Best time to go: November/ December
Nearby places: Allepy is 1 hour drive and Munnar is 4 hours drive. Kochi is the only airport, which serves both the places.
- David Hall: If you are new to Kochi, you should first go to David Hall, a 17th century Dutch Bungalow, which is converted into a cafe and gallery. The owner Mr. Koshy is one of the nicest people I met who was kind enough to tell me all the best places to visit in and around Fort Kochi. He also told me about the history of the place and guided me without me even asking. He handed me a map and wrote down the timings of the ferry points 😊.
- Mattancherry or Dutch Palace: The Mattancherry Palace is a Portuguese palace, which is also known as the Dutch Palace. It features Kerala murals depicting portraits and exhibits of the Rajas of Kochi. The entry ticket is INR 5. You need to go up a flight of stairs to see the museum. So if you have mobility issues, do check with the museum staff if they can make any arrangements.
- Chinese Fishing Nets: Chinese fishing nets are probably the most photographed in Fort Kochi. These are installed on land using bamboo sticks and lowered by 5-6 men to catch fish. You can find them in Vypin Island as well, which is a 5 minutes ferry ride away from Beach Road ferry point.
- St. Francis CSI Church: It is the first European church built in India. Vasco Da Gama died on Christmas Eve in 1524 and was buried in this church. The church is open for tourists and visitors on weekdays. .
- Ginger House Museum Hotel: It is the first and only museum hotel in India. You can see antiques on display from all over the world here.
- Dhoby Khaana: One of the lesser known places in Kochi is the Dhoby Khana as I never heard it from anyone who visited Fort Kochi. Built in the 18th century, it is still used for washing hundreds of clothes. The clothes are washed, starched, dried in an open area, ironed and then neatly folded and kept aside for delivery to the respective customers. Though clothes are mixed up while washing, they know how to separate them while delivery, something which is very impressive. There has never been a mistake in delivery as per the person who told me about this place. If you visit this place, do support them by making a small donation.
- Hill Palace Museum: Hill Palace is the largest archeological museum in Kerala. It is spread across 54 acres of land and consists of 49 buildings which includes an archaeological museum, a heritage museum, a deer park, a pre-historic park and a children’s park. It is also home to rich fauna.
- Ginger House: The tuk tuk driver took me to Ginger Factory while I asked him to take me to Ginger Hotel – a fancy restaurant with great interiors and thus photo opportunities. I was disappointed at first that he did not take me to the right place but when I entered saw this picturesque scenery left after the short drizzle. The process of making ginger powder was also fascinating and the idea of buying spices from the women’s cooperative in the first floor was equally attractive. You name it and they have it. Must visit I say!
- Lulu Mall: I never knew that the largest mall in India was in Kerala. I was so surprised to see the large mall spreading everywhere and seen from everywhere. Lulu Mall is located in Ernakulam and thus we took a ferry from Kochi to Ernakulam. By the time we reached, it was 8 PM. There are buses from the ferry point to Lulu Mall and take about 30 minutes to the destination. You can also go by Metro. As soon as we got down the bus near Lulu Mall, it started raining cats and dogs and we first ran to get shelter. After waiting for about 10 minutes and seeing no signs of rain stopping, we decided to get drenched and enter the mall. I remembered the scene from the telugu movie ‘Kshanak Kshanam’ where Sri Devi and Venkatesh enter a mall after a bad chase by the goons. She looks very unkempt with all the mud on her dress and the mall attendents feel they are very poor. I wondered if we will also come across the same :D. We tested by entering the Swarovski store and surprised that the sales guy treated us really well.
- Marari beach: When I heard about how beautiful Marari beach is, I decided to hire a two wheeler and drive to this location knowing well that it’s a good 1 hour drive via the Beach Road. Marari beach is somewhere in between Alleppey and Fort Kochi in the Alappuzha district. We started around 4 PM to reach just in time to catch the sunset but reached after the sunset because of the election rally on the way. It took us 2 hours to reach. Was disappointed to miss the epic sunset but locals told me that it was a clouded one. That was some consolation 😬. After the sunset, the clouds gathered together to form this massive cover in the sky and just then I knew it was going to pour cats and dogs and that we would be stuck in the beach for at least an hour. Just when I was thinking about all this, it started pouring and we rushed to a nearby shack. Saw a group of guys who made way for us and also gave up their chairs so we could sit. We ordered tea and mirchi bajji to snack on while waiting for the rain to stop. Finally, the rain stopped after an hour and we started back to avoid getting stuck in an unknown place. The streets were pitch dark in some places and were wet with rain. I still wonder how I took such a big risk. But when I saw the view as see in the picture, which is totally unedited I understand why I took such a risk. Nevertheless, always be cautious and have a plan B while you travel. My plan B was to stay in nearby hotels if at all the rain did not stop for long.
- Vypin Island: Vypin island is a 5 minute ferry ride from Kochi. You can rent a bike in Kochi and take it on the ferry and exlpore the Vypin Island. The major attractions on Vypin Island are the Cherai Beach and the light house.
- Kashi art gallery: Kashi Art Gallery is snuggled in a beautiful street. I had dinner here and loved the art installations. They also serve Gluten free food.
- Jewish Synagogue: Heard so much about the Jewish Synagogue but I guess I chose a wrong time to visit Kochi. It was closed due to Good Friday and Easter and some renovation work.
There is always a next time! Every two years Biennale is held in Kochi wherein artists from all over the world gather to create art pieces. For more pictures, see my Instagram feed https://www.instagram.com/ataleofmillioncities/.