Kochi, known as the queen of the Arabian sea is located on the southwest coast of India spanning an area of 94.88 square kilometres (36.63 sq mi). The city spans the backwaters, encompassing the northern end of a peninsula, several islands and a portion of the mainland. To the west lies the Arabian Sea, and to the east is the urbanized region in the rest of the mainland area. Much of Kochi lies at sea level, with a coastline of 48 km.
The current metropolitan limits of Kochi include the mainland Ernakulam, Fort Kochi, the suburbs of Edapally, Kalamassery and Kakkanad to the northeast; Tripunithura to the southeast; and a group of islands closely scattered in the Vembanad Lake.
Kochi was the Centre of Indian spice trade for many centuries, and was known to the Yavanas (Greeks and Romans) as well as Jews, Arabs, and Chinese since ancient times
Kochi witnessed economic stagnation in the years following India’s independence. The city’s economic recovery gathered momentum after economic reforms in India introduced by the central government in the mid-1990s. Since 2000, the service sector has revitalized the city’s stagnant economy. The establishment of several industrial parks based on IT and other port based infrastructure triggered a construction and realty boom in the city. Over the years, Kochi has witnessed rapid commercialization, and has today grown into a commercial hub of Kerala.
Kochi features a tropical monsoon climate. Kochi’s proximity to the equator along with its coastal location results in little seasonal temperature variation, with moderate to high levels of humidity. Annual temperatures range between 23 and 31 °C (73–88 °F) with the record high being 38 °C (100 °F), and record low 17 °C (63 °F). From June to September, the south-west monsoon brings in heavy rains as Kochi lies on the windward side of the Western Ghats. From October to December, Kochi receives lighter (yet significant) rain from the northeast monsoon, as it lies on the sheltered side. Average annual rainfall is 3,228.3 mm (127.10 in), with an annual average of 132 rainy days.
PLACES TO VISIT
Mattencherry and Fort Kochi (Old Kochi): Primarily a tourist enclave. Fort Kochi forms the upper part of the Peninsula with neatly arranged colonial buildings, narrow well-paved roads, Anglo-Dutch influenced structures and large antique shops. Mattancherry is primarily a trading city, famous for its thriving Gujarati settlement brought to the city in the 16th and 17th centuries by the spice trade. This is also home to one of the oldest Jewish synagogues, outside of Israel.
Vallarpadom Island: This is where the new Kochi International Mega Container Terminal (ICT) has opened.
VypinIsland: one of the most densely populated islands in the world with numerous fishing villages, tourist villages and the popular Cherai Beach.
Aluva: The second largest town in Kochi famous for its Periyar river banks. Kochi International Airport is nearby.
Thrikakara Town: Famous for the large Vamana Temple, the focal Centre of Onam, the national festival of Kerala. Also the home of Cochin University and other educational institutes.
Thripunithura:The old capital of the Kingdom of Kochi is famous for various historical palaces, museums and temples, and as a Centre of the arts.
Maradu: Next door to Kochi city; an upcoming business district with numerous high-end hotels.
Chinese Fishing Nets (Cheenavala): Many characteristic fishing nets can be seen at the Fort Kochi Beach, Beach Rd (Next to Fort Kochi Bus stand). Serves as an icon of Kochi and are a testimony of relations between Ancient Chinese Empires and the Kochi Kingdom. They were gifted by Chinese Emperor Kubalagi to Kochi King in 14th century. There were more than 100, though currently only a few remain in working condition.
THE HILL PALACE HERITAGE MUSEUM: The biggest highlight of Hill Palace, is the display of Royal Crown, crafted in pure gold weighting 1.75 kg with 95 diamonds and 2,000 other precious stones. It was a gift by the Portuguese to Veera Kerala Varma on his coronation day, which was regarded too extravagant for the Kochi Rajas, who were known for their simple lifestyle. This became a famous tradition that no Kochi Maharajas ever wore this crown, only to keep it on his lap as a testimony of their humbleness and simplicity. Nearly ten golden crowns were gifted to the Rajas by various colonial powers like Dutch, English, Chinese and Arabs; which were never worn by the Maharajas.
A flora &fauna garden was set up here in 2003. Also the palace has more than 100 different species of trees and plants, many of which are of medical value. The palace has five large gardens and two large resting grounds of late Maharajas.
St. Francis CSI Church (CSI Pally): Located on Church Rd, Fort Kochi (Near to Fort Kochi Beach). Daily 7AM-7PM. Constructed by the Portuguese in 1503 and the burial place of Vasco da Gama (his remains were later transferred to Lisbon). His tombstone can be seen inside the church. The church has a large cemetery which serves as resting grounds of many Portuguese army officials and soldiers. This church is the only Catholic Church not demolished by Dutch, which was later handed over to the British to re-establish as an Anglican church. A large war memorial can be seen on its backyard to honor the unknown soldiers who sacrificed their lives for World War-1.
Jew Street and Paradesi Synagogue: Jew Town, Mattancherry. Synagogue Sunday to Friday10AM-5PM, Saturdays, only open to Jews. The synagogue was constructed in 1568 after allowing Jewish refugees from Jerusalem to settle here during the Crusades making this the Commonwealth’s oldest Synagogue. This is one of the very few functional synagogues in India and the structure is unique due to influence of native Hindu-Christian architecture as well as the only synagogue having two bimahs. Many Jews lived in the area until the creation of Israel, today there is only a handful. Jew Street is a heritage zone with several antique/handicraft shops.
Princess Street (Loafer’s Corner), Fort Kochi: The most famous street of Fort Kochi which gives you a slice of authentic colonial European architecture. The only street that never faced any raid or constructions in past, Princess street is a perfect destination for evening walk with numerous western styled cafes, souvenir shops, art galleries and heritage complexes.
Kodanadu Elephant Training College (Ana Thothil): Open 9AM-6PM. Located on the southern bank of the Periyar.Kodanadu is popular for its unique elephant training college, elephant orphanage and a mini zoo with deer and peacocks. Wild elephants are first tamed in special cradles and then taken to the nearby training college, where they are trained. The elephant orphanage rears baby elephants until they are ready for training college. Elephant safari has become a very popular tourist activity here along with kids playing ball games with baby elephants.
When to visit
The tourist season is normally from August to February. As December has a huge inflow of tourists, there are many festivals and special attractions to welcome visitors; along with the famous Cochin Carnival and Christmas celebrations. Onam season (mid Aug-mid Sept) is also a busy tourist season considering traditional line up of various festivities.
Recently monsoon experience is being promoted heavily by tourism department as a rejuvenation season to take Ayurveda therapies. Besides, this is an excellent time to experience the heavy rainfall. March and April are the hottest months.