This Quiet Coastal Town Is Hosting India's Largest Art Festival And Here's Why You Should Go!


I don't know what did it for me, the calmness of the Arabian Sea, the pleasant tropical weather, the amazing and diverse people I met through my travels, the delectable, absolutely lip-smacking food, or the beautiful, stuck-in-time architecture of the town, or maybe it was the susegad way of life, but it's safe to say that I am in love with Fort Kochi.

Fort Kochi is a small island town in the state of Kerala, offering unique architecture, rich Portuguese history and architecture, and a laid back vibe where you can spend all your day, strolling through the cobble-stoned streets of the bygone era.

While exploring the town, I came across many murals, churches, cafes and tiny little handicrafts shops. Kochi has its roots strongly connected to arts and culture, and has influence from various countries at different points in history. That is why it seems to be just the perfect host for the Biennale.

If you are in Fort Kochi any time between 10th Dec - 10th April 2023, you must go see the Kochi Muziris Biennale, an international collaborative exhibition of contemporary art held in Kochi every two years. It is India's largest art exhibition showcasing some of the best films, installations, performance arts, music, murals and paintings (did I miss something?). The exhibitions are hosted at more than ten different locations across the island, most situated at a walking distance from the other. Everything on display is visually striking, thought provoking and made with so much love and effort, that it is sure to blow your mind.

Where To Stay?

Since I travel as often as I do, I am always looking for comfortable, clean and affordable stays. When I am travelling solo I want to meet other solo travellers, exchange world views, ideas and experiences, improve my perception of the world and see it from a different lens. And, that's exactly what happened at The Hosteller, I met people from across the world, had movie nights, crazy Bollywood dance nights, played carrom with them, and stayed up till 3 AM and talked about life. Another thing I really enjoyed about my stay is that it is located right in the heart of the town. So, I'd wake up, take long walks, have brunch and step in to rest as the sun would get scorching, then step out again at sunset. Click here to book your stay.

What To Do?

The best part of Fort Kochi is that the island is so cosy and adequately planned, that you can easily walk or bike through the length & breadth of it. I clocked in 14-15k steps everyday, no kidding! I'd bike early in the morning every day, when the town was still sleeping, and I fell in love with the gorgeous Portuguese architecture, the vibrant streets filled with spectacular art and graffiti spread across town, and the colourful little cafes. You can also visit the morning mass at Santa-Cruz Basilica while you are at it.

This coastal town is known for the unique Chinese Fishing Nets, whose installation dates back to the 14th Century, these are one-of-a-kind fixed installations used to catch fish, and an evening spent here watching the Sun melt away in the Arabian Sea is a must!

Fort Kochi has an interesting Jewish connection, as many Jews immigrated to Kochi via sea, some dating back to the time of King Solomon. While there are no Jews in Kochi anymore, you can still visit the beautiful Jew Town in Mattancherry, the Paradesi Synagogue which also houses a museum, that tells you all about the Jewish history in India, their trade acumen, their eventual departure to Israel and a dainty little house-turned-museum of Kochi's last original Jew, Sarah Cohen.

Where To Eat?

My most favourite is Loafers and Tibet Chef, both pretty chill and laid back, where you can spend your entire day watching the world go by, from your window. Kashi Art Cafe, Fusion Bay and Rasoi are also ones that I tried and simply loved. Special mention to Spice Root restaurant owned by a local lady, a pocket-friendly and unassuming joint serving Indian delicacies.

How To Reach?

Fort Kochi is easily accessible via bus. If you are staying on the island, make sure you choose your dropping point as Fort Kochi, otherwise a quick ferry ride from Ernakulum is also enjoyable. You can also take a flight to Ernakulum if travelling from afar.

Fort Kochi has pleasantly surprised me in all aspects, the weather, architecture, people and cleanliness of the town, all are above par. If you're looking for an untouched historical town, with lots of vigour, art and culture, Fort Kochi is your best bet!