The ancient Portugal and Dutch monuments and the early British structures are reminiscent of a glorious sequence of historical events.
The colossal places of the Maharajas (Kings) of the region speak volumes of the rich architecture of the part. 'Kaladi', the birth place of the great Hindu philosopher Adi Sankarar, who promulgated the doctrine of 'Advaitha' which means 'Not Two but One', is situated in this district. Unique legends and conventions are associated with the temples and churches of the region.
The entire region is gifted with natural landscapes of enormous beauty. The sumptuous sanctuaries swarmed with capricious birds are a delight to the sight. The bird sanctuary at Thottakadu is also home to certain wildlife creatures.
Thus, this part of Kerala is always full of joyous visitors everywhere.
Periyar and Murattupuzha are the main rivers of the district. The Chalakudi river which flows through north of Alwaye also joins Periyar at Alanthikara. The rivers of Thodupuzha, Kallai and Kothamangalamjoin together to form Muvattupuzha Rivers.
Air: Cochin International Airport is at Nedumbassery, 33 km north east of Ernakulam city.
Rail: Kochi is connected by rail with many important cities.
Ferry: The main Ferry Station (Boat jetty) is located 1 k.m. away from Ernakulam South Railway Station. From here, boats are available to all islands.
Among the Hindu festivals are the famous 'Sivarathri' celebrated at Siva shrines marked by 'Poojas and Prayers' and a number of customs and conventions, and another festival, 'The Arattu' which usually marks the conclusion of most of the festivals. There are also other festivals exclusive to the individual temples at various places. Vaikom Ashtami Festival is a grand celebration at the Mahadeva Temple.
At the St. Mary's Church, 'Vallarpadath Amma' is a weeklong ceremonial occasion to feast. It is an annual celebration.
Cochin Carnival Feast is observed during the last week of every year.
The Kanjiramattam Mosque celebrates the grand festival known as 'Kodikuthu' on the 14th of January every year.
Places to See
Emakulam is located on the coast of the Arabian Sea with Kottayam and Alappuzha districts on the south, Idukki on the east and Thrissur on the north. The commercial capital and the most cosmopolitan city of Kerala, Kochi along with its mainland part, Ernakulam, is also known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea.With one of the finest natural harbours in the world, this was once a major centre of commerce and trade with the British, Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese and Dutch etc. Kochi is the most modern city of Kerala where the best shopping markets are located.
Erankulam is the green commercial capital of Kerala with one of the finest natural harbours in the world. From here, ships set sail for foreign ports with pepper, seafood, rubber and coir. From times immemorial, Arabs, Chinese, Dutch, British and Portuguese seafarers followed the sea route to Cochin and left their impressions on the town. The harbour is the nucleus around which Cochin has grown to become the Queen of the Arabian Sea.The word Ernakulam comes from a Tamil 'Erayanarkulam' meaning abode of Lord Shiva.
Area:2408 sq. km.
Population: 27, 97, 779 (2001 census)
Altitude: Sea level
Places to See
Pierce Leslie Bungalow:
This grand edifice was the office of Pierce Leslie & Co., the centuries old coffee merchants, in 1862. The style of the construction seems to be the rare outcome of the fusion of three great architectural excellences - the Dutch, the Portuguese and the last but not the least, the Keralite. The verandahs are furnished with waterfronts.
This is again an 18th century edifice of elegance built by Samuel S. Koder of the Kochin Electric Company. The architecture here emphasises the advent of Indo-European style over the colonial style.
The High School here is part of the magnificent bungalow built in 1808 which was once a warehouse.
St. Francis Church:
This ancient church, reckoned to be the oldest European church in India, has a long history of construction and re-construction. Originally built of wood and timber by the Portuguese in 1503, the church was rebuilt by the Dutch Protestants with stone masonry in 1779 and then converted into an Anglican church by the British in 1795.
It is now under the Church of South India Council. The tombstone of the great historic voyager Vasco-da-Gama can be seen here since it was here he was laid to rest in 1524 before his remains were removed to Portugal.
Santa Cruz Basilica:
This ancient church built by the Portuguese was consecrated as a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV in1558. Eventually, when the British annexed Kochi in 1795, it was demolished. Then Bishop Dom Gomez Ferreira established a new building at the very site in 1887. Pope John Paul II declared the church, Basilica in1894.
This 16th century building with typical European glass paned windows, balcony and verandahs is believed to have been the residence of Vasco-da-Gama.
This huge wooden gate in front of the parade grounds was built in 1740. The monogram VOC by which the gate is called can be seen carved on it. The parade ground spreads over 4 acres and was once the venue of the military parades of the Portuguese, the Dutch and then the British. Now, it serves as a sports ground.
The Bishop's House:
This beautiful building on a small hillock near the parade grounds, built in 1506 as the residence of the Portuguese Governor has its facelift embellished by Gothic arches and a tread-worthy path along a circular garden leading to the inviting portal. The building then went into the possession of Dom Jos Gomes Ferreira, the 27th Bishop of the Diocese of Kochi.
What looks today as a reticent remnant of a mighty structure along the beach was once a magnificent fort? The bastion here signified the alliance between the then rulers of Kochi and Portugal. It was built in 1503 and fortified in 1538. The beautiful fort walls and bastions were destroyed by the Dutch and the British in the 1800's and after.
It was built in the later part of the 17th century by the Dutch East India Company. David Koder, a Jewish businessman, by whose name the building is known today was one of the later occupants. The famous Dutch Commander Hendrick Ardiaan Van Reed Tot Drakestein who was originally linked with the hall was the pioneer who compiled the flora of Malabar Coast. The compilation is known as Hortus Malabaricus.
The Cochin Club:
It started functioning in the 1900's. The club houses an impressive collection of sporting trophies. It is situated in a meticulously beautified park.
Also known as the Dutch Palace, this beautiful structure renovated by the Dutch in '1663 was originally built by the Portuguese in 1557 and presented to Raja Veera Kerala Varma of Kochi. Today, it is a 'Portrait Gallery' of Kochi Rajas. There are beautiful wall paintings here. Old Dutch maps of Kochi, royal palanquins and other ancient materials add to the attraction.
Visiting Hours: 10:00 to 17:00 hrs. Closed on Fridays.
Built in 1568, this is the oldest synagogue in the Common-wealth. It was destroyed in 1662 during the Portuguese raid and rebuilt after 2 years by the Dutch. Among the exquisite elements is a clock tower, stone slabs with Hebrew inscriptions, great scrolls of Old Testament, copper plates bearing ancient scripts, etc.
The floor tiles here are willow patterned and hand painted of the 18th century China style, brought from Canton.
Visiting Hours: 10:00 - 12:00 hrs. and 15:00 - 17:00 hrs. Closed on Saturdays and Jewish Holidays.
The area around the synagogue is known as Jew Town. It is the centre of spice trade and curio shops.
This beautiful beach along the border of the placid island Vypeen is ideal for swimming. The maritime friend of humans, the Dolphins can occasionally be sighted. Paddy fields and coconut groves are abundant.
This wonderful holiday resort is where the Bolghatty Palace was built in 1744 by the Dutch which was then taken over by the British. Now, it serves as a hotel managed by the K.T.D.C.A small golf course and honeymoon cottages are special features.
With an area of 5 acres, Gundu Island is the smallest island around Cochin.
This artificial island in the middle of the artful back-waters is named after Lord Willingdon, a former British Viceroy of India. There are in this beautiful place, excellent hotels, trading centres, Port Trust and the Southern Naval Command Headquarters.
Nearby Places to See
The Hill Palace Museum:
Located at Thripunithura about 10 km from Kochi, this beautiful palace was built in 1865. This huge palace is constituted by as many as 49 extravagant buildings of traditional architectural style of Kerala. The palace has benevolently made room for an outstanding Museum in which one can relish the glory of 19th century paintings, murals, stone sculptures, manuscripts, inscriptions and a lot more.
The vast area of 52 acres of terraced land around the palace has to its credit deer parks and horse riding facilities. Tripunithura is also known for the nearby Chottanikara temple and Poornathraessa temple.
Parikshith Thampuran Museum:
A good number of ancient coins, bronzes, copies of murals and megalithic relics of Kerala are on display here. It is adjacent to the Shiva temple on Darbar Hall Road, Ernakulam.
Madhavan Nayar Foundation:
Found in this exclusive foundation, which is about 8 km from Ernakulam town, at Edapally are life size figures revealing the historic episodes and events from the Neolithic to the neoteric era.
The gallery exclusive to paintings and sculptures displays more than 200 original works of the contemporary Indian artists.
Among the visual arts collection are authentic reproduction of certain world masters and mural reproductions of Indian art which are larger than life size. The light and sound shows with English and Malayalam commentaries attract a number of visitors.
This temple dedicated to Lord Vamana, one of the divine incarnations of Lord Vishnu has inscriptions spanning over three centuries from the 10th to the 13th. The deity is popularly known as Thrikkakariappan'. A 10 day festival is celebrated here.
About 32 km from Ernakulam, this place is elated to divine honours by the birth of the great philosopher and reformer of Hinduism, Adi Sankara. The place is also sanctified by the temples dedicated to Sri Sankara, Sarada Devi, Sri Krishna and Sri Ramakrishna.
According to the legends, Sankara's mother Aryamba was turning down his repeated pleas to take up austerity when one fine day a crocodile caught his feet and held on until he convinced his mother and obtained her permission. The legendary spot called 'Crocodile Ghats' can also be seen.
It is one of the largest elephant training centres of South India. On the north of the place flows the beautiful river Periyar. The elephants are mainly trained for Safari. There is also a small zoo.
About 42 km from Ernakularn, this is a place of versatile landscape. Three beautiful rivers, one more than a half a dozen inlets, picturesque hillocks and gleaming plains of green vastness all form a rare and a rapturous combination.
The Paliam Palace here representing the splendid architecture of Kerala was the official residence of the Paliath Achaus, the hereditary prime ministers to the Kings of Kochi. Many historic documents and important relics are preserved here.
The noble ideal of peaceful coexistence of religions is well exemplified by the unusual presence of a temple, a church, a mosque and also a synagogue, congenially close to one another all of which can be viewed with reverence from the enthralling hillocks at Kottayil Kovilakom.
The remains of the Vypeenkotta Seminary built by the Portuguese in the 16th century keeps the onlookers guessing about its wholesome grandeur.
Situated about 47 km from Kochi, the place is sanctified by the presence of a Catholic church on a beautiful hill, at an altitude of about 609 m. The church, dedicated to St. Thomas receives thousands of dedicated devotees during the annual festival-Malayatoor Perunal between March and April. The Holy Saint Thomas is believed to have prayed here.
An excellent picnic spot about 50 km northeast of Ernakularn town embedded in a vast expanse of virgin forest which is just n short distance away from another spot of endless enjoyment, the 'Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary' at Thattakkadu at Bhothathankettu is situated near the two main irrigation projects, the Periyar Valley and the Idamalayar Irrigation projects. It is also a trekkers' paradise.
Thattakkadu Bird Sanctuary:
On the Kochi-Munnar road, about 20 km from Kothamangalam this scintillating sanctuary is rightly named after its discoverer Dr.Salim Ali, the renowned ornithologist. The Salim Ali Sanctuary holds a variety of native birds like the Malabar grey-horn bill, the wood-pecker, the parakeet and, so on. The Ceylon frog-moth and rose-billed roller are among the rare birds. A large variety of migrant birds makes itself comfortable during the season here. With luck, one can also sight wildlife.
Chinese Fishing Nets:
The entrance to the Cochin harbour is dotted by the Chinese Fishing Nets called Cheena Vala in Malayalam. There are large nets which hang from bamboo or teak posts and are still used by local fishermen in Fort Cochin to catch fish attracted by the lights suspended above the net.
Located atop a hill at Chengamanad (30 kms north of Kochi) this is a place shrouded in mythology. It is believed that Sage Jangaman had lived here around 2000 years ago, and the place was initially known as Jangaman.
A famous Lord Murugan temple is located on the spot where the sage is said to have meditated which was later consecrated by Chattambi Swamikal in 1898. The word 'Munikkal Guhalayam' literally means 'sages rock cave'. Another story goes that Lord Murugan also called as 'Guhalayam' had made this plaoe as his abode and hence the word 'Guhalayam'.
Willingdon Island (STD: 0484)
• Taj Malabar (5 Star), Ph: 2666811 Fax: 2668297
• Casino Hotel, Ph: 2668221 Fax: 2668001
• A T S Willingdon, Ph: 2667282 Fax: 2667043
• Maruthi Tourist Home, Ph: 2666365
Ernakulam (STD: 0484)
• Taj Residency (5 Star), Ph: 2371471 Fax: 2371481
• Hotel Mercy (4 Star), Ph: 2367372 Fax: 2351504
• Avenue Regent (4 Star), Ph: 2372660 Fax: 2370129
• Quality Inn Presidency (4 Star), Ph: 2394300 Fax: 2393222
•The Metropolitan (3 Star), Ph: 2352412 Fax: 2382227
• Bolgatty Palace, Ph: 2750500 Fax: 2354879
• Hotel Rajmahal, Ph: 2371054 Fax: 2355377
• Bharath Hotel, Ph: 2353501 Fax: 2370502
• Woodlands, Ph: 2368900 Fax: 2382080
• Sun International, Ph: 2364162
• Hotel Sangeetha, Ph: 2368487 Fax: 2354261
• Biju's Tourist Home, Ph: 2381881
• Hotel Mayura Park, Ph: 2390560
• Hotel Orchid, Ph: 2319135
• Good Shepherd Touriat Home, Ph: 2381143 Fax: 2352045
• Hotel Blue Diamond, Ph: 2382115
• Hotel K K International, Ph: 2366010
• Udipi Ananda Bhavan, Ph: 2382071
• Queen's Residency, Ph: 2365775 Fax: 2352845
• HoteI Luciya, Ph: 2381177 Fax: 2361524
• The Avenue Regent, Ph: 2372660
• The Best Western Viceroy, Ph: 2366477
• Bolghatty Palace Hotel, Ph: 2355003
• The Metropolitan, Ph: 2352412
• Hotel Abad, Ph: 2228211 Fax: 2227163
• Hotel Joyland, Ph: 23677664
•Gaanam Hotel Ltd, Ph: 2367202, 2376123 and 2366848 Fax: 2354261
• Dwaraka Hotel, Ph: 2352706
• Maple Tourist Home, Ph: 2355156
• Hotel Crystal Palace, Ph: 2352444
• Hotel Blue Diamond, Ph: 2353221
• Queens Hotels, Ph: 2365775
• Matha Tourist Home, Ph: 2355221
• Pamba Tourist Home, Ph: 2367111
• Maruthi Tourist Home, Ph: 2666365
• Pizza Lodge, Ph: 2364923
• Elite Hotel, Ph: 2225733
• Hotel Grace, Ph: 2354914
• Hotel Shaziya, Ph: 2369508
• Hotel Hakoba, Ph: 2353933
• Grand Tourist Home, Ph: 2355206
• Grace Hotel, Ph: 2223584
• Delight Tourist Resort, Ph: 2228658
Fort Kochi (STD: 0484)
• Malabar House Residency, Ph: 2215083 Fax: 2221199
• Fort Heritage, Ph: 2225333 Fax: 2225333
• Hotel Fort House, Ph: 2226103
• Hotel Seagull, Ph: 2228128
• Hotel Abad, Ph: 2228211
• Hotel Fort Queen, Ph: 2226874