Kochi has had a long and vibrant history due to its prominence as a major port of Kerala's coastline. Although there is no precise written evidence on the emergence of the Kingdom of Kochi, there were no dearth of eminent rulers who played massive roles in Kerala's past and evolution.
In 1500, during the reign of Unni Rama Koil I, the Portuguese naval commander, Cabral, arrived in Kochi. Five years later, during the rule of Unni Rama Koil II, India's first Portuguese Viceroy, Francisco De Almaida, reached Kochi.The Portuguese constructed the Mattancherry Palace in 1555 and presented it to the then ruler, Veera Kerala Varma. The most popular ruler, Kesava Rama Varma, ruled Kochi from1565 to 1601. It was during his reign that the Jews settled in Kochi and constructed Jew Town and the famous synagogue here.
The first British ship breached the shores of Kochi in 1609, during the reign of the next king, Veera Kerala Varma II. GodaVarma II was king when the Dutch captured Cochin Fort in 1663.The sole woman ruler of Kochi, Queen Gangadhara Lakshmi, was crowned by the Portuguese and came to power in 1656. Rama Varma V, better known as Sakthan Thampuran, came to the throne in 1790. He was a powerful administrator and diplomat who ensured economic and trading prosperity in the country. Sakthan Thampuran spearheaded many modernizing efforts till his death in 1805. He was also instrumental in ending the feudal era in Kochi with his strong measures against feudal lords. The English era of the Kochi kingdom began during his reign.
The expansion of the Cochin Harbour was successfully completed during the rule of Rama Varma XIII and the High Court opened. However, the credit for these modernizing measures in administration goes to the British empire and the king's minister, Shanmugham Shetty who was an efficient administrator. There were also numerous other rulers of the Cochin Kingdom whose reign was of no particular historical significance.The last King of Kochi was Parikshith Thampuran who ruled only for a year before the merger of Cochin and Travancore in 1949.