Cochin or Kochi is called the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’ because of its erstwhile importance as a major spice trading centre in the world. Cochin is also a famous destination in the world due to its geographical setting as a beautiful natural harbour along the west coast of India. Not only the geographical background, but Cochin also has a rich historical legacy too. Since centuries, people from different parts of the world, especially Europe, had been visiting Cochin and had left their footprints in the city. Therefore, on the shore excursions starting from Cochin, one can witness the different forms of colonial architecture, cultural diversity and the serene nature scapes of Kerala’s villages set to provide once in a lifetime experience for the travellers in Kerala.
Cochin Half-Day Tour
To get the real essence of Kochi in a half-day tour, our team at Cochin Shore Excursions has listed below the places which you must visit on a half-day tour in and around Kochi.
St. Francis Church
It is known to be one of the oldest European churches in India and the place where Portuguese explorer Vasco De Gama was buried after his death. It is situated in Fort Kochi where the Portuguese explorers built a fort around 1553 along with their settlements. However, the church was constructed much earlier, around 1503 by the Portuguese traders. The architecture of St. Francis Church is an excellent example of the gothic style of architecture which gained prominence all over Europe during the pre-renaissance age.
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica
This place is one of the eight basilicas of Kerala and also serves as a cathedral church of the diocese of Cochin. It was constructed in the Gothic style after the arrival of the Portuguese missionaries in Kerala. The basilica got spared when the Dutch started destroying the Portuguese buildings in Kerala. The Dutch had used this building as their armoury. Later, the Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica was destroyed by the British. In the year 1886, the structure was rebuilt. The basilica treasures the relic of the Holy Cross of Our Lord Jesus and a monument of one of the decorated granite pillars from the originally constructed building.
Originally constructed by the Portuguese and gifted to the king of Cochin, Mattancherry Palace is also known as Dutch Palace. This is because the Dutch did some extensions and renovations in the palace. This palace is built in traditional Kerala style of architecture but the arches and the size of the chambers show a European influence well blended with the traditional style.
The Mattancherry Palace houses Kerala Mural Paintings depicting Hindu Mythological incidents, Portraits of the kings of Cochin drawn by the local artistes but showing western influence, ivory palanquin, a howdah or elephant carriage, royal umbrellas and other exhibits from the kings of Cochin.
The Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest functional synagogue among the Commonwealth countries. The Jewish traders started frequenting Cochin because of the spice trade along with the Arabs around the 4th Century. As their community grew in Cochin, they constructed Synagogue for their worship. The Synagogue has the scrolls on Jewish teachings, gold crowns which were received as gifts, chandeliers made of Belgian glass, a pulpit with Brass railing, and many other artefacts of historical importance.
Chinese Fishing Nets
The Chinese Fishing Nets are shore operated fixed installations which are used for fishing. This style of fishing was introduced by the Chinese at around the 14th Century, hence the name ‘Chinese Fishing Nets’. Since then, these installations are steadily operating. The descending and raising of the nets are pretty unique and offer a once in a lifetime sight if viewed during sunrise and sunset.
Cochin Full-Day Tour
Apart from the places mentioned in the above section, Cochin offers much more. A short passing by the Jew Town, the Fort Kochi Area while stopping to buy souvenirs for your dear ones back in your country will gift you a memorable experience of witnessing a cultural potpourri in the area.
There’s a local laundry or dhobi khana nearby where the washermen and washerwomen of Tamil origin still use centuries-old methods of cleaning, drying, pressing and dyeing of clothes. As if the time stops there when you stop there witnessing them labouring hard.
After the trip to the dhobi khana stop in these following places too:
The museum displays exhibits which are marvellous examples of Portuguese influence on Fort Kochi and areas surrounding it. The museum was established by the Bishop of Kochi, Dr Joseph Kureethara to protect and display the Portuguese influence on the local area. The museum is divided into 5 sections, - Altar, Cathedral, Civil Life, Procession and Treasure.
Marine Drive Area
The Marine Drive was built facing the famous backwaters of Kerala. The lazy evenings enjoying the view of placid Vembanad Lake and boating around is a very enjoyable activity when you are around the Marine Drive Area. Rainbow Bridge and GCDA Shopping Complex are two other attractions of the Marine Drive Area. The Rainbow Bridge is lit up with rainbow coloured light arrangements offering a spectacular visual while the GCDA offers trouble-free shopping experience around the place. GCDA also has many food joints where traditional Kerala cuisine can be enjoyed. The guide from Cochin Shore Excursions team will be there to guide you in your food adventure as well.
Fort Kochi Beach
After a hectic day touring around Kochi, this is the perfect place to offer you relaxation. The view of the fort, white sands beneath your feet, royal blue sea waves caressing your feet and the changing colours of the sky above will surely rejuvenate your soul. If not in the morning, you can view the functioning of the Chinese Fishing Nets while strolling around the beach on the evening as well.
Kumabalangi Village Tour
The quiet island village of Kumbalangi situated along the Kerala backwaters offer an unforgettable village life experience to the travellers. The main occupation of the villagers here is fishing and boating. While sailing on the backwaters, they demonstrate different techniques of fishing apart from the Chinese Fishing Net technique. You can enjoy the guided farm visits, witness toddy tapping, coir making and the traditional style of cooking.
Vaikom Village Tour
Vaikom village is known for handlooms and clay pottery. On your visit here, you can witness the pottery making and the hand weaving of fabrics. Coir making is also a popular occupation here. Villagers can be seen making straw mats from pineapple leaves too. Vaikom is also located on the backwaters, and a canoe cruise along the place offers a tranquil experience.
Kumarakom Village Tour
Kumarakom Village is noted for its biodiversity. Multiple species of flora and fauna can be observed here. Your ears will always remain filled with sweet twitters of birds. The boat cruise along the backwaters here offer activities like birding and witnessing traditional ways of fishing and handicrafts. You can also view mangrove forests here. While here, a visit to the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is a must.
Backwater Houseboat Tour
Kerala backwaters are a network of brackish lagoons interconnected with each other. The entire area boasts of a rich ecosystem which can be experienced from a houseboat. As the houseboat cruises along the backwaters, you would observe different birds and amphibian animals along the shores lined by coconut trees and palm trees. You would also get to observe different livelihoods of the local people.
This unhurried six shore excursions listed out by our team, Cochin Shore Excursions, bring out the true flavour of Kerala. Starting from the European influences, local lifestyle as seen in the villages and the rich biodiversity has made Cochin one of the best destinations to travel and enliven your souls.