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Fort Kochi
  • Overview
  • Hotels
  • Sight Seeing
  • Things to do
  • Directions
  • Travel Tools
  • Fort Kochi, the first European Township in India and home to nearly 13 communities, is a historic town brimming with the tales of myriad traders. During 1660s, Fort Kochi peaked in stature as a prime commercial centre and its fame spread far and wide - as a rich trade centre, a major military base, a vibrant cultural hub, a great ship building centre, a centre for Christianity and so on. The town has innumerable interesting sights like Chinese fishing nets along the Vasco da Gama Square and the St. Francis Church. Walking through this old Portuguese settlement at a leisurely pace, will take you up to an hour and a half. The most pleasant time for the walk is between 9 am and 12 noon or between 3 pm and 6 pm. The most ideally suited attire in this sub tropical country is cottons and soft walking shoes or thong. A wide-brimmed straw hat is of great help on a sunny day.
  • Chinese Fishing Nets
  • The huge, elegant Chinese Fishing nets that line the northern shore of Fort Cochin add grace to an already characterful waterside view, and are probably the single most familiar photographic image of Kerala. Traders from the court of Kublai Khan are said to have introduced them to the Malabar region. Known in Malayalam as cheenavala, they can also be seen throughout the backwaters further south. The nets, which are suspended from arced poles and operated by levers and weights, require at least four men to control. You can buy fresh fish from the tiny market here and have it grilled on the spot at one of the ramshackle stalls.
  • St.Francis Church
  • Walking on from the Chinese fishing nets brings you to a typically English village green. In one corner stands the church of St.Francis, the first European church in India. Originally built in wood and named Santo Antonio, it was probably associated with Franciscan friars from Portugal. Exactly when it as founded is not known, but the stone structure is likely to date from the early sixteenth century; the land was a gift off the local raja, and the title deeds, written on palm leaf, are still kept in the church today. The facade, with multi curved sides, became the model for most Christian churches in India. Vasco da Gama was buried here in 1524, but his body was later removed to Portugal.
  • Santa Cruz Cathedral
  • The interior of the twentieth-century Santa Cruz Cathedral, south of St Francis church, will delight fans of the colorful-verging on the downright Indo-Romano style of decoration. The irresistible beauty garnered by stained glass and the imposing Caryatids over the confessional boxes might have persuaded the Dutch to spare it.
  • Mattancherry
  • With high-rise development restricted to Ernakulam, across the water, the old fashioned character of Mattancherry and near by Fort Cochin remains intact. Within an area small enough to cover on foot bicycle or auto-rickshaw, glimpses of Kochi's variegated history greet you at virtually every turn. As you approach by ferry (get off at Mattancherry), the shoreline is crowded with tiled buildings painted in pastel colors, a view that can't have changed for centuries.
  • Jew Town
  • The road heading left from Mattacherry Jetty leads into the district known as Jew Town, where N.X.Jacob's tailor shop and the offices of J.E.Cohen, advocate and tax consultant, serve as reminders of a once-thriving community. Nowadays many of the shops sell antiques, Hindu and Christian woodcarvings, oil lamps, wooden jwellery boxes and other bric-a-brac.
  • Mattancherry Palace
  • Although known locally as the Dutch Palace, the two-storey palace was built by the Portuguese as a gift to the Cochin raja,Vira Keralavarma(1537-61), and the Dutch were responsible for subsequent additions. While its appearance is not particularly striking, squat with whitewashed walls and tiled roof, the interior is captivating. The murals that adorn some of its rooms are among the finest examples of Kerala's much underrated school of painting; friezes illustrating stories from the Ramayana. On the first floor, date from the sixteenth century. Packed with detail and gloriously rich colour, the style is never strictly naturalistic; the treatment of facial features is pared down to the simplest of lines for the mouths, and characteristically aquiline noses. Downstairs, the women's bed chamber holds several less complex paintings, possibly dating from the 1700s.
  • Bastion Bungalow
  • Built in the Indo-European style way back in 1667, the Bungalow gets its name from its location on the site of the Stromsburg Bastion of the old Dutch fort. The building blends beautifully into the circular structure of the bastion, has a tiled roof and a typical first floor verandah in wood along its front portion. Though it has been said that a network of secret tunnels runs beneath the Bungalow, none have been found. Today, the Bungalow is the official residence of the Sub Collector.
  • Shop at Mattanchery
  • Despite the large number of tourists visiting daily, trade is still the most important activity here. Many of the streets are busy with barrows loaded with sacks of produce trundling between godowns (warehouses) and little shops where dealers to business in tea, jute, rubber, chillies, turmmeric, cashew, ginger, cardamom and pepper.
  • Ayurveda
  • Having an occasional ayurvedic massage, something offered at tourist resorts all over Kerala,is relaxing, but to reap any long term benefits necessitates rather more dedication-usually a 15 day or even a 41 day commitment which may involve certain dietary abstentions and exercises as well as regular massages from a qualified practitioner.
  • Watch Kathakali
  • Ernakulam has a permanent Kathakali theatre. Every evening the Kathakali performance will be performed irrestpective of number of audience. .
  • Taste Kerala Cuisine
  • Ernakulam has lots of traditional Kerala cuisine restaurants serving exotic sea foods and other non vegetarian foods. Do not miss it.
  • Visit local attractions
  • Old European settlement area. Important are Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue, Santa Cruz Basilica, St.Francis Church and Chinese fishing nets.
  • Business Hours
  • Offices: 10:00 to 17:00, Monday to Saturday
    Banks: 10:00 to 14:00, Monday to Friday; 10:00 to 12:00, Saturday
    Post offices: 10:00 to 19:00, Monday to Friday
    Shops: 10:00 to 20:00, Monday to Saturday
  • Electricity
  • 240 volts AC, 50Hz.
  • Health
  • One of the main health problems that visitors to India often encounter is upset stomachs. Visitors are advised to seek the appropriate vaccinations and/or medication to avoid any health dangers before arrival to India. There are no specific vaccinations needed for India.
  • Emergency services
  • Police control room: 100
    Fire station: 101
    Ambulance: 102
  • Language
  • Malayalam is the dominant language in Kannur. English is widely spoken, particularly by those working in the tourist industry.
  • Currency
  • The Indian rupee is the currency of choice here. The lowest denomination is 1 rupee with 5, 10, 20 and 100 rupee notes the most commonly used. Changing larger sums like the 500 or 1000 rupee notes often proves difficult.
  • Currency Exchange
  • Few banks in Kannur will be able to change international currency. Travellers should make the US dollar the currency of choice when visiting the city, the next best being euros and British sterling. There are ATMs in Kannur and this is the best way to get rupees, with a good exchange rate. Just be sure your ATM card is accepted in India.
  • Customs
  • There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency that visitors can bring. Adults 18 years and over can import 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco; 2 litres of alcohol; and 60ml of perfume.
  • Electronic equipment such as laptop and camera or video equipment requires filling out a Tourist Baggage Re-Export form. This is to protect you, as you may be asked to show the form when you leave India. Bringing in any livestock or pork products, live plants, or gold and silver bullion, is not permitted.
    • Visitors are expected to abide by local laws, customs and etiquettes.
    • Visitors to most Kerala houses leave their footwear outside before entering the house.
    • Behaviour demonstrating affection in public like hugging or kissing is not an accepted practice in Kerala.
    • Nudity is not allowed in Kerala
    • Footwear inside the temple and entry into the sanctum sanctorum is banned in all the temples.
    • Other customs and codes of conduct and dress in temples across the State vary from each other.
    • Some temples do not permit entry to non-Hindus, while some do. Shirts for men and pants are banned from some temples and allowed in some others. Where they are banned, men have to be in mundus and women, in saris, half-saris or long skirts.
    • At the table, main dishes are served in the middle, while each person takes individual spoons from each plate to their own dish in front of them. Eating is done with the right hand only, as the left is used for personal hygiene. Average tipping is 10%.
  • Visa and Passports
  • For entry into India, you must apply for a visa from your local Indian consulate or embassy before leaving home. You won’t even make it onto the airplane without a visa, so be sure to arrange one beforehand.
  • The majority of Western tourists will be eligible for a 6-month visa for visiting India, which is activated from the moment it is placed inside your passport.
  • Make sure you have at least one passport page free to receive the visa stamp and that your travel document is valid for at least 6 months after your intended departure from India.
  • Carry your visa for entry to India/Kerala on your holiday.
    For further clarifications, contact the Indian High Commission.
    For visa extension, contact Office of the Commissioner of Police,
    Thiruvananthapuram. Ph: 0471-2320579.
  • Tourist Information Offices
  • The Free Travel Information Service is one of the best in town for personal service and trustworthy advice on the area. The District Tourism Office and DTPC Information Centre also offer good services for various matters in Fort Kochi. Ask at your hotel for contact details.
Bonjour Holidays: C.P.Ummer Cross Road, Cochin, Kerala-682 035, India, e-mail: info@leisurekerala.com, Mob: + 91 94477 84477
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