Holidays to Cochin

A relatively undiscovered hidden Indian gem, Cochin (Kochi) has been attracting both traders and explorers to its shores for over 600 years. Situated on the west coast, Cochin is a vibrant city and a melting pot of international cultures and traditions. It is located in a prosperous and breathtakingly beautiful part of the country. From time immemorial, many a nation has left its mark on the city; the British, Chinese, Dutch and Portuguese have all influenced both the history and the current development of Cochin. Nowhere else in India would you find giant fishing nets from China, a 400 year old synagogue, Portuguese style houses, ancient mosques, and crumbling remains of the days of the British Raj. Cochin is home to some of the country's finest home-stays and heritage accommodation and is the ideal place from which to escape the hustle and bustle of the main Indian cities. It is also incredibly proud of its world-renowned port and its status as a cruise ship stop off must.

This 'city by the sea' has the Arabian Sea to its west and the Western Ghats mountain range to the east. Almost equidistant from the equator, the sea, and the mountain ranges, Cochin has a pleasant and moderate equatorial climate. Cochin is an ideal location from which to explore the surrounding areas to make the most of the Kerala region of which it is the heart. Cochin has appeared in many a tourist bible, featuring in both the World Travel and Tourism Council, and National Geographic Travellers '50 greatest places of a lifetime'.

The before mentioned Chinese fishing nets (Cheenavala) are unique to Cochin. It is believed that the traders from the court of an ancient Chinese ruler introduced them. Strangely, these nets are now native to Cochin and cannot be found anywhere else, including China. A whole stretch of Cochin's coastline is dotted with these nets and many of the region's fishermen make a living using these huge devices. A stroll along Fort Kochi Beach with the fishing nets and sailing ships as a backdrop is an unforgettable experience. There are many European style bungalows to be seen and several small stalls selling mouth-watering fresh fish cuisine.

As a gesture of goodwill by the Portuguese in 1955, they presented the Raja of Cochin with a gift in the form of Mattancherry Palace. There are a plethora of well-preserved Hindu murals within the palace grounds depicting scenes from legends in time. There is also an impressive collection of hand-carried carriages, bejewelled outfits and ornately carved ceilings in every room. The Kochi Royal Dynasty is detailed in every room via information boards.

Jew Town is a busy port area and the centre of Cochin's spice trading; walk past the impressive synagogue – destroyed in 1662 by the Portuguese and rebuilt two years later - situated in the heart of the town and smell the aromas of ginger, cardamom, cumin and turmeric in the air. The Dutch Palace can also be found in this region of the city.

Cochin has a lot to offer in terms of cuisine. Dal Roti restaurant offers an incredibly complex, north Indian menu that even includes its own glossary and really does have something for everyone – meat eaters, vegetarians and even those who cannot eat egg. Due to its versatility, it is one of the most popular eateries in the city. Grand Pavilion is a restaurant within the Grand Hotel; pricier than some, the menu is expansive and offers the guest something from the north, south, east and west regions, plus pretty much the rest of the Asian continent.

For an on trend bite, head over to the very funky Solar Café, serving up organic breakfasts and lunches in a friendly and brightly coloured setting. The upstairs veranda seating provides the perfect place to escape and look down upon the busy streets below.

There is much to see and do in this amazing city. Visitors that are into the performing arts will enjoy the Kerala Kathakari Centre; an intimate wood-lined theatre. It hosts regular performances of martial arts, classic dancing and traditional music.

Situated just ten degrees north of the equator, it is no surprise that Cochin's temperatures remain relatively constant being both hot and humid. If the heat affects you the best time to visit is during the winter season (October to March). Even with the sunshine beaming down from morning to night there is always somewhere to hide away and refresh yourself before heading out again to further explore this magical city.


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