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1/5 St Francis' Church, Cochin
St Francis' Church, Cochin
2/5 The old and the new from Marine Drive, Cochin
The old and the new from Marine Drive, Cochin
3/5 Typical lane in Fort Cochin
Typical lane in Fort Cochin
4/5 Chinese fishing nets, Marine Drive, Cochin
Chinese fishing nets, Marine Drive, Cochin
5/5 Kathakali performer, Cochin
Kathakali performer, Cochin

With its natural deep water harbour Cochin was already a centre for India’s spice trade before the Portuguese founded the first European settlement here in 1500

With its natural deep water harbour Cochin was already a centre for India’s spice trade before the Portuguese founded the first European settlement here in 1500.  The Portuguese were driven out by the Dutch, who, in turn, were displaced by the British. Together with the trading Arabs and Chinese, each has left their own influences on Cochin.  The city is built on a series of islands but it is Fort Cochin and Mattancherry with their narrow streets and winding lanes, colonial architecture and heritage hotels that are likely to occupy most of your time. The area is conducive to leisurely exploration on foot, people watching with a cold drink in hand and sticking your head into old warehouses full of aromatic spices or antiques.

Take a wander along to the waterfront to find the huge cantilevered Chinese fishing nets that have become an iconic image of Cochin. Although the catch is limited these days they are a sight not to be missed as teams of fisherman work the ropes to pull in the nets and sell the fish directly to on the harbour side. Just a short step away is St Francis church. A simple building, it is the oldest Christian church in India and Vasco da Gama was buried here (though his remains were later removed to Portugal, the tombstone is still here). Other sites of interest include the 16th century Paradesi Synagogue and Mattancherry or Dutch Palace which has some wonderful murals depicting scenes from Hindu legends. In the evening, catch a performance of Kathakali traditional dance-drama at a local theatre.

If you find this old world atmosphere a little too genteel, simply hop on a public ferry to Ernakulum, the commercial hub of the city and dip into the hustle and bustle of the local markets.

A few of our favourite places to stay:

Swimming pool and garden, Old Harbour Hotel

Old Harbour Hotel

Converted from an old colonial building that once belonged to a


Brunton Boatyard

Brunton Boatyard

With its simple white washed walls and low tiled roof


Entrance to Malabar House, Cochin

Malabar House

If you like the idea of staying in heritage property, but


View other places to stay in Cochin

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Andrea Hulme

Andrea Hulme’s travel experiences could fill a small novel; from a bit-part in a Tamil movie, to leading expeditions in Kyrgyzstan and negotiating landslides along the Karakoram highway.

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