One of the widely visited cities in Kerala, separated by water-ways from the main city Kochi, Fort Kochi still has the 19th century European look intact in every corner of it (only seeing men wearing the mundus will bring one back to India); Fort Kochi is historically well preserved and upgraded to tourist friendliness and vibrantly painted on the white lucent alleys. And the very best way to explore the town is by foot. Get onto light clothes and comfy sneakers or slippers to explore the place by walking and the rainbow town will amaze you.
The arrival point in Fort Kochi:
- Either Ernakulam railway station or Kochi international Airport
- Or the city is well connected by wide smooth road as well.
*** One can stay at Kochi city and opt of a day excursion to Fort Kochi (that’s what I did at my very first visit) but to confess it, Fort Kochi has the real flavour of the old-fashioned Dutch & British influenced look, which is very much missing in Kochi and for which I couldn’t stop myself from bookign a stay at this town, but again it’s not quite discouraging to stay at Kochi as well. [To add, that’s what Kerala is, you would like to stay at everywhere as every city/town/ village is so unlikely from each other.
Travel distance from Kochi to Fort Kochi is appx 1:30 hrs duration (may be more during traffic hours)
Mode of transport:
- Prepaid taxi or Uber/Ola costs appx 1200-1500 per car for 2-3 pax
- Otherwise AC buses are frequently available from Airport to main city OR Fort Kochi- INR 90.00 per person
Places to Visit in Fort Kochi:
A) Dutch Palace Museum Or Mattancherry Palace: (Entry fee: INR 5.00 per Indian)
The 16th century typical Kerala style construction with some western world influence is an uncomplicated beauty, with no exaggerated ornamentation on the walls or ceilings; but the entire Ramayana episode murals on them. Along with the various murals, paintings still shining their old glory, there are history gallery, collection of the royal attires, several usages and expensive collection of the royal family and many more. The simple baked mud tiled roof, mahogany ceilings, windows, doorways and balconies manifests sophistication and inside the palace the rooms are soothingly cool. A good one hour just passes by exploring this palace.
*** Photography inside the museum is prohibited.
B) Jewish Synagogue Paradesi : (Entry Fee: INR 5.00 per Indian)
From Dutch palace this synagogue is about 10-15 minutes pleasing walk. Pleasing because after few steps further from the palace the streets become very interesting. There are so many spice shops, as aromatic they are, the look of the shops are even tempting; and we enter the Jews town, which looks so different, shops lined up selling clothes, souvenirs, home decors, Persian handwork, Kashmiri stole, restaurants, oh that’s so much to see and enjoy.
The tour inside the Synagogue takes about 20 minutes, some drab chandeliers hanging down from the ceiling, blue white tiles on the floor, and plenty of seating area to sit quietly and rest a bit, register the place in mind (because no photography inside) and move forward.
*** Proper attire is required to enter the synagogue. Any Clothing above knee not allowed inside.
While Dutch palace and Synagogue is close by, have a long stroll at the photogenic Jew town, have some food in one of the many interesting food joints (even there are few small government run free museums, hence if you have a lot of time in hand, may be give them 10-15 mins try). From Jew town to rest of the attraction is about 2 km distance, and if you are a pro walker you can walk along the spice market and reach the main area of Fort Kochi or just take an auto (will take around 60-70 rs)
C) St. Francis Church, Fort Kochi: (No entry fee required):
One of the oldest church is Kerala, residing in the middle of the town, this church has lot of European influence in it’s construction work. Also the Great explorer Vasco De Gama was buried here inside this church.
D) Dutch Cemetery:
It took me some time to find this place; I was literally taking rounds of the same place and still couldn’t see it. There are signs clearly showing the way, even google map is not at any error, it’s just that the cemetery isn’t quite well maintained, the graves are lying under the blanket of dead weeds and it’s locked, so one can see the place only from outside. The Dutch cemetery is just by the beach in case google doesn’t ring the bell for you at times, like me!!
E) Chinese Fishing Net:
Once upon a time this was the only way of fishing in the entire Kerala region, which is dying a saturated extinction at the moment, still some parts of the state is somehow surviving with these process, where as, in Fort Kochi it’s more of touristic purpose to keep it alive. How the fishing nets work, whether the finned creatures still take the bait or not; one should wait 10 minutes with patience, and it’s proven. Overall Chinese fishing net is an experience and should not be avoided.
F) Santa Cruz Basilica: (No entry fee required)
Located at the centre of the town, this church is so colourfully decorated inside. There are specific opening times of the church, better to visit in the evening when it’s lit up.
G) Fort Kochi Beach:
The beach of Fort kochi lies across the Chinese Fishing net area and continues for a long stretch with a wide paved walking area. There are restaurants at places and street food sellers through-out the beach. Sunset is best time to spend time on the beach, evening is salty and breezy and very lively.
Travelling around Fort Kochi, Kerala:
- The best way to explore Fort Kochi is by walking, it’s a small town and exploring the place on foot is no big deal with a pair of sneakers.
- But then, Auto- ricksaws are well available and very fun to travel across if the muscles need some rest
- Also, private cars, guided tours are available.
- All hotels/ home-stays can make the arrangements.
- There are ample of travel agents by the streets to help the tourist
Stay at Fort Kochi:
A) A good 3-4 nights can be easily spent in Fort- Kochi. Even a week is not bad, in that way one can cover the Kochi city as well.
B) ** The area across Naiper Street is quite high-spirited with many hostels/ hotels/ home stays/ restaurants/ shops etc. around.