Kochi, formerly known as Cochin is a port city in Kerala conveniently located between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. The city dates back to 1102 AD, when it was formed. Since then it was ruled first by the Portuguese, then the Dutch, the British and finally joined the Indian Union after 1947.
Kochi, with its multi-cultural facet has quite a few places to watch out for when you visit:
1. Hill Palace, Tripunithura
Spread over 52 acres of beautifully maintained land, the Hill Palace in Tripunithura was the headquarters of the Rajas of Kochi. It was built in 1865 and is now an Archeological Museum that houses a huge display of items that belonged to the Royal Family of Cochin. The items on display include the Crown worn by the Kings, ornaments, the King’s Throne and a majestic bed on which the Kings slept. Stone and marble sculptures, oil-paintings, inscriptions, coins and pottery are also on display.
2. Santa Cruz Basilica
Built in 1505 AD during the Portuguese rule, the majestic Santa Cruz Basilica is an archeological beauty and a treat to the eyes! The Gothic style cathedral boasts of a very interesting history and reflects a true picture of amazing architectural grandeur. Frescos and murals decorate the interior of the cathedral and the colorful stained glass windows contribute to the majestic look. What catches the eye though, are the seven huge canvas paintings, one of them being a replica of the famous painting called ‘Last Supper’ by Leonardo Da Vinci.
3. Ramakrishna Math
If you are looking for spiritual peace, the Ramakrishna Math, Vyttila is the perfect place to visit. Located near Ernakulum, the Ashram established in 1946, is now under the administration of Belur Math of West Bengal. The Math hosts a variety of activities regarding spiritualism and cleansing of the soul. You can visit the temple and Prayer Hall for a quiet evening dedicated to prayer and meditation. The Math also houses a library where you will find an impressive collection of books on Ramakrishna, the teachings of Swami Vivekananda and Spiritualism. Various educational courses are held by the Math for poor and meritorious students to give them a bright future.
4. Indo-Portuguese Museum
From Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The Indo-Portuguese Museum in Ernakulum is located in the Bishop’s House and was built in 1910. The place is a treasure trove of the ancient Portuguese culture and heritage. The museum has a huge display of artifacts from that era and the exhibits date back to the 16th Century. The Altar made of teak occupies a place of interest in the museum and has an interesting history to tell. Apart from that, there is also a Processional Cross made from silver and wood, a Coat of Arms and several pieces of sculptures and items made of precious metals.
5. Maritime Museum
The Maritime Museum in Kochi showcases the many facets of the Indian Navy and is a must-visit during your vacation. Founded in 2001, it is housed in the INS Dronacharya campus, the Navy’s gunnery and missile school. If you are a war enthusiast, this place will amaze you with its huge display of models, items used by the navy, naval uniforms and symbols apart from frescos and pictures depicting the history of the Indian Navy dating back to 1612. One can gather a huge amount of knowledge regarding ancient and current sea routes, Indian ports and the story of how the Westerners reached the coasts of India in the ancient times.
6. Folklore Cultural Theatre
The Folklore Cultural Theatre in Kochi is the true essence of the culture of Kerala and its people. It is the hub of the famous ‘Kuchipudi’ dance form that involves an elaborate face make-up and a unique costume and head-dress. The fully air-conditioned theatre hosts the dance performances every evening from 4:30pm to 6:30pm IST and also allows photography. The most interesting part is witnessing the entire make-up and preparation process of the performers before the show! An evening at the theatre is sure to make your visit to Kochi an eye-opener on the rich South Indian cultural arena.
7. Jew Town
Kochi is home to quite a large population of Jews known as Cochin Jews who had migrated to India from different places in the older times. They are the main residents of Jew Town in Kochi. The place reflects their way of living and tells their story. There are a large number of antique shops offering bronze vessels, wooden carvings, lamps, urns and vintage photographs. You will also find a large number of shops selling various spices (Kochi is renowned for its spice-trading). The friendly people of Jew Town will make your visit enticingly pleasant.
A visit to Kochi makes for a learning experience and is sure to make your vacation interesting and one you will look forward to!!