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Cochin Harbour mouth, seen from Willingdon Island

Cochin (now known as Kochi) is Kerala's most cosmopolitan city with a bustling commercial port.


Cochin Harbour

Cochin merchants began trading in spices such as black pepper and cardamom with the Jews, Arabs, the Dutch, Phoenecians, Portuguese, Chinese more than 600 years ago.

Cochin has a lot of remnants from the past still clinging on. The famous landmark in Cochin is a row of Chinese fishing nets at the mouth of the harbour leading to the Arabian sea. It is a blend of modern India on one hand and while the old quarter -- the Fort Kochi area and Mattancherry area -- maintains a colonial air.

Now Cochin includes Ernakulam city, Willingdon Island, Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, Kumbalangi and outlying islands

Cochin is comparatively cleaner and quieter than many other Indian tourist places. Having said that, Cochin is still a health and sanitation problem. Trash and rubbish litter most public areas. The infastructure of proper sidewalks and grey water control remains a problem. Be careful walking especially at night as poorly lit areas and multi-level sidewalks are common. Often gaping holes could land you in a puddle.

This area boasts of hundreds of islands, some even uninhabited, and is part of the Backwaters of Kerala. A famous island is that of Boghatty (local name Mulavukad) where the Dutch built a palace. This palace was later used as house of the British Resident administrator. Right now the Dutch Palace is a tourist hotel, and you are welcome to live there as guest.

Tourist information[edit]

  • Government of India Tourist Office, +91 484 266 8352. Willingdon Island, Cochin 682003.
  • KTDC Tourist Reception Centre, 91 484 235 3234. Shanmugham Road, Cochin 682011.
  • Tourist Information Office, +91 484 238 1743. Old Collectorate, Cochin 682011.

Getting in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Cochin International Airport [1] is located in Nedumbassery approximately 29 km from the city. There are flights to and from Colombo, Dubai, AbuDhabi, Singapore, Sharjah, Jeddah, Muscat, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Take a pre-paid taxi to your destination.

By train[edit]

You can reach Cochin from other cities Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Kozhikode (Calicut), Chennai, Bangalore, Bombay, New Delhi, Calcutta by train.

There are two major Rail station in Cochin( Ernakulam Town and Ernakulam Junction, locally known as North and South railway stations). The Indian Railways [2] serves Cochin with a number of train services connecting it to other parts of the state and the country. One of the best ways to get to Cochin is to take the Konkan Railway train from Mumbai that passes through the Konkan coast. The train ride is renowned for the breathtaking scenery and the natural beauty of the terrain that the train passes through.

By bus[edit]

Cochin is accessible from all parts of the state of Kerala, through the extensive state run Kerala Road Transport Corporation (K.S.R.T.C.) bus services. These are generally cheap and reliable, but the drivers are notoriously reckless, although they have excellent control over their vehicles. There buses are classified as Ordinary Passenger, Limited Stop, Fast Passenger, Super Fast Passenger, Lightning Express and Garuda. The last is an air-conditioned service operating on the Thiruvananthapuram-Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram-Calicut routes both passing through Kochi. These are modern buses and compare with buses in Europe, with well maintained interiors and comfortable seats.

There are also numerous private buses or 'route buses' that connect pretty much every single district in Kerala to Cochin. Both the K.S.R.T.C and the private buses offer very basic comforts are rarely air conditioned.

There also exists daily services to and from other major cities in South India including Mumbai, Bangalore(12 hrs), Mangalore (12 hrs), Coimbatore (4.5 hrs) and Chennai (12 hrs). These are run by both private operators and by the respective State Transport Authorities. The private buses offer better comfort, cleaner and modern buses, though they are more expensive.

By taxi[edit]

Fishermen in Cochin Harbour

There are also illegal services called 'parallel services' running between cities in Kerala. These are normally run parallel to the KSRTC service by private operators on the same routes and is normally a car-share or sharing a mini SUV. A solicitor will walk around a bus station informing people about the service. These are a bit more expensive than the normal bus service, but is marginally faster and is considered an option if you miss your bus.

It is also possible to hitch a ride with truck drivers if you pay them a marginal amount of money. Since most of the trucks are front engined, it would be very noisy in the drivers cabin and some travellers may find it uncomfortable. It is nevertheless hard to find trucks that would go to your intended destination. The truck drivers again are reckless drivers, so this option is not for the faint hearted.

Also, you could always get a 'lift' mostly for short distances, but as with anywhere in the world, caution is advised.

If travelling as part of a large group (14+) it is better to book a tourist coach that will take you to your destination. They also would take you sightseeing and is available in most of the cities. The full rates for the trips should be negotiated prior to departure to Cochin.

By boat[edit]

Cochin can be reached by sea in yachts or by occasional cruise ship from Goa or Bombay.

Get around[edit]

By bus[edit]

Cochin has an excellent and cheap local bus service system, operated by private bus operators. The numbering system is rarely used although it appears to exist. The buses are red in colour, and though they may vary in appearance, they still can be distinguished as city bus services.

Destination boards display signs prominently in Malayalam and in small letters the English version. Using the local bus service is not that difficult as most bus conductors would be able to provide assistance with basic knowledge of English or Hindi or even Tamil. Remember however that peak hours on weekdays can lead to overcrowded buses. That is not the best time to use these buses, like in any busy city.

Travellers must remember that a certain number of seats are allocated for ladies in the forward portion of each bus. Unless these seats are empty, gentlemen are not expected to occupy them, and they must be vacated when a lady wishes to sit there. The standard precautions of being wary of pickpockets and other anti-social elements must be maintained.

Several important points serviced by Cochin's city bus service include Fort Kochi, Thoppumpady, Edakochi, Mattancherry, Island (Willingdon Island), Thevara, Kaloor, Palarivattom, Kakkanad, Kalamassery, Edapalli, Alwaye, Tripunithura, and Vytilla Jn.

Many key routes that pass through the city (from Alwaye/Kakkanad etc to Fort Kochi/Thevara Jn etc) will have the following route/stops

  1. Kaloor (interchange for Long Distance Private Bus Services for Kottayam, Palai, Changanacheri, Mundakayam, Erumeli, Pathanamthitha etc.)
  2. Lissie Jn (Some Private Long Distance Luxury Bus Operators)
  3. Town Hall (Closest point to Ernakulam Town (North) Station)
  4. Kacheripady Jn (KSRTC State Transport Bus Stand - 1 km away & MG Road Start)
  5. High Court (KSINC Boat Jetty for Ferry to Vypeen, Mulavukad, Panambukadu, Ochanthurth, Murikkumpadam & Bolgatty, Long Distance Private Bus Services to Trichur, Kodungaloor, Irinjalakuda, Guruvayoor, Calicut)
  6. Marine Drive (GCDA Complex)
  7. Main Boat Jetty (Boat Jetty for Ferry to Vypeen, Fort Kochi, Mattencherry, Willingdon Island, Vallarpadam, Varapuzha, Perubalam, Karthedom, Mulavukad) Also KSRTC's ordinary limited stop buses to Paravur, Kodungaloor, Guruvayoor starts from here.
  8. Shenoys/YMCA (Some services only & services towards Kaloor) - (Closest point to KSRTC State Transport Stand - 0.5 km)
  9. Jos Junction - Virtual Centre of Ernakulam (Alighting Point for Ernakulam Jn (South) - 0.5 km, Private Bus Operators to Thekaddy/Kumili, Munnar, Muvattupuzha, Kothamangalam, Idukki and Private Long Distance Luxury Bus Operators - To Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Mangalore Coimbatore etc.)
  10. Ravipuram - Main Business & Commercial Area. Buses for Thevara, Edakochi, Fort Kochi, Mattancherri, Thoppumpady & W. Island Pass through here.
  11. Thevara Jn
  12. Island (Old Airport)
  13. Thoppumpady
  14. Mattancheri
  15. Fort Kochi

Buses from/to Tripunithura/Vytilla Jn will deviate after Jos Junction to pass through:

  1. Kadavanthara
  2. Vytilla Jn.
  3. Tripunithura

Buses from/to Alwaye follow the following broad route Kaloor Jn., Edapally, Kalamassery, Alwaye

Buses from/to Kakkanad follow the following broad route Kaloor Jn., Palarivattom Jn., Palarivattom Bye Pass, Chembukmukku, Padamugal, Kakkanad

Some Services may operate directly between Alwaye, Edapally, Kakkanad and Vytilla Jn using the Byepass Road via Palarivattom Bye Pass.

By autorickshaw[edit]

This is a cheap way of transport between attractions. You can find an auto stand at almost every bus stop. This is the ideal way to cover short distances. Make sure you agree on a fare with the driver before the journey.

By taxi[edit]

Tourist taxis are the most convenient way to travel around attractions, especially while travelling in a group. Most airports and railway stations have tourist taxi services that would take you anywhere you would want to go.

You can hire a taxi or minibus with a driver for a specified number of days. Rates are reasonable and unless you are on a very tight budget, try to hire an air-conditioned vehicle. Usually, you pay a daily minimum charge (for the first 100kms)- this charge includes the hire of the vehicle with the driver, and a specified number of kilometers. Any additional distance travelled is usually billed on a per kilometre basis. If the journey includes overnight stays, the driver is paid an additional allowance. The drivers are usually quite experienced and helpful. The usual style of driving on Kerala roads puts the fear of god into you, it is always a good idea to gently remind the driver that you are not in a hurry and that you want to reach your destination safely.

By car[edit]

There are many Car rental companies offering cars with drivers or self drive.

By ferry[edit]

There are also good ferry services between islands. A useful service is the 'Junkar' between Fort Kochi and Vypeen.There regular boat services from Ernakulam to Mattancherry, Fort Kochi, Vypeen and Willington Island which are much cheeper than bus.

See[edit][add listing]

Museums and Galleries[edit]

  • Hill Palace Museum - The King Palace now converted to Museum along with a small zoo is 12 Km south-east of Ernakulam at Tripunithura have Painting, Epigraphy, the collections from Travancore & Cochin Royal families.
  • Museum of Kerala History - at Edappally
  • Parikshith Thampuran Museum contains Oil paintings, old coins, sculptures and Mughal paintings, Interesting temple models and traditional style Kerala buildings.

Landmarks in and around Kochi[edit]

Chinese fishing nets at Fort Cochin
  • Fort Kochi
  • Mattancherry
  • Willington Island - An large artificial island made out of sand removed in order to deepen the Kochi Port.
  • Vypeen & Gundu Islands - The Island toasts a lighthouse at Ochenthuruthu, beaches and the early 16th century
  • Bolgatty - built in 1744 as Dutch Palace; one of the KTDC Hotels with green lawns and Golf Course.
  • Chinese fishing Nets - at Fort Kochi.
  • Dutch Palace - constructed by Portuguese in 1568 for Maharaja of Kochi Veera Kerala Varma. Later rebuilt by Dutch.
  • St. Francis Church, Fort Kochi - constructed by the Portuguese[1503]. Vasco da Gama was buried here [1524] and later his remains were transferred to Libson, Portugal. His tombstone can be seen inside the church.
  • Jew Street & Synagogue - at Mattancherry, it constructed in 1568 and rebuild in 1662.
  • Santacruz Cathedral- at Fort Kochi
  • Art Complex - Madhavan Nayar Foundation - Gallery of Paintings and Sculptures at Edappally, 10 km. north of city. (There is the Kerala History Museum, history students take note!)
  • Thirumala Devoswam Temple, Mattancherry - Gowda Sarawatha Brahmins temple for Lord Venkatesha, its famous for second largest brass Bell in Asia.The North Gopuram is fully roofed with copper.
  • Ernakulam Siva Temple - situated at the centre of the town, near the Durbar Hall Ground.
  • Durbar Hall Ground - venue of many fair during festivals
  • Kalady - is the birth place of Sri Shankaracharya [786-820], the Great Indian Philosopher, who is the founder of advatic philosophy, shrines of Shankaracharya here are open to all pilgrim's irrespective of religion or caste, its 48km north of City.
  • Kanjiramattam Mosque - Muslim pilgrim center, venue of Kudikkuthu Festival, 30km east of City
  • Chenamangalam - Historically the seat of Paliath Achan, the Prime Minister of Kochi Kingdom, old Oriental Jewish synagogue and colony. Now center for handloom weaving and coir manufacturing, view of annual fair "Mattachanda" (Barter Systems). It is 42km north-west of city.
  • Pallipuram Fort - built by the Portuguese in 1503, one of the oldest existing European monument in India. Situated in Vypeen island at Pallipuram.
  • Aluva also spelled "Alwaye" few years ago, is a town on the way from airport to Kochi has some place of attraction
  • Aluva Manalpuram - is famous for the Shivarathri festival on the Sand Beach on the banks of Periyar river.
  • Malayattoor Mount - A Christian Pilgrimage Centre supposed to be a place visited by St. Thomas. (St. Thomas visited Kerala in AD 52. Don't forget Christianity reached the stores of India, much before it did Europe!
  • Cherai Beach - near North Paravur is a new generation tourist hot spot with Golden beaches, (sand grains are big and looks like river sand used in construction, probably deposited by Periyar at some point of time) coconut palms corridors, backwaters, historical monuments.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Cruises

Buy[edit][add listing]

Depending on what you are looking for, many clothing and jewelery shops along MG road and Marine Drive are available. Prices are reasonable for western budgets. Shopping Malls are a new concept for Cochin and the new Bay Pride Mall offers air conditioned comfort with a small food court and a nice coffee shop.

  • Books
    • Hamlet, Kurien Towers, Banerjee Road
    • DC, Kurien Towers, Banerjee Road
    • DeeCee, Island Castle, Chitoor Road
    • Shankar, M.G rd,Padma Road
    • Alphabet, Kadavanthara Road

Eat[edit][add listing]

Good seafood is available aplenty. Worth visiting is the Fort Kochi beach where you can buy fresh fish and get it cooked in the nearby food stalls. Fish fry, fish molly, fish curry and fish peera are the favourites, usually taken with rice or steamed tapioca (cassava).

Also worth trying are the traditional rice based breakfast snacks - puttu and kadala, appam and stew.

Pizza Hut, for those of you missing it is available.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Karikku / ilaneer (tender coconut)
  • Sambhaaram (buttermilk), especially on hot summer days
  • Fresh toddy from the coconut tree, especially around the Kumarakom area.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Fort Kochi[edit]

It is quieter and more scenic than the rest of the city. There are quite a lot of tourists so prices are relatively high, but that’s still very cheap by western standards. Some of the heritage hotels are located here.

  • Brunton Boatyard
  • Malabar House Hotel

Willingdon Island[edit]

  • Taj Malabar, on the tip of Willingdon Island, without exception, is the best located property in Cochin. Perhaps the best as well.
  • Trident Hilton

Ernakulam city[edit]

  • Abad Plaza
  • Abad Fort
  • Abad Metro
  • Hotel Mermaid
  • White House
  • Abad Airport
  • Abad Atrium
  • Best Western Avenue
  • Casino
  • Gokulam Park Inn, A very nice hotel with good food, clean rooms and excellent service.
  • Le Meridien Presidency, Five star hotel with a quiet location yet not far from the city centre.
  • Renaissance
  • Taj Residency

Get out[edit]

  • Alappuzha is famous for House Boats, is 70 km away.
  • Munnar a hill resort in Idukki District is 130 km east. And on the way to Munnar are
    • Kallil Temple - an old Jain temple but now a Hindu temple is 13 Km from Perumbavoor.
    • Kodanadu - Elephant training centre.
    • Bhoothathankettu - A Dam, 8 Kms north east of Kothamangalam.
    • Thattekkad - Bird sanctuary near Bhoothathankettu.
  • Idukki District is a hilly region with lots of hill resorts.on the way to Idukki are
  • Athirappilly waterfalls near Chalakudy,Thrissur
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