We want our guests to get an authentic view of India, where the sights, smells, tastes and traditions of our diverse and incredible country are lived rather than observed. So here we’ve put together a guide to the key ingredients that make up beautiful Cochin. Be sure you include them all in your visit to this remarkable city of islands sat on Kerala’s lush coast.
The city itself is a cluster of islands connected by canals, lakes and lagoons, so Cochin is the ideal place to start a backwater trip. City tours take in the colonial treasures of Fort Cochin and the hubbub of charming Willingdon Island. Longer trips take you on routes to Alleppey and beyond, and into lands of lush tranquillity and laid back river-village life.
Mud rejuvenates the body, opens the skin’s pores and is thought to relieve a variety of ailments, from arthritis to heat burn. Cochin is very big on holistic therapy. There are several spas where you can let your mind drift while your body is embalmed in thick brown clay.
There are two reasons the Chinese fishing nets of Cochin are of such appeal. Fixed permanently to the shore, they represent fishing at its most unusual. Cast out during dawn or a sunset, they are a curiously beautiful sight. The hauls are cooked up within minutes by street vendors. Tuck in.
Cherai Beach, with its calm, clean, shallow sea and supple golden sand, is rightly known as Kerala’s best beach. Stretching north for nine long miles, it’s never a problem to find a quiet spot. At only 20 minutes drive from central Cochin, it’s no surprise that Cherai is the popular choice of the city’s sunseekers.
You can not leave Cochin without experiencing the blaze of colour and intensity that ignites during a Kathakali performance. This historical dance-drama demands so much from its actors that they use martial arts to prepare themselves and spend ten years learning the art. At Fort Cochin’s highly-regarded Kathakali Centre you can watch a show and also take lessons.
Cochin was built on the spice trade. It acted as a port for the Arabs, Chinese, Jews and Romans who sailed to Kerala to sniff out the best of its plantation produce. Everything from pepper, chilli and turmeric, to nutmeg, vanilla and ginger thrives on the hills of ‘God’s Own Country’. And for thousands of years it’s been shipped out of Cochin across the world. Get down to Mattancherry spice market and inhale the powders of Cochin’s history.
Although Kerala also has an abundance of rubber plantations, you’ll need strong rubber soles on your feet to walk and appreciate the breadth of Cochin’s attractions. With the winding streets of relaxed Fort Cochin to explore, the curios shops and sights of Jew Town to enjoy, and the bustle of downtown Ernakulam to experience, you may want to stop, put your feet up and sup a cold glass of the local Sandpiper beer.
The Portuguese of the 15th century. The Dutch of the 17th. The British after 1795. Before all of them the Chinese and the Romans. They all left their influence on this cosmopolitan, melting pot of a city – particularly on its architecture. Must-sees include the church of Santa Cruz Basilica and Paradesi Synagogue. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to appreciate the full, exotic flavour of this complex blend. Then you will taste the global infusion of Cochin, ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’.
CheersBye Homestays combine the comfort and distinction of a boutique hotel with the personal hospitality, informality and local knowledge enjoyed when staying with family friends. They offer an insight into the culture, traditions, history and everyday life of an Indian family. What’s more, guests get the chance to enjoy authentic Indian food at its very best – home cooked.