Kochi is a vibrant city situated on the south-west coast of the Indian peninsula – located approximately 600 km from Bangalore. Its strategic importance over the centuries is underlined by the sobriquet Queen of the Arabian Sea. From time immemorial, the Arabs, British, Chinese, Dutch, and the Portuguese have left indelible marks on the history and development of Kochi. A trip to the city leaves you enchanted with its beauty, history and architecture and lot of options for shopping in Kochi.
Cochin is bordered with the wooded and fascinating Western Ghats in the east and flabbergasting Arabian Sea in the west and lot of tourist attractions of Cochin in the middle . Cochin becomes a true paradise when the plentiful mangroves and dense coconut trees mirror in the crystal – clear backwaters. The city is also ornamented with flawless ancient churches, cathedrals, sanctuaries, and forts. To add on, Kochi has been a prominent trading zone since ancient times.
Photo Courtesy – http://www.flickr.com/photos/adam_jones/3774485128/
Tourist Attractions in Kochi
Also known as Dutch palace, it was built by the Portuguese and presented to the Raja of Kochi in 1555 AD.
The palace came to be known as Dutch Palace after 1663 when the Dutch carried out extensions and repairs in the palace.The exteriors of the Mattancherry Palace are barren with stark white walls and sloping brown roofs.A two-storied quadrangular building with a small temple dedicated to the deity Palayannur Bhagwati is in the central courtyard.Its interiors are a stark contrast decorated with murals from the Ramayana and there are some lively displays of royal costumes and palanquins.The murals are extensive and among the best in India. They cover approximately 300 sq ft of wall.Among the more erotic paintings is a mural in the Ladies’ Bedchamber that depicts Krishna making love to all of eight gopis simultaneously.
St Francis Church:
It is the oldest church built by the Europeans in India. The remains of the legendary Portuguese traveller Vasco da Gama were initially buried here and 14 years later, his mortal remains were taken to Portugal.
In 1503 Alphonso Alburquerque was given permission by the Rajah of Cochin to build a fort at the mouth of the river. Within the fort they erected a church of wood, which was dedicated to St Bartholomew.
A new Church was completed in 1516 and dedicated to St Antony. The Church remained in the order of St Francis until the arrival of the Dutch in 1663. They demolished all the convents and churches of the place, except the Church of the Franciscans, which they reconditioned and converted into their Government Church.
The Church became a protected monument in April 1923 under the Protected Monuments Act of 1904.
Santa Cruz Basilica Church is a beautiful Roman Catholic Church is located close to St Francis Church. The church is decorated with some beautiful paintings.
Willingdon Island is a man-made island situated between the main land Ernakulam and the old town Mattancherry and separated by the backwaters.The island is home to some important government offices such as Southern Naval Command Headquarters, Kochi Port Trust, Customs house etc.
An artificial lake that was made by the dumping of the materials that were dug out while Kochi port was being deepened – Willington Island today plays an important role in the city of Kochi and houses some of the district’s best hotels, commercial and industrial offices.
Located near Mattancherry Palace the prosperous Jewish trading community built the Jewish Synagogue in 1568 whose links with Kerala begin in Kodungallor (Cranganore) in the north of the state. The oldest synagogue in India, it was partially destroyed in the war of 1662 and was rebuilt by the Dutch.
The interior offers more beautiful surprises: a Belgian chandelier, the great scrolls of the Old Testament, and the copper plates on which were recorded the grants of privilege made by the Kochi rulers to the Jewish community in the 4th century.There are also five finely wrought gold and silver crowns gifted to the synagogue by various patrons.
Bolgatty Palace: This former Dutch palace is situated on the Bolghatty island. Now it has been converted into a hotel. The island has a fine golf course and offers panoramic view of the city.
Chinese fishing nets: The Chinese fishing nets dot the sea front adjacent to St Francis Church.The Chinese fishing nets found here are the only ones of their kind in India