Through The Backwaters
houseboat drifts lazily down a winding waterway, fishing boats anchor
in the distance and colonial legacies continue in the form of churches
and synagogues - these are some of the myriad images that Kochi
evokes. Here, life moves at a different pace, unearths Monideepa
city perfectly reflects the eclecticism in its architecture and
culture. With its feet firmly rooted in history, the city is fast
emerging as the captivating commercial centre of Kerala
is Kerala all right with its never-ending line of swaying palms,
glistening backwaters, fishing boats anchoring at a distance and
the never-fading greenery. Yet Kochi, formerly called Cochin, is
a beautiful contrast with its wild array of bright neon lights reflecting
its bustling port culture. One of the finest natural harbours on
the Arabian coast of India, Kochi has been a port of call for foreign
traders from early times. The city perfectly reflects the eclecticism
in its architecture and culture. Here, you can see the oldest church
in India, winding streets with mosques, ancient Portuguese houses,
cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, a Jewish synagogue, and a palace
built by the Portuguese and gifted to the Hindu Raja of Cochin.
With its feet firmly rooted in history, the city is fast emerging
as the captivating commercial centre of Kerala.
to its cosmopolitan nature, Kochi consists of mainland Ernakulam,
the islands of Willingdon, Bolgatty in the harbour area and Fort
Cochin and Mattancherry in the peninsula. That I was to witness
a myriad images was evident the moment, I disembarked from the train
at Ernakulum. The sleek modern buildings that house the business
community are peacefully sharing the skyline with a series of peculiarly
suspended fishing nets dating back to the times of Kublai Khan.
The dimly lit curio shops on the narrow cobbled streets of Fort
Cochin compete with the ruthless ferocity of the dazzling shops
on the mainland selling the most high-tech merchandise. The people
are a revelation, too. White dhoti-clad locals enveloped in an unruffled
calm mix freely with the pinstriped gentleman, always in a hurry
to catch the last train home. It is a heady concoction and well
Worth Your While
Cochin: St Francis Church is Indias oldest European-built
church. The wooden structure was rebuilt in stone around the mid-16th
century. After the British took control over Kochi, it became an
Anglical church and is presently being used as the Church of South
India. The most interesting sight of this area is the fixed cantilevered
Chinese fishing nets that were introduced by the traders from the
court of Kublai Khan.
Palace: Built by the Portuguese in 1555, the palace was presented
to the King of Cochin, Veera Kerala Varma as a gesture of goodwill.
The Dutch later renovated it in 1663 and, hence, it is also known
as the Dutch Palace. The two-storey quadrangular building surrounds
a courtyard that contains a Hindu temple. The central hall on the
first floor was the coronation hall of the Rajas. The murals depicting
scenes of Ramayana and Mahabharata are wonderful.
Synagogue: The beautiful Jewish synagogue was built in 1568,
and later destroyed by jealous Portuguese marauders. The present
day synagogue was rebuilt two years later when the Dutch took over.
The Belgian chandeliers hanging from the exquisitely decorated ceiling
render a vibrant lively glow to the interiors. The red and gold
holy tabernacle that holds the sacred Torah is at the centre of
the hall. Its fragile pages are made of paper processed from goatskin
and inscribed in ancient Hebrew. The hand-painted, willow pattern
blue and white floor tiles are a unique feature of the synagogue.
Of The Backwaters
Theres nothing back about the backwaters. In the geographical
sense, the term refers to the huge network of lakes, canals and
estuaries that are formed by a splendid geological action of the
sea off the coast of Kerala. The waves rolling in from the Arabian
Sea forced the rivers to deposit their suspended silt on the ocean
floor running parallel to the coast that eventually got filled up
to form a whole 900 kms of canal like waterways.
cruise along these canals would take you into a world of fantasy.
This could be organised by the resort on demand or you can contact
the tourist office. As you glide along, you would be treated with
the most unusual of vistas that you can ever think of. Village after
village floats past, the water gently obliterating the boundaries.
Here, everything happens in the fluid world. Children go to school
in a dinghi pulled by them. The bigger ones carry everything from
harvest to Enfield bikes, from young maidens to sturdy bulls. The
dinghis are also used to fetch groceries or chase squadrons of quacking
ducks. At places, the thick vegetation on either side of the bank
form a canopy above the canals. The gentle lullaby of the swash
and swirl of waves helps one to forget everything and drift into
a peaceful slumber. The water lilies slowly open up their delicate
features and the butterflies dance in delight. Skein after skein
of birds leaving their roost fly towards the unknown creating beautiful
designs in the canvas of a spotless blue sky. A proud kingfisher
conducts a solo acrobatic performance every time he manages to catch
a dainty fish. You are sure to crave for more even after the ride
Opp Pioneer Tower, Shanmugam Rd.
Offering authentic Kerala-style cuisine, its specialities
are duck roast and karimeen fry. They also offer snacks at
tea time of tapoica with fish curry - all a part of the traditional
cuisine. Closed on Sunday.
Road, Tel: (0484) 221769
hip place in town opens at 8:30 and serves a whole range of
food including home-baked cakes. The cafe is popular amongst
art lovers as it holds exhibitions, workshops and theatre
M G Road, Tel: (0484) 367759
A multicuisine restaurant of the Casino Group of Hotels. It
is probably the best restaurant in Kochi. The specialties
are dishes cooked in authentic Kerala style. The traditional
fish curry in coconut gravy and the Syrian chicken roast are
a must try.
Located at the Taj Malabar Hotel, it serves excellent food.
The other two restaurants of this hotel - Rice Cafe and Waterfront
Cafe are also worth a visit.
Square, Durbar Hall Ground.
One can enjoy dining in the stylish decor with classical music.
A cozy atmosphere for relishing thali meals, South Indian
delicacies and other traditional food.
The restaurant at Hotel Abad Plaza serves Indian food and
the buffet spreads are quite popular.
Mahatma Gandhi Road is the citys main commercial district.
A bustling shopping centre where you can buy almost all kinds
of goods including textiles, garments, jewellery, handicrafts,
electronic goods, books, toys etc. Convent Road, branching westwards,
has a growing number of boutiques and outlets for the trendy
and brand-conscious. In Jew Street, Mattancherry, theres
a plethora of shops selling old antiques. But most are modern
day robbers, so be careful and bargain hard, if you dont
want to be looted. If you are interested in art, then the Kashi
Art Cafe on Burgher Street and Dravida Art and Performance gallery
would be the perfect choice.
the South Indians, cinema is a major form of entertainment and
Kochi is no exception. Apart from that, Kochi does not have
much of nightlife. Cultural shows are conducted regularly to
acquaint visitors with the beautiful dance form of Kathakali.
The leading among them is the Devans See India on Kalathiparambi
road. The show features an extra ordinary presentation by P
K Devan who explains the dances history. He also helps
tourists understand the philosophy that lies beneath the drama.
It costs around Rs 150. Art Kerala, near the See India foundation,
conducts rooftop performances. The Cochin Cultural Centre on
the Manikath Road holds the same in an air-conditioned hall
that resembles a temple courtyard. The cost is around Rs 100.
Kerala Kathakali Centre stages performances at Fort Cochin.
The last ferry from Fort Kochi to mainland departs after the
show at 9 pm. All these performances begin with the elaborate
make-up that a kathakali artist needs to wear. You must not
miss this experience.
Malabar Road, Willingdon Islands North End, Kochi - 682009
Situated on the Willingdon Island, with a magnificent view
of the Kochi Harbour and beautiful backwaters, this 96-room
deluxe property has two wings ie new wing & heritage wing.
All rooms have been recently renovated, elegantly appointed
and centrally air-conditioned. Taj Malabar has its own jetty
for a boat cruise on the backwaters.
Kochi - 682 011
is conveniently located on Marine Drive, Kochis busy
commercial hub. Modern business facilities combined with the
legendary Taj tradition of the finest hospitality and service
make it the ideal businessmans choice, for work and
Island, Kochi - 682 003
Casino hotel on Willingdon Island, in the middle of Kochi
Harbour, is a British legacy, created by Lord Bristow. Ideally
located between Fort Kochi and the modern mainland town of
Ernakulam, the hotels facilities include the cascade
pool, bordered by lawns and palm trees, which is one of the
few places where you can swim in Kochi. The other attraction
of this hotel is its famed sea-food restaurant.
(11), Bristow Road,
Island, Kochi - 682 003
The Trident on Willingdon Island, is another addition to the
Oberoi Group of Hotels. This newly built hotel on Willingdon
Island is a four-star property with all the modern amenities
of a five-star. All rooms are beautifully decorated with good
views. The large swimming pool is also an added attraction.
Fort Cochin, Kochi - 682001
Situated at the harbour mouth overlooking the busy ship channel,
all rooms boast magnificent views of the sea and the delta.
Designed and built in the style and principle of the early
Dutch and Portuguese architecture, its hard to believe
that the Brunton is a new building. The eye-catching antique
four poster is the centre of attraction in the
rooms and suites.
Meridien Cochin Resort & Convention Centre
Set in 12 acres of lush landscaped gardens and conveniently
located close to the city, the hotel is designed to give the
guests the finest service and facilities. 120 of the total
150 rooms overlook the picturesque backwaters of Kerala. Built
on the highest global standards, the convention centre has
all the ingredients to make a successful event.