Kochi is in the state of Kerala on India’s south-west coast. It’s made up of laidback Fort Kochi and neighbour Mattancherry plus the more cosmopolitan Ernakulam across the water. Between them, they offer old-world charm, relaxing boat trips and one of the most dramatic theatre performances you’ll ever see.
Top things to see and do
- Kochi Marvel at the murals: you’ll probably want to head straight for the bedroom at Mattancherry Palace to see the beautifully preserved murals. Elsewhere you’ll find jewel-encrusted clothes, hand-carried carriages and a portrait gallery of maharajas through the ages.
- Shop for souvenirs: handicrafts made from coir, sandalwood and shells feature heavily in Kochi’s shopping scene. Shop on Mahatma Gandhi Road – also known as MG Road – for take-home souvenirs as well as clothes, jewellery and more.
- Hit the beach: one of the most intriguing sights in Kochi is the Chinese fishing nets dotted along the coastline. Thought to have been introduced by traders back in Kublai Khan’s days, the nets look like huge hammocks suspended over the sea. See them on a sunset stroll along Fort Kochi beach.
- Go to the theatre: it’s one of the oldest theatre forms in the world and it originated in Kerala, so what better place to catch a Kathakali performance? Dancers with brightly-painted faces combine dramatic facial expressions with hand gestures, known as mudras, to tell the story. Daily performances are shown at the Kerala Kathakali Centre in Fort Kochi.
- Sail around the backwaters: a cruise is just the thing for checking out what Kochi has to offer. Sit back and relax while you glide along the coconut tree-lined waters, passing wild flowers and water birds.
Tips for travellers
Want some golden sand to lie back and relax on? Head for Cherai Beach, about 35 kilometres away. The water’s nice and shallow, there are watersports to try – and the seafood here is pretty delicious.