If you escape from the hustle and bustle of Ernakulam city, head to Fort Kochi in the western direction. You enter a different time zone and geography there. With high-rises giving way to colonial buildings, flashy shops to traditional establishments, fast-paced footsteps to strolls, life takes a different turn here.
Proximity to the sea and the backwater has influenced the culture and lifestyle of the people of Fort Kochi. The quaint town has tales of centuries-old cultural and commercial interaction with the colonial powers of the West. History records the presence of the Arabs, the Chinese, the Dutch, the Portuguese and the British in the quaint town. A mix of Portuguese-, Dutch- and British-style houses from the colonial periods dot the streets of Fort Kochi. Some of them exhibit an architectural blend comprising European and the traditional Kerala styles.
Apart from appreciating traditional architecture at the beach town, tourists can take a walk through this tourist hotspot to get a glimpse of different cultures that coexisted here. Tourists can come via road or boat to reach Fort Kochi, which is around 13 km from Ernakulam city.
Near the Fort Kochi boat jetty is the oldest European church in India, St. Francis Church. The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was originally buried in the church, which was built in 1503. Just near the church is the Vasco House, which sports the typical European glass paned windows and balcony-cum-verandahs characteristic of the times. Only walking distance from Vasco House is Santa Cruz Basilica, which is noted for its two lofty spires and a remarkably bright, white-washed exterior and a pastel-coloured interior. A blend of the architectural styles of the Dutch and Portuguese, the Old Harbour House near it is one of the elegant bungalows in Fort Kochi.
When the year winds to the end, Fort Kochi beach and premises offer a visual extravaganza to tourists and residents alike. Cochin Carnival, celebrated every year over the last two weeks of December, is a cultural reflection of the hybrid past of Fort Kochi. The decked-up port town welcomes the New Year with fairs, cultural shows, food festivals, bike and cycle races, rallies, beach football, arts and games.
Besides all these eye-catching programmes, Pappanji makes the event all the more splendid and spellbinding. The effigy of the old man is burnt at the zero hour on the 31st of December. A grand party with music and dance follows this and continues till dawn.
To have a preview of the tourist places in Fort Kochi, please check the following: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_7TD2qP-aY
Nearest boat jetty: Ferry service is available through the day from Ernakulam, Willingdon Island and Vypin Island
Nearest railway station: Ernakulam Junction (or Ernakulam South), about 13 km; Ernakulam Town (or Ernakulam North), about 16 km
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 30 km from Ernakulam
District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC)
Old Collectorate Building,
Park Avenue Road, Kochi - 11
Ph: +91 484 2367334