. It was plundered and restored time and again.
Pepper Exchange: The only pepper exchange in India, it is also the only online commodity exchange in Kerala. It was established in 1957 & is located near the spice market in Jew Town. Trading: 1000-1700 hrs on weekdays & 1000-1400 hrs on Saturdays. Closed on Sundays. India Pepper & Spice Trade Association, Tel: 2224263/5173, Fax: 2227434, Email:firstname.lastname@example.org,
Vallarpadam: The Church of Our Lady of Ransom was was established here. Initially built in 1524, it has been given the status of a national pilgrim centre upon the church.
Willingdon Island. Shiva Temple: Located on Government Cross Road in South Pallimukku. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva as Ernakulathappan and is associated with the birth of the name of the city.
Marine Drive: The scenic strip has a spectacular view of the backwaters and the harbour and is a favourite hangout. At night the lights from ships anchored in the harbour make it breathtakingly beautiful.
Our Lady's Convent, Palluruthy, Thoppumpady: Tel: 2230508. It specializes in high quality needlework, lace & embroidery. One can take a tour of the place with prior appointment.
MUSEUMS & GALLERIES:
Hill Palace Archaeological Museum, Thripunithura: The hill top palace built in 1865, consists of 49 buildings and sprawls across 52 acres of lush greenery. It is a blend of Dutch and traditional architectural styles. There are 18 main galleries displaying the royal throne, pictures of former rulers, tanjore paintings, 14th century wood carvings, inscriptions, megalithic remains, crowns, ornaments, mural paintings, sculptures, porcelain, epigraphy, musical instruments etc. Medicinal plants are grown in the museum's herbal garden. Tel: 2781113. Timings: 1000-1700 hrs. Closed on Mondays & National holidays. Entry Fee: Adult: Rs. 20/-, Child: Rs.10/-.
Museum of Kerala History, Edapally: Timings: 1000-1700 hrs. Last entry at 1600 hrs. Closed on Monday & National Holidays. Entry Fee: Rs. 50/- (Adult), Rs. 20/- (Child), Tel: 2541768;
Cherai Beach: Bordering Vypeen Island, it is about 26 Km from Ernakulam city via Goshree Bridge an dis a great place for dolphin spotting and swimming. Chinese Fishing Nets; Fort Kochi, St. Francis Church & Santacruz Church;
SNC Maritime Museum: In the Southern Naval Command, Naval Base. Set up in 1989 to display the various maritime activities of the Indian Naval forces. Star attraction is a 300 years old boat belonging to the Raja of Ambalapuzha. Timings: 0900-1230 hrs & 1330-1730 hrs. Closed on Monday & National Holidays. Entry: Rs. 20/-. Tel: 2214103. Permission required from naval base for visits.
Kerala Lalitha Kala Academy: The Maharaja of Cochin once held his durbar here. Once known as the Parikshith Thampuran Museum, it has now been coverted into the Gallery of Contemporary Art at the Durbar Hall Art Centre. Timings: 1100-1800 hrs. Closed on Public holidays or occasions of exhibitions in the gallery. Entry Free.
Cochin Port Cruise Passenger Facilitation Centre
Cochin Port is the premier cruise port among the Indian Ports and has witnessed an encouraging growth in the arrival of luxury cruise liners to its shore. The slew of cruise tourism friendly business initiatives of Cochin Port has led to Cochin emerging as the most preferred cruise destination in India. Cochin figures prominently in the cruise itinerary of all the major cruise lines like Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International and their sister affiliates.
As a leading cruise destination of India, every year Cochin hosts, on an average, 35-45 cruise call and depending on the ship size, between 500 to 3000 international guests per call. Cochin is also acts as a passenger turnaround destination of M/s Aida Cruises, Germany, which calls at Cochin twice a year. Cochin Port is preferred by certain cruise lines for their home port operation. In 2009-10, M.V. Aquamarine, of Louis Cruise Ltd, and during 2011-12, M.C. AMET Majesty of Amet Shipping India P Ltd, were home ported at Cochin.
Cochin Port also extends rebates in VRC at 30% and 20% respectively for foreign Cruise Vessels at GT above 30,000 and GT up to 30,000. As a result of the grant of concessions and user friendly services, Cochin Port has been able to retain its attraction as a cruise port, cruise calls in spite of global recession which has also affected tourism sector. Cochin has set benchmarks in providing highly professional service in the quest to serve the international traveler, ensuring that they make most of their short visit, Cochin Port is actively supported by the sister Government agencies such as Customs, Immigration, Port Health Organization, Harbour Police and the CISF. The Vessels Agents, Tour Operators, Taxi and Auto Drivers and other service providers play a proactive role in the efforts to promote Cochin as a cruise friendly destination.
Together with these agencies, Cochin Port puts up a single window facility to address the needs of the cruise liners and cruise tourists alike. The seamless integration of all the government agencies facilitates novel cruise tourism such as Fly-Cruise-Fly, turnaround operation as well as home porting of cruise vessels at Cochin.
Buoyed by this consistent increase in the cruise tourist arrivals, Cochin Port has created a dedicated facilitation centre to cater to the comforts of the discerning cruise tourists. This full-fledged modern cruise terminal facility called – Samudrika - built adjacent to the all weather BTP berth caters to the cruise ships calling at Cochin Port. Cochin Port was granted financial aid by the Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India and Tourism Department, Govt of Kerala.
The fully air-conditioned passenger facilitation centre covers an area of 1500 sq.m and is equipped with
• Dedicated Customs and Immigration counters
• X-ray scanning machines for baggage and metal detectors
• Restrooms, prayer room, feeding room
• Provision for setting up Duty free shop/cafeteria/ souvenir shops
• Public Address system
• Lighting with luminosity of 300 lux
• 108 tons Air-conditioning system
• Smoke detectors
• Power supply with generator back-up
• Luggage trolleys
True to its concerns for the cruise tourists, the terminal has been built keeping in mind the needs of physically challenged and elderly guests. The facility also has an appurtenant area of 1 acre of parking space for luxury coaches, tourist taxis and autorickshaws. This facility is also available for use as a Exhibition Hall/Convention Hall during the off-season.
The facilitation centre has been put to great use during the passenger turnaround operations by the cruise liners. The cruise ships of the luxury German Liner Aida Cruises have been using Cochin for three turn-around operations every year, since 2009 involving about 1500 inbound and outbound passengers during each turnaround operation. With a dedicated terminal in place, Cochin Port would now reach out to other liners to make use of this truly world class facility.
While at Cochin, the tour operators offer several options to suit the discerning tastes of each of the world traveler. Some of them are:
HIGHLIGHTS OF COCHIN – a half day visit to Fort Cochin & Mattancherry – the heritage zone of Cochin
CITY HIGHLIGHTS & HARBOUR CRUISE/ CITY TOUR BY COACH/ CITY TOUR BY BOAT – visit to the heritage zone, downtown Cochin and cruise in the harbour. Cochin St Francis Church, Dutch Palace, Walking tour, Chinese Fishing Net, Fish Market, Santa Cruz Basilica
KERALA CULTURE-KUMBALANGI VILLAGE TOUR WITH LUNCH- This tour takes the tourists to Kumbalangi village – a traditional Kerala village.
HERITAGE TRAIL – WALKING TOUR COCHIN WITH AN EXPERT - This tour takes the tourists to Fort Cochin passing by various Colonial Homes, St. Francis Church, Chinese Fishing Nets, and finally the Padua House and after refreshment at Hotel Bristo, returns to the pier.
CULTURAL EXTRAVAGANZA – provides tourists with an insight into Kalaripayatu & Kathakali – the traditional art form of Kerala.
COOKING WITH NIMMY PAUL/ The Kerala Gourmet Experience – Guests will travel by coach visiting a local Market and then proceeding to the residence of Mrs. Nimmy Paul, a renowned culinary expert, for a Cooking Demo with Kerala Spices followed by Lunch
SUNSET HARBOUR CRUISE and KATHAKALI AT TAJ MALABAR – lets tourist experience the beauty culture and traditions of cochin during the harbour cruise and kathakali performance and dinner at Taj Malabar.
TOUR TO VAIKOM -. A full day visit to the village of Vaikom, a traditional Kerala Village and lunch at Zuri resort & Spa.
OVER LAND TOUR/Fly-Cruise-Fly – for tourists who wish to explore the hinterland of Cochin and nearby tourists destination in neighbouring states. The Tourists are provided swift immigration clearance and leave for airport for their trip to the hinterland destination, which also includes a flight to Delhi and Agra.
ALAPPUZHA BACKWATER CRUISE/ Backwater Cruise by Kettuvallom – tourists are taken by luxury coaches to Alleppy, a 45 minuts ride and thereafter savour a trip to the Venice of the East by houseboats.
COCHIN BY TUK TUK – takes the tourists to the heritage sites of Cochin in Tuk-Tuk (autorickshaws) – very popular amongst tourist.