The largest city in Kerala, stunning Cochin is one of India's
most visitor-friendly destinations. Also known as Kochi (and
referred to as 'the Queen of the Arabian Seas' during its spice
trading past), it was colonised by the British, Dutch, and
Portuguese, and these days its architecture, its diverse populace
and its gorgeous streets still lend it a melting pot sensibility.
Here, the pace is slow, the food richly spiced, and serene
waterways ubiquitous, as the city is strewn across a collection of
islands and peninsulas. Looking to get immersed? From cookery
classes to dance performances, temples to synagogues, here are 10
of the most unforgettable things to do in Cochin.
Kathakali is a traditional
Keralan artform © Aapthamithra/iStock/Thinkstock
Classical Kathakali dance, a Keralan tradition that dates to the
1600s, is almost certainly unlike any dance you've ever seen.
Performers are outfitted in extraordinarily elaborate, colourful
costumes, and accompanied by live musicians. In Cochin, the Kerala
Kathakali Centre is the ideal venue to take in a show.
Nimmy Paul Cookery Class
Keralan cookery lessons, taught by a professional chef of over
20 years in her own home: it doesn't get much more authentic than
the courses offered by Nimmy Paul. Get versed in this rich and spicy
cuisine - and bring some techniques back with you.
The Santa Cruz Basilica is one
of Cochin's best-known landmarks © saiko3p/iStock/Thinkstock
Santa Cruz Basilica
Dating back to the Portuguese colonial era, the Santa Cruz
Basilica is one of the best-known and most beautiful landmarks in
Cochin. The structure was rebuilt after being demolished in the
late 19th century, and its impressive edifice is worth
seeing up close.
In Kerala, people from various faiths and religious traditions
share the same space peaceably, and nowhere is that truer than
Cochin. An important landmark in the local Hindu tradition, the
striking Ernakulathappan Temple is dedicated to Lord
Shiva, and is emblematic of Keralan architectural design.
Cochin's many waterways are
ideal for exploring by boat © mariusz_prusazczyk/iStock/Thinkstock
Looking for the best things to do in Cochin? There are few
better ways of getting acquainted with the city than going on a
boat tour of its many waterways. Various offerings are available
for the famous Keralan backwaters, while sunset tours of the
harbour are undeniably romantic.
Another example of Cochin's diverse, colonial past, the historic
'Jew Town' area was an important sector in the city during the
height of the spice trade. While few Jewish residents are found
here today, there are still a number of important landmarks in the
area, including the stunning Paradesi Synagogue.
Southern Indian is an ideal
place to practice your yoga © byheaven/iStock/Thinkstock
In South India, yoga has been practiced for thousands of years.
Whether you've mastered your downward dog or have yet to begin,
there are few better places to become acquainted with the tradition
than at one of Cochin's many yoga schools. The Veda Wellness
Ayurveda Spa and Yoga Center is only one of many excellent
Looking to take home some souvenirs from your travels? One of
the best things to do in Cochin is to stop by the independently run
Books, located in the Fort Cochin heritage zone. Here you'll
find classics hailing from India and beyond - there's nowhere
better to buy your own copy of the Bhagavad Gita.
The Chinese fishing nets are
perhaps Cochin's most recognised feature © Jan Skwara/iStock/Thinkstock
Chinese Fishing Nets
Perhaps the best recognised symbol of Cochin the world over, the
stunning Chinese fishing nets located in the north of the Fort
Kochi sector of the city are a sight to behold. Though the nets
have an ancient history, they're still being used to reap a marine
Historic Mattancherry may well be the most scenic part of
Cochin, given its many landmarks and unspoiled examples of historic
architecture. One of the most alluring is the eponymous Palace,
which was originally a Portuguese gift to the local Raja. Today,
it's a must-see for its colourful murals that depict scenes from
ancient Indian epics.