The Gateway to Old India: 7 Places in Kochi That Will Transport You Back in Time
Kochi or Cochin is lovingly called the Queen of the Arabian Sea. Once a flourishing port, today Kochi is a major metropolis in the southern Indian state of Kerala. This city is a mixture of many cultures. During the colonial era, it was first occupied by the Portuguese, then the Dutch and finally the British. It is no surprise that this city is packed with plenty of historical attractions.
1. Mattancherry Palace: The history of Kochi royal families
This palace was built back in 1555 by the Portuguese as a gift for the king of Kochi. Mattancherry Palace is also often referred to by the locals as the Dutch Palace as the Dutch had carried out extensions and renovations for the palace. The walls are adorned with beautiful mythological murals of Hindu temple art as well as portraits and exhibits of the Rajas of Kochi. The blend of colonial and Keralite architecture is a charming sight of the city. Explore the exhibits inside the palace to delve deeper into the rich history of Kochi.
Address: Mattancherry, Kochi, Kerala 682002
Operating Hours: 9:45AM–1PM, 2–4:45PM, Closed on Friday and Saturday
How to get there: You can reach Mattancherry Palace by road from Kochi city centre.
2. Hill Palace Museum: The largest archaeological museum
Built in 1865 and converted into a museum in 1986, Hill Palace is the largest archaeological museum in Kerala. Spanning an area of 54 acres, you will need to dedicate an entire day to explore this vast museum, where you will have the privilege of seeing royal exhibits like paintings, sculptures, weapons, inscriptions, and coins. Enough of the interiors? The Hill Palace premises has a deer park, a pre-historic park, and a children’s park for you to have a stroll with your travel buddies.
Address: Hill Palace Rd, Karingachira, Thrippunithura, Ernakulam, Kerala 682301
Operating Hours: 9:30AM–12:30PM, 2–4:30PM, Closed on Mondays
How to get there: You can reach it on road via cab, autorickshaw or a bus.
3. Indo-Portuguese Museum: In honour of Portuguese legacy
Established in 1910 at Dr Joseph Kureethra’s house compound – he was the Bishop of Kochi – the Indo-Portuguese Museum was built in honour of the influence of the Portuguese culture on Fort Kochi. Divided into five exhibitions – Altar, Treasure, Procession, Civil Life and Cathedral – history buffs will be pleased to know that most of the museum’s displays are ancient Christian art pieces that were used between the 17th and 19th century.
Address: Bishop Kureethara Road, Fort Kochi, Kochi, Kerala 682001
Operating Hours: 9AM–1PM, 2–6PM, Closed on Monday
How to get there: You can reach Indo-Portuguese Museum via an autorickshaw or a bus.
4. Kerala Folklore Museum: The centre of arts and culture
The only museum in Kerala dedicated to architecture, life, and culture of the locals, the Kerala Folklore Museum is divided into four main sections. Of the four, you will be able to see various arts and antiques at the Face Art Gallery. Meanwhile, the Folklore Theatre showcases traditional art forms and allows you to participate in the cultural activities. This is a great spot to purchase some real antiques and tribal artefacts for souvenirs!
Address: Door No 26-2059C, Pandit Karuppan Road, Near Thevara Ferry Junction, Thevara, Kochi, Kerala 682013
Operating Hours: 9AM-6PM
How to get there: You can reach here by road in autorickshaw or bus.
5. Fort Kochi: A melting pot of cultures
The quaint area is a melting pot of different cultures and history from three different colonial powers — British, Dutch, and Portuguese. Dutch Cemetery, old gigantic steam boilers, Chinese fishing nets, St. Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica and Fort Emmanuel are just some of the attractions here. You can spend an entire day exploring the whole area and still not get enough of it.
Address: Fort Kochi, Kochi
Operating Hours: 24-hours
How to get there: Catch a cab, bus or autorickshaw to Fort Kochi.
6. St. Francis Church: The gravestone of Vasco Da Gama
Kochi’s oldest European church in India, St. Francis Church has been standing strong for over five centuries, with the Dutch and the British occupying its premises during their colonial periods. In fact, Vasco Da Gama, Portuguese explorer and the supposed first European to reach India by sea, was buried in this very church! While his gravestone can still be found within the church’s compound, his remains have been transported to Lisbon. The church is only open for visitors on weekdays, so plan your trip here carefully!
Address: Opp. Post Office, St Francis Church Road, Fort Kochi, Kochi, Kerala 682001
Operating Hours: 7AM-6:30PM
How to get there: You can catch a bus or autorickshaw to St. Francis Church.
7. Paradesi Synagogue: The oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth region
The Paradesi Synagogue is known as the oldest active synagogue among the Commonwealth nations. ‘Paradesi’, the Tamil word for ‘foreigners’, in this context refers to the Spanish-speaking Jews who built it. The melting pot of Kochi sees an overwhelming influence of Hindu in the Cochin Jews community, evident from the different colourful clothing worn at various festivals. From Belgian glass chandeliers and hand-knotted oriental rugs to hand-painted porcelain tiles, the synagogue is full of antiques and collectables from centuries ago.
Address: Synagogue Ln, Jew Town, Kappalandimukku, Mattancherry, Kochi, Kerala 682002
Operating Hours: 10AM-12PM, 3PM-5PM, Closed on Fridays and Saturdays
How to get there: You can reach here by road in an autorickshaw or a bus.
While in Kochi, do not miss out on traditional Keralite cuisine such as Karimeen Polichathu (fish dish). It is a fried pearl spot fish marinated in spicy masala sauce and baked in a banana leaf. The dish is best eaten with some rice so you can wipe all the sauce clean.
Kochi has many historical spots that will take you back in time. Witness the melting pot of the different cultures through the city’s architecture and artefacts.
Visiting Cochin: Practical Info
Best Time To Visit
Winter is the best time to visit Kochi between the months of October and February.
Take a flight to Cochin International Airport, which is well-connected to major cities in India and abroad.
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