Kochi, formerly known as Cochin, is perhaps the most sought after tourist center of Kerala. Situated in the Ernakulum district, Kochi flaunts one of the finest natural harbor of the world and it is often been tagged as 'The queen of Arabian sea'. It has been a busy port since the ancient times as it was a major spice trade center of the world. The landscape is actually a group of Islands like Willingdon Island,Mattencherry, and Fort kochi. The word Kochi literally means small lagoons. To choose the top tourist destinations of Kochi is truly a challenging task with wide range of destinations to consider.
Kerala is famous for its backwaters and Kochi has it all and naturally our enumeration of the top tourist destinations of Kochi must begin with Kochi. It is in the tranquil still waters of Vembanad lake where you can relax and unwind and enjoy the greenery and calm beauty of nature. Vembanad is the longest lake in Kerala and one of the largest in India. The northern extension of the Vembanad lake is the brackish lagoons that stretch from Kochi Azhi to Munambam Azhi parallel to the Arabian sea, the coastline known as Malabar coast. The entire stretch of backwater is a regaling experience, the tranquility of the surrounding will infest your soul and relax your overwrought spirit. Navigating in the backwater is quite an experience in one of the traditional houseboats and extensive greenery of the surrounding will give you an idea of a tropical paradise. Hotels and accommodations are easily available and while relaxing in the lagoons you can enjoy the exquisite taste of Kerala.
It is an important commercial center of Kochi and a very popular hangout for the local populace. There are many shopping malls facing the backwaters with its beautiful surroundings. There are two newly constructed bridges called the rainbow bridge and Chinese fishing net bridge the dominates the walkway and hundreds of people ,both local and the tourists, can be observed having a walk among the gentle breeze coming from the beach and the Vambanad lake. Thousands of people make it a point to visit this place once they reach Kochi.
Fort Cochin Heritage Zone
This heritage place by many considerations is the best place to begin your tour around the top tourist destinations of Kochi. Fort Kochi bears the testimony of the erstwhile colonial powers that has invaded and ruled this part of the country. Here among the shaded avenues, and quiet streets you would encounter the colonial facades built by the Portuguese, the Dutch and finally the britishers. It is as if the time has been frozen here and yet the facilities and ambience are that of our cosmopolitan era.
St Francis Church
This is the oldest church built by the Europeans in India. It was built by the Portuguese in 1503 and it still bears testimony to the Portuguese heritage. The Dutch captured it in 1663 and they renovated it into the church of their own style. The stone slabs were introduced by the Dutch in 1779.It was finally taken over by the britishers in 1803. Now it is being run under the protestant church of India. The intricately curved stone sepulchers of the Portuguese and Dutch noblemen are worth seeing and they are to be found on the either side of the church. There is a war memorial of the fallen soldiers of the first world war in front of the church.
Santa Cruz Basilica
Situated nearby St. Francis Church, this imposing gothic structure was built by the Portuguese as the Roman Catholic basilica of Santa Cruz. The two majestic towers on the either side of the building are majestic and awe inspiring. The church was conferred the status of a cathedral in 1558 by Pope Paul IV and it was in 1984 it was anointed as basilica by Pope John Paul II . The structure has been renovated and revamped many a times and the structure as it stands today was built in 1905. The great works of the Italian artist br.Moschini S.J had created excellent paintings of the last supper, the passion of the Christ inside the main alters and it is really a spectacular experience to gaze and wonder at this superb paintings. The exquisitely designed stained glass windows and intricate carvings on the wall are other attractions of this place.
Undoubtedly without Kochi beach you cannot think of considering a tour around the top tourist destinations of Kochi. The sun, the sand and the endless ripples of water welcomes to one of the finest beaches of Kerala. Kochi beach is situated 12km from the Kochi town. It is pristine beach where you can enjoy the luxuries and facilities like any international tourist destinations.
Apart from the natural splendor Kochi beach is a popular spot for fun, frolic and enjoyment for all types of tourists. Enjoy the exclusive and tasty sea foods dishes while viewing the turbulence of water. The sunrise and sunset is a must see while you are at Kochi. A carnival is celebrated every year, a week before the new year.Various water sports facilities are available like deep sea diving, scuba diving etc.
Kochi has a great historical past with Dutch settlers and without this imposing architecture of Dutch heritage top tourist destinations of Kochi cannot be complete. This imposing building was built by the Dutch settlers who built it in 1744.It is the oldest of its kind and bears testimony to the Dutch architecture. Situated in the lush green surrounding you can enjoy the spectacular beauty and charm of Kerala backwaters from this spot. Bolghatty palace was taken over by the britishers and it was the home of the erstwhile British resident during the colonial time. After independence, the palace was converted into heritage hotel and nowadays it is taken care of by KTDC (Kerala tourism development corporation).
The hill palace is the largest archeological museum located near Tripunithura and being one of the top tourist destinations of Kochi it is a must visit place in the tou itinerary of any tourists visiting Kochi and Kerala. It was built in 1865 and served as the administrative building of the Kochi rajas. The 49 buildings are built in the traditional style and its total 54 acres hoses the archeological museum, heritage museum, deer park and a children's park.
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
The locals call it Valor international stadium and it has hosted many a memorable international cricket matches. Built in1996 ,it has a capacity for 60,000 spectators. The stadium was initially built for football but it later became famous for the international cricket matches. The flood light facilities are available for day and night match's .Besides cricket, huge fairs and exhibitions, political rallies are staged in this stadium. The sports enthusiasts must visit this place.
For many tourists who visit Kerala for the natural splendor of backwater and beaches and quaint hill stations, this palace in Kochi equally becomes a memorable tourist destination for the rest of their life to cherish. No wonder it features prominently in any tour itinerary across the top tourist destinations of Kochi. It is popularly known as the Dutch palace, although it was originally built by the Portuguese. The palace looks somewhat austere but has a peculiar charm of its own. The Dutch gifted this palace to the Raja of Kochi who rebuilt it in the traditional style as it stands today. The palace exhibits murals depicting Hindu temple art, gods and goddesses, scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata the epic drama of traditional India. The palace is quadrangular in shape with a courtyard in the middle and this traditional way of building is followed in the Nalkettu style. However European influences can be traced in designing the details.
The palace has a small temple in the central courtyard dedicated to Pazzyunnur bhagabati the reigning deity of the Kochi royal family. The temple is flanked by two other temples on either side dedicated to lord shiva and lord Krishna respectively. This palace is a unique assimilation of the hindu tradition ensconced in a building which was conceived by the Europeans.
History and heritage is inseparably intertwined in all major Kochi places of tourist attraction and this one is another instance of that. It is just beside the Mattencherry palace and these two building has a common wall. The raja of Kochi. Rama verma gifted the land to Malabar yehuden the Jewish settlers of this region in 1568. It is the oldest synagogue in the commonwealth countries . A giant scroll of old testament is the witness of the antiquity of the synagogue .The synagogue is decorated by Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers which look spectacular and grand in its own way. The Jewish lineage related to the history of Kochi is well documented in the synagogue.
This is a man-made island built in the name of Lord Willingdon the erstwhile governor of British Empire. Nowadays it houses the South naval command, cochin harbor ,port trust head quarters etc.
Museum of Kerala History
If Kerala is to be known in its most astounding artistic sculptures and art pieces this museum must be there in your itinerary for top tourist destinations of Kochi. It is a unique museum where scenes from the various episodes of the history of Kerala are depicted by sculptures. The statue of Parasurama ,the mythological figure who it is said to have created the state of Kerala, greets at the doorway of the museum.
A tour around Kerala's most important city must introduce you with the Portuguese history of Kerala and this fort is the best place to perceive that aura of history. It is the oldest surviving port built by the Portuguese in 1503. It was captured by the Dutch in 1789 and later gifted to the state of Travancore in 1789. Pallipuram fort is situated in the northern extremity of Vyspeen island.
Pareekshith Thempuran Museum
This would provide you a glimpse in Kerala's royal past along with the historical artifacts and remnants. The king of Cochin used to hold his durbar in this impressive building, located near the Shiva temple on the Durbar Hall road. It can boast of a rare collection of historic artifacts- the coins, the scriptures, the murals, the nineteenth century paintings. The building was later taken over by the Alit Kala Academy and it now exhibits contemporary art.
Kerala throughout the history of India and orient is synonymously referred as the exotic land where great world expeditionary Vasco Da Gama first landed that opened new horizon for spice trade. It is located at the Rose Street and believed to have been the place where the historic personage, Vasco Da Gama once lived. It is one of the oldest buildings built by the Portuguese. The windows and the verandahs bear a mute testimony of the European style.
After so called mind boggling heritage tour or quaint beach strolling or other fun and frolic if your adrenalin is still rushing for more active fun and extravaganza this park is the place to be and if you with kids it is a place to let them fulfill their thirst for fun rides. If one is with family and kids this would undoubtedly feature in the tour itinerary as one of the top tourist destinations of Kochi in its own right. It is the largest amusement park in south India situated about 14 km from Cochin. There you will find the mini castles, water theme park and all sorts of ways to entertain you.The adults as well s the childrens loved the fun rides of this park.