Ernakulam (Kochi colonial name Cochin) is located on the coast of the Arabian Sea with Kumarakom and Allapuzha districts on the South, Idukki on the East and Thrissur on the North. Its proximity to the equator, the sea and the mountains provide a rich experience of a moderate equatorial climate. The commercial capital and the most cosmopolitan city of Kerala, Kochi, in ernakulam, is also known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea.Informally, Cochin is also referred to as the Gateway to Kerala.With one of the finest natural barbours in the world, this was once a manor centre of commerce and trace with the british, arabs, chinese, portuguese, dutch etc.
Cochin is a small town. But, Cochin has outgrown its original bounds and is now the general name given to much of the region adjoining the original town, which now includes Cochin, Fort Kochi, Mattanchery, Ernakulam and many other nearby towns and villages. Ernakulam is also the name of a town – the administrative capital of Ernakulam district.
Like almost all other cities in India, Kochi has a very long and illustrious history. But, the origin of the name is still shrouded in mystery. Many theories exist, but none are strong enough to be conclusive. Some historians believe that Kochi is a modified form of the word ‘Cochazhi‘ which in Malayalam means ‘small sea’. Others are of the opinion that ‘Kochi’ was named so by the Chinese. According to them, traders from the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan, gave Kochi the name of their homeland. The peculiar Chinese fishing nets found here, the only place outside China where it has been spotted, can possibly be attributed to the heavy Chinese influence the city has had in the past. Still another theory is that Kochi is derived from the word ‘Kaci’ meaning ‘harbour’.
After India became independent in 1947, the state of Kerala was formed in 1956 by the unification of provinces Kochi, Malabar and Travancore. The Corporation of Kochi was formed in 1967 by the merger of the towns – Fort Kochi, Mattanchery, Ernakulam and many nearby villages. Growth in trade and commercialisation has led to the rise of Kochi as the most important city in Kerala and one of the major cities on the west coast of India.
Cochin/Kochi (Airport Code: COK) has a world-class modern international airport, located 30kms north-east of the city, with regular flights to major cities in India. Cochin is also connected to Singapore, Colombo and all major cities in the middle-east (Abu Dhabi, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Jeddah, Muscat, and Riyadh) by direct international flights. Airlines operating from Cochin include Air Deccan, Air India, Air India Express, Air Sahara, Emirates, Go Air, Gulf Air, Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Mahan Air, Oman Air, Saudi Arabian Airlines, SilkAir, SriLankan Airlines, and Qatar Airways, making it the fifth busiest airport in India. The International and Domestic terminals are located right next to each other. The airport buildings have been built in traditional Kerala architectural style. It is the first Indian airport to be built using private investment.
Kochi and Ernakulam are connected to the rest of India by an extensive network of rails.There are three main railway stations in Cochin: Ernakulam Junction (main station), Ernakulam Town and Cochin Harbour Terminus. Many important trains start from here and many others from/to the south of kerala stop at these stations.
An excellent road network links to all major towns and cities in india. Three important National Highways(NH) pass through/start from Kochi, apart from many state roads. NH 47 from Kanyakumari to Salem pass right through the heart of Kochi while NH 17 to Mumbai and NH 49 to Madurai (in Tamil Nadu) starts from Kochi. Private and public transport services are available to/from all major cities of South India from here. Long distance coach tickets to Mumbai (Bombay), Chennai (Madras), Bangalore, Coimbatore, etc. can be purchased from private coach operators operating from Jos Junction in the heart of the city.
There are two ferry stations in Ernakulam (Cochin). The main boat jetty is one km from the junction railway station and the other is near the high court.Regular boat service to places like Kottayam, Kumarakom and Alleppey are available through the scenic backwaters of Kerala.
Places to visit
A leisurely walk through the city is the best way to discover historic for Kochi. An obscure fishing village that became the first european township In india, kochi has an eventful and colourful history. The town was shaped by the cultural influences, the dutch and later the british. The result of these cultural influences are seen in the many examples of indo european architecture that still exist here.
Chinese Fishing Nets ( Cheenavala):
They are distinctly unique to Cochin. 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 st 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.
St. Francis Church:
It is the oldest church built by Europeans in India.This was initially built of timber and later reconstructed in stone masonry. It was restored in 1779 by the protestant dutch, converted To an anglican church by the british in 1795 and is at present governed by the church of south india. Vasco da gama was buried here in 1524 before his Remains were moved to Lisbon, portugal.
Fort Kochi beach:
A stroll along the beach, particularly at sunset with the chinese fishing nets and sailing ships in the background, is an ever memorable experience. Many European style bungalows can be seen along the shoreline. The coastal stretch has loads of small stalls, which make on demand mouth-watering traditional cuisines using freshly caught fish.
This is a man made island surrounded by beautiful backwaters and is named after Lord Willingdon, a former british viceroy of india. The island is the site of the city’s best hotels and trading centres, the port trust and the headquarters of the southern naval command.
Veega Land is South India’s largest amusement park situated 14kms from Cochin. Kids and adults alike can enjoy the fun and activities. The park includes a range of attractions including mini castles, water theme park, ferris wheel, rides, slides, shows and fountains.
Hill Palace, Tripunithura:
It was built by the Raja of Kochi in the 19th century , this palace served as the seat of the Raja of the Kochi province. The palace has been converted into a museum displaying a fine collection of articles showing the wealth and splendour of the Rajas of Kochi, including the thone and the crown. The musuem also houses a large collection of archaeological findings. Hill Palace is located 16km east of Cochin in Tripunithura, a satellite town of Cochin.
Santa Cruz Basilica, Fort Kochi:
The original church was built by the Portuguese in 1505 and named as a cathedral in 1558. The British colonists destroyed the cathedral in 1795. The current structure was built in 1905 and raised to the status of a basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1984.
Synagogue – Constructed in 1568, this is the oldest synagogue in the commonwealth. Destroyed in a shelling during the portuguese raid in 1662, it was rebuilt two years later by the dutch. It is magnificently decorated by Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers. Giant scrolls of the Old Testament can be found here.
Vasco da Gama is believed to have lived here.Vasco house, located on Rose Street, is believed to be one of the oldest Portuguese houses in India. This house features European glass paned windows and verandahs.
This island is famous for its palace of the same name. The bolghatty palace Was built in 1744 the dutch and later taken over by the british. Today it is a hotel run by the kerala tourism , with a small golf course, and the panoramic views of the port and the harbour, makes it an attractive picnic spot and special honeymoon cottages.Frequent boat service is available from the mainland.
Palliport (Pallipuram) Fort:
It is the oldest surviving European fort in India, built by the Portuguese in 1503. Its situated in Pallipuram on Vypeen island.
Dutch Palace (Mattancherry Palace):
Built by the Portuguese in 1557 and presented to Raja Veera Kerala Varma of Kochi, the palace was renovated in 1663 by the Dutch. On display here are beauriful murals depicting scenes from the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, and some of the Puranic Hindu legends. The palace also houses dutch maps of old kochi, royal palanquins, coronation robes of former maharajas of kochi.
Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary:
Mangalavanam is a protected bird sanctuary situated right in the heart of Kochi city. It is the home of many exotic and rare varieties of migratory and resident birds. Mangalavanam is located right next to the High Court of Kerala.
Museum of Kerala History, Kalamassery:
The museum has on display spectacular audio-visual exhibits depicting the history and culture of Kerala along with many life size statues of many famous personalities and several paintings depicting Kerala history.
Parikshith Thampuran Museum:
This Rajas of Cochin used to conduct their durbars in this impressive building located within the Durbar Hall grounds. It was later converted to a museum which has a treasure trove of archaeological findings and relics including old coins, sculptures, oil paintings and murals. The building has been taken over by the Kerala Lalitha Kala Academy and now houses the Gallery of Contemporary Art. All the exhibits of the museum have been moved to the Hill Palace museum.
A walk along the long tree-lined coastal pathway that lines the backwater is well worth the time spent, especially late afternoon or dusk. The bustling backwaters, dotted with fishing boats, speedboats, ships, tankers and passenger boats, can be observed from this walkway that lines the coast.
This lovely beach ideal for swimming is located on the north end of Vypeen island, one of the many small islands just off the mainland. The beach is lined by gorgeous coconut groves and paddy fields. Vypeen can be reached by land or by boat.