Explore the picturesque old city with its churches, fortifications and the atmospheric harbour with Chinese fishing nets. Cochin has long been a cultural melting pot and retains the largest crop of early colonial buildings on the subcontinent, many now converted into boutique hotels.
Walking around the streets of Cochin, you’ll discover the imprints of various colonial powers and migrant communities – Lusitanian chapels, Jewish synagogues, Dutch burghers’ houses, Armenian mansions and British bungalows all fight for attention, often with subtle clues carved into doorways, or coat of arms in pilaster.
The Chinese fishing nets have been in use since the 14th century. St Francis Church (c. 1510) was the temporary resting place of Vasco da Gama. The Mattancherry Palace was originally built by the Portuguese in 1557 and rebuilt by the Dutch in 1663. Murals in the King’s bedroom which depict mythical scenes from the Raas Leela and the Ramayana are a masterpiece of Keralan painting.
Jewish merchants and Christian settlers arrived in Kerala with St Thomas the Apostle in 52 AD. In the heart of Kochi’s Jewish Quarter lie the city’s synagogues, the most popular of them is the Paradesi Synagogue, built in 1568 and decorated with hand painted Chinese floor tiles and European glass chandeliers.