Your travel guide to kaleidoscopic Kochi: among Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities to visit in 2020

reasons to visit kochi- travel guide
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Whether it’s the charm of being the Queen of the Arabian Sea or the allure of being the Gateway to God’s very own country Kerala, the city of Kochi dwells in an aura of its own. A pristine city with a laidback vibe that emanates all of the radiant glow that the bounty of Kerala bestows it with, Kochi presents an eclectic mix of the colossal cosmopolitan life and the relaxed countryside nostalgia. Chartered by the famous travel magazine Lonely Planet as being one of the top 10 cities to visit in 2020, the land of Kochi is an enchantment that will have you bewitched with all the breathtaking beauty and serendipitous serenity it encompasses.

On the southwest coast of India, along the majestic Western Ghats and the magnificent Malabar coast, Kochi sits indeed like a Queen herself, adorned by sights and graced by magic of the abundant natural beauty it guards. Whether you want to amble along the city streets admiring its very paradisiacal presence or explore the many erstwhile influences it still nestles as an essence of its own, Kochi will make you feel at home- alive, relaxed and oh so joyful!

With more than enough excitement in tow already, you probably are already all up for the idea of a visit to this all encompassing place, which by the way also is one of the least polluted cities in India. Read on therefore to know all the reasons why your Kochi sojourn is definitely going to be your travel tale of a lifetime!

Places to visit in Kochi

Kochi Fort

First things first, let’s sort out your sightseeing priorities you need to totally tick off your list while you are in Kochi. Which means, a walk along the expanse of Fort Kochi beach, that itself is home to attractions like the Fort of Immanuel, Mattancherry Palace, the Dutch Cemetery, the Saint Francis Church and the Santa Cruz Basilicia.

Mattancherry

Mattancherry, where the historical fort is located is itself another top pick, that which in its old colonial buildings and many beautiful temples is a sight that will serve up pleasant memories for the rest of your life. The old neighborhood is indeed a place that will have you in awe with its architectural stupendity. There is India’s oldest functioning synagogue, the Paradesi Synagogue, the Mattancherry Palace and the Mattancherry Pazhayannur Royal temple as well as the Mattancherry Palace Museum to satiate your historical, spiritual and cultural cravings.

Kochi backwaters

Kochi backwaters
Source: Shutterstock

There also is the longest lake in India to totally mesmerise you. Vembanad Lake is one of the largest lakes in India and nestles with the beautiful backwaters of Kochi in close proximity, making for such a sight of besotted blues and greens galore that will be totally making you spellbound.

Marine Drive

For you to still get the Mumbai vibes even in Kochi, there is the Marine Drive at the backside of the backwaters that makes for a perfect place to just laze about in. The gentle wind fans the waters and carries to you the mystery of the blues even as spectacular sunsets and sunrise views have you intoxicated with an unparalleled nature experience.

And of course at par with nature’s offerings, there exists man made wonders like the Willingdon Island, the Kochi International Marina, the oldest existing European fort Pallipuram Fort, the Bastion Bungalow et al for you to make a tour of during your Kochi visit.

Charming views of cheenavalas

Kochi also is the place- in fact the only place in India- where you get to watch the Cheenavalas in ‘action’. The Chinese fishing nets are staple sights in this part of the country even when you would rarely encounter them elsewhere. In fact they form such a prominent part of the Kochi sightseeing spree that an image search of Kochi is likely to throw up numerous picture of some cheenavalas flung gloriously along Kochi’s sparkling waters.

Cheenavalas also claim their fair share of legacy. Supposedly introduced by the Chinese explorer Zheng He some five hundred years ago, these fishing nets have continued to be in use ever since, presenting such spectacular sights along the Vasco da Gama Square at dawn and dusk that are truly the dream stuff for photographers. These uniquely designed massive nets made of bamboo and teak poles make for quite a phenomenon in their multiple mid air suspensions- a view you should totally not miss out being taken aback by in person!

The world’s only place where pepper is the exchange currency!

A city that was at the centre of India’s spice trade for many centuries, Kochi boasts of housing the International Pepper Exchange which is the world’s only pepper exchange. Established in 1997 and considered at par with the esteemed New York Stock Exchange, the institution emphasises India’s position as being one of the leading pepper producers in the world. And with its headquarters in Kochi, it also asserts the city that has commendably carried over its ancient reputation to still be at the center of spice tradings of the country.

Celebrate Cochin with countless carnivals

Depending on when you choose to visit this city known formerly as Cochin, you can be party to diversified yet composite celebrations. You can welcome the New Year at the Cochin Carnival along the beautifully decorated and illuminated Fort Kochi. If artistic pursuits are more your thing, then the city will have you soaking up art in all its spirits at Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the biggest international exhibition of contemporary art in Kochi.

For connoisseurs of cultural continuity and fervent followers of festivals, the Athachamayam celebration during Onam at Thripunithara in Kochi is an extravaganza unmissable. A somewhat diversified Onam celebration than what the rest of Kerala witnesses, the traditions of Kochi dates back to the times when a certain Raja paraded the town after a victory.

A pilgrimage trip that almost doubles as a trekking adventure, how very hip in soul can Kochi get? This annual feature takes place on the first Sunday after Easter that marks the Perunnal of Malayattoor church. The pilgrimage through the steep hill of Kurisumudi truly is an experience to partake of, whether you are someone deeply religious or someone high on adventure. Kochi truly has something for all!

Shop for spices

Spice-Market-in-Kochi
Source: Swan Tours

Kochi might not be called the Spice Capital of India but you still should go spice shopping here if you wanna pick up some exotic fragrant spices. Head to Bazaar Road where you can grab some high quality, low price spices or to a stretch called Jew Town between Mattancherry Dutch Palace and the Pardesi Jewish Synagogue that has spicy fragrances wafting in its very air! And while you are still at this quaint place, do scrounge for some antiquities as token of your Kochi visit. Broadway Market is the place where you can trade in spices for a somewhat foreign feel along its ironically narrow lanes and streets. And just for some fun that is spiced up even sans any such physical fragrant presence, head to the very charming sounding Princess Street for some plain street fun at people- watching!

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