Kochi Travel Guide
Kochi Travel Guide
Get there and around
Get there and aroud
NH 47 connects Kochi with Trivandrum and Coimbatore.
The Cochin International Airport is one of the busiest airports in India
Kochi seen from wellington island.
Public transport in the city is largely dependent on private buses.
Taxis and auto rickshaws (called autos) are available for hire
throughout the day. Narrow roads and the mix of vastly differing types
of vehicles have made traffic congestion a problem in the city. A metro
rapid transit service, intended to considerably ease congestion, is
currently awaiting sanction of Union govt.
Because it is one of the safest harbours in the Indian Ocean, Kochi
ranks among India's major seaports. The port, administered by a
statutory autonomous body known as the Cochin Port Trust, offers
facilities for bunkering, handling cargo and passenger ships and storage
accommodation. It also operates passenger ships to Colombo and
Lakshadweep. Boat services operated by Kerala Shipping and Inland
Navigation Corporation, the State Water Transport Department, and of
private ownership are available from various boat jetties in the city.
The junkar ferry for the transshipment of vehicles and passengers
between the islands are operated between Ernakulam and Vypin, and
between Vypin and Fort Kochi. However, with the construction of the
Goshree bridges (which links Kochi's islands), ferry transport has
become less essential.
The Cochin International Airport, which is about 25 kilometres (15 mi)
north of the city, handles both domestic and international flights. It
is the largest airport of Kerala, and one of the busiest in India. It is
the first international airport in India to be built without Central
Government funds. An airport run by the Navy also operates in the
city. A third airport, for use by the Indian Coast Guard, is under
construction in the suburbs.
There is no intra-city rail transport system in Kochi. The inter-city
rail transport system in the city is administered by the Southern
Railway Zone of the Indian Railways. There are two main railway
stations—the Ernakulam Junction and the Ernakulam Town (locally known as
the 'South' and 'North' railway stations respectively). The railway line
connecting these two stations cuts the city longitudinally in two, with
two narrow bridges connecting the two halves.
As a result of successive waves of migration over the course of several
centuries, the population of the city is a mix of people from all parts
of Kerala and most of India. The pan-Indian nature is highlighted by the
substantial presence of various ethnic communities from different parts
of the country.
Kochi has a diverse, multicultural, and secular community consisting of
Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists among other
denominations, all living in peaceful co-existence. The city once had a
large Jewish community, known as the Malabar Yehuden—and now
increasingly as Cochin Jews—that figured prominently in Kochi's business
and economic strata. The Syro-Malabar Church, one of the 22 sui
iuris Eastern Catholic Churches, has its seat at Ernakulam. Prominent
places of christian worship include the St. Mary's Cathedral and the St.
Antony's Shrine at Kaloor. Appropriate to its multi-ethnic composition,
Kochi celebrates traditional Kerala festivals like Onam and Vishu along
with North Indian Hindu festivals like Holi and Diwali with great
fervour. Christian and Islamic festivals like Christmas, Easter, Eid
ul-Fitr and Milad-e-sherif are also celebrated. A merry making fest
called the Cochin Carnival is celebrated at Fort Kochi during the last
ten days of December.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi is one of the large multi-use
stadiums in India
The residents of Kochi are known as Kochiites; they are an important
part of the South Indian culture. However, the city's culture is rapidly
evolving with Kochiites generally becoming more cosmopolitan in their
outlook. The people are also increasingly fashion-conscious, often
deviating from the traditional Kerala wear to western clothing.
Kochiites generally partake of Keralite cuisine, which is generally
characterised by an abundance of coconut and spices. Other South Indian
cuisines, as well as Chinese and North Indian cuisines are popular. Fast
food culture is also very prominent.
Kochi was home to some of the most influential figures in Malayalam
literature, including Changampuzha Krishna Pillai, Kesari Balakrishna
Pillai, G. Sankara Kurup, and Vyloppilli Sreedhara Menon. Prominent
social reformers such as Sahodaran Ayyappan and Pandit Karuppan also are
The Maharajas of Kochi (then Cochin) were scholars who knew the epics
and encouraged the arts. The paintings at the Hill Palace and the Dutch
Palace are testimony to their love for arts.
Kochiites are known for their enthusiasm in sports, especially cricket
and football. The Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in Kochi is
one of the large multi-use stadiums in India with International Class
Lighting for Day and Night Matches. The Regional Sports Centre is an
important centre of sporting activity in the city.
Kochi was the centre of Indian spice trade for many centuries, and was
known to the Yavanas (Greeks) as well as Romans, Jews, Arabs, and
Chinese since ancient times. Kochi rose to significance as a trading
centre after the port at Kodungallur (Cranganore) was destroyed by
massive flooding of the river Periyar in 1341. The earliest
documented references to Kochi occur in books written by Chinese voyager
Ma Huan during his visit to Kochi in the 15th century as part of Admiral
Zheng He's treasure fleet. There are also references to Kochi in
accounts written by Italian traveller Niccolò Da Conti, who visited
Kochi in 1440.
According to many historians, the Kingdom of Kochi came into existence
in 1102, after the fall of the Kulasekhara empire. The King of Kochi
had authority over the region encompassing the present city of Kochi and
adjoining areas. The reign was hereditary, and the family that ruled
over Kochi was known as the Cochin Royal Family (Perumpadappu Swaroopam
in the local vernacular). The mainland Kochi remained the capital of the
princely state since the 18th century. However, during much of this
time, the kingdom was under foreign rule, and the King often only had
Fort Kochi in Kochi was the first European colonial settlement in India.
From 1503 to 1663, Fort Kochi was ruled by Portugal. This Portuguese
period was a harrowing time for the Jews living in the region, as the
Inquisition was active in Portuguese India. Kochi hosted the grave of
Vasco da Gama, the first European explorer to set sail for India, who
was buried at St. Francis Church until his remains were returned to
Portugal in 1539. The Portuguese rule was followed by that of the
Dutch, who had allied with the Zamorins in order to conquer Kochi. By
1773, the Mysore King Hyder Ali extended his conquest in the Malabar
region to Kochi forcing it to become a tributary of Mysore. The
hereditary Prime Ministership of Kochi held by the Paliath Achans came
to an end during this period.
Meanwhile, the Dutch, fearing an outbreak of war on the United Provinces
signed the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814 with the United Kingdom, under
which Kochi was ceded to the United Kingdom in exchange for the island
of Bangka. However, there are evidences of English habitation in the
region even prior to the signing of the treaty. In 1866, Fort Kochi
became a municipality, and its first Municipal Council election was
conducted in 1883. The Maharaja of Cochin, who ruled under the British,
in 1896 initiated local administration by forming town councils in
Mattancherry and Ernakulam. In 1925, Kochi legislative assembly was
constituted due to public pressure on the state.
Towards the early 20th century, trade at the port had increased
substantially, and the need to develop the port was greatly felt.
Harbour engineer Robert Bristow was brought to Kochi in 1920 under the
direction of Lord Willingdon, then the Governor of Madras. In a span of
21 years, he transformed Kochi as one of the safest harbours in the
peninsula, where ships berthed alongside the newly reclaimed inner
harbour equipped with a long array of steam cranes.
In 1947, when India gained independence from the British colonial rule,
Cochin was the first princely state to join the Indian Union
willingly. In 1949, Travancore-Cochin state came into being with the
merger of Cochin and Travancore. The King of Travancore was the
Rajpramukh of the Travancore-Cochin Union from 1949 to 1956.
Travancore-Cochin, was in turn merged with the Malabar district of the
Madras State. Finally, the Government of India's States Reorganisation
Act (1956) inaugurated a new state — Kerala — incorporating
Travancore-Cochin (excluding the four southern Taluks which were merged
with Tamil Nadu), Malabar District, and the taluk of Kasargod, South
Kanara. On 9 July 1960, the Mattancherry council passed a
resolution—which was forwarded to the government—requesting the
formation of a municipal corporation by combining the existing
municipalities of Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, and Ernakulam. The
government appointed a commission to study the feasibility of the
suggested merger. Based on its report, the Kerala Legislative Assembly
approved the corporation's formation. On 1 November 1967, exactly eleven
years since the establishment of the state of Kerala, the corporation of
Cochin came into existence. The merger leading to the establishment of
the corporation, was between the municipalities of Ernakulam,
Mattancherry and Fort Kochi, along with that of the Willingdon Island,
four panchayats (Palluruthy, Vennala, Vyttila and Edappally), and the
small islands of Gundu and Ramanthuruth.
Kochi witnessed economic stagnation in the years following India's
independence. The city's economic recovery gathered momentum after
economic reforms in India introduced by the central government in the
mid-1990s. Since 2000, the service sector has revitalised the city’s
stagnant economy. The establishment of several industrial parks based on
Information technology (IT) and other port based infrastructure
triggered a construction and realty boom in the city. Over the years,
Kochi has witnessed rapid commercialisation, and has today grown into
the commercial capital of Kerala.