As one may surmise from the name, the Dutch were not the original builders of the Mattancherry Palace. It was built by the Portuguese in 1557 as a gift to the Raja of Cochin, Veera Kerala Varma, partly as a compensation for a temple they'd destroyed and partly as a bribe to gain favors from the ruler. It was only in 1663, when the Dutch won over from the Portuguese, that they renovated the palace and thus, it is known as the 'Dutch palace' too.
The exteriors of the Mattancherry Palace are barren with stark white walls and sloping brown roofs. A two-storied quadrangular building with a small temple dedicated to the deity Palayannur Bhagwati in the central courtyard, the interiors of the Palace are in sharp contrast with their beautiful ceilings and painted walls. The Central Hall on the upper storey, once used for the coronation ceremony of Cochin's Rajas, has a beautifully carved wooden ceiling. The Dining Hall's ceiling is ornamented with a series of brass cups but the ceiling of the Assembly Hall is perhaps the best of all. A series of beautifully executed and well-preserved murals decorate the walls of the rooms depicting scenes from Hindu mythology such as those from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Puranic legends. The murals are extensive and among the best in India. They cover approximately 300 sq ft of wall. Among the more erotic paintings is a mural in the Ladies' Bedchamber that depicts Krishna making love to all of eight gopis simultaneously! The museum housed in the Palace exhibits a rich collection of regal memorabilia including costumes, palanquins, turbans and weaponry from the days of the Cochin rajas
St. Francis Church was the first European Church to be built in India. The history of this Church reflects the colonial struggle of European powers in India, from the 15th to 20th Centuries. The Portuguese Vasco da Gama was the first European to discover the sea route to India. In 1503 Alphonso Alburquerque was given permission by the Rajah of Cochin to build a fort at the mouth of the river. Within the Fort they erected a church of wood, which was dedicated to St. Bartholomew. A new Church was completed in 1516 and dedicated to St. Antony. The Church remained in the Order of St. Francis until the arrival of the Dutch in 1663. They demolished all the convents and churches of the place, except the Church of the Franciscans, which they reconditioned and converted into their Government Church.
Bolgatty Palace This old Dutch palace is located on Bolgatty Island which is a brief boat ride away from the mainland. In fact, boat rides are available at regular intervals all day long. This building may have been a royal palace in the past, but in modern times it has been converted into a hotel quality hotel. This hotel is now run by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC). There is a tiny golf course found at this location. There are also panoramic views of the port and the harbor from almost any vantage point on the island. The breathtaking views make the Bolgatty Palace a popular picnic spot.
Kerala History Museum
Kerala History Museum was the brainchild of R Madhavan Nayar, the late managing trustee of the Madhavan Nayar Foundation. He was a prominent industrialist, philanthropist and a pioneer in Sea Food Export Industry in India. He was a great art connoisseur also, which is the main reason why he got the museum built. Apart from the light and sound show, the other main attractions of the museum include a special gallery for paintings and sculptures. It mainly depicts the specimens of Indian contemporary art, ranging over a period of the last 200 years.
Timings: 10.00 am to 12 noon and 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm. (Closed on Mondays)
Pareekshith Thampuran Museum
he Pareekshith Thampuran Museum is a building that is chock full of history. Originally, the Rajas of Cochin conducted their durbars there. In fact this impressive edifice is located on the Durbar Hall grounds. At a later date it was converted to a museum that housed numerous archaeological findings and relics including murals, old coins, oil paintings, and sculptures. Today, this museum has been taken over by the Kerala Lalitha Kala Academy. It is now the home to the Gallery of Contemporary Art. The building itself is worth your time to explore, but the contemporary art that is displayed there are noteworthy as well.
9 am to 12:30 pm and 2 pm to 4:30 pm. It is closed on Mondays
Hill Palace Museum This is one fascinating museum located in the heart of Cochi and tourists from all over the world during their fascinating trip to Cochi come here as they cannot afford to miss this one place in Kochi. The Hill Palace Museum is located in Thripunithura, in the Ernakulam District of Kochi. The museum is actually famous for one particular reason and that is simply because of the fact that it was Kerala's First Heritage Museum. The museum is actually an archeological museum and this was also the palace of the Kochi Royal Family. The museum goes on to house paintings, murals, stone carvings, inscriptions and other valuable collections. There is also a particular Cabinet Hall which goes on to display royal furniture which are very important features in the museum. The museum is open from 9.00 am to 12.30pm and again from 2pm to 4.30 pm. The museum is closed on Mondays and National Holidays.
Fort Kochi Beach Fort Kochi is a small village located near the larger city of Kochi. There are picturesque beaches along this part of the coast line. Scattered throughout the beaches are many famous Chinese fishing nets as well as many sailing ships. The effect created by such fishing necessities is quaint and relaxing. Many European style bungalows can be seen along the shoreline, since this location was where the first European settlement in India was located. This particular stretch of the coast also contains numerous small stalls which sell delicious traditional cuisines using freshly caught fish right on demand.
Cherai Beach Cherai Beach is picturesque beach located on the north end of Vypeen Island. This island is one of the several tiny islands that are located just off the shore of the mainland. Vypeen island is one of the few that can be reached by both land or by boat. The beautiful sandy beach is lined by luscious green coconut groves and paddy fields. The combination of white sand, blue water, and green vegetation makes for one breathtaking oasis. In fact, this beautiful spot is extremely popular with picnickers as well as sun worshippers and beach lovers.
Marine Drive All boats starts from marine drive and this beautiful places is excellent for a evening or morning walk. There are two rain bow bridges on the way and some beautiful children parks with tiny toy trains are there by the side of this marine drive. Kochi offers different types of boat, cruise drive for different budgets and timings. Local boats are available starting from Rs 30 per head for a one hour journey to Rs 1500 and more per hour. Fiber glass boats are also available. These boats can take you around the Kochi harbor, Shipyard covering Chinese Fishing nets and some other important places. Vessels can be booked for conference and group trips to deep see for a Sun set cruise.
Chinese Fishing Nets The Chinese fishing nets found at Kochi are definitely unique to the area. This is the only location in the entire world outside of China where such fishing nets can be seen in use. Tradition has it that traders from the court of the infamous Chinese ruler Kublai Khan brought these nets here centuries ago, and their popularity has been maintained. Even today, many local fishermen use these enormous nets in their fishing endeavors. A large number of these nets can be seen scattered throughout a whole stretch of the coast along Fort Kochi and Vypeen.
Jews Town Jews came to the Kochi area as early as 700 BC because of trade. A tradition says that many Jews even settled in the area at the time of the ancient Jewish king, King Solomon. These “black Jews?? and then later “white Jews?? were so plentiful in the area, that the Hindu Raja granted them a site for their own town right next to Kochi. That town became known as "Jew Town". Even though many Jews locked to Israel, or were converted to Christianity, many Jews are still in the area. A Jewish synagogue is found in Jew Town that is definitely worth the time to explore.
Kaladi he city of Kaladi is located in the region around Kochi. This small city is the birthplace of the famous Hindu philosopher Sri Adi Sankaracharya. He lived in the 8th century AD. On his travels throughout India, he spent his time debating with scholars and spreading his theory of monotheism or Advaita. The Adi Sankara shrine and the 8-story painted Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthambam are popular sites to visit in the area. The location of Adi Sankara shrine is on the bank of the river Periyar. Samadhi of the mother of Aryamaba, Sankaracharya is also enclosed in the temple. The location where young Sankara was held by a crocodile on the river bank can also be seen in the vicinity. Sankaracharya's story is told with the help of paintings found on the walls inside at the monument of Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthambam
M.G Road M G Road is the place in Kochi to find the perfect shopping experience. Handicrafts made from coir, wood, shells, brass, ivory and sandalwood can be found on this famous stretch of road. Clothing items as well as jewelry are also common wares sold on M G Road. Food items and spices can also be found in the items that can be bought here. In fact, the entire stretch of MG Road is entirely filled with fabulous places to shop. With such quality items readily available here, why not save your Indian shopping experience for Kochi. You will not be disappointed.
Willingdon Island Willingdon Island is a man-made island that was created in 1933. The island is made by sand that was dredged while deepening the backwaters for the Cochin Port. Sir Robert Bristow was the man that was in charge of this endeavor. It was named after Lord Willingdon who was a former British Viceroy of India This island is the home of the Cochin Port as well as the headquarters of the Southern Naval Command. Today, the island is the site of the city's best hotels and trading centers. The fact that it is surrounded by backwaters makes it a tremendously beautiful location.
Princess Street Throughout history, India has been occupied by a variety of different European countries. This is especially easy to see in the city of Kochi on Princess Street. Numerous old colossal houses are located on this street with each being built in the style of home that was customary for a given European nation to build. The end result is a quaint street that portrays various different European destinations. Homes built in the Dutch, British, French, and Portuguese style are all there. Most of these homes allow visitors to see what they are like inside as well.