Quaint and delightfully appealing, radiating a quintessential old-world charm, Fort Kochi (Fort Cochin) makes for the perfect holiday destination. Reserve an evening for a trip down Princess Street, when visiting this part of the world, to soak in the true essence of Fort Kochi. It is among the oldest streets in the area and boasts of simple, yet awe-inspiring architecture. Get lost in its narrow streets, figuratively speaking of course, and savour its rich history and cultural heritage. You cannot ignore its raw, unassuming appeal, it’s a different world with its brightly coloured, colonial-style, tiled roofed buildings, lined along cobbled streets. It is also the right place for souvenir shopping. An assortment of exciting stuff is available here – jewellery, antique pieces, handicrafts, clothes and other knick knacks. And the beach is just down the street.
Fort Kochi – Its cultural and historical significance
Though an integral part of Kochi (Cochin), Fort Kochi maintains its own unique identity, exuding a peaceful, laid back ambience, and a lot of character. Interestingly, it has quite a long and varied history. Once a significant port and trading centre it had attracted merchants and traders from far off places, in China and Europe, who came here for spices and cotton.
Maritime trade set the stage for European colonisation, and by the fifteenth century, the Portuguese acquired a stronghold over the region. Subsequently, they built a fort here, which incidentally is how the place got its name. The fort no longer exists, but the name has stuck. It continued to attract European settlers and soon the Dutch and the British colonised the place. The European style architecture prevalent in the region is a reminder of their influence and culture.
Best Places To Visit In And Around Fort Kochi
Fort Kochi draws thousands of international tourists each year. It is a place of historical significance with a lot to offer in terms of things to see and do. We have curated a list of 5 best places to visit in and around Fort Kochi in this blog. It is possible to cover all of them, even on a short two-day trip.
We recommend a trip to Jew Town. It is an enchanting place, sitting snugly between the Jewish Synagogue and the Dutch Palace (also called the Mattancherry Palace). Much like Princess Street, it’s a shopper’s paradise, with items available at bargain prices. Shops jut onto the pavement, invitingly displaying an array of merchandise, that includes antiques, silver and semi-precious stone studded jewellery, wood and stone artefacts, silk stoles, coffee, tea and spices and a lot more.
The Mattancherry Palace (Dutch Palace) must also be on your itinerary. Standing on the banks of the backwaters, the splendid two-storied structure stores a lot of history. Walk around the lush palace grounds, check the museum which is a treasure trove, with belongings of the erstwhile royals of Kerala on display. Also, on the premises are two ancient temples, dedicated to the Hindu gods, Shiva and Krishna.
Paradesi or the Jewish Synagogue is open to visitors on all days except Friday, Saturday, and Jewish holy days. Dating back to 1567, it is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth nations, and prayers are still offered here. The collection of antiques is the main attraction of the synagogue. Among them are massive Belgian glass chandeliers, several gold crowns and copper plates dating back to the 10th century and an 18th century clock.
St. Francis Church
Other places of interest include the St. Francis Church, the place where Vasco Da Gama is said to have been buried and Santa Cruz Basilica, an imposing Cathedral 16th century structure built by the Portuguese. The Pallipuram Fort and Fort Immanuel built are also worth visiting. The latter was built in the 16th century. Bolgatty Palace, Dutch Cemetery, Chinese fishing nets, Kerala Folklore Theatre and Museum and the Kerala Kathakali Centre are other places for sightseeing.
You can find certain other attractions near Fort Kochi other than this, but if you are planning a short trip in two days then this will be the 5 best places to visit in and around Fort Kochi.
Best Food Varieties of Fort Kochi
Kerala is known for its cuisine. Most local dishes are infused with fresh spices and coconut milk. For an authentic dining experience, we recommend the Pavilion at Hotel Abad. It is a multi-cuisine restaurant, a term commonly used in India, for eateries that serve different cuisines.
The Pavilion is owned by Abad Hotels and Resorts, a hotel chain with properties across Kerala. Located close to Jew Town, it is easily accessible. The food at the restaurant is freshly prepared; the place uses fresh catch and halal meat and poultry. Seafood dishes are their speciality – prawns, squid, crabs and fish are a must-try if you love seafood. For the ultimate seafood indulgence, the chefs at Hotel Abad can prepare you your favourite seafood dishes upon request. The ambience is good, the place clean and hygienic, and the service excellent. It is a great place to stop by for a bite when you are done sightseeing.
Best Time To Visit In Fort Kochi
Kerala has pleasant weather all year round. Though it does get a lot of rain during the monsoon, it’s still lovely. However, December is the best time to visit Fort Kochi, not only is the weather pleasant; it’s when the Cochin Carnival takes place.
The Carnival kicks off in the second half of December, just before Christmas and ends on the first of January, the following year. The tradition of the Carnival is attributed to the Portuguese who rang in the New Year, with great fanfare.
A grand parade is organised to mark the New Year. It is an elaborate affair; the parade winds through the streets of Fort Kochi and everyone joins in the celebration. The procession includes musicians and dance troupes, and elephants bedecked in dazzling accessories. Lights and streamers deck the streets. It is fun to stand on the sidewalk and watch the proceedings.
The parade is just one part of the Carnival; there is other stuff happening as well. People converge on the beach, where various competitions are held – beach football, boxing, wrestling, swimming, kayaking beach bike race etc. The beach wears a festive look – it’s one big celebration.
Best and Affordable Hotels To Stay In Fort Kochi
With numerous hotels and homestays available, finding a place to stay in Fort Kochi is never a problem. However, if you are looking for a reputed hotel, that’s affordable, safe, clean and comfortable, we endorse the ones managed by the Abad Group.
The Abad properties in Fort Kochi are centrally located and well-equipped with world-class amenities. You can confirm your bookings online. The Hotel Abad, one of the best budget hotel in fort kochi is located at a short distance from the sea and the Mattancherry Palace. The hotel has 19 centrally air-conditioned deluxe guest rooms which ensure utmost comfort to people who stay here. One can enjoy the beautiful sights of Fort Kochi while indulging in fresh seafood prepared by chefs at this hotel. Whatever be the purpose of your visit, Abab Hotels can guarantee a memorable stay at Fort Kochi.
Abad Pepper Route is a bed and breakfast hotel, with shuttle service to the airport. This colonial-style hotel in Fort Kochi is the perfect place for anyone who wishes to explore Mattancherry and nearby places. Abad Pepper Route offers a comfortable stay for travellers from around the world and keeps them entertained with local music. This is one of the best budget bed and breakfast hotels in fort Cochin which offers comfort and privacy.
And if you want a luxury stay then there’s no place better than Abad Dutch Bungalow. The 350-year old heritage property was built in 1668, and named Crystal Palace. Built by the Dutch East India Company, this is one of the first heritage hotels. The Bungalow, situated in the heart of Fort Kochi features Food mill, a popular restaurant that specialises in seafood and Indian cuisine. Abad Dutch Bungalow is situated 200 metres from St.Francis Church and the Fort Kochi Beach. The Dutch Bungalow is only a short drive away from the Synagogue and Mattancherry palace. It offers various amenities to the guests for a laid-back stay.