Queen of The Arabian Sea
Ernakulam 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.
Ernakulam is just about the center of Kerala. It is basically a collection of islands and narrow peninsulas .
Ernakulam is the commercial centre and forms the main land. The commercial capital and the most cosmopolitan city of Kerala, Kochi, in Ernakulam, is 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, Portugese, Dutch etc.
An all time tourist favourite, Kochi is the commercial capital of Kerala. It has to offer palaces, forts, beaches, backwaters, old churches, snake boat races, Kathakali, museums and the convinence of the big city.
The two main railway stations and the bus stands are located here. Fort Kochi & Mattanchery, form an ellongated island west of Ernakulam. Wellington island which houses the Airport, Port & the Naval base lies between Emakulam & Fort Kochi.
M.G. Road and Marine Drive in Ernakulam are considered as the nerve centres of the city. Kochi (Cochin) consists of mainland Ernakulam, the islands of Willington, Bolgatty, Vallarpadam and Fort Kochi on the southern peninsula, and Vypeen Island north of Fort Kochi, all linked by Road. Read more at: Kochi E-Tourism
Chinese fishing Nets/ Vasco da Gama Square
Chinese fishing nets are a legacy of the earlier visitors to the Malabar Coast. These fishing nets called "Cheena Vala" in Malayalam dot the entrance to the Cochin Harbour.
The records show that these fishing nets were first erected between AD 1350 and 1450. These are large nets which hang from bamboo or teak posts with lights suspended above the net. These nets also have counterweights in order to facilitate easy-handling of the nets.
The local fishermen still use these nets to catch the fish attracted by the light suspended above the nets. Nowadays these nets have become more of a tourist attraction.
The best place to watch is from Vasco Da Gama Square, a narrow promenade that parallel the beach with little stalls serving varied kinds of sea food. Silhouetted against the sunset, they present a spectacular sight of Kochi's waterfront.
The huge cantilevered fishing nets are the legacy of one of the first visitors to the Malabar Coast. Erected here between 1350 and 1450 AD by traders from the court of Kublai Khan, these nets are set up on teak wood and baboo poles.
The best place to watch the nets being lowered into the sea and catch being brought in is the Vasco da Gama Square, a narrow promenade that runs along the beach. The Square so an ideal place to idle, with stalls serving fresh delicious seafood, tender coconut etc.
The influence of Chinese, Jews, Arabs and Europeans is evident in Cochin and its people. The oldest church in India, 500-year-old Portuguese houses, old tiled houses built in the Chinese pagoda style, the famous Chinese fishing nets, a Jewish community whose roots go back to the Diaspora, synagogues and mosques all tell the fascinating story of this harbour town.
Marine Drive is considered to be one of the most beautiful parts of the city. It is also called as Shanmugham Road. The marine walk is the main hangout for the local populace as the view of the backwaters and the harbour from here is excellent.
At night the lights from the various ships anchored at the harbour is just breathtaking. There are various buildings along the Marine Drive which are good examples of modem architecture with the notable one being Asoka Apartments on the southern end of the Marine Drive with a huge Namaste, the traditional greeting.
A leisurely walk through the city is the best way to discover historic Fort Kochi. An obscure fishing village that became the first European township in India, Kochi has an eventful and colourful history. The town was shaped by the Portuguese, the Dutch and later the British. The result of these cultural influences are seen in the many examples of Indo European architecture that still exist here.
The Hill Palace Museum
The Hill Palace Museum is situated about 16 kms east of Cochin city on the Ernakulam-Piravam Road. The palace complex shows a synthesis of European and Kerala styles of architecture.
The palace is a good example of classical architecture and the major attractions are Nalukettu (four sided building with a central courtyard), a few agraharams, an imposing bunglow built in Dutch style and a royal durbar. This sprawling palace of the Kochi Rajas built in the 18th century now houses a museum.
The museum mainly displays the erstwhile wealth and prosperity of the royal family of Cochin, including the King's throne and crown. The antiquities displayed also include coins, palanquins, palm leaf manuscripts, wooden sculptures, paintings etc.
The museum has a fairly good collection of antique temple carvings. There is a deer park in the palace compound.
Santa Cruz basilica
This historic church was built by the Portuguese and elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558. In 1795 it fell into the hands of the British when they took over Kochi, and was demolished. About a hundred years later Bishop Dom Gomez Ferreira commissioned a new building at the same site in 1887. The church was proclaimed a Basilica in 1984 by Pope John Paul II.
Situated at Mattanchery about 10 kms from Jos Junction the centre of the City. Mattanchery has been an important trading centre for the past few centuries. The town has a mixed population consisting of Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Christians and other communities.
The Mattanchery Palace known popularly as the Dutch palace was built by the Portuguese in 1555 and later remodeled by the Dutch. The palace is one of the oldest buildings of the Portuguese and is in Oriental style. It is quite unique from historical & architectural point of view.
It was built by the Portuguese and presented to Veera Kerala Varma in order to pacify him and to compensate for having plundered a temple in the vicinity of the Palace. It has served as a seat of the Royal House and important functions connected with the coronation of the Maharaja used to be held here. It was during AD 1665 that major repairs and renovation was carried but by the Dutch.
The Palace is a two tiered quadrangular building consisting of long spacious halls with a central courtyard enshrining the Royal deity, Palayannur Bhagavati. Two more temples are situated on either side of the Palace dedicated to Lord Krishna & Lord Siva respectively.
The ground floor known as the Ladies Chamber is connected by a staircase from kanithalam room.. The upper storey consists of Coronation hall, Bed Chamber, Dining Hall, Assembly Hall and the Staircase room.
The eastern portion of the coronation hall is square and is meant for the coronation ceremony of the Kings and the Western portion is meant for other distinguished members. The ceiling is decorated with inverted lotus (Adhopadma) and other floral designs representing the finest wooden carvings of the period.
A perpetual light (Kedavilakku) is kept in the Royal bed chamber (Palliyara) as a mark of respect to one of the Cochin Maharajas who died here. Here we can see one of the finest and perhaps oldest murals of Kerala depicting Ramayana story.
The ceiling of Dining Hall is fitted with a large number of brass cups whereas the ceiling of Assembly Hall is more ornamental.
Named after Lord Willington, a former British Viceroy of India, this man-made island is surrounded by beautiful backwaters. The island is the site of the city's best hotels and trading centres, the Port Trust and the headquarters of the southern naval command.
Constructed in 1568, this is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth. Destroyed in a shelling during the Portuguese raid in 1662, it was rebuilt two years later by the Dutch. Known for mid 18th century hand painted, willow patterned floor tiles from Canton in China, a clock tower, Hebrew inscriptions on stone slabs, great scrolls of the Old Testament, ancient scripts on cooper plates etc.