Welcome to Kochi
Built along Kerala's Malabar Coast, Kochi is one of India's most eclectic cities. Founded as a 14th-century spice-trading port, with strong connections to China, Europe, and the Middle East, Kochi was ruled by three successive foreign empires (Portuguese, Dutch, and British) during the colonial era. Modern Kochi has emerged an economic and commercial hub, and makes a popular starting point for exploring the waterways of Kerala, India's Venice of the East. Packed with colonial bungalows and diverse religious sites, the UNESCO-listed Fort Kochi district showcases the city's mix of influences. Visit Saint Francis Church, one of the oldest European churches in India, and the Gothic Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica. Tour the 700-year-old Paradeshi Jewish synagogue and Mattancherry Palace, a Portuguese colonial relic full of intricate, painted murals illustrating ancient Hindu mythology. Soak up some living culture with a demonstration of the cantilevered Chinese fishing nets that Kochi fishermen have used for centuries, and be sure to catch a Kathakali dance performance, a colorful 17th-century art form that originated in Kerala. A cooking class in a local home is a delightful way to immerse yourself in South Indian culture and cuisine. And don't overlook the mainland: Kerala Folklore Museum in Ernakulam is a wonderful place to learn about regional folk arts. Once you've explored Kochi, you can book a small-group cruise on a classic houseboat through Kerala's rural backwaters. Other options include hiking along Chalakudy River to Athirappilly Falls, or touring the tea plantations and Munnar Hill Station.