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Serene Kochi has been drawing traders, explorers and travellers to its shores for over 600 years. Nowhere else in India could you find such an intriguing mix: giant fishing nets from China, a 400-year-old synagogue, ancient mosques, Portuguese houses and the crumbling remains of the British Raj. The result is an unlikely blend of medieval Portugal, Holland and an English village grafted onto the tropical Malabar Coast. It’s a delightful place to spend some time and nap in some of India’s finest homestays and heritage accommodation. Kochi is also a centre for Keralan arts and one of the best places to see Kathakali and kalarippayat.
Art centers showcase the traditional dance, Kathakali. European influences are seen in the 16th-century Portuguese-built churches and forts, while the mark of early Chinese traders is visible in the unusual fishing nets dotting the shoreline.
Mainland Ernakulam is the hectic transport and cosmopolitan hub of Kochi, while the historical towns of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry, though well-touristed, remain wonderfully atmospheric – thick with the smell of the past. Other islands, including Willingdon and Vypeen, are linked by a network of ferries and bridges.
Ernakulam is Cochin’s most significant mainland neighborhood and it holds the best commercial prospects. While removed from the sites of Fort Cochin, Ernakulam is still an important shopping and dining destination. This district also has several of the top hotels in Cochin.
This is the epicenter of tourism in Cochin, with vestiges of ancient Indian kingdoms as well as a Portuguese and Dutch colonial architecture. The forts, palaces and art galleries in Fort Cochin are popular attractions and most tourists prefer to stay in hotels and guesthouses in this vicinity. The beach at Fort Cochin is another major tourist attraction.
Mattancherry occupies the same island as Fort Cochin and it is home to a longstanding Jewish community called Jewtown. The local synagogue is an important site for visitors but shopping is the main attraction in Mattancherry. Antique shops, handicraft boutiques and art galleries abound in Jewtown, offering a novel selection and competitive prices.
Willingdon Island lies between Fort Cochin and Ernakulam, and it has grown into a lively halfway point with plenty of its own infrastructure. It was originally known solely for its port, but it now boasts a booming hotel and restaurant scene. The entire island is manmade, built from material dredged up from the seafloor.
This tourism-focused village is located within Ernakulam but deserves its own mention. It serves as gateway to a number of outlying islands. The main attractions are quiet fishing villages that reflect the fast-disappearing traditional lifestyle.
This is a breakfast staple eaten all over the state. Puttu is a cylindrical steamed rice cake cooked in a mould with grated coconut. It’s usually served with kadala curry, a dish of black chickpeas made with shallots, spices and coconut milk, that can also be served with ripe bananas and grated coconut.
This is one of Kerala’s traditional delicacies. Karimeen or pearl spot fish is a speckled fish commonly found in the backwaters of this state. This is traditionally a Syrian Christian delicacy but has become part of Kerala’s rich cuisine. Pearl spot fish is marinated in a mixture of lemon juice, red chillies, and other ingredients, wrapped and baked in plantain leaves, giving it a unique flavour.
Pazham pori or Ethakka appam are juicy banana fritters tha feature as a traditional tea time snack. They’re available throughout Kerala and are simply ripe bananas coated with plain flour and deep-fried in oil.
The tranquil backwaters of Kerala are the prime highlight of one’s vacation in Kerala. Kerala Backwater presents Serene Backwaters of Kerala, a tour package that takes you to two of the important backwater destinations- Kumarakom and Alleppey. While Alleppey (Alappuzha) is the hub of Kerala backwaters, Kumarakom is also known for being home to a vast variety of avifauna species. Have a peaceful vacation with your loved ones by opting for this well-planned short break. Along with Sightseeing in Kumarakom , Alleppey backwater houseboat tour & Bird watching at Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary.
Top station is the topmost peak of Munnar with the height of 1700 m. This peak forms a border between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Trekking to this magnificent point offers you the view of the Western Ghats hill ranges and Theni destrict of Tamil Nadu. It is renowned for Neelakurinji flowers. These flowers bloom once in twelve years and sprinkle bluish hue in the vicinity. Next blooming year of this flower falls in 2018. Top Station is at a short distance from Kurinjimala Sanctuary and is a gateway to Palani Hills National Park as well. Tea and spice plantations in and around Top Station have prime significance and the tea leaves and spices are exported to different regions. Do try tea offered in local tea-stalls in the area.
Unique to Cochin, the Chinese fishing nets serve as a testimony to the good relations between the ancient Chinese Emperors and the Cochin Kings.
Outside of China, these fishing nets are only found in Cochin. Historians believe that the fishing nets were gifted by Chinese Emperor Kubalagi to the then Cochin King in the 14th century.
What makes them so unique? Well, the fact that these nets are fixed land installations (unlike the other nets that are not fixed to the land) and use shore operated lift nets for fishing. These 10-metre high nets require up to six men to operate one fully installed net.