Access : Backwater ferry/bus/autorickshaw
A leisurely walk through the city is the best way to discover historic Fort Kochi. An obscure fishing village that became the first European township in India, Kochi has an eventful and colourful history. Its reputation as a seafaring commercial town was such that Nicolas Conti, an Italian traveler of the Middle Ages remarked: If China is where you make your money, then Kochi surely is the place to spend it. The town was shaped by the Portuguese, the Dutch and later the British. The result of these cultural influences are seen in the many examples of Indo European architecture that still exist here.
Chinese Fishing Nets/Vasco da Gama Square
These huge cantilevered fishing nets are the legacy of one of the first visitors to the Malabar Coast. Erected here between 1350 and 1450 AD by traders from the court of Kublai Khan, these nets are set up on teak wood and bamboo poles. The best place to watch the nets being lowered into the sea and catch being brought in is the Vasco da Gama Square, a narrow promenade that runs along the beach. The Square is an ideal place to idle, with stalls serving fresh delicious seafood, tender coconut etc.
Pierce Leslie Bungalow
This charming mansion was the office of Pierce Leslie & Co., coffee merchants, founded in 1862. a representative of the Fort Kochi colonial bungalow, this building reflects Portuguese, Dutch and local influences. Characteristic features are wood panels that form the roof of the ground floor, arched doorways, carved doors and sprawling rooms. Waterfront verandahs are an added attraction.
This elegant old bungalow built in 1808 is in the possession of Carrit Moran & Co., renowned tea brokers, who now use it as their residence. The house was once a boat club.
This magnificent building constructed by Samuel S. Koder of The Cochin Electric Company in 1808 is a supreme example of the transition from colonial to Indo-European architecture. Features like verandah seats at the entrance, floor tiles set in a chess board pattern, red coloured brick like façade, carved wood furniture and a wooden bridge connecting to a separate structure across the street are all unique to this bungalow.
Once a warehouse, this heritage bungalow built in 1808, houses a high school today.
Santa Cruz Basilica
This historic church was built by the Portuguese and elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558. in 1795 it fell into the hands of the British when they took over Kochi, and was demolished. About a hundred years later Bishop Dom Gomez Ferreira commissioned a new building at the same site in 1887. The church was proclaimed a Basilica in 1984 by Pope John Paul II.
St. Francis Church
Built in 1503 by Portuguese Franciscan friars, this is India’s oldest European church. This was initially built of timber and later reconstructed in stone masonry. It was restored in 1779 by the Protestant Dutch, converted to an Anglican church by the British in 1795 and is at present governed by the Church of South India. Vasco da Gama was buried here in 1524 before his remains were moved to Lisbon, Portugal. The tombstone still remains.
Mattancherry Palace ( Dutch Palace )
Open : 1000 - 1700 hrs. Closed on Friday
Built by the Portuguese in 1557 and presented to Raja Veera Kerala Varma of Kochi, the palace was renovated in 1663 by the Dutch. On display here are beautiful murals depicting scenes from the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, and some of the Puranic Hindu legends. The palace also houses Dutch maps of old Kochi, royal palanquins, coronation robes of former maharajas of Kochi as well as period furniture. The thee dimensional portraits of the Maharajas are also noteworthy.
Open : 1000 - 1200 hrs; 1500 - 1700 hrs. Closed on Saturdays and Jewish holidays.
Constructed in 1568, this is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth. Destroyed in a shelling during the Portuguese raid in 1662, it was rebuilt two years later by the Dutch. Known for mid 18 th century hand painted, willow patterned floor tiles from Canton in China, a clock tower, Hebrew inscriptions on stone slabs, great scrolls of the Old Testament, ancient scripts on copper plates etc.
The area around the Synagogue is a centre of spice trade and curio shops.
This island is famous for its palace of the same name. The Bolgatty Palace was built in 1744 by the Dutch and later taken over by the British. Today it is a hotel run by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, with a small golf course and special honeymoon cottages.
Named after Lord Willingdon, a former British Viceroy of India, this manmade island is surrounded by beautiful backwaters. The island is the site of the city’s best hotels and trading centres, the Port Trust and the headquarters of the southern naval command.