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Cheating on my Bucket List for Fort Kochi

Tripoto
12th Jan 2014

The Beautiful Hotels, Fort Kochi

Photo of The Beautiful Hotels, Fort Kochi by Grashima

classical performances now and then

Photo of classical performances now and then by Grashima

Chinese Fishing Nets, Fort Kochi

Photo of Chinese Fishing Nets, Fort Kochi by Grashima

Look out for this board at the junction

Photo of Look out for this board at the junction by Grashima

Curry Roti @ New Hotel Ananda, Fort Kochi

Photo of Curry Roti @ New Hotel Ananda, Fort Kochi by Grashima

Hotel New Ananda, fort Kochi

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Fort Inn, Fort Kochi

Photo of Fort Inn, Fort Kochi by Grashima

My Room at Fort Inn, Fort Kochi

Photo of My Room at Fort Inn, Fort Kochi by Grashima

Fort Inn, Fort Kochi

Photo of Fort Inn, Fort Kochi by Grashima
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Ravi's Coffee, Bazaar Road, Fort Kochi

Photo of Ravi's Coffee, Bazaar Road, Fort Kochi by Grashima
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The Jain Temple, Mattancherry

Photo of The Jain Temple, Mattancherry by Grashima

Antique Restoration Workshop

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Jew Street

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The so very welcoming antiques

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Itr

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Jew Town Street, Mattancherry

Photo of Jew Town Street, Mattancherry by Grashima

The Dutch Palace, Fort Kochi

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Antiques all the way

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Santa Cruz Bacillus, Fort Kochi, Kerala

Photo of Santa Cruz Bacillus, Fort Kochi, Kerala by Grashima

Dutch Cemetery, Fort Kochi

Photo of Dutch Cemetery, Fort Kochi by Grashima

Maritime Museum, Fort Kochi

Photo of Maritime Museum, Fort Kochi by Grashima

Beach Front, Fort Kochi

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& we meet again !

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Teapot, A very attractive cafe

Photo of Teapot, A very attractive cafe by Grashima

They have seen it all at the streets of Fort

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Fort Kochi Street

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Loafer's Corner, Princess street, Fort Kochi

Photo of Loafer's Corner, Princess street, Fort Kochi by Grashima

The Streets lined with beautiful shops, Fort

Photo of The Streets lined with beautiful shops, Fort by Grashima
Fort Kochi is small settlement, sort of an artist town, absolutely gorgeous and interesting for a rejuvenating break. Though it could easily be the most non-Kerala part of Kerala, the Kerala we picture in our minds. Do not go here for the house boats and backwaters, the tea gardens, the beautiful massive waterfalls.
Kochi is to relax. To see a beautiful settlement risen out of old Dutch and Portuguese houses. For the beautiful streets lined with even more beautiful cafes. For the smell of spices in the small streets. To see the old churches and cemeteries. To pass the days in museums full of Kochi's history, full of stories of Vasco Da Gama. For the Kathakali, Mohiniyattam and Kalaripayattu performances. For the new upcoming artist scene. For the mesmerizing Biennale. For the beautiful pictures. Yes this place could have been anywhere in this world. But I am glad it a part of the god's own country.

Just some info - (Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, Welingdon, Vypin are all part of Kochi. The main Kochi city is separate from Fort Kochi. The district is Ernakulum. The Train station of Ernakulum is separate; 25 mins, Rs 80 via an auto, away from Fort Kochi. The airport is 45 mins bus journey away, Rs 80. Check the timings at the local bus stop.
The morning bus sometimes gets cancelled. No points for guessing that this happened with me. I had a flight to catch, just 100 Rs in my pocket & the bus got cancelled ! I am the girl with the big backpack, who claims she can travel alone and then cries - literally - on the cancellation of a bus. Bravo to me !!! So impressed am I by my sense of spontaneity.
 
The town must be explored on foot. Have an umbrella ready for the sun or the rain. & get yourself a WALKINGPhoto of Cheating on my Bucket List for Fort Kochi 1/6 by Grashima tour map from the tourist information center at the ferry point. It has small introductory text for all the places.

I had 3 days at the town and this is how I went about it.
Day 1 : Fort Kochi - Hit the road Vasco Da Gama style with the map. Start around 10 in the morning, so you have enough time on your hands. Some of the spots close down by 5 or so. Have a quick bite from any of the cafes you like.
Essentially explore all the places on one side of Fort Kochi in one day. Go to the Chinese fishing nets, St. Francis Church, The Beach, Dutch Cemetery, The (Navy) Maritime Museum. (Lunch - at Princess Street or nearby). Then head to the Santa Cruz Basilica, Indo Dutch Museum/ the Bishops house. Please note all these places open in morning, break for lunch and then close at 5 pm. End the day with a classical dance performance at a theater of your choice (Start timings are from around 5 pm to 7 pm indifferent theaters.) One could choose a Folklore theater because of its central location or a Greenix Village because it promises something more than expectations or a Kerala Kathakali centre a little far (preferable if you go to Santa Cruz Church after the Indo Dutch Museum). Have dinner by the sea, famous being Seagull for sea food. (I am a vegetarian, I didnot :))
Quick tips - So one could miss all the cemeteries since all are locked and have to be peeped in from the locked gates. Spends some nice time drinking juice and shopping at the Chinese nets spot. The sunset is beautiful here. The maritime museum, though a little too inside was worth the visit. It has a section which talks about the history of Fort Kochi, the TRADEPhoto of Cheating on my Bucket List for Fort Kochi 2/6 by Grashima, the Vasco, the spice centers and routes. A must visit to quickly understand the history of Fort Kochi. The beach aint good at all. You will just browse it and move quickly. (The Cherian beach on a nearby island is good. Fetch a ferry and half a day for that.). The St Francis Church is worth a visit for quick connect to history.
Day 2: Mattancherry- a 20 to 30 minute WALKPhoto of Cheating on my Bucket List for Fort Kochi 3/6 by Grashima from Fort Kochi. Start early from Fort Kochi. See the Jewish Synagogue and then head to The Jain Temple. At 12:15 sharp the priest of the temple calls out to the pigeons for food. They emerge from the temple top, take 3 rounds of the temple and then head for their food. I missed it cause someone told me the time was 12:30. All I saw was a few hundred pigeons feeding on their food. But even that was fun. The Jew temple is a little far from the Jew Street/ Jew Synagogue so do plan accordingly. (Lunch). Then head toDutch Palace and then the cemetery. After 5 explore the beautiful Jew Street, full of old antiques.
Day 3: Shop & Relax- Buy spices, tea and coffee. Please do not buy from those tourist shops unless you are filthy rich (Are we ever rich enough? hmmmm....). Head for the Bazaar Road, not a popular street for the travelers and tourists, it is where the real tea and spice merchants are situated. You get good stuff at Budget prices. I bought loads and loads of Cinnamon & coffee. Ask the locals and head for these gowdowns. For Coffee and Tea there is a 'Ravi' coffee, this is what the local shops use too. I bought some decent Arabica beans & Chicory blended coffee powder. The guy can grind you beans on the spot & also give you different roasts. Must visit for coffee lovers.
You can end the third day with a Kerala Massage (though people say donot judge Kerala massage by Kochi massage centers). I liked a particular one in Mattancherry, Jew Town. It is the most aptly priced and a proper center. (beware of the random beauty parlor giving massages) OR go for the ferry ride to the nearby island of Wellingdon or Vypin. The Cherai Beach at Vypin (not WALKINGPhoto of Cheating on my Bucket List for Fort Kochi 4/6 by Grashima distance from the Ferry point) is much prettier than its Kochi counterpart. The Ironic thing is that the beach at Fort Kochi is the low point of all the trip.
I chose the former.
 A lot of people also choose to go for small backwater rides, but I have left that as a reason to go back, next time, to Allepy and do the backwater thing in its true style.
STAY

Fort Inn, Near the Coast Guarad HQ. The place is much outside the main MARKETPhoto of Cheating on my Bucket List for Fort Kochi 5/6 by Grashima, 7-8 mins walking from the Chinese nets. I wanted to stay somewhere peaceful, beautiful and clean. I paid Rs 600 per day after a LOT of bargaining. (I am growing old, I need nice places to stay)
There is no dearth of Morden cafes/ coffee houses/ eatieries in Kochi. Though what struck me was HOTELPhoto of Cheating on my Bucket List for Fort Kochi 6/6 by Grashima Ananda, the all vegetarian keralian eatry, where I had all my meals. They serve on banana leaves. I had the meals, the upma, the uttapam, the dosas, the idlis. What they didnot have is apam, which I shall try when I go to Allepy :) .All meals ranged from 30-80 Rs, including my share of south indian coffee.
So thats how Kochi was done.
 
 
During the whole trip I kept a piece of cinnamon in my right pocket and some coffee beans in my left; and like a junkie, would smell each, alternatively, after around 15 mins each. I was high on Kochi by the end of the trip.
I am glad that I cheated on my bucket list for Kochi.