Kochi Tourist Attractions
Kochi has sights for history buffs, shoppers, art lovers, and romantics. Here is a good day-tour itinerary to help you make the first acquaintance with the city.
Admire the history of Paradesi Synagogue
History buffs will nerd out at one of the world’s oldest synagogues, Paradesi Synagogue. This charming, lovely building was erected in 1568 and sits in the section of the city known as Jew Town. It may be small, but it is a big deal in local history. To enter the synagogue, you will pass through a little gallery that features paintings explaining the history of the Jewish community in Kochi. Once inside the temple, check out the opulent gold pulpit, Belgian chandeliers, and colourful glass lamps. We loved the elaborate floor, which was paved with individually hand-painted tiles that were brought from China in the 18th century.
Please note that shorts, sleeveless tops, bags, shoes, and cameras are prohibited inside. (Open Sun-Thu 10am-1pm & 3pm-5pm; closed on Jewish holidays. INR5)
Browse the shops of Jew Town
Stepping out of the temple, go on a mad shopping spree in Jew Town. Shoppers will love this narrow street between Mattancherry Palace and the Synagogue that is lined with colonial buildings. You will find antique treasures, souvenirs, spices, coffee and fabric at boutiques and on the carts of roadside vendors. Look for the fabrics, intricate laces, and needle work that Kochi is famous for.
Find out how the royalty used to live
Next, head to Mattancherry Palace next door and see how the royalty used to live. The Portuguese built this palace and presented it as a gift to Kochi’s Raja in 1557. Today, it houses a portrait gallery of the Cochin Rajas. The highlight of our visit, though, was getting to see the well-preserved, saucy mythological murals covering over 300 square feet of the Palace’s walls. These gorgeous paintings are renowned as exquisite models of Hindu temple art. (Open all days except Friday from 10am-7pm. Adults cost INR5. Children are free).
Learn how to fish Chinese-style
No trip to Kochi would be complete without a photo op at the Chinese fishing nets, the most famous emblems of Kochi. These ginormous landmarks on Kerala’s backwaters aren’t just a famous photo op, though. They are still in use. Originally built in AD 1400 by Chinese traders traveling from Kublai Khan’s court, the nets catch fresh lake fish, which are sold along the promenade. We were mesmerized as we watched the fishermen use this traditional method of catching fish. Go around dusk and take a romantic stroll around Fort Kochi Beach as you watch the spectacular sunset. Just be forewarned that hawkers will try to sell you trinkets.
Go for an evening stroll
Marine Drive is a scenic promenade facing the backwaters. Hundreds of locals and tourists flock here in the evenings to stroll the walkway, enjoy the sunsets over the sea mouth, and feel the gentle breeze off Vembanad Lake. No vehicles are permitted on the walkway. Shoppers will adore the several malls in this economically flourishing section of the city.
Brush up on your history while exploring the 49-building complex that houses the Hill Palace Museum at Tripunithura. Imagine what it was like to be a Rajah or a Rani (Queen) as you see the royal family’s oil paintings, sculptures, paintings, and temple models. No photography is allowed inside. (Open Tue-Sun 9am-12.30pm & 2-4.30pm; INR30)
Don’t miss the Kerala Folklore Theatre and Museum. Over 4,000 artifacts are housed in this architectural marvel, which is built in three distinctive styles: Malabar, Kochi, and Travancore. Masks, costumes, sculptures, and Stone Age utensils are just some of the treasures on display. Catch a peek of the gorgeous wood-lined theatre, capped with a 17th-century wooden ceiling. (Open 9.30 am to 7.00 pm. Entrance fee to the museum is INR100 for adults and INR50 for students)