Chinese Fishing Nets: These huge cantilevered fishing nets are a marvel of this town. Believed to be the only place, after China, where these nets are found, these are believed to have been introduced by merchants from the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan. These nets are locally known as Cheenavala and can be best viewed at the Vasco De Gama Square at Fort Kochi. The nets are balanced on teakwood and bamboo poles and are lowered and raised in the sea by six fishermen, who must maintain the balance of the net at all times.
Fort Kochi Beach: Though small, a walk on the fine sand is highly recommended. Especially watch the spectacular sights of the Chinese Fishing Nets, as they are lowered and raised in the sea. Several European-style houses line the shores and an old lighthouse is also visible at one end of the beach.
St. Francis Church: Located at Fort Kochi, this is one of the oldest European churches built in India. Originally built in timber, it was later replaced by stone-work. Vasco De Gama's remains were buried here and later transferred to Lisbon. However, his tomb still exists here. Worth watching is an ancient marriage register, dating from 1751-1804!
Open from: 6.00 am-7.00 pm
Vasco House: Sited on Rose Street in Fort Kochi, this is one of the oldest Portuguese houses, where Vasco de Gama is said to have lived. Watch the beautiful European glass panes and balconies.
Santa Cruz Basilica: Believed to be well-over 500 years old, the church is distinctly gothic with high spires. However, its interiors are truly spectacular with stained glass paintings, huge sculpted female figures used as pillars and a number of confessional boxes.
Open from: 9.00 am-1.00 pm, 3.00 pm-5.00 pm
Jewish Synagogue: Also known as the Pardesi Synagogue and Mattancherry Synagogue, it is said to be almost 400 years old and is one of the 7 Synagogues that are found in the region. The interior is beautiful and exhibit a Belgian-crystal chandelier, a carved teak arc, the ancient scrolls of the Old Testament and the two copper plaques with the grants of privilege made by the rulers to the Jews. Also found are a set of gold Torah crowns inlaid with precious gems. Especially watch the floor, which is laid with hand-painted porcelain tiles, each sporting a different design! Visit the Clock Tower whose floor has hand-painted blue willow tiles, and the four dials, which have numerals in Hebrew, Latin, Malayalam and Arabic.
Open from: 10.00 am-noon, 3.00 pm-5.00 pm (closed on Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish Holidays)
Note - Video cameras not allowed inside
Mattancherry Palace: Also called the Dutch Palace, the palace is defined by the Kerala murals that adorn its walls. Built in traditional Kerala style, a small temple dedicated to Pazhayannur Bhagavati, the patron deity of the Kochi royal family. Smaller temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva and Krishna. Watch the floor of the dining hall, which looks like black marble, but actually is a combination of burned coconut shells, charcoal, lime, plant juices and egg whites! The highlight of this palace is the large number of murals depicting scenes from Hindu epics and mythology. The king's room especially, is noted for its exceptionally low wooden ceiling and almost 48 illustrations from the Ramayana that adorn its walls. Other murals include paintings of Lakshmi, Vishnu, Parvati, Shiva and Krishna with the gopis. Other interesting exhibits include an ivory palanquin, a howdah, royal umbrellas, ceremonial dresses used by the royalty, royal coins, stamps and drawings.
Open from: 10.00 am-5.00 pm (closed on Friday)
Bolgatty Palace: Located on Bolgatty Island, this is one of the oldest Dutch palaces in the world. This is now converted into a hotel run by KTDC. The island also has a golf course and is one of the best places to catch panoramic views of the port and harbour.
Hill Palace: Once the official residence of the Kochi royal family, it has now been converted into an archeological museum. The complex consisting of 49 buildings has been built in traditional Kerala architecture, complete with landscaped gardens, a deer park and facilities for horse riding. Interesting exhibits include oil paintings, murals, stone sculptures and manuscripts, royal coins and the royal throne. Also on display are collections from Japan and China, including pottery, stone-age weapons, wooden temple models and plaster objects from the Indus Valley civilization.
Vypeen Island: A long island between the sea and the backwater, this is credited as being one of the densely inhabited islands. Highlights here include the old lighthouse at Ochanthuruthu and the Pallipuram Fort, which is one of the oldest surviving European forts in India. Also take a stroll at the Cherai Beach, which is lined by coconut groves and paddy fields.
Open from: Lighthouse - 3.00 pm-5.00 pm
Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary: This is a protected bird sanctuary situated right in the heart of Kochi. This is also one of the greenest areas of Kochi,, owing to the dense mangroves found here. Popular sightings of exotic and rare bird include little cormorant and black-crowned night heron.
Museum of Kerala History: This 'live museum' draws significance from the 36 spectacular sound-and-light show depicting the history and culture of Kerala. Other interesting sections would be the Gallery for Paintings and Sculptures, which exhibit specimens of Indian art of the last 200 years; and the Dolls Museum, which has a collection of 150 dolls handcrafted from all states of India.
Pareekshith Thampuran Museum: This durbar-turned museum houses a vast collection of relics, including oil paintings, coins, murals and wooden models of temples and buildings in Kerala. Built in traditional Kerala-style, other significant collections include scriptures made in stone and Plaster-of-Paris and artifacts belonging to the Cochin royal family.
Veega Land: This is Kerala's largest amusement park and features attractions including mini castle tours, water theme park, ferris-wheel, rides, slides, shows and fountains.
Willingdon Island: This man-made island is home to the Cochin Port and houses some of the most important hotels and offices.
Guruvayur: This is famous for the temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, which is one of the oldest temples in the region. In fact so sacred is the temple, that on some days almost 100 marriages take place here! Also located close to the temple is Punnathur Kotta, where elephants are trained for temple purposes.
Kathakali Centres: When visiting Cochin, don't forget to watch a show of this spectacular dance form, typical to South India. Noted centres include See India Foundation at Kalathiparambil Road, near Ernakulam Junction railway station, The Cochin Cultural Centre at Manikath Road and Art Kerala at Kannanthodathu Lane. These institutes hold Kathakali dance shows every evening.