We came to Fort Kochi a bit tired and bedraggled after a wonderful, but strenuous 13 day journey along the River Nila (which we will tell you about soon!), with the idea of just spending a couple of days relaxing and lazing before returning home to Bombay.
But the moment we reached this quaint little corner of Kerala we realized that two days was way too little! I had been before, but Ambika hadn’t (except for a school trip 20 years ago) and she was mighty unhappy to be spending only two days in this impossibly charming little town! This was our little ‘holiday’, after two weeks of constantly moving and we both looking forward to just plonking ourselves down and settling. And Fort Kochi in off season, with its quiet bylanes, elegant colonial era architecture, cute little cafes, antique shops and mish mash of Dutch, Portuguese, British (yep they all came here!) and local Malayali influences, was just the place to spend a few days doing nothing.
A little grumbling from Ambika aside (she extracted a promise that we would come back here and spend atleast a week doing nothing), we did just that! Our travel budget temporarily suspended (we were on holiday remember!) we found ourselves a wonderful old heritage hotel to stay in and spent our days roaming Fort Kochi’s bylanes, rummaging around in the countless old antique shops of Jew town, admiring the street art of Fort Kochi, eating our body weight in beef fry, seafood and milkshakes, and watching the sun set over the Chinese fishing nets.
Of course we did a little bit of the touristy stuff as well, and in the middle of all the aimless wandering found time to check out the Old Dutch Palace at Mattancherry with its excellent murals of the Ramayana, visited the overwhelming but quirky Kerala Folklore Museum outside of Kochi, and wandered into the many old Churches (including the 16th St Francis Church, the oldest European Church in India, where Vasco Da Gama was once buried) and the Paradesi Synagogue, the oldest practicing synagogue in the commonwealth nations. But these are stories for another time and another post. For now, here is a small slice of life from our time in Fort Kochi.
Do click on the pictures and scroll through the slideshow to read the captions.
Some Useful Information:
How to get there: Fort Kochi is located about an hour away from Cochin Airport which is well connected to most major cities. Cochin is also easily accessible by rail and road.
How much time do you need: Most of the ‘sights’ in Fort Kochi can be seen in a day if you are the sightseeing types, but we recommend spending a few days in this charming little corner of Kerala just walking, lazing and taking in the atmosphere. We promise Fort Kochi will grow on you and even 3 – 4 days might seem like too little.
Where to Stay: There are plenty of homestays and heritage hotels, most of which are located around the main tourist area of old Fort Kochi. We suggest walking around to find something that suits your taste and budget. We have stayed at both the Old Harbour Hotel and the Old Courtyard, both of which are excellent but pricey. There’s also a Neemrana property and a number of small homestays which are very pocket friendly, especially in off season.
Where to Eat: Make sure you have at least a couple of meals at Kochis favourite Kashi Art Cafe, pretty much everything on the menu is excellent. Oys Cafe next door is also great for breakfast and has excellent black coffee. Loafers Cafe off Princess street is great for sipping on your favorite brew while watching the world go by, with pretty flower boxes along the windows. There are also a number of stalls by the waterfront which all serve pretty much the same mix of Kerala food, Pizzas and continental fare, eat there once, strictly for the experience, though the Pizzas at Pizza Italia are pretty damn good. If you are looking for something more upscale we can heartily recommend the restaurant at the Old Harbour, which along with the Brunton Boatyard and the Koder House are some of the few places in Fort Kochi that serve alcohol (only Beer and Wine unfortunately).
Dont Miss: A walk around Jew town looking for antique treasures is a must, as is a visit to the Kerala Folklore Museum, However if you are interested in a more personal antique shopping experience we suggest you visit John Korula at his little pre independence antique shop, Indian Industries, on Princess Street, who will be happy to spend time chatting about the region and the trade and show you around his little shop stuffed with treasures. For a fun experience you can also buy fresh catch of Snapper, Crabs, Squid, Tiger Prawns and Scampi by the Chinese Fishing nets and take it to any of the stalls who will cook it for you as you want for a fee.