The city is spread over three main locations: Fort Cochin (Kochi) on a promontory to the west, Willingdon Island and Ernakulam across the causeway.
The city was first colonised by the Portuguese in the 15th century and still shows a strong Portuguese influence. There are several old churches that may be visited along with mosques, temples and even a synagogue. For visitors, Cochin is one of the easiest-going destinations in India and lacks much of the hustle and poverty found elsewhere in the country.
Cochin, with its strategic location on the Kerala coast, is historically southern India’s most important port.
No visit to Cochin is complete without a trip to the 16th-century Mattancherry Palace which was built by the Portuguese and given to the Raja of Kochi before eventually being taken over by the Dutch. The nearby Jew Town district with its synagogue, narrow streets, antique shops and spice auction houses is another rewarding place to wander. Visitors should also stroll along Fort Cochin’s magnificent beach to see the traditional Chinese fishing nets scattered along the waterfront.
• Mangalavanam bird sanctuary
• Ruins of Fort Cochin, built by the Portuguese in 1510AD
• Museum of Kerala History
• Hill Palace Museum
• St Francis Church, Port Cochin
• Santa Cruz Basilica Cathedral
• Willingdon and Bolghatty Islands
• Kathakali dance performances
Government of India Tourist Office
Next to Taj Malabar Hotel, Willingdon Island, Kochi, Kerala, India
Tel: +91 (0) 484 668 352.
KTDC Tourist Reception Centre
Shanmugham Road, Ernakulam, Kerala, India
Tel: +91 (0) 484 353 234.
Rosewood, spices, jewellery, sandalwood carvings, sandalwood oil, grass mats, souvenirs made from coconut shells, textiles, saris, and other handicrafts are all good buys. The main shopping centres are on M G Road and Marine Drive. Handicrafts and curios (some genuinely antique) are sold in the narrow streets around Jew Town in Mattancherry. Bargaining is expected.
The staples in Kerala are fish and rice. Fish, prawns and crabs are cooked in a variety of delicious ways using spices and coconut. International restaurants can also be found.
When to go:
Cochin does not have much seasonal variation in temperature. The best time to visit is between December and March, which tend to be the drier months.
10km (6.2 miles).