Our Bucket List for Fort Kochi - The Traveller Lens

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Kochi is one enchanting city in the God's Own Country. And Fort Kochi, a region in the city of Kochi, is literally an intriguing potpourri of various cultures which can be seen and felt in it's every nook and corner. From Pardesi synagogues to the giant Chinese fishing nets to the Dutch cemeteries to the century old hotels & houses and lot more

Top things to do in Fort Kochi

When in Fort Kochi don't go looking for a Fort since there isn't any. The first part of its name comes from the Fort Emmanuel which was constructed by the Portuguese but was destroyed by the Dutch when they invaded Kochi. Today only the ruins of the Fort remain.

1. Kochi Muziris Biennale

Photo of Fort Kochi, Kochi, Kerala, India by thetravellerlens

Kochi Muziris Biennale, an art exhibition and festival, is the largest of its kind in South Asia. The fourth edition of the Biennale will run from 12 December, 2018 until 29 March, 2019. Artists from all over the world exhibit their art work at Biennale, Cochin. The Biennale takes place in a range of venues centered around Fort Kochi-Mattancherry. All venues are open every day from 10 AM - 6 PM with free entry on every Mondays.

One of the buildings in the Aspinwall House Compound

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We suggest starting the day from the Aspinwall House and spending at least half a day here as it is the primary venue of the Biennale hosting numerous artist led projects and events spaces. The tickets for the Biennale are available here for INR 100 or you can buy them online as well.

The entry is free to all venues if you visit on a Monday. Various interesting workshops like clay modelling, wood carving, painting amongst many others are conducted in these venues during the festival.

2. Kathakali performance

Furious Draupadi calling for Lord Krishna after the vastraharan

Photo of Kerala Kathakali Centre, KB Jacob Road, Fort Nagar, Fort Kochi, Kochi, Kerala, India by thetravellerlens

Kathakali is a story-play genre of art but amazingly distinguished by the colorful make up, costumes and face-masks and not to be missed when in Kochi. We visited the Kerala Kathakali Centre in Fort Kochi & attended the evening show. The group performed draupadi's vastraharan and bheem avenging her by killing dushashan. and was quite enthralling. We watched the entire performance literally at the edge of the seat, totally thrilled.

Tip: Usually there are two evening shows & mostly go houseful, it is advisable to call & block seats in advance and the tickets can be later picked up from the venue. To make reservations you can call on +919895534939/ +919895860646 or click here to visit their website

Raging Bheem killing Dushashan in the battlefield and drinking his blood to avenge Draupadi

Krishna consoling Draupadi after her Vastraharan by Dushashan

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3. Chinese Fishing Nets

One of the most iconic landmarks of Cochin are the Chinese Fishing Nets or Cheena vala as called by locals. Catching a sunset is a must near these fishing nets. People do complain about the place being over-crowded & dirty but the sight of catch being brought in, and the nets being lowered back into the sea, is one not to be missed. Quite interesting to see how these nets works on the principle of balance, made of teak wood & bamboo poles

Beautiful sun setting behind the Chinese Fishing Nets

4. Streets of Fort Kochi

You know what is one of the best attractions of Fort Kochi - It's vibrant streets. These artsy streets have a lovely old world charm and house the European style quarters laden with beautiful bougainvillea and is undoubtedly the most buzzing part of Fort Cochin. Either rent a bicycle or a bike to comfortably explore around and soak in the beauty of these lanes

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During our stay in Fort Kochi we aimlessly wandered around the Bastian street, Rose Street, Burgher street, Princess Street and River road to name a few and discovered such gorgeous local cafes, restaurants and shops. All these streets also have lovely graffiti arts painted on its walls and adds to the charm of these streets and not to be missed

5. Churches of Fort Kochi

In a city with so many churches, St. Francis Church and Santa Cruz Basilica are our favorites. The St. Francis Church is actually one of the first European churches built in India. Presumably it owes its origin to the Franciscan Friars who accompanied the Portuguese expedition in 1500 AD. Here in this church, Vasco Da Gama was laid to rest in 1524 AD until his remains were removed and taken to Portugal in 1538 AD

The St. Francis Church

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6. Jew Town

A small neighborhood of Mattancherry, the Jew Town got it's name in 1524 when the Jews migrated from Kodungallore and were given shelter in the city by the King of Cochin. Today, there are only handful of Jews who reside here but the local shops selling souvenirs, antique products and spices thrive in this neighborhood.

The lanes of the Jew Town bustling with local handicraft stores

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When in Jew Town, dont miss visiting Sarah Cohen's Shop. She is the oldest surviving Paradesi Jew of Cochin and perhaps the most photographed and fondly visited member of the community. Amongst hordes of tourist shops in Jew town, her shop is one of the last few authentic Judaica shops. The shop sells products like table cloths, runners, Kippa (cap) etc.

7. Mattancherry Palace Museum (Dutch Palace)

The Mattancherry Palace is a must visit for any history enthusiast. The museum is housed in one of the sections of the Palace which was built in 1555. During 1665, this palace went under major repair under Dutch's rule & hence came to known as the Dutch Palace. The most stunning part of the palace are the Mural paintings covering nearly 300 sq.m area depicting various scenes from the Ramayana. The palace museum exhibits oil paintings of the Kochi Rajas, their Palanquins, Dress, Weapons & a lot more interesting details.

Visiting Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM on all days except on fridays (Entry Fee - 5 INR)

Mural Paintings in the Mattancherry Palace Museum

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8. Indo-Portuguese Museum

The Indo - Portuguese Museum displays the eminent influence of Portuguese on the art and architecture of Kochi. Quite a good place to visit to know about Kochi History. Photography is not allowed inside the museum

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Visiting Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM on all days except Mondays and Public Holidays.

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