Coconut palms and seafood, Dutch churches and Jewish synagogues, spices and culture, Kochi is so much more than just another city here in Gods Own Country. Right from the time of the great flood of 1340 AD, when the Periyar River destroyed the great trading port at Kodungallur to create a natural harbour a few kilometres away, there’s been no looking back for Kochi. Each owner from the Portuguese and Dutch to the British has left his unique mark on the land here, spectacular post-colonial legacy evident in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry.
From fleeing Jews to Arab traders and Christian missionaries, Kochi has been home to a varied population and continues to lure travellers today as well. Chinese fishing nets, heritage homestays and backwater canoe rides have somehow kept pace with development on the mainland, Ernakulam. Spice trading remains a major contributor to Kochi’s economy, and a quick walk through Fort Kochi’s spice market with its intoxicating aroma is proof enough. Sultry warm weather, with an average of 132 days of rainfall throughout the year, expect to get drenched at least once during your stay here. An amalgamation of the best of the old and the new, Kochi is truly the heart of Kerala.
un[travel]’s Top Picks in Kochi
Sunrise at Munambam Harbour and Cherai
Munambam harbour, one of Kerala’s busiest fishing harbours, is a short drive up north near Cherai beach. Walk over to watch heavy Chinese fishing nets being raised as the sun slowly rises. Head back to the auction halls as fishermen bring in their daily catch where fish is neatly sorted on clean floors for quick auctions (that last no more than 10-15 minutes).
Kayaking at Kothad Island
Kayaking at Kothad Island
Serene backwaters make for a glorious kayaking experience around the beautiful island of Kothad. Get glimpses of local village life on the shore as you paddle through tranquil waters.
Brunch at Kashi Art Café, Fort Kochi
Kashi Art Cafe
This airy tropical garden café, where art meets delicious food, has an absolutely sumptuous all-day breakfast. Stroll around the gallery section for an eclectic art display that never disappoints.
Cultural evening at Fort Kochi
Kathakali performance at Kochi Fort
Culturally vibrant, you’ve never truly visited Kerala if you’ve not witnessed the agony, the ecstasy on a Kathakali dancer’s face. Greenix Village, gives you all that and more with an evening of Kathakali, Mohiniattam and Kalaripayattu demonstration. Get here early to watch the dancers paint their faces before the performance begins.
Cycling Tour of Fort Kochi
Cycling at Fort Kochi
Bicycle your way back in time along narrow alleyways that take you through the essence and culture of this fascinatingly enigmatic Fort Kochi, where smart phones and voice recognition seem a lifetime away.
Kumbalangi Sunset Cruise
Sunset at Kumbalangi
Kumbalangi, a splendid little model village with everything from crab farming to coir yarn processing, is one of Kerala’s best-known secrets. Stop for a couple of minutes to watch the sun go down on beyond, seemingly strategically placed, Chinese fishing nets.
When to un[travel] Kochi
For clearer skies, opt for a slot between early September to the end of March. The beaches look their best early November through to March as well, so look out for some spectacular sunsets. Mid-October and November does see a fair amount of rain with the North-West monsoons. Sultry summers set in by April to the end of May with fairly high outdoor temperatures. Monsoons arrive by the first week of June right through to the end of August. Cool temperatures with overcast skies and green all around make this a visit like none other.
un[pack] That Bag
• Light clothing and sandals • An umbrella if you’re here in the monsoons • Mosquito repellent and sunscreen • Chargers and prescription medication.
un[travel]’s Top 5 Places to Stay
• XandariHarbor • Tea Bungalow • Old Harbor Hotel • Brunton Boatyard • Le Colonial, Neemrana