Although it may sound a lot like Cochin, Fort Kochi is worlds apart from the city Kochi / Cochin. This port city has a character and uniqueness that’s an aftereffect of multiple cultures and nationals that co-existed years ago. Fort Kochi has an immense influence of the Dutch, Portuguese, Jewish architecture.
Ideal time to spend in Fort Kochi : 2 days Best time to visit : November to January Closest Airport : Cochin ( 45 kms) Closest Railway Station : Ernakulam Junction ( 12 kms) Bus connectivity: Very strong with KSRTDC buses plying regularly from various parts of the state.
From sunset cruise to visiting European churches, from tasting authentic Malyalam food to trying Continental dishes and heritage hotels and cafes , Fort Kochi is a bundle of activities. A lot of excursions can take place from the city to some of the most popular destinations in the state such as Munnar, Alleppey, Thekkady etc.
To read about Munnar, click on below links
Here are our top picks of things to do when in #FortKochi
1. Visit St. Francis Church
This is one of the oldest European Churches in India that dates back to 16th Century ( Built in 1503!
The church, made of wood and mud, was situated in the middle of the fort that had been constructed by the Portuguese with the permission of the erstwhile Cochin Raja and it was dedicated to St Bartholomew.
Did you know that the explorer – Vasco Da Gama was buried in this church ? You can see the spot when you visit this church.
Source- Kerala tourism
2. Visit Jewish Synagogue
Also known as ‘Pardesi Synogogue’, this place of worship of Jewish people was built in 18th century ( 1760) by a Jewish Businessman.
Inside you will find chandeliers which are Belgian and the floor Chinese hand-painted porcelain tiles which have been painted in the 18th century with vegetable dyes ( much before commercial dyes came into existence. )
The Synogogue also has a Clock tower.
Of the four faces of the clock, the one facing the maharaja's palace showed the time in Malayalam. And among the other three, the face with etchings in Roman numerals was meant for the traders. Of the remaining two faces of the clock, one had writings in Hebrew while the other remains blank.
Here’s some interesting information about #Jews in Kerala
It is believed that Jewish history in Kerala dates back to 68 AD. Many Jews are believed to have migrated here following the Roman attack of the tabernacle in Jerusalem. The other theory is that the Jews came to Kerala when extensive trade relations were established between the Malabar Coast and the Middle East during the time of King Solomon.
The Jews from Kodungallore were given shelter by the King of Kochi, in 1524. He allocated land in Mattancherry, near his palace, to them. This area later became Jew Town.
Source – Kerala tourism
3. Shop at Jewish Town
Right outside the Jewish Synagogue, there is a street lined with small shops that sell spices, perfumes, clothes and mainly antiques etc.
The 20th century witnessed large-scale migration of Jews to Israel with the result that many dwellings on Jew Town became unoccupied. Antiques such as carved wooden furniture and vessels, as well as curios from these dwellings were collected and kept for sale in the shops on Jew Town. Gradually, the demand for such items increased, especially among tourists. Consequently, there emerged many antique shops selling articles of Indian, European, Chinese and Arab origin. Coupled with this growth was the appearance of many handicraft and garment shops of ethnic products.
Source – Kerala tourism
Image courtesy- Kerala Tourism
4. Marvel at the artifacts at Mattancherry Palace ( Dutch Palace)
This palace, built in 16th century was a gift by the Portuguese to the then King of Kochi dynasty.
There are murals depicting stories / scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata. There are exhibits from the Royal Family’s belongings and some of the Coin collection as well.
If you are a history buff like me, its quite interesting to get to know the history of Royal family. I was quite impressed with their matriarchal customs and matrilineal succession.
This is covered in detail in the description inside the palace.
Image courtesy - Kerala tourism
5. Sunset Cruise
This is a good experience to admire the Fort Kochi marina and the Chinese fishing nets.
Image courtesy - Thrillophilia
6. Watch Chinese fishing nets
Now this you can watch from the sunset cruise ( boat ride) or simply from Marine Drive.
These were introduced in Kochi by Chinese explorer Zheng He, from the court of the Kubla Khan. The fishing net established itself on the Kochi shores between 1350 and 1450 AD.
Source – Kerala tourism
7. Watch Kathakali Performance
It’s a classical dance form of Kerala that enacts stories and tales from Mythology performed by artists who are adorned with elaborate, bright make up and costumes.
Here is where one can catch a mesmerizing #Kathakali performance in Fort Kochi.
Kerala Kathakali Center
Image courtesy - Viator.com
8. Watch Kalaripayattu in action
This is one of the most ancient forms of Marstial Arts in the world ! This combines self defense techniques and sword combat. You can watch this at Kerala Kathakali Center.
Image courtesy - Medium
9. Chill at the Marine Drive
This is a promenade lining the backwaters of Fort Kochi. There are many small shops and vendors selling snacks. If you have watched the Netflix show – Little things, you will identify this promenade with benches where one of the scenes was shot.
Ideally take a walk from princess street to Marine drive admiring the architecture of this town.
10. Café hop
There are very many cafes and restaurants in Fort Kochi and here are some of the must visit cafes
a. Jetty at Forte Kochi
b. Warehouse Café
c. Loafers Corner
d. Kashi Art Café
e. Qissa Café
f. Tea pot Café
Hope this list helps those who are planning to visit the city.
If you have any more recommendations, please feel free to add in the comments.