Traveling in Cochin consists a lot of the time of island hopping and getting a ferry to the next island. While the northern islands are nowadays connected by bridges the southern ones are still totally dependant on ferries. So it is not possible to gauge exactly how long it will take between islands as you are totally dependent on the ferry's timetable.
Chinese Fishing Net at Fort Kochi
The cantilevered Chinese fishing nets found here are unique to India. They are believed to be the legacy of Chinese traders from the court of Kubla Khan from the 14th century. If you go at high tide you will get to see these teakwood and bamboo pole nets in action.Each net needs about four to six people to operate it as it is over 10 metres tall and 20 metres wide.
Fishermen dip the nets into the water and then someone must climb up onto the supporting structure to lower them. Then after dragging the net for a while they will draw it up to check the catch.
- Location: At the tip of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry island, on the southern part of Kochi.
Dutch Palace (Mattancherry Palace)
The Dutch Palace was actually constructed by the Portuguese in 1555, but the Dutch added the east and south extensions and the wooden ceiling of the Coronation Hall in 1663, hence the name. It is closed for viewing on Friday, but open all other days of the week from 10:00 to 17:00. The highlight of the palace is definitely its murals.
They are based on the Hindu mythological stories of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Many of the Hindu Gods such as Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, Durga are to be found among these murals. Photography is not allowed. Right next to the palace is the Jewish Synagogue.
- Location: On Bazaar Road, right next to Pardesi Synagogue in Jew Town on Fort Kochi and Mattancherry island.
Fort Kochi Beach
This is a beautiful beach quite close to the Dutch Cemetery attached to the St. Francis Church. Once you have watched the dexterous fishermen catch fish with their huge Chinese fishing nets you can head for one of the smaller shacks near by which proclaim 'You buy we cook.'
Essentially you pick out whatever fish you like from the day’s catch and they will cook it for you. It has to be the freshest seafood you have ever tasted. The seafood platter is a good option, as it gives you a wider variety.
- Location: On Fort Kochi and Mattancherry island in south Kochi.
Mangalavanam Bird Santuary
This is a small bird sanctuary surrounded by offices of Bharat Petroleum, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Ernakulam Railway Goods Station and Salim Ali Road. It is a small mangrove where many migratory birds visit. Here there is a lake connected to the backwaters with a canal, and the mangrove vegetation supports breeding birds.
There is also a guesthouse with fulltime staff. It is believed to be home to 41 different species of birds. Teak and Eucalyptus trees have been planted here and it is considered the 'green lung' of the city which helps to counter the ill effects of pollution caused by heavy traffic.
- Location: Behind the High Court Building in the heart of Eranakulam.
Museum of Kerela History
You can find more than two centuries' old Indian art in forms of paintings and sculptures here. At the very entrance you are greeted by a statue of Lord Pashuram, regarded as the sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu. He was supposed to have been the person who reclaimed Kerala from the sea and is revered in the state.
There is also a light and sound show that goes through the last 2,000 years in the history of Kerala. Good background music and many interesting facts make up part of this show, run by the Madhavan Nayar Foundation.
- Location: About 10km from Eranakulam
Santa Cruz Basilica
This Catholic Church was made a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558. The original building was constructed in 1506 but the present building only dates back to 1902. It was demolished by the British when they took over Cochin in 1795, but reconstructed in 1887.
The interiors are painted in pastel shades and house many artifacts from local areas around. The church is only open during mass time, but if you have an enterprising taxi driver he might be able to get the resident priest to show you around for a tip.
- Location: Next to St. Francis Church on Fort Cochin and Mattancherry Island.
Ayurvedic treatment includes special massages. While Ayurveda is a form of alternative healing therapy and should be followed by visiting an Ayurdeva practitioner, the massage treatment can be enjoyed by anyone for basic rejuvenation. The typical Ayurvedic massage treatment can be had all over Kerala but these are the best places in Kochi. Ayur Dara offers anything from one- to seven-day packages.
The practitioner here is world renowned and quite busy so take an appointment beforehand. Location: On Vypeen island. Cochin Ayurvedic Centre is also good with massages and treatments based on Ayurveda. Location: Santa Cruz School road, Fort Cochin. Kerala Ayurvedic Chikitsa Kendram offers a rejuvenation massage and also offers steam baths. These are the two most popular offerings. If you have a medical problem that you would like treated, discuss beforehand.
- Location: Kannanthodathu Lane in Ernakulam
This is the church where the remains of Vasco da Gama, the famous Portuguese explorer, lay for 14 years before being sent back to Lisbon. His tombstone can still be viewed here. Built in 1503, it was the first European Church to be constructed in India.
The original wood material was gradually replaced by stone and tiled roof by 1516. It passed from Portuguese to Dutch to British to finally Indian hands down the ages. It is now under the Church of South India.
- Location: Very close to the Fort Kochi Beach on Fort Cochin and Mattancherry island.
This is a homestead which takes on boarders and the cost is quite reasonable to spend the night. Said to be the house where Vasco da Gama the famous Portuguese explorer lived. Built in the 16th century it is a highly likely possible but unfortunately there is no official documentation to prove it.
The house itself is a typical example of local architecture and it's nice for a visit anyway even if you do not wish to stay there. Include it in the Heritage walk.
- Location: On Rose Street in Fort Cochin and Mattancherry island. Within walking distance of St. Francis Church.
Water and Amusement Park
Veega Land is a combination of an amusement park and a water park; the ideal place for a day out with the family. The water world has swimwear available to hire, and separate changing rooms for ladies and gents with lockers. Some shops are around where you can buy drinking water and some packaged snacks while the toilets are cleaner than most public conveniences.
The rides are classified into Family, Kiddies and 'Hair Raising' besides a separate category of water rides. Nice for a day long excursion out of the city.
- Location: 15km from central Kochi.