Tuesday, September 6, 2011

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 Ernakulam  -  Kochi

Ernakulam, also referred to as Cochin, is called the Queen of the Arabian Sea. The commercial hub of Kerala, it is a fast growing city abuzz with industries, shopping malls, cinema houses, hotels and restaurants. Known for its Chinese fishing nets, churches, synagogues and the spectacular backwaters, Cochin is a developed city that has preserved its natural beauty. 

The town has three main parts- FortCochin, WillingdonIsland and Ernakulam. FortCochin (FortKochi) occupies the Southern cape on the seaward side of the Bay. WillingdonIsland is a man-made island which was created from the sand dug out from deepening the port. Across the causeway from WillingdonIsland is Ernakulam. The BolghattyIsland, a long narrow peninsula, is situated at the opposite side of Ernakulam jetty. The VypeenIsland is situated beyond BolghattyIsland.

Ernakulam (or
Cochin) is located on the coast of the Arabian Sea with Allapuzha on the South, Idukki on the East and Thrissur on the North. The commercial capital and of Kerala, Ernakulam, is one of the finest natural harbours in the world which is a major centre of trade and commerce.

Fact File


Best time to visit


STD Code

 2407 sq kms


September to February

23 – 32 Degree Celsius


 Places to Visit

Marine Drive:

A popular hangout, this scenic stretch offers a spectacular view of the backwaters and the KochiHarbour, Packed with shopping malls, cinema halls, restaurants, cares and supermarkets, the RainbowBridge is another attraction of Marine Drive.

The Hill Palace Museum, Thripunithura:

(10km from Kochi, Open from 0900 -1230 hrs, 1400 - 1630 hrs. Closed on Mondays) Hill Palace, the official residence of the erstwhile Kochi Royal  Family, was built in 1865, The palace complex consists of49 buildings in the traditional architectural style of Kerala and is surrounded by 52 acres of terraced land with a deer park and facilities for horse riding, A full-fledged ethno-archaeological museum and Kerala's first-ever heritage museum are the main attractions. Displayed inside the thirteen galleries are oil paintings, 19th century paintings, murals, sculptures in stone and plaster of Paris,manuscripts, inscriptions and coins belonging to the royal family, Ancient musical instruments, clay models, bronze and silver items from the 14th,15thand lc'' century are some of the other exhibits here.

DurbarHall Art Gallery:

(Open 1100 -1800 hI'S) Right in the middle of EmakularnCity is the grand Durbar Hall grounds. At one time known as the ParikshitTharnpuranMuseum, it has now been converted into the Durbar Hall An Gallery, The museum also houses a collection of coins, bronzes, copies of murals and megalithic relics of Kerala

Ernakulam Siva Temple:

(Opp, Rajendra Maidan) Popularly known as Ernakulathappan, this temple is associated with the birth of the name of the City.The idols of Siva and Parvathi are claimed to be swayambhoo or self- created.

Chottanikkara Temple:

(16 km northwest of Ernakulam) This temple enshrines the Goddess Bhagavathy in three revered forms - asSaraswati,Bhadrakali and Durga. Devotees flock from all over to this io- century temple seeking liberation from mental illness as the goddess is believed to cure such ailments.


(24 km from Kochi, towards Perumbavoor) Chiselled into the hill face to the east of the city is an amusement park with excellent water sports facilities, It is a favourite weekend getaway for both locals and tourists.

Kanjiramattom Mosque:

(18 km from Kochi) The mosque retains the antique beauty of mazbars and dargabs. Honouring the Saint Sheikh Fariduddin, at the Chandanakudam Festival, pilgrims carry pots covered with sandalwood paste in a procession to the mosque.

Museum of Kerala History:

(8 km from Kochi at Edappally. Open 1000 - 1700 hrs, Closed on Mondays) The Foundation houses the Museum of Kerala History, which showcases historical episodes from the neolithic to the modern era through life-size figures, Light 'n' sound shows are regularly organised with commentaries in English and Malayalarn,There is also a gallery of paintings and sculptures, displaying over 200 original works by contemporary Indian artists, The Centre  for Visual Arts has a collection of the authentic reproduction of selected world masters and larger-than-life mural reproductions of Indian art.

Mannapuram SivaTemple, Aluva:

(21 km from Kochi) Famous for the Sivaratri Festival held annually, this temple at first glance, looks unfinished. But a closer look shows that the angles are brilliantly conceived and the pillars are positioned in such a way to give the illusion of being incomplete.

Thrikkakara Vamanamoorthy Temple:

Inscriptions from the 10th to the 13th century are found in this temple at Thrikkakara, near Ernakularn. This is the only temple dedicated to Vamana , one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, who in the guise of a Brahmin boy ended the glorious rule of King Mahabali. Thrikkakara is considered to be the capital of Mahabali's Kingdom and the ten-day Onam celebration is flagged off from this temple with a colourful pageant.


The original foundation of this temple was laid in 947 AD according to the inscriptions found here.

Kumbalangi Tourist Village:

(25 km from Kochi) Essentially a fishing hamlet, this tiny village facing the Kochi backwaters in the western part of the city is the first ecotourism village in India. Kalagramarn, an artist's village, displays handicrafts and fishing equipment. Mangroves are nurtured here as also fish farming. Bait fishing is extremely popular among tourists here.


(35 km from Kechi) The birthplace ofAdi Sankaracharya, the great Advaita philosopher or the 8th century, Kaladi is 10 krn from Aluva, Temples  dedicated to Sree Sankara, Sarada Devi, Sree Krishna and Sree Ramakrishna add to the sanctity of the destination. A place called Crocodile Ghat is where Sree Sankara took his vows of renunciation. According to legends, a crocodile caught hold of him and refused to release him until Sankara's mother Aryarnba permitted him to accept Sanyas (renunciation).


(30 hm jrom Kottayam) Situated in the high ranges on the southern bank of the Periyar, Kodanad is one of the largest elephant training centres in South India. Elephants specially trained for safari are provided with saddles for riding. There is also a mini zoo for wild animals here.


(42 km from Ernakulam) This is a rare geographical combination of three rivers, seven inlets, hillocks and vast expanses of green plains. The PaliarnPalace, abode of the Paliath Achans, prime ministers to the erstwhile Maharajas ofKochi, represents the architectural splendour of Kerala. The palace houses a collection of historic documents and relics. The hillocks at Kottayil Kovilakom presents the unusual sight of a temple, a church, a mosque and the remains of a Jewish synagogue, all situated next to each other. Also interesting is a visit to the remains of the Vypeenkotta Seminary built in the 16th century by the Portuguese.


(47 km from Kochi) Malayatoor is famous for the Catholic church on the - 609 m high Malayatoor Hill (dedicated to St. Thomas). Thousands of devotees undertake the pilgrimage to the shrine to participate in the annual festival - Malayatoor Perunnal (March/April). St. Thomas is believed to have prayed at this shrine.


(50 km northeast of Ernakulam) A picturesque haven situated in a vast virgin forest, this mythologically popular picnic spot lies close to the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at Thattekkadu. Two of the main irrigation projects of Ernakulam district - the Periyar Valley Irrigation Project and the Idamalayar Irrigation Project - are also located nearby. Trekking through the enchanting wilderness of Bhoothathankettu promises much excitement to adventure lovers.

Thattekkadu Bird Sanctuary:

(20km from Kothamangalom the Kochi - Munnar route. Open 0600 - 1700hrs) This sanctuary, nestled in evergreen forests, was discovered by the renowned ornithologist of India, Dr. Salim Ali and is named after him. The sanctuary is noted for indigenous birds like the Malabar grey-hcmbill, the woodpecker, rose-ringed and blue-winged parakeet etc. Rare bitlis like the Ceylon frog-moth and the Rose-billed roller are also seen here. Diverse migrant species home in here during season.

Mattancherry Palace/Dutch Palace:

(Next to the last bus stand of Mattanchey. Open 1000 - 1700 brs. Closed on Fridays) Built by the Portuguese in 1557 and presented to Raja Veera Kerala Varma of Kochi, the palace was renovated in 1663 by the Dutch. On display here are beautiful murals depicting scenes from the epics - Ramayana and Mahabharata, as well as some of the Puranic Hindu legends. The palace also houses Dutch maps of olel Kochi, royal palanquins, coronation robes of former maharajas of Kochi as well as period furniture. The three dimensional portraits of the Maharajas are also noteworthy.


(Open 1000 -1200 hI'S;1500 -1700 hrs. Closed on Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish holidays) Constructed in 1568, this is the oldest synagogue in the  Commonwealth. Destroyed in a shelling during the Portuguese raid in 1662, it was rebuilt two years later by the Dutch.


The area around the Synagogue is a centre of spice trade and curio shops.


Named after Lord Willingdon, a former British Viceroy of India, this man-made island is surrounded by beautiful backwaters. The island is the site of the city's best hotels and trading centres, the Port Trust and the headquarters of the southern naval command.


This lovely beach bordering VypeenIsland is ideal for swimming. Dolphins are occasionally seen here. A typical Kerala village with paddy fields and  coconut groves nearby is an added attraction.


This island is famous for its palace of the same name. The BolgattyPalace 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.

                                                                             Excursions From Ernakulam

Athirapally Waterfalls (80 km)  Guruvayoor (108 km): SreeKrishnaTemple (Non-Hindus are not allowed) Alappuzha (65 krn): Backwater cruises· Kumarakom (92 km): Backwater cruises Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary (192 km) Munnar (130 km): Hill station, tea plantations


Lakshadweep, a Union Territory of India, is a group of 36 islands, located in the Arabian Sea, about 300 km off Kochi. Of these islands, Androt, Amini, Agatti, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadamat, Kalpeni, Kavaratti and Minicoy are inhabited. The main occupation of the islanders is fishing. The languages spoken are  Malayalam and Mahl. Tourists are permitted to enter through package tours offered by SPORTS.


Accessing FortKochi: Backwater ferrylbus/autorickshaw
A leisurely walk through the city is the best way to discover historic
FortKochi. An obscure fishing village that became the first European township in India, Kochi has an eventful and colourful history. 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 influences is seen in the many examples of Indo-European architecture that still exist here.

Vasco da Gama Square/Chinese Fishing Nets:

The huge cantilevered fishing nets are the legacy of one of the first visitors to the Malabar Coast. Erected here between 1350 and 1450AD by traders from the court of Kublai Khan, these nets are set up on teak wood and bamboo poles. The best place to watch the nets being lowered into the sea and the catch being brought in, is the Vasco da Gama Square, a narrow promenade that runs along the beach. The Square is also an ideal place to idle, with stalls serving fresh delicious seafood, tender coconut etc.

Pierce Leslie Bungalow:

This channing mansion was the office of Pierce Leslie & Co., coffee merchants, founded in 1862. A representative of the FortKochi colonial bungalow, this building reflects Portuguese, Dutch and local influences. Characteristic features are wood panels that form the roof of the ground floor, arched doorways, cal-veddoors and sprawling rooms. Waterfront verandahs are an added attraction.

OldHarbour House:

This elegant old bungalow built in 1808 is in the possession of Carrit Moran & Co., renowned tea brokers, who now use it as their residence. The  house was once a boat club.

Koder House:

This magnificent building constructed by Samuel S.Kader of The Cochin Electric Company in 1808 is a supreme example of the transition from colonial to Indo-European architecture. Features like verandah seats at the entrance, floor tiles set in a chess board pattern, red-coloured brick-like facade, Redwood furniture and a wooden bridge connecting to a separate structure across the street are all unique to this bungalow, which is a heritage hotel today.

Delta Study:

Once a warehouse, this heritage bungalow built in 1808, houses a high school today.

Santa Cruz Basilica:

(Rampart Road, south of Fosse Street. Open 0900 - 1300 hrs, 1500 -1700 hrs. Mass Timings: Daily 0600, 0700 and 1800 hrs) This historic church was built by the Portuguese and elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558. In 1795 it fell into the hands of the British when they took over Kechi, and was demolished. About a hundred years later Bishop Dom Gomez Ferreira commissioned a new building at the same site in 1887. The church was proclaimed a Basilica in 1984 by Pope John Paul ll. Ph: 0484-2215799 www.santacruzbasilicaca. org

Loafer's Corner/Princess Street:

One of the earliest streets to be constructed in FortKochi, Princess Street with its European style residences still retains its old world charm. The best view of this quaint street can be had from Loafer'S Corner, the tradirional meeting place and hangout of the jovial, fun-loving people of the area.

Vasco House:

Believed to have been the residence of Vasco da Gama, this is one of the oldest Portuguese residences in FortKechi. Built in the early sixteenth century, Vasco House sports the typical European glass-paned windows and balcony-cum-verandahs characteristic of the times.

VOC Gate:

The large wooden gate Facingthe Parade Ground, with the monogram (VOC) of the once mighty Dutch East India Company calved on it, was built in 1740. The Dutch Mint was located here.

Parade Ground:

The Four-acre ParadeGround was once where the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British colonists conducted their military parades and drills. The buildings around the ground housed their defence esrablishmcnts. Today, the largest open ground in FortKochi, the ParadeGround is a sports arena.

The United Club:

One of the four elite clubs of the British in Kochi, the United Club today selves two purposes - as class room for the nearby St. Francis Primary School by day and a card room for the current members by evening. Until 1907, the building housed the offices of the FortKochiMunicipality.

The Bishop's House:

Built in 1506 as the residence of the Portuguese Governor, the Bishop's House stands on a little hillock near the ParadeGround. The facade of the House is characterised by large Gothic arches and has a circular garden path winding up to the main entrance. The building was acquired by Dom jos Gomes Ferreira, the 27th Bishop of the Diocese of Kochi whose jurisdiction extended over Burma, Malaya and Ceylon, in addition to India. Adjacent to the Bishop's House is the Indo-PortugueseMuseum which houses precious artefacts collected from various churches under the Cochin diocese.

Fort -Immanuel:

This bastion of the Portuguese in Kochi was a symbol of the strategic alliance between the Maharajah of Kochi and the Monarch of Portugal, after  whom it was named. Built in 1503, the fort was reinforced in 1538. By 1806, the Dutch, and later the British, had destroyed most of the fort walls and its bastions. Today, remains of this once imposing structure can be seen along the beach.

The DutchCemetery:

The tombstones here are the most authentic record of the hundreds of Europeans who left their homeland on a mission to expand their colonial empires and changed the course of history of this lanel.The cemetery was consecrated in 1724 and is today managed by the Church of South India.

Thakur House:

This graceful building holds within itself a reflection of the colonial era. The bungalow was built on the site of the Gelderland Bastion, one of the seven bastions of the old Dutch Fort. Earlier known asKunal or Hill Bungalow, it was home to the managersof the National Bank of India during the British reign. Today, the bungalow belongs to RamBahadur Thakur and Company, the renowned tea trading firm.

David Hall:

Though built around 1695 by the Dutch East India Company, David Hall gets its name from one of its later occupants, David Koder,a Jewish businessman. The Hall was originally associatedwith Hendrik Adriaan Van Reed Tot Drakestein, renowned Dutch commander better known for his Hortus Malabaricus, a pioneering compilation of the flora of the Malabar Coast.

The Cochin Club:

The club, with its impressive library and collection of sporting trophies, is housed in a beautifully landscaped park. In the early 1900s,when the club had just become operational, admission was restricted to the British and to men only. Today, though the club retains its traditional English ambience, its rules are more liberal and the membership of 250 includes women aswell. Strangely enough, alcohol is not served on the premises.

St Francis Church:

(On Church Road. Open 0600-1900 hrs, only on weekdays. Mass Timings: 0600 and 0715 hrs) Built in 1503 by Portuguese Franciscan friars, this is  India's oldest European church. This was initially built of timber and later reconstructed in stone masonry. It was restored in 1779 by the Protestant Dutch, convened to an Anglican church by the British in 1795 and is at present governed by the Church of South India. Vasco da Gama was buried here in 1524 before his remains were moved to Lisbon, Portugal. The tombstone still remains.

Bastion Bungalow:

Built in the Indo-European style way back in 1667, the bungalow gets its name from its location on the site of the Stromberg Bastion of the old Dutch Fort. The building blends beautifully into the circular structure of the bastion, has a tiled roof and a typical first floor verandah in wood along its front portion. Though it hasbeen said that a network of secret tunnels runs beneath the bungalow, none have been found. Today, the bungalow is  the official residence of the Sub Collector

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