The eventful history of this city began when a major flood in AD 1341 threw open the estuary at Kochi, till then a land locked region, turning it into one of the finest natural harbours in the world. Kochi thus became a haven for seafaring visitors from all over the world and became the first European township in India when the Portuguese settled here in the 15th century.
Major Attractions of Kochi
The Dutch wrested Fort Kochi from the Portuguese in AD 1663 and later in the last phase of the colonial saga, the British took over, the town in 1795. During 1660's, Fort Kochi peaked in stature as a prime commercial centre and its fame spread far and wide - variously as a rich trade centre, a major military base, a vibrant cultural hub, a great ship building centre, a centre for Christianity and so on. Today, centuries later, the city is home to nearly thirteen communities.
A few interesting sites included in the tour are the Chinese fishing nets along the Vasco Da Gama Square, Santa Cruz Basilica, St.Francis Church, VOC Gate, Bastion Bungalow etc. Apart from these architectural splendors, an array of restaurants serving fresh seafood are also popular among tourists. The Chinese fishing nets erected on teak wood and bamboo poles work on the principle of balance. Records say they were first set up here between AD 1350 and 1450. Vasco Da Gama Square, the narrow promenade that parallels the beach, is the best place to watch the nets being lowered and pulled out of the sea.
The Santa Cruz Basilica, a church built originally by the Portuguese and elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul 1V in 1558, was spared by the Dutch conquerors who destroyed many Catholic buildings. Later the British demolished the structure and Bishop Dom Gomez Vereira commissioned a new building in 1887. Consecrated in 1905, Santa Cruz was proclaimed a Basilica by the Pope John Paul II in 1984.
Tourist Spots within Kochi are as under:
Bolgatty Palace:This Dutch palace is situated on the Bolghatty island. At present it is being used as hotel. The island has a fine golf course and the panoramic view makes it an attractive picnic spot. Frequent boat service is available from the mainland
Chinese Fishing nets: The chinese fishing nets found here are the only ones of its kind in India. It is believed that traders from the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan introduced these nets here. 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 ideal place to idle, with stalls serving fresh delicious sea food, tender coconut etc
Dutch Palace: The Dutch Palace was originally built by the Portugese. Later, in 17th century, the Dutch modified it and presented to the Raja of Kochi. Coronation of many Rajas of Kochi were held here. The place has a fine collection of mural paintings depicting the scenes from the Hindu epics Mahabharatha and Ramayana.
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 doors and sprawling rooms. Waterfront verandahs are an added attraction.
Santa Cruz Basilica: This historic church was built by the Portguese and eleveated 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.
Hill Palace: Built in the 19th century by Raja of Kochi, the Kochi province was ruled from here. The palace has been converted into a museum displaying a fine collection of articles used by the Rajas of Kochi apart from many archaeological findings.
Jew Town: The area around the Synagogue is a centre of spice trade and curio shops.
How to reach kochi
Nearest railway station : Ernakulam about 1 1/2 km from the Main boat jetty.
Nearest airport : Cochin International Airport, about 20 km