Fort Kochi is a seaside town in the south-western part of Main Kochi which is known for its old-world colonial charm. The place still holds on to every single cultural change it has gone through over the centuries. We can see remnants of British rule all over the country. But tourists flock hear all around the year to have a glimpse of how Portuguese or Dutch colonialism affected parts of our country. The quaint city is dotted with similar structures and has an overall ambience that keeps reminding you of the colonial powers that once ruled over the place.
The fort region of Kochi has seen the rise and fall of some European powers, mainly the Portuguese and the Chinese before that and the Dutch after, before it went under the nation-wide British rule in the 18th century. Fort Kochi is dotted with European structures, churches and other architectural buildings which take you right back to a different era back in time.
It has that effect on the travellers, where they get absorbed by the serene surroundings and unique architectures. Unlike most forts of middle and northern India, Fort Kochi is not about historical fortifications, canons and ruins of old palatial buildings. Till date, it has the vibe of an ancient colonial city with its toy-town like streets, colourful and charming buildings and a picturesque view out at the beach - much like the small towns of southern Europe.
The European name of Kochi - Cochin got its name from the Chinese settlers who came here back in the 1300s and set up the now famous Chinese fishing nets. "Co-chin" translates to "like China", from which we can understand that this place looked like the parts of China from where the early Chinese people came. Kochi had elaborate commercial relations with the Chinese as well as the Arabians, especially in the spice trade.
The region of Fort Kochi was primarily a fishing village under the Rajah of Kochi who granted the place to the Portuguese colonials after the army of Albuquerque helped the Cochins to defeat the royal army of Kozhikode. To establish their commercial and gradually administrative stronghold, the Portuguese constructed here Fort Emmanuel, and a wooden church called St Francis Church both of which, after much demolition and renovation by the Dutch and later by the British, are now popular tourist attractions ever since Kochi came under the government of independent India in 1947.
Things to Do in Fort Kochi
1. Fort Kochi Beach
The fort town of Kochi is situated along the Malabar Coast of India and offers a serene view of the Arabian Sea, especially during the sunset. The meandering streets dotted with historical structures all end up at this beach where the tourists can enjoy a great atmosphere to relax as well as have some fun. The remains of the first structure built by the Portuguese, the Emmanuel Fort, stands at the shore of Arabian Sea as a reminder of a glorious past.
You can take a quiet walk along the sands of Fort Kochi beach, enjoy the sunset and have a look around some of the historical spots like the fort and the famous Chinese nets; or you can indulge in water activities like fishing, dolphin sighting, beach photography and more. You can also treat yourself to the delicious treats sold in the food stalls at the beach - grilled fish, shrimps, prawns there is no dearth of it. There are boat rides available to have a look around the numerous mini islands in the backwaters which separate the main city of Ernakulum from Fort Kochi.
2. The Chinese Fishing Nets
The Chinese fishing nets are the trademark identification of Kochi tourism. Assumedly set up by Chinese explorer Zheng He sent by Kubla Khan at some time between 1350 AD and 1450 AD, these colossal fishing nets are still in use and also a major tourist attraction of Fort Kochi. Called Cheenavala in Malayalam, each net is a 10 metres high structure with 20 metre wide span, operated with a cantilever and counterweight stones.
The actual functioning of the nets can still be witnessed if visited during early morning or evening time, when the local fishermen droop down the nets down into the sea to earn their living. Around 11:00 AM Chinese nets still stand against the Malabar skyline with looming silhouettes, creating the most click-worthy scene in all of Kochi tourism.
3. St Francis Church
Originally made of wood and mud, this church within the original premises of the now-in-ruins Emmanuel Fort, was the first temple of worship constructed by the Portuguese. Ever since, the church has changed many hands as well as architecture and names. First the Dutch and then the Anglican Church of the British took over the building, renovating and refurbishing it in their own way.
In spite of all the modernisation, the church still holds on to its rustic colonial charm in every way. As additional attractions, the church has a cenotaph in its lawns in memory of all the Great War martyrs of Kochi and the old burial ground of Vasco da Gama before it was taken away to Portugal.
4. Kerala Kathakali Centre
If you want to explore the rich cultural aspect of Kerala, the Kerala Kathakali Centre is a must visit for you. Located near the Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, it proudly exhibits the age-old dance, music and martial arts forms of the region. The performances start around 6:00 PM every day and go on until 9:00 PM. In case you have booked yourself for a Kathakali show, then try to reach around an hour and a half before, as the dressing up, make-up and preparation for the performance is an exhibit in itself.
6. Kashi Art Café
Being the best hangout spot for foreigners, art lovers and celebrities, this place is known to have the best breakfast in Fort Kochi. Buzzing with customers, it hosts the best continental cuisine, especially for non-vegetarians and eggetarians. Interestingly, it also hosts the work of an artist for a month while providing the café with the touch of an art gallery. Beef burger, chicken sandwich, mushroom burger and lemonade are must try.
Location: Burgher Street, Fort Kochi. Average cost for two: INR 600 Timings: 08:30 AM to 10:00 PM
7. Teapot Café
This is an old-fashioned attractive hangout spot in Fort Kochi with varieties of traditional tea and coffee along with decent breakfast and lunch. The display of ancient teapots flavours the quaint and antique ambience of the café.
Location: Peter Celli Street, Fort Kochi Average cost for two: INR 300 Timings: 08:30 AM to 09:30 PM
8. Pepper House Café
Famed being in the Malayalam movie ' Premam', this café has grabbed a lot of attention from millennials. Along with the wooden benches, the verdant garden picturesque sets an enchanting ambience. Specialized in European cuisine and desserts, it is a fine spot to host an exhibition. They even have a souvenir shop that sells clothes, pretty jewellery and cute stationery.
Location: Kalvatty Road, Fort Kochi Average cost for two: INR 500 Timings: 10:00 AM to 07:00 PM
Other notable places in the Fort Kochi region are the Bishop's House, Santa Cruz Basilica, the Dutch Cemetery, the Indo-Portuguese Museum, Vasco da Gama's house and the Maritime Museum inside INS Dronacharya - the Indian Navy Gunnery School at Fort Kochi.
Tips For Visiting Fort Kochi
Don't forget to try the local cuisines of the place. And do get an experience from the fishermen of using those popular Chinese fishing nets which are fun to watch.
How To Reach Fort Kochi
There is ferry service in the entire Mattancherry peninsula on a regular basis. Between 5:00 AM and 9:50 PM, ferries run from Ernakulam's main jetty to both the jetties of Fort Kochi - Customs and Mattancherry every 25-30 minutes. The fare is around INR 4-5 per person.
Buses from Ernakulam train station or Cochin airport use the Fort Cochin bus stand. Cars, auto-rickshaws, and taxis can be easily hired for the day to roam around Fort Kochi. Also, many agents lend out scooters or enfields at INR 300 to INR 600 per day to interested tourists.
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Nestled on the seaside, Fort Kochi is a relic of bygone times and stands with its well-preserved colonial architecture lining its narrow cobbled streets. Chinese fishing nets dot the coastline with f (Read More)ish vendors selling their fresh catches opposite ubiquitous carts hawking souvenirs and knick-knacks for tourists to take something home. Photographers throng at sunset time to capture the quietly majestic scene. Cafes and boutiques are spread out through the area and it is a past-time of many to go hopping from one cafe to another and walking along Fort Kochi?s streets. The Kochi Muziris Biennale is a two month period during which art installations from all over the world are showcased in the many art galleries throughout the area, and is a celebration of Fort Kochi?s rich diversity. Jew Town, one of the first Jewish settlements in India and the Jewish synagogue within it, is also a major tourist attraction. One can also choose to stay in the beautiful colonial-era buildings that served as lodging for British Raj bureaucrats, as many of them have been repurposed into hotels.
3 years ago
Fort Kochi is the one of the coziest places in India. Its contemporary architecture and low skyline is a signature in itself. There are numerous highly comfortable inns and many more personalised caf (Read More)es which give really great food at attractive prices. The St.Basilica Cathedral is one of the three basilicas in the country and a very glorious one at that. Fort Kochi is very walkable with its concrete paved streets and small alleyways. A must explore area if you're visiting Kochi.