Kochi (Cochin), India
Lovingly referred to as the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’, Kochi is the perfect place to visit to experience vibrant history, beautiful backwaters and intriguing culture. Kochi, a popular city in the Indian state of Kerala, is a busy seaport influenced by Jews, the Chinese, Arabs and Europeans. This amalgamation of cultures is especially evident in its architecture and landmarks. History stands still in Kochi’s churches, famous Chinese fishing nets, Portuguese buildings and small Jewish community.
To this day, Kochi is one of the biggest ports in Southern India. Mattancherry and Fort Kochi both divide this city into two, and situated in the northwest is Ernakulam, an urban district renowned for its shopping, restaurants and attractions.
Popular cruise lines that dock in Kochi include Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean International and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Cruise ships set anchor at the port on Willingdon Island. Once you exit the port gates, many taxi and tuk tuk drivers are ready to take passengers into the city.
There aren’t any port facilities available, so it’s recommended to head into town to experience all Kochi has to offer.
How to Get Around
Tuk tuks are a common and inexpensive transport option in Kochi. These three-wheeled automobiles can be caught at the port gates when you arrive, but be ready to fight your way through taxi drivers to get there.
Although more expensive, taxis are another way to get around the city. Be sure to agree on the fare before hopping in, and it is customary to tip the driver.
Exploring Kochi on foot will ensure you experience the city up close. However, as Willingdon Island is quite a distance away from other landmarks, it’s advised to take a taxi or a tuk tuk into town.
Travel times from Willingdon Island:
By car/taxi/tuk tuk:
It is a 21 minute journey to Fort Kochi
It is a 19 minute journey to Mattancherry Palace
It is a 23 minute journey to Bazaar Road
It is a 19 minute journey to Jew Town
It is a 21 minute journey to Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica.
Currency – The Indian Rupee (Rs) is the official currency of Kochi. Coins come in 10 paise, 20 paise, 25 paise, 50 paise, and Rs 1, Rs 2, and Rs 5. Banknotes come in Rs 5, Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50, Rs 100, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.
Time Zone – Kochi observes Indian Standard Time (IST), which is 5 and a half hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Daylight Savings Time is not observed.
Weather – Kochi observes moderate equatorial temperatures throughout the year. Its hottest month is April, which typically averages 30 degrees Celsius. August is the coldest month of the year, with temperatures only dropping to around 25 degrees Celsius. June is the wettest month, averaging 690 mm of rain.
Chinese Fishing Nets – Fort Kochi’s Chinese fishing nets are the city’s most widely recognised attraction. Constructed to a height of 10 metres and spreading out to 20 metres in width, these fishing nets are mechanically lowered into the water and left for only a few minutes. When they are raised again, fish are sold to onlookers and cooked at a nearby shack.
Mattancherry Palace – Built by the Portuguese in 1557, Mattancherry Palace is one place to stop during a visit to Kochi. This palace has a complex history, as it played a prominent part in the battle between the Portuguese and the Dutch. Its whitewashed and unornamented exterior doesn’t hint to the fact that there are incredible murals on its walls inside. Visitors can see a variety of painted Hindu legends, as well as royal memorabilia including weapons and turbans from Kochi’s rajas. Mattancherry Palace also offers panoramic views of Kochi’s backwaters.
Jew Town – Jew Town is a great place to visit to learn about Kochi’s diverse culture and complex history. In this small community, there are many lanes peppered with antique stores and other shops selling great souvenirs. The most prominent landmark in Jew Town is the Jewish Synagogue (also known as the Paradesi Synagogue). Constructed in 1568, it is the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth. Due to its incredible history, it is a popular stop for many tourists.
Bazaar Road – For those looking to shop for some local goods, Kochi’s Bazaar Road is the perfect place to explore. Stretched over two kilometres, Bazaar Road offers a fantastic variety of products, including inexpensive pulses and spices. Bazaar Road gives visitors an authentic feel and taste of the local culture in Kochi.