An eclectic mix of spices, handicrafts, culture and food, Mattancherry is probably the most vibrant spot in Kochi. The best way to explore it is by strolling down the bustling streets and breathing in fragrant spices, the aroma of authentic cuisine, while culture and tradition spill unchecked at every turn. This is especially evident in the brightly painted walls that look like fine works of modern art. A major attraction is the Mattancherry Palace or the Dutch Palace, which is a beautiful amalgamation of Kerala and colonial styles of architecture. About 12 km from Ernakulam, the palace was built by the Portuguese in 1545 CE as a gift to Veera Kerala Verma, of Kochi dynasty. Since the palace saw many renovations under the rule of the Dutch, it came to be known as the Dutch Palace. Tourists can admire its long and spacious halls and lovely murals adorning the walls. Some of these exhibits display scenes from Indian epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. The two-storeyed structure also houses some of the works of the great poet, Kalidasa. Tourists can also get a peek into the royal lifestyle through the life-size portraits of the rulers of Cochin, sheathed swords, axes, daggers and ceremonial spears ornamented with feathers, along with royal caps and coins issued by the rulers of Cochin.

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