Best time to visit: October to March. Reasons why: Pleasant weather during these months, with less possibility of rain.
By Air: Cochin’s Nedumbassery International Airport is at the southern end of Willingdon Island. The airport is served by several airlines from most major cities in India.
By Train: Cochin has three railway stations, Ernakulam Junction being closest to the centre. The station is 4 km south of Ernakulam town. The Cochin Harbour Terminus, on Willingdon Island, is useful only for people using the airport or staying in one of the luxury hotels on the island.
By Road: Cochin is connected by state highway roads if one wants to commute by road. State transport buses ply to and from Cochin and halt at the KSRTC Central bus station. The distance of Cochin from some major cities is - Allapuzha 64 km, Bangalore 565 km, Coimbatore 223 km, Guruvayur 109 km, Goa 848 km, Kanyakumari 309 km, Kodaikanal 444 km, Kottayam 76 km, Kozhikode 145 km, Madurai 324 km, Mysore 470 km, Ooty 132 km, Quilon 86 km, Thiruvananthapuram 223 km.
Climate: The climate varies from tropical monsoon in the south to temperate in the north. Overall the climate is moderate because of its proximity to the sea. The South-West monsoons bring heavy showers in the months of June, July and August. Light rainfall is experienced during the months of September, October, November and December. December to February is pretty cool. The annual rainfall is about 310 cm. In summer the temperature rises to a maximum of 35 ºC while in winter it is around 25 ºC.
Area: 8700 sq km
There are a number of ways by which one can travel within Cochin. It is possible to travel by bus, local taxi/auto-rickshaw, ferries and bicycles. Private buses ply within the city, though they are generally crowded. A convenient and reliable way to travel is by auto-rickshaws. The most enjoyable way of getting around is on cheap local ferries. To explore Mattancherry and the rest of old Cochin it is a good idea to rent a bicycle from a small shop on Bazaar Road.
Kochi (the new name of Cochin) is situated on the west coast of India in the beautiful southern state of Kerala. Cochin is also known as the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’ and ‘Queen of the Adriatic’ as it is situated next to the Arabian Sea. In Cochin there are many places for sight seeing. The beaches here are magnificent. No one actually knows how Cochin was named. According to some, the word ‘Cochin’ is the modified form of the word ‘Cochakhi’, which in Malayalam means ‘small sea’. Some historians believe that ‘Kochi’ was named by Chinese traders (from the court of Chinese ruler Kublai Khan) after their homeland. Still others say that Kochi is deriver from the word ‘Kaci’ meaning ‘harbour’. Kochi became a significant port after the world famous port at Kodugallur (Cranganore) was destroyed by massive flooding in 1340 A.D. Cochin then became to grow considerably and soon developed as a major trading point.
According to records, the Kodugallur (Cranganore) port was known to the Arab and Chinese traders for centuries. Cochin is sometimes referred as a cluster of islands and towns, including Ernakulam, Mattancheri, Fort Cochin, Willingdon Island, Vypin Island and Gundu Island. The Portuguese, led by none other than the famous explorer Vasco da Gama, were the first to reach the city in the 16th century. Even though the port city was conquered by the Dutch in 1663, it still retains some buildings of Portuguese architecture. After the occupation by the Dutch, it became a British colony in 1814. Some of the magnificent forts built by the Portuguese and the Dutch were destroyed by the British. After the independence of India, the state of Kerala was formed by merging the provinces of Kochi, Malabar and Travancore in 1956. The Corporation of Kochi was formed in 1967 by the merging the Fort Kochi, Mattanchery, Ernakulam and many nearby villages. Cochin is now one of the most important trading and commercial centres of South India.
This palace built by the Dutch and situated on the Bolghatty Island is at present being used as a hotel. The island has a fine golf course and the scenic view makes it an attractive picnic spot. Frequent boat services are available from the mainland.
The Dutch Palace was originally built by the Portuguese. Later in 17th century, the Dutch modified it and presented it to the Raja of Kochi. Coronation ceremonies of many Rajas of Kochi were held here. The palace has a fine collection of mural paintings depicting the scenes from the Hindu epics Mahabharata and Ramayana.
Fort Kochi beach
The beach is an excellent place for recreation. The sunset is spectacular at the beach and one can see ships and fishing boats sailing. Many European style bungalows can also be seen along the shoreline.
Built in the 19th century, the province of Kochi was ruled from here by the Raja of Kochi. The palace has been converted into a museum displaying a fine collection of articles used by the Rajas of Kochi apart from many archaeological findings.
Built in 1568, the synagogue is magnificently decorated by Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers. Giant scrolls of the Old Testament can be found here. It is located near the Dutch Palace.
Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary
The home of many exotic and rare varieties of migratory birds, the sanctuary is situated right in the middle of Kochi city.
Museum of Kerala History
The museum has on display life size statues of many famous personalities and several paintings depicting the history of Kerala.
Parikshith Thampuram Museum
The museum is situated near the famous Siva Temple in Ernakulam. It houses a treasure of archaeological findings and relics including old coins, sculptures, oil paintings and murals.
St. Francis Church
It is the oldest church built by the Europeans in India. On his 3rd visit to Kerala, Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese trader who reached India from Europe by sea, fell ill and died in Kochi. He was buried in the St. Francis Church and later his remains were taken back to Portugal.
Some other places
Situated 63 km away from Kochi, Alleppey is connected to Kochi by rail and road. Due to the extensive canal network here, it is called as the ‘Venice of the East’. The famous snake boat race takes place here every year. The Cochin marine ground can be seen in the background.
Cheruthuruthy is about 110 kms away from Kochi. It is the base of the Kerala Kalamandalam- the famous art and dance academy where training in various traditional forms like Kathakali and Mohiniyattam is imparted.
Situated 45 kms from Kochi, on the banks of river Periyar. Kalady is the birthplace of Saint Shankaracharya, the monotheist Hindu philosopher. This great Hindu reformer lived in the 8th century A.D. and died at the early age of 32 years. He travelled on foot throughout India, debating with scholars and spreading his theory of Advaita or monotheism.
35 km from Kochi, Kodungalloor is on NH (National Highway) no.17. The world famous port here was destroyed by a flood, resulting in the popularity of Kochi harbour. St. Thomas, the Apostle, is believed to have landed here in 52 A.D. The first mosque in India is situated here and is built in the form of a Hindu temple.
About 140 km on NH no. 49, Munnar is a hill resort ideal for recreation. Tea gardens and cardamom plantations enhance the scenic beauty of Munnar. Anai Mudi, the highest peak in South India is in these hills surrounding Munnar. The Munnar-Kodaikanal (another hill resort) road is believed to be the steepest road in South-East Asia.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thekkady
Elephants, bison, antelopes, samburs, monkeys and bears can be found in their natural habitat in this world famous wild life sanctuary.
Visiting in the months of June, July and August as it rains heavily.