India is a country with the most diversified landscapes and culture co-existing in harmony. The country is an intricate and incredible mosaic of experiences. It abounds in natural beauty, heritage and culture, wildlife, art and architecture, and much more.
From Kashmir in the north to Kanya Kumari in the south and from the region of Kutch in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east, India is a mind-boggling tapestry of unique experiences. One of the most beautiful states of India is the southern state of Kerala.
The state has been dubbed as, “God’s Own Country”, and one visit to the region makes it clear that this is rightly so. The state of Kerala overflows to the brim with the enchanting beauty of nature and comes alive with the rhythms of a rich heritage and culture. Kochi is a major and historic city of Kerala and is a gateway to some of the most beautiful experiences that the state has to offer.
Here are 10 things to do in and around Kochi that will bring alive your Kerala experience.
Start the Day With A Magical Boat Cruise
If you are in Kerala, you must experience a cruise in the heavenly backwaters of the region. The best time for a cruise is early morning when you can watch the sunrise from the boat. One can head to Cherai in Kochi for a magical sunrise cruise in the backwaters.
As your boat gently glides in the water silently, the darkness recedes to reveal palm-fringed banks bathed in the golden glow of a rising sun. You can watch fishermen intently casting their nets rowing past. The early morning experience is sure to fill your being with a serene aura that will stay for a long time with you.
Visit The Historic 16th Century Synagogue
Kochi or Cochin as it was earlier known has played an important role in the history of India. It is here that the Portuguese first landed in the 14th Century and the place was a center of the Spice trade from India. The city has been influenced by its occupiers across history including the Dutch and the British. The city is full of historic and heritage landmarks. One place that you must visit when in Kochi is a 16th-century synagogue located in the historic area of Fort Kochi. The synagogue was built in the year 1567 and is still in use. It is said to be the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth. A brass railed pulpit and golden crown inside the synagogue are of tremendous historical importance.
Take A Walk Along Jew Town
The synagogue is at one end of a street which is part of an area known as Jew Town. A street lined with quaint shops on either side. Old houses with exquisite patterned doors and windows. The place makes for a nice and interesting walk. Peer into the shops and you see ancient looking clocks and other antiques. Some shop sell colourful umbrellas and contemporary apparel. Down the street are shops that sell in the most famous of Kochi’s commodities, spice.
Be Overpowered By The Aromas of A Spice Market
The aroma of spice is sure to draw you to the spice market. Spice has been the lodestone that attracted the Portuguese, Dutch, and the British to the shores of Kochi hundreds of years ago. In the spice market one can see mounds of spices of different varieties neatly arranged. The aromas of cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and other exotic spices assail your nostrils as you get transported to the world of spices.
Step Into History At The Mattancherry Palace
A landmark in Kochi is the Mattancherry Palace. This was the royal home of the kings who ruled Kochi. This palace is also known as the Dutch Palace. The palace is said to have been built in the mid 16th century and renovated later by the Dutch. The Palace is a very interesting place and a treasure house of some amazing murals which indeed form the highlight of the Mattancherry Palace. The exquisite murals on the walls of the rooms of the palace though fading still reveal their original charm. The murals depict scenes from different mythologies of India.
Be Mesmerized By the Rhythm of a Kathakali Performance
India is rich in arts and culture. Its dance forms are known throughout the world. There are many dance forms in the country and one of the most vibrant of these is Kathakali. This dance form is specific to Kerala and one must experience a Kathakali dance performance when in Kochi. The Cochin cultural center is the best place to experience this dance. Shows are held in the evenings. The dance form combines elements of pantomime, ballet, and other Indian dances and is accompanied by spectacular music. One of the highlights of this dance form is the exquisite make up the dancers don.
Feast on A Traditional Kerala Festival Meal Called Sadhya
Travel without experiencing local food remains an incomplete experience. One of the best culinary experiences when you are in Kochi is to feast on a multi-course traditional meal that is called Sadhya. This meal is prepared on celebratory occasions like the local festival of Onam and at weddings. Sadhya which literally translates as banquet in English is a vegetarian meal and consists of a multitude of curries, sauces, and desserts served on a banana leaf.
Climb Up A Light House For Some Awesome Views
Kochi being a city on the coast of the Arabian Sea has many lighthouses. The Vypin Lighthouse is a modern lighthouse that looks across over the Arabian Sea. A high speed elevator whisks you to the top from where you can enjoy spectacular and panoramic views. On one side is the Arabian Sea stretching out as far as the eyes can see while on the other side are stretches of lush green coconut palms interspersed with houses.
Take A Day Trip to Athirapally Falls
If you want to get away from Kochi on a day trip, there are numerous place nearby. One such place is the Athirapally Falls. A day trip from Kochi to Athirapally Falls is a drive across some of the most scenic region of Kerala. The waterfalls present a magnificent sight and is worth taking the small trek to descend to the base of the falls. This is one of the best day trips
Head To Munambam Beach to Experience A Spectacular Sunset
The best way to call it a day is to watch the sun slowly receding into the waters of the Arabian Sea. A quiet and secluded place to head to during the evening is the Munambam Beach located near Cherai. Sitting on a bench in the sand, lose yourself in the beauty of nature as the sun sets in splendid colour across the horizon.
Quick Facts About Kochi
- Kochi is one of the most important cities of the southern state of Kerala in India
- Kochi is well connected to other cities of India and the world through the Cochin International Airport
- Kochi is situated about 207 Km. from Thiruvananthapuram or Trivandrum which is the Capital of Kerala state
- Kochi is located at a distance of about 2,728 km. from Delhi, the capital of India
- The local language of Kochi is Malayalam, an Indian regional language but most people are able to understand and communicate in English
- Other famous destinations of Kerala are within easy reach from Kochi, Munnar is about 129 km. away while Thekkady is 167 km. away, the famous destination of Alappuzha or Alleppey is just 53 km. from Kochi
Kerala is a wonderland of experiences. Kochi is a city with a rich history and cultural heritage. Time spent in Kochi is sure to leave indelible impressions and memories to cherish for a lifetime.
Which of the mentioned things would you keen on doing in/around Kochi? Share your choice in comments below!