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A Curated Guide To Kochi – The Pretty Port Of Kerala


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Christine Jason



Welcome to Kochi, the mesmerizing coastal city located in the southern state of Kerala, India. Renowned for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural scene, Kochi has long been a favorite destination for travelers seeking a blend of tradition and modernity. With its bustling port, serene backwaters, and charming neighborhoods, the city offers a captivating experience for visitors of all interests.


Formerly known as Cochin, Kochi has a history that dates back centuries, with influences from the Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, and British. This melting pot of cultures has shaped the city’s unique identity, reflected in its architecture, cuisine, and festivals.


Kochi is easily accessible, with an international airport that connects it to major cities worldwide. The city itself is well-connected with a network of roads, making it convenient to explore the various attractions it has to offer.


When it comes to sightseeing, Kochi has something for everyone. From historic landmarks to picturesque backwaters, each corner of the city has its own charm. In this curated guide, we will take you on a journey through some of the must-visit places and experiences in Kochi, giving you a taste of the city’s vibrant culture and unique attractions.


So, whether you are a history buff, an art enthusiast, a nature lover, or a foodie, Kochi promises to delight you with its myriad offerings. Get ready to explore the pretty port of Kerala and immerse yourself in its enchanting ambiance.


Getting to Kochi

Getting to Kochi is convenient and hassle-free, thanks to its well-connected transportation infrastructure. The city is served by the Cochin International Airport, located about 30 kilometers northeast of the city center. It operates flights to and from major Indian cities as well as international destinations.


For those traveling domestically, Kochi has excellent rail connectivity, with two major railway stations – Ernakulam Junction and Ernakulam Town – serving as important hubs. Regular trains from major cities in India, including Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai, connect to Kochi.


If you prefer road travel, Kochi has a well-maintained network of national highways and state highways. You can easily reach the city by private or state-run buses, taxi services, or self-drive options. The drive to Kochi from neighboring cities like Bangalore or Coimbatore is scenic and enjoyable.


Once you arrive in Kochi, getting around the city is convenient with various transportation options. The local bus network is extensive and affordable. Auto-rickshaws, or simply autos, are a popular mode of transport for shorter distances. Taxis and app-based cab services are also readily available. For a unique experience, you can also explore the city on rented bicycles or motorbikes.


Another popular way to explore Kochi is through its ferry services. The city is dotted with several jetties, and ferry rides can take you to different parts of Kochi, including Fort Kochi and Vypeen Island. It’s a picturesque and leisurely way to travel and soak in the coastal beauty.


Overall, Kochi’s accessibility and transportation options make it easy for travelers to reach and navigate the city, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey.


Exploring Fort Kochi

Fort Kochi, located in the southwestern part of Kochi, is a historic neighborhood that exudes a charm and character like no other. This picturesque waterfront area is a testament to Kochi’s colonial past, with influences from the Portuguese, Dutch, and British evident in its architecture, streets, and cultural attractions.


One of the highlights of Fort Kochi is the iconic Chinese Fishing Nets. These massive fishing nets, believed to have been introduced by Chinese traders, are a sight to behold. As you stroll along the shore, you can witness local fishermen skillfully operating these nets, creating a unique and mesmerizing spectacle.


The streets of Fort Kochi are lined with colonial-era buildings and quaint cafes, perfect for leisurely walks and exploration. You can visit the St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India, which holds historical significance as the resting place of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama.


Fort Kochi is also home to the Dutch Palace, also known as Mattancherry Palace. This architectural marvel showcases a blend of Kerala and European styles. The palace exhibits a fascinating collection of murals, artifacts, and portraits, providing insights into the region’s rich history and culture.


To delve deeper into the city’s artistic heritage, make sure to visit the Kerala Folklore Theatre and Museum. This cultural center offers glimpses into Kerala’s traditional art forms, including Kathakali, Theyyam, and Mohiniyattam. You can witness live performances and admire the intricate costumes and expressive movements.


Food enthusiasts will be delighted by the vibrant food scene in Fort Kochi. From local street stalls to upscale restaurants, there are plenty of options to satisfy your taste buds. Don’t miss trying the traditional Kerala cuisine, especially the mouthwatering seafood dishes.


In the evenings, Fort Kochi comes alive with its bustling market and vibrant street performances. You can browse through handicrafts, spices, and souvenirs at the local market, and witness Kathakali dance performances or traditional music shows at the various cultural centers.


Exploring Fort Kochi is like stepping back in time, with its quaint streets, historical landmarks, and cultural treasures. It’s a place that captures the essence of Kochi and leaves a lasting impression on every visitor.


Discovering Mattancherry

A stone’s throw away from Fort Kochi lies the vibrant neighborhood of Mattancherry. Known for its rich cultural heritage and multi-ethnic influences, this area is a treasure trove of historical landmarks, fascinating museums, and bustling markets.


One of the iconic attractions in Mattancherry is the Jew Town and the Paradesi Synagogue. This synagogue, built in 1568, is the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth. Its exquisite architecture and interior, adorned with hand-painted porcelain tiles and Belgian chandeliers, make it a must-visit. Exploring the Jew Town, with its shops selling antiques, handicrafts, and spices, is an experience in itself.


Adjacent to the synagogue is the Dutch Cemetery, showcasing the tombs of Dutch officials and merchants from the colonial era. The serene atmosphere and the historical significance of this cemetery make it a fascinating spot for history enthusiasts.


For art lovers, the Mattancherry Palace is a must-visit. Also known as the Dutch Palace, it houses a remarkable collection of mural paintings that depict scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The palace offers insights into the royal history of Kochi and the artistic traditions of Kerala.


Mattancherry is also famous for its spice markets. Walking through the bustling streets, you will be greeted by the aromatic scents of various spices like cardamom, cloves, and pepper. The spice markets offer a wonderful opportunity to witness the trading and packaging of these precious ingredients that have been an integral part of Kochi’s history.


Another attraction in Mattancherry is the Indo-Portuguese Museum, which showcases the cultural influences that shaped Kochi. The museum houses a vast collection of artifacts, including furniture, weapons, and religious art, providing a glimpse into the Indo-Portuguese heritage of the region.


As you wander through the streets of Mattancherry, you will encounter colorful and intricately designed street art and murals, adding to the vibrant ambiance of the area. These art installations are a reflection of the city’s contemporary art scene and add a modern touch to the historical backdrop.


With its unique blend of history, culture, and art, Mattancherry offers a captivating journey that will transport you to a bygone era while immersing you in the vibrant present-day charm of Kochi.


Visiting the Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple

Nestled amidst the serene surroundings of Chottanikkara in the outskirts of Kochi, the Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple is a renowned Hindu temple dedicated to the Goddess Bhagavathy. Considered one of the most powerful and sacred temples in Kerala, it attracts devotees from all across the country.


The main deity of the temple is Goddess Rajarajeshwari, who is believed to possess both healing and protective powers. The temple is known for its unique rituals and traditions, and it is believed that divine energy fills the air, creating a spiritually uplifting atmosphere.


The architecture of the Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple is a mesmerizing blend of Kerala and Dravidian styles. The intricate carvings and vibrant colors of the temple walls depict mythological stories and deities, adding to its visual appeal.


One of the distinctive rituals of this temple is the Guruthi Pooja, which is performed to appease the goddess and seek her blessings. During this ritual, the entire temple is immersed in darkness except for a single oil lamp, creating an enchanting and mystical ambiance.


Another important offering at the temple is the Neyyabhishekam, where pure ghee is poured over the deity as an act of devotion. It is believed that this ritual has healing properties and can cure various illnesses.


Visiting the Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple during the annual festival of Makam Thozhal is a truly awe-inspiring experience. The temple comes alive with grand processions, traditional music, and performances. Devotees from far and wide come to seek the blessings of the goddess and be a part of the festive celebrations.


Outside the temple complex, you will find various stalls selling devotional items, souvenirs, and local handicrafts. The aroma of incense and the sound of devotional chants fill the air, creating a vibrant and spiritual atmosphere.


As you explore the temple premises, take a moment to immerse yourself in the serenity and spirituality that surrounds you. Experience the strong sense of devotion and the deep-rooted faith that devotees have in the presiding deity. Whether you are seeking spiritual solace or are simply curious to explore the religious traditions of Kerala, a visit to the Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple is an enriching experience that will leave a lasting impression.


Experiencing the Kochi-Muziris Biennale

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is a contemporary art exhibition held in Kochi every two years, attracting art aficionados, artists, and tourists from around the world. This international art event has put Kochi on the global map as a hub for contemporary art and has become a major cultural highlight of the city.


The Biennale takes place in various venues across Kochi, including heritage buildings, galleries, and public spaces, creating a unique blend of art and architecture. Artists from different backgrounds and disciplines come together to showcase their works, ranging from installations and sculptures to paintings and experimental art forms.


One of the key attractions of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is the Aspinwall House, a historic property that serves as a primary venue for the event. This heritage building transforms into a hub of artistic expression, with its rooms and courtyards filled with thought-provoking installations and immersive art experiences.


What sets the Biennale apart is its engagement with the local community and its focus on social themes and issues. The artworks often reflect the local culture, traditions, and socio-political realities of Kerala, fostering dialogues and conversations on relevant topics.


As you explore the various installations and exhibitions, you will have the opportunity to interact with the artists themselves, attend talks and workshops, and engage in artistic discussions. The Biennale creates a platform for cultural exchange and learning, attracting both established artists and emerging talents.


Alongside the art exhibitions, the Biennale also features parallel events, including performances, film screenings, and music concerts. These events add a dynamic and vibrant energy to the entire festival, showcasing the multidimensional nature of contemporary art.


The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is not just an art exhibition; it is an experience that transcends boundaries and challenges conventions. It celebrates the power of art to provoke, inspire, and create meaningful connections. Whether you are an art enthusiast or someone simply curious about the world of contemporary art, the Biennale offers an immersive and enriching experience that will leave you with a new appreciation for the transformative and universal language of art.


Cruising the Backwaters

A visit to Kochi is incomplete without indulging in the serene and enchanting experience of cruising the backwaters. The backwaters of Kerala are a network of interconnected canals, lagoons, and lakes that stretch along the coast, offering a glimpse into the idyllic rural life and unparalleled natural beauty.


There are several options available for exploring the backwaters, including houseboats, motorboats, and traditional canoes. The most popular choice is a houseboat, locally known as a “kettuvallam.” These beautifully crafted boats provide a luxurious and comfortable way to navigate through the backwaters.


As you embark on your backwater cruise, you will be surrounded by lush green landscapes, coconut groves, and mesmerizing reflections on the calm waters. The peaceful ambiance and the gentle rhythm of the boat create a soothing and meditative experience.


During your cruise, you will encounter local villages and communities living along the backwaters. Watching daily activities like fishing, farming, and weaving unfold in front of your eyes gives you a glimpse into the traditional way of life in Kerala.


The cuisine served on the houseboats is a highlight of the backwater experience. Traditional Kerala dishes, prepared with fresh local ingredients and aromatic spices, are served on board. Indulge in lip-smacking delicacies like karimeen (pearl spot fish) fry, prawn curry, and appam (rice pancakes) as you cruise along.


As the sun sets, you can witness the mesmerizing spectacle of the backwaters enveloped in a golden glow. The tranquil beauty and the symphony of colors create a picture-perfect moment that will stay etched in your memory.


If you prefer a more immersive experience, you can opt for a canoe ride through the narrower canals. Rowed by skilled local boatmen, these canoes offer a closer view of the rustic life along the backwaters, as you glide through narrow waterways enveloped by lush greenery.


The backwaters of Kochi provide a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether you choose a leisurely houseboat cruise or an adventurous canoe ride, the backwaters offer a rejuvenating experience that allows you to connect with nature and witness the timeless charm of rural Kerala.


Enjoying the Beaches

Kochi is blessed with a coastline that stretches along the Arabian Sea, offering a range of beautiful beaches for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, water sports, or simply a stunning sunset view, Kochi’s beaches have something for everyone.


One of the most popular beaches in Kochi is Cherai Beach. Located about 25 kilometers from the city center, this pristine stretch of white sand is perfect for unwinding and taking long walks. Cherai Beach is also known for its calm waters, making it ideal for swimming and other water activities.


If you’re looking for a more vibrant and energetic atmosphere, head to Fort Kochi Beach. This bustling beach is a favorite among locals and tourists alike, with its lively street food stalls, souvenir shops, and vibrant cultural performances. You can also witness the iconic Chinese Fishing Nets here, creating a unique backdrop against the sea.


Munambam Beach, also known as Muziris Beach, is another hidden gem in Kochi. Located at the mouth of the Periyar River, this tranquil beach offers stunning views of the river and the Arabian Sea. It’s an ideal spot for birdwatching, as migratory birds flock to the nearby bird sanctuary during certain seasons.


For those seeking water sports and adventure, head to Kuzhupilly Beach. This beach offers activities like jet skiing, parasailing, and banana boat rides, providing a thrilling experience for adrenaline enthusiasts. You can also explore the nearby fishing villages and witness the local fishing activities.


Kochi’s beaches are not just about leisure and recreation; they also offer a glimpse into the local culture and culinary delights. Stroll along the beach promenades and you’ll find vendors selling delicious seafood snacks and refreshments, allowing you to savor the flavors of Kerala’s coastal cuisine.


One of the best ways to end your beach day in Kochi is by witnessing the breathtaking sunset. The golden hues painting the sky as the sun dips into the sea create a captivating view that will leave you in awe.


Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or cultural experiences, Kochi’s beaches provide a perfect escape. Enjoy the sun, sand, and sea as you immerse yourself in the coastal beauty of this charming city.


Indulging in the Local Cuisine

A trip to Kochi is incomplete without exploring the rich and diverse culinary heritage that the city has to offer. Known for its vibrant flavors, fresh seafood, and aromatic spices, the local cuisine of Kochi is a delight for food enthusiasts.


One of the must-try dishes in Kochi is the traditional Kerala meal, also known as the “Sadya.” Served on banana leaves, this elaborate vegetarian feast consists of an assortment of curries, rice, pickles, papad, and payasam (a sweet dessert). It’s a culinary experience that will leave you satisfied and craving for more.


Seafood lovers will be in for a treat in Kochi. With its coastal location, the city offers an abundance of fresh catch from the Arabian Sea. From succulent prawns and crabs to flavorful fish curries, every bite is a celebration of the ocean’s bounty.


When it comes to snacks, don’t miss out on trying the famous Kerala-style appam. These soft and fluffy pancakes made from fermented rice batter are best enjoyed with stew or spicy curries. Another popular snack is the banana fritters, locally known as “pazham pori,” which are made by deep-frying ripe bananas coated in a batter.


Kochi’s culinary scene is also influenced by its historical connections with various cultures. The city boasts a strong Dutch and Portuguese influence, reflected in dishes like the Dutch-Portuguese inspired “Duck Roast” and the mouthwatering “Bebinca” dessert.


To truly immerse yourself in the local food culture, make sure to visit the bustling street food stalls and local eateries. These hidden gems offer a wide array of delicious treats like spicy fish fry, crispy fried chicken, and fragrant biryanis, all bursting with flavors and aromas.


No gastronomic journey in Kochi would be complete without trying the refreshing coconut water and freshly squeezed juices from the numerous roadside vendors. They provide the perfect respite from the tropical heat and are a great way to quench your thirst.


To enhance your culinary adventure, consider taking a cooking class in Kochi. Many establishments offer classes where you can learn to prepare authentic Kerala dishes under the guidance of experienced chefs. It’s a wonderful way to gain hands-on experience and bring a taste of Kerala back home.


Indulging in the local cuisine of Kochi is not just about satisfying your taste buds; it’s a journey that delves into the region’s history, culture, and flavors. So, don’t hesitate to explore the diverse culinary offerings and embark on a gastronomic adventure in this food lover’s paradise.


Shopping in Kochi

Kochi offers a unique shopping experience, with a wide range of options to explore. From traditional handicrafts to stylish boutiques, the city is a shopper’s paradise where you can find something for every taste and budget.


One of the best places to indulge in shopping in Kochi is the famous Jew Town. Located in the Mattancherry neighborhood, it is known for its antique shops, spice vendors, and traditional handicraft stores. You can find an array of unique items like antique furniture, exquisite jewelry, brassware, and aromatic spices.


The vibrant markets of Kochi are a must-visit for bargain hunters and those looking to immerse themselves in the local shopping scene. The Broadway Market and MG Road are bustling with activity, offering a wide range of products, including textiles, clothing, electronics, and home decor items.


For those interested in traditional crafts, the Kerala State Handicrafts Corporation showroom in Kochi is a treasure trove. Here, you can find intricately carved wooden statues, coir products, handloom textiles, and beautiful pottery items, all handmade by skilled artisans from across the state.


The Lulu Mall, one of the largest shopping malls in India, is a paradise for shopaholics. It houses both international and domestic brands, making it a one-stop destination for fashion, accessories, electronics, and entertainment. The mall also features a food court where you can sample a variety of local and international cuisines.


In addition to these popular spots, Fort Kochi and Princess Street are known for their boutique stores, showcasing local designer creations, art galleries, and quirky souvenirs. Strolling through these charming streets, you will discover unique items that capture the essence of Kochi’s artistic and cultural heritage.


When shopping in Kochi, don’t forget to explore the local markets for authentic spices, tea leaves, and traditional Ayurvedic products. You can find them in shops and markets around the city, offering high-quality products that are synonymous with Kerala’s rich herbal traditions.


Shopping in Kochi is not just about acquiring material possessions; it’s an opportunity to support local artisans, discover unique treasures, and delve into the region’s cultural fabric. So, take your time, explore the various shopping venues, and bring back a piece of Kochi’s charm and heritage with you.



Kochi, with its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture, is a destination that captivates the hearts of travelers from around the world. From exploring the charming streets of Fort Kochi to discovering the cultural gems of Mattancherry, there is a wealth of experiences to be had in this pretty port city of Kerala.


Getting to Kochi is convenient with its well-connected transportation infrastructure, making it easily accessible to visitors. Once you arrive, you can embark on a journey through the city’s diverse offerings, from the tranquil backwaters to the breathtaking beaches.


The Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple offers a spiritual experience, while the Kochi-Muziris Biennale showcases the dynamic art scene of the city. Indulging in the local cuisine allows you to savor the unique flavors of Kerala, and shopping in Kochi provides an opportunity to bring back precious memories and souvenirs.


As you explore Kochi, you will be greeted by the warmth and hospitality of the local people, who are proud of their city’s heritage. The blend of tradition and modernity, the vibrant festivals, and the serene beauty of the natural surroundings create a truly enchanting atmosphere.


Whether you are a history buff, an art enthusiast, a nature lover, or a foodie, Kochi has something to offer for everyone. So, pack your bags and immerse yourself in the diverse and captivating ambiance of Kochi, where you can create unforgettable memories and discover the magic of this coastal gem.