The last visit to Kochi left me enthralled, captivated and wanting for more. This vibrant and historic region along the Arabian Sea has a rare history of being ruled by three colonial powers, the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. This is the reason why most of the architecture here is Dutch and Portuguese. Along with that, this city, also known as the ‘Gateway to Kerala’, has an eclectic influence which can explain the Chinese fishing nets, cathedrals, cemeteries and erstwhile Arab settlements. This amalgamation of distinct cultures and traditions is what makes this city special and intriguing to visit and explore. In fact, the best way to soak in all these cultures and influences is by travelling on foot or by renting a bicycle. If you’re staying in one of the Cochin resorts near the beach, the likes of The LaLiT Resort & Spa Bekal, there is plenty to see and enjoy with a relaxed mind.
Here are some of the places in Kochi that will take you right back to colonial India:
This club was a British gentleman’s club once upon a time. Now, this beautiful colonial building welcomes everyone with open arms. As it is overlooking the Arabian Sea, the view is stunning. One can book a room here and enjoy the lush gardens and the British air that the bungalows in this area provide.
This aesthetic old neighbourhood in Fort Kochi is perfect for people who want to enjoy the tradition that this centuries-old multicultural hub brings to the table. As more than 37 Indian communities have lived here in harmony for centuries, you can experience domes of ancient temples, along with minarets of mosques and spires of churches and synagogues—all in the same place. This neighbourhood is full of colonial architecture and the main attraction for tourists is the Mattancherry Dutch Palace, which was built by the Portuguese and was then gifted to the raja of Kochi in 1555. It was then further renovated by the Dutch in 1663. The Jew Town, which is in the heart of Mattancherry, is also a beautiful place to explore. There are many interesting antique stores and elaborate streets and lanes full of spices and handicrafts.
St Francis Church
We possibly cannot talk about Kochi without talking about its magnificent churches. St Francis Church, located close to Princess Street in Fort Kochi, is supposed to be the oldest European-built church in India. Once the burial site of Vaso de Gama, this church was built by the Portuguese in 1503, and was later claimed by the Dutch and British, before the Indians took over it.
Paradesi Synagogue or the Jewish Synagogue was built in 1568 and is the oldest in the commonwealth countries. It is located in Jew Town in Kochi and was built by Cochin Jewish group, also known as Malabar Yehudan people. The antiques in this synagogue are rare and beautiful, and they include carved teak ark, silver and gold crowns, chandeliers made of Belgian glass, copper plates which are century-old, and a clock tower. The interiors will take you back many years and this intrigue is worth experiencing and witnessing.
Hence, Kochi is not only beautiful but it has immense character. Full of different identities, it is colourful and houses many traditions and conventions of a variety of communities. This is why everyone must visit Kochi—not just for a memorable trip, but for a memorable experience. One can stay in either the beach resorts or thehill resorts in Kerala, and make the most of this quaint little paradise.