November 2016


A peek into cochin
November 2016




Fort Cochin comes alive for the New Year carnival

Cochin, set in the south-coast of India, and a major port city, is referred to as the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea.'


Words: Resmi Jaimon


Cochin, as I memorise from my frequent visits during childhood was a calm and quiet town, untouched by the fastness of other Indian commercial cities in spite of boasting of a centuries old commercial town. Years later, in 2004, when I moved back to Cochin, the city had become more vibrant, now growing every minute. The once horizontal development of land has paved way to vertical growth, with skyscrapers alongside the trees.


Cochin boasts of a strong historic past, the historic glimpses spread across the city. Since the Portuguese spice trade in the 14th century to the present industrialisation, Cochin has come a long way. The International Container Transhipment Terminal, the Cochin Shipyard, BPCL Kochi Refinery, the post-independence Fertiliser and Chemicals Travancore (FACT), Infopark, Cochin Special Economic Zone and several other industries has increased the floating population of the city giving rise to a new culture of Shopping malls, late-night restaurants and multiplexes. Apart from the modernity, what is unique to Cochin is its serene beauty by the backwaters and beaches.

When in Cochin one must eat seafood!


The islands, Fort Kochi and Mattanchery are a haven for locals and tourists. The transformation of centuries old Portuguese bungalows to homestays and boutique hotels gives a spicy historic experience in the trade towns of Cochin. The 700-year old Chinese fishing net in the shores of Fort Kochi and St Francis Church, the oldest European church originally built in 1503 where the Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama was originally laid to rest are invaluable memories to take back home. After hours of walking and laying my hands on pulling the ropes at the Chinese fishing net, I quench my thirst with the fresh tender coconut.


A few kilometres away, stepping on to Mattanchery streets, the fresh smell of spices enter my senses. Every time I walk through the infamous Jews Street and the nearby lanes, I peep in to the craft and antique shops. It is the best place in Cochin to find a souvenir. The Jewish population living in Mattanchery has reduced, nevertheless the Dutch Palace and the Synagogue (Jews) tell the tale of a once prominent past.


Cochin Carnival held in December every year brings alive the streets of Fort Kochi with a variety of entertainment programmes and competitions like kayaking, marathon races, beach bike race, to enrich the soul of both locals and tourists.

The best time to visit Cochin is between October and March


Drive towards Hill Palace Museum in Thripunithura, the royal abode of the erstwhile King of Cochin, now an archaeological museum and houses mural paintings, sculptures, coins, Royal furniture and several others. The 49 buildings binds the Palace together and depicts the traditional architecture style of Kerala.


My daughter's favourite weekend getaway is a drive to the Cherai beach, 25 kilometres away from the city limits. We pass through dozens of Chinese fishing nets, paddy fields and coconut groves to reach a serene beach, ideal for swimming and kite flying. Alongside the beach is a number of resorts, most offering Ayurvedic massages and spa treatments.


The city exploration isn't complete without a ride in the backwaters of Cochin or a walk in the Marine Drive during sunset, crunching on hot groundnut or snacks like vada or bhaji mulaku (fried chilli) or smacking on the ice cream purchased from the many street vendors.

The city exploration isn’t complete without a ride in the backwaters of Cochin or a walk in the Marine Drive during sunset...


Broadway continues to be the shopping space to pick up clothes, jewellery, spice and stationery at retail and wholesale prices. The adjoining market is worth a visit to explore local vegetables and seafood at wholesale prices. Around the M G Road is located the leading shopping houses like Seematti, Kalyan Silks, Jayalekshmi Silks, Bhima, Josco and Alukkas. Lavish malls continue to attract crowds in good numbers.


When in Cochin, to make the experience complete, relish the local cuisine, a wide spread of dishes be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian, particularly seafood. Learn to make and enjoy authentic Kerala cuisine or relish Ayurvedic cuisine made to age-old recipes. Savour delicacies from different parts of the world at Tokyo Bay in Fort Kochi; vegetarian cuisine from the hotels or relax in quaint boutique hotels found in the tourism-rich Cochin.

The Cochin Carnival is its most colourful annual event


Cochin also boasts of Kerala's rich art and culture. Various arts are displayed and dance forms are enacted during temple festivals and in cultural centres.

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    A maiden sells colourful souvenir bangles

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    The serene backwater of Cochin

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    Caparisoned elephants at the annual Siva festival

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    Chinese fishing nets in the afterglow of sunset

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    The Paradesi Synagogue and Pazhayannur Temple

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    A houseboat afloat on the Cochin backwater

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    Fort Kochi's colonial influence

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    The tomb of Vasco da Gama

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    The colonial-era Santa Cruz Basilica

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