cochin

Cochin, incorporated with the wider district of Ernakulam is a large metropolitan city with excellent shopping areas, many business parks and a huge number of hotels. Cochin tourism benefits from a wealth of history centred around Fort Cochin and it,s superb natural harbour. Here as in many places around the backwaters of Kerala you will see ancient Chinese fishing nets, these enormous cantilevered wooden structures, counterbalanced by rocks are mainly a visitor attraction now. Wander along the harbourside and you can by fresh fish from on stall the take it to another where it can be cooked to your taste. The colourful vending stalls are a great opportunity for tourists to buy inexpensive trinkets and souvenirs.

The architecture in Fort Cochin tells of it,s history, spices brought voyagers from around the world and they left their mark in the buildings, Jewish, Arabian, Chinese, Portuguese and British influences are still evident. St Francis church, thought to be the oldest church in India has the tomb of Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer, although his remains were long ago taken to Lisbon.

Jew town is the centre of the spice trade in old Cochin, tiny shops crowded together in ancient buildings fill the air with enticing spicy aromas, while other shops sell souvenirs and antiques. The Jewish Synagogue was built in 1568, with it,s gold pulpit and unique blue and white tiles still attracts visitors today.

In 1555 the Portuguese built Mattancherry Palace as a gift to the Raja of Kochi who had granted them trading rights. The Dutch renovated the building in 1663 so it is sometimes called the Dudtch Palace.

Kerala,s unique art form is Kathakali, a performance of dance and drama that tells wonderful stories with movement, mime and music. Kerala Kathakali Centre has been built to showcase the art which takes many years to learn and where makeup is as much a part of the performance as the acting and stage art.