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Last Updated Friday November 24 2017 05:22 AM IST

Kochi

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Kochi

Ernakulam district is a cluster of islands connected by lagoons and backwaters. Kochi, one of the finest natural harbours in the world, was once a major centre of commerce and trade with the Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and the British. The commercial capital and the most cosmopolitan city of Kerala, Kochi, is also known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea. The foreign traders have left their mark on this beautiful island. Half the fun of visiting Kochi is moving around on the local ferries. A conducted cruise through the winding waterways will take you to several quaint spots.

You will have to agree with the Spanish traveler who scribed in his memoirs that no journey through India is complete without experiencing the rail journey through OottyCoonoor and the boat ride through KochiVarapuzha water canal. The mesmerising journey that starts from High Court junction at Ernakulam provides a beautiful glimpse of the broad backwaters that embraces Kochi. In their journey to Varapuzha, the boats are anchored at more than 20 docks. The oneandahalfhour long boat ride provides a kaleidoscopic view of the vibrant cultural life against a natural backdrop.

The solitary boat rider and the fisherman who thuds hard on his boat to attract customers from the distant island towards his catch are but a few isolated images that stay in mind long after the trip. Barges that contain liquid ammonia gas too sail by. The taste of toddy and the hot spicy fish curry served at the riverside shops lingers on one’s tastebuds. No wonder, the ride through the Kochi backwaters itself is the highlight in Fil Franperson's work 'Hidden Kerala', which has been written for KTDC. The boat passes through Mulavukadu, Korumkotta and Vaduthala to reach Chittur where it stops for a refreshing break. The island of Moolampilly, seen on the other side, is famous for its earthen pots. So exquisite were those vessels moulded at Moolampilly that during the IndoChinese war, it was rumoured that these pots were manufactured in China itself.

The boat resumes its ride through the islands of Pizhala, Kothadu and Chennoor before it reaches Varapuzha. The boat anchors beside the ancient St. Joseph Mount Carmel Church. The cultural remnants of the work of early missionaries attract tourists to Varapuzha. The crematorium of the 12 missionaries could also be seen here.

If your eyes long to have yet another glance of the picturesque backwaters you can return to Kochi by boat itself. Or else, you can get down at Cheranallor and catch a bus to Kochi. Taxi service is also available. Accommodation can be arranged at resorts in Korunkodu and Kothadu islands. Homestay facility is available at Chenoor and Kothadu.

Nearby Travel

  • Puthuvype
  • Fort Kochi
  • Mangalavanam
  • Kumbalangi
  • Njarackal and Malipuram
  • Areeckal

Major Attractions

  • Cherai Beach: is a lovely beach bordering Vypeen Island is ideal for swimming. Dolphins are occasionally seen here. A typical Kerala village with paddy fields and coconut groves nearby is an added attraction of this beach.

  • Vypeen Island: (21 km from the city) is a major centre of commerce. The island which is connected to the mainland by a bridge is more easily accessible by boat. The ferry ride over the backwaters takes just 30 minutes.  

  • Fort Kochi Beach and Town: A leisurely walk through the town is the best way to discover the historic Fort Kochi. An obscure fishing village that became the first European township in India, Kochi has an eventful and colourful history to tell. Its reputation as a seafaring commercial town was such that Nicolas Conti, an Italian traveller of the Middle Ages remarked: €˜ If China is where you make your money, then Kochi surely is the place to spend it.€™ The town was shaped by the Portuguese, the Dutch and later the British. The result of these cultural interfaces is seen in the many remains of Indo European architecture that still exist here. The huge cantilevered Chinese fishing nets which were brought here by traders from the court of Kublai Khan, are a fascinating sight on the Kochi shore line.  

Bolghatty Island: is famous for its palace of the same name. The Bolghatty Palace was built in 1744 by the Dutch and later taken over by the British. Today it is a hotel run by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, with a small golf course and special honeymoon cottages.
Willingdon Island: Named after Lord Willingdon, a British Viceroy to India, this manmade island is surrounded by beautiful backwaters. The island is the site of the city's best hotels, customs and trading centres, the Port Trust and the headquarters of the Southern Naval Command.

How to reach there

  • Nearest airport : Nedumbassery airport is just 42km away.
  • Nearest bus station: Kochi
  • Nearest railway station: Ernakulam junction and  north railway stations 

Best time to visit

Kochi is hot and humid most of the time. So if you are not used to a similar climate it is best to stick to OctoberMarch.

Travel tips

  • Kochi is the most cosmopolitan city in Kerala. So in comparison to the rest of the state, one does not have to dress too conservative.
  • ATMs are available in almost every street of the town area.

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