Kochi is a city for explorers. If you love exploring multiple cultures and time periods all within walking distance, you will love Fort Kochi. The architectural and historical sites reflect the Dutch, Chinese, Portuguese, and British flags that have flown over this diverse, tropical city. Known as the "Gateway to Kerala," Kochi welcomes all who wish to experience the southwest coastline of India by having accommodations for all budgets. Of all the major cities, Kochi is considered the most peaceful with southern India being called the “paradise of India.”
The best way to explore the ages and feel the cultural heartbeat of the state of Kerala is to grab a bike and ride around Fort Kochi. Put on your best outfit because the gorgeous, heritage architect is bound to provide you with some Instagram worthy shots. Don’t leave without stopping by the Jain Temple, Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, and the St. Francis Church, thought to be the first European church in India. You cannot forget, the icon of Kochi, the Chinese fishing nets! Find your way to the ocean and you will not miss the tower fishing poles above the water. Hopefully, you come at the right moment and can witness them in action as the large nets are lifted out of the water. For a small fee, you can even take a turn yourself! Following the smell of masala, and are in the Mattacherry district, which includes the Mattancherry Dutch Palace, the Pardesi Jewish Synogogue, and the center of the local spice trade.
Get on the water
Alleppey is known as “The Venice of the East.” It is the center of activities with many crisscrossing ships and canoes. One can take a sunset cruise or paddle during the day. The backwaters are a perfect place to sit back and relax. Kerala is slower-paced than other states in India and quite green with plenty of palm trees and plants. You can canoe or sit back and enjoy a guided boat ride as you see the intimate life of those who live along the backwaters. If you truly love the idea of being surrounded by water lilies and lots of shade, then stay the night on a local house boat.
Follow the locals! See which restaurants are crowded with the smell of spice and smiling faces. Look for two hearty staples to any Indian meal, Dosa and Chai. Great on their own, but amazing when paired together! Dosa is similar to a pancake which complements the chai milk tea well for a simple breakfast. For lunch, there are plenty of fresh fish from the ocean which is only minutes away, so try a local fish dish! If you really want to take a piece of Kochi home with you, take a cooking lesson at Nimmy Paul’s cooking school, so you never have to long for your favorite Indian dishes ever again.
Looking for some beach time? Jump on the ferry from Fort Kochi, just off the coast to Vypeen Island. The island is a quiet escape from the crowds on delightfully long beaches. Make sure to see Cherai beach, Munambam Fishing Harbor (the largest fishing harbor in Kochi), Puthuvype Lighthouse, Pallipuram Fort, and Kuzhuppily beach.
If you really want to feel like you truly soaked in all Kochi has to offer, you can’t leave without watching a Kathakali performance. Part theater performance, part folk story, and park spiritual journey, Kathalaki is a form of classical Indian dance native to the Kerala region. Over the generations, the intricate mvementments have been perfected to include expressions, postures, and acting technique, and hand gestures known as “Mudras.” Beneath the decorative costumes, pay close attention to footwork, facial expressions, and hands of the performers and prepare to be marveled by this ancient tradition.
If you want to explore outside of Kochi slightly, there is a worthy hike. After exploring downtown, take a moment to relax near the rushing Athirappilly Waterfall! It is a long trail so wear your walking shoes and pack some roti and cold drinks. You might just make a new animal friend as there are lion-tailed macaque who live within the park surrounding the falls. The drive through the highlands of Munnar are an endless green landscape worth as well.
The heart of the peaceful vibe in Kerala is found in the relaxing and rejuvenating practice of natural Ayurvedic medicine they are known for. Kerala is said to be the best place in the world to obtain an Ayurvedic treatment, a traditional healing system which has been practiced for over 5,000 years. There are several spas available in Kochi with treatment options ranging from one day to three weeks. Ayurvedic is said to be particularly effective for metabolic, stress-related, and chronic conditions. It is the perfect way to finish your time in Kochi and truly let your stresses melt away.